When a travelling Egyptian exhibit passed through Kirtland, Ohio in the 1830s, Joseph Smith encouraged followers to purchase some mummies and Egyptian scrolls. Did these contain the Book of Abraham? Historian Dan Vogel tells us more about these scrolls.
Dan: So Michael Chandler came into Kirtland, Ohio in late June 1835 or probably July, but about the 3rd of July, I think it is, Joseph Smith sees them. You have to pay to see them, so people are paying to see the mummies. Joseph Smith is interested in the papyri, but not the mummies. But Chandler doesn’t want to sell them separately, because he wants to sell everything and go home, probably. Joseph Smith arranges with–there’s like three parties that get together, one of them is him. But he has a problem paying, of course. $2400 is quite a lot to purchase all of those. He purchases them, and shortly thereafter, announces that there’s two scrolls. One scroll he identifies with the record of ancient Joseph, and another one with Abraham. The earliest account we have of that is a 19th of July. William W. Phelps, writes a letter to his wife, because he was in Missouri, and he came to Kirtland and he’s helping Oliver Cowdery with the printing. He’s also arranging the 1835 Doctrine & Covenants, and he’s Joseph Smith’s scribe, and he works in Joseph Smith’s office. He and his son are staying with Joseph Smith. So he writes. His wife mentioned that no one could read these writings and that Joseph Smith has identified them as the writings of Abraham and ancient Joseph.
Dan: They were discovered in Thebes, Egypt. They found a huge catacomb of mummies and mummies usually have three kinds of records, actually. They could have a Book of Breathings or a breathing permit, on their chest, usually in their crossed arms, sitting there. There was a Book of the Dead, or hypoocephalus, that round Facsimile II, under the head to hold the body heat. The breathing permit is to breathe in the next life. So, there were 11 mummies that made their way to America, and somehow, this Michael Chandler got a hold of them.
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