The papyrus fragments believed to contain the Book of Abraham were lost for decades in the Great Chicago Fire. What happened to them? Are some still lost? Historian Dan Vogel will answer these questions.
GT: So I guess in a nutshell, the Hugh Nibley line of reasoning is we’ve got these Kirtland Egyptian papers. They don’t match. The translation is incorrect from what we have. We lost it in the Great Chicago Fire. But there was something that was lost, which I guess, could we assume that that’s the book of Joseph that was lost in Chicago?
Dan: No, we have the book of Joseph, which is the Ta-Sherit-Min papyrus, which is part of the ones that are chopped up onto the thick paper that we have.
GT Those are the Joseph scrolls?
Dan That was identified as Joseph. In December of 1835, Oliver Cowdery, in the Messenger and Advocate described that papyrus including the Pillar of Enoch; also, the three in one God. There’s a little drawing of three figures.
So we lost the part that was intact, the two feet. We have one foot of the beginning part, facsimile one, and the next one, and then another fragment. Then there was two more feet, probably, that were missing, that included facsimile three. And the reason why we know that is because when Emma sold the papyri to Combs, and then Combs sold part of it to the St. Louis Museum, there was an Egyptologist there. I’m not remembering his name right off. But he gave a description of the papyri for the museum’s catalog. And in there he mentioned facsimile three.
GT: So, have we lost anything, then?
Dan: The name Osiris was on it, because the name Osiris is on this.
GT: So that’s the only piece that we lost?
Dan: Or that we know of; that we can exactly say. We don’t know.
GT: But, we have essentially, what Joseph said was the entire Book of Abraham, the entire Book of Joseph. We have those that we can still look at today. But those are really the Hor scroll and the Book of Breathing scroll. Is that correct?
Dan: Right. So, we don’t have the Amenhotep fragments. They could have been there. Facsimile two, the hypoocephalus, the round one was already pretty damaged, because they made a drawing of it and there’s parts missing, and Joseph Smith had Headlock fill in the missing part to make it look nice and neat. I don’t think he’s being tricky. I just think they’re just too fussy about it looking good. But, so those could have been among the ones that were burned, or they could have just totally fragmented and that’s why they had them copy parts into these books.
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