Part 10: CES Letter Book of Abraham Questions [Section A]
by Sarah Allen
The Book of Abraham is perhaps our most controversial book of scripture, maybe even more so than the Book of Mormon though it is less well-known. It is a complicated, messy subject with a lot of different parts to it. This is something I’ve studied a fair bit over the years, and it’s actually one of my favorite things to study. I know enough about the subject to talk about the various theories and viewpoints, but I suspect a lot of people won’t agree with my stance on things and that’s okay. We all need to come to our own opinions about these sorts of things. I’ll try to keep from getting too esoteric in my comments, but please understand that some of the current controversies involve minor details that seem silly to quibble over, but which end up making a rather large difference once you get deeper into the study of this book.
Perhaps even more than the translation method, this subject bothers Jeremy Runnells the most. I believe he even says at one point that the Book of Abraham is what officially broke his testimony, which is unfortunate. He makes a lot of misstatements throughout this section, so I’m not sure if the issue is that he just doesn’t understand the Book of Abraham and its scholarship, or if he’s doing it deliberately. The critics of the Church have been particularly successful in framing the arguments on this topic in such a way that it really hurts a lot of people, so I’m willing to give Jeremy the benefit of the doubt regarding this section and believe that he just doesn’t know enough about the topic. If so, it’s especially sad that he let it destroy his testimony when some further study might have saved it. I may be wrong; maybe he knows exactly what he’s doing when he makes those misstatements and frames things incorrectly. He certainly does that knowingly in other sections of this Letter.
Either way, this is a difficult subject for a lot of people, so I’m going to try to break it all down in such a way that it makes sense, and that it helps you guys see that there are faithful explanations out there. We’ll go slowly and I may have to break some questions into multiple parts because he covers so much ground in a single question. I don’t want to skim over anything too lightly because it is such a controversial subject. If anything isn’t clear as we go along, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to clarify. I love the Book of Abraham and I think its doctrine is beautiful, so I hope you guys come away with that feeling, too.