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Phelps Role in Book of Abraham Civil War (Part 7 of 8)

W.W. Phelps assisted with the translation of the Book of Abraham.  Amongst believing scholars, there is a bit of a civil war over the Book of Abraham, and Phelps plays a role in that dispute.  Dr. Bruce Van Orden will discuss why believing scholars disagree.

GT:  I know we talked a little bit about the Civil War. It seems like there’s kind of the Kerry Muhlestein/John Gee camp that basically say there’s some missing papyrus and that’s the real Book of Abraham.

Bruce:  I would say the Kerry Muhlestein is not quite as firm on that. He says it’s a possibility. John Gee is really strong on the fact that they’re probably–he’s not 100% sure, either. But, John Gee does believe that there were other papyri.

GT:  Okay. Then, you have kind of the more Robin Jensen/Dan Vogel/Brian Hauglid that are kind of more of the catalyst theory, is that fair?

Bruce:  Hauglid and Robin Jensen, yes, I’m with them. Dan Vogel, of course, believes that Joseph Smith was not a prophet in the first place. [Vogel doesn’t believe this was] really from God, but [Joseph] concocted this based on what he thought he was coming up with Egyptian alphabet and so forth.

GT:  So, as far as the Egyptian alphabet, because I think that there’s a big issue on the timeline there. If I remember right, and correct me if I’m wrong, Muhlestein and Gee basically say, these Egyptian characters were just like an outline, and that’s not really a translation.

Bruce:. That’s what they believe. I actually agree with them.

GT:  Oh, you do?

Bruce:  On that, that the Joseph Smith dictated the verbiage that’s more or less in the Book of Abraham, now. I believe it came from God. It was inspired. I don’t say that every word was written by Abraham, ever. But I believe it’s inspired writing and the Egyptian alphabet was more of a side project. I do. I agree with that.

GT:  Okay, because I think Vogel says, “No, this is the Egyptian character, and this is supposed to be the translation.”

Bruce:  Except, it really isn’t, except for what he thinks is in Abraham 1:1-3. I think that Phelps put that in there. I think he [Phelps] thought it was that. I don’t think that Joseph Smith thought that was. We don’t know.

GT:  Yeah.

Bruce:  But that’s only three verses.

GT:  So you think the first three verses of the Book of Abraham are Phelps translation.

Bruce:  It’s in his handwriting. I don’t think it’s necessarily Phelps translation. But once it was put in there, I feel that he thought that this project that he was working on, then that Joseph Smith may have participated into a certain extent, the Egyptian alphabet was different from the translation experience, I think. Then, Phelps superimposed what he thought was from the Egyptian figures, hieroglyphics, to those first three verses. We don’t have any other evidence that there’s a connection, specifically.

What are your thoughts on the Book of Abraham translation and the civil war among believing scholars?  Check out our conversation….

There is a civil war among believing scholars over the Book of Abraham.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Bruce!

566: Phelps Role at Times & Seasons

565: Danites in Missouri

564: Mormon-Missouri War of 1838

563: Cleaning House in Kirtland: Phelps vs Marsh

562: Were Phelps Missouri Troubles Self-Inflicted?

561:  Jailed Before Joined

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*Mormon Doctrine in Battlestar Gallactica? (Part 8 of 8)

I hope you have enjoyed our conversation with Steven Pynakker, evangelical host of Mormon Book Reviews.  In our next conversation, Steve will tell us some of the future plans for his channel, including an episode about Mormon Doctrine in Battlestar Gallactica!

Steve:  Season two, because I’m not at home. During the summer, I spend my times up in northern Florida. But season two, we’re going to start taping in October, November. I’ve already got quite a few books that I’ve already read. So, I’m going to do those reviews. I’m going to re-engage Bushman’s book because I want to do a review of his. I’m doing a lot of new books, as well. I think either the very first episode, or early on, my very first episode is going to be Mormonism and Battlestar Galactica.

GT:  Nice!

Steve:  I just remember it, our very first, when I did our interview, and our joint production, I had the Cylon from there and I just love [Battlestar Gallactica.] I know Battlestar Galactica. I know Mormonism. So, I think I’m going to be able to make some connections and maybe make some observations that haven’t been made before. I’m so excited

This episode is only for subscribers, so sign up to the free newsletter at to check out our conversation….

Steve plans to have an episode of Mormon Doctrine in Battlestar Gallactica!

Don’t miss our previous episodes with Steve!

559: Gutting Pioneer Temple History

558: Mormon Historians’ Community

557: Future of Mormon History

556: Are Faith & Intellect Compatible?

555: Why Start Gospel Tangents?

554: Difference between Evangelicals & Protestants

553:  Background on Rick

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Future of Mormon History (Part 5 of 8)

What does the future of Mormon history look like?  Steve Pynakker is the evangelical host of Mormon Book Reviews.  He and I sat down to talk about recent events that surprised us, as well as what the future of Mormonism might look like.

Steve:  what does the future of Mormonism look like to you?

GT:  I’m a historian, not a future teller.

Steve:  Okay, based on history, so I, what do you think? You know the history and you know the history of religion and stuff like that. Do you have any inkling of where you think this is going? Do you think there might be some kind of turn that you wouldn’t have expected, something down the road that you didn’t see coming?

GT:  I mean, it’s like my March Madness bracket. I’m terrible at picking.

Steve:  Yeah, Loyola beat Illinois today.

GT:  Yeah, I saw that.

Steve:  That busted a lot of people’s brackets.

GT:  Just the stuff that’s happened in the last five years has been a surprise to me: two hour church, now, instead of three. That’s been a surprise.  What they’re doing the Salt Lake temple is horrible, if you ask me, and the Manti temple. I’m very disappointed to hear about that we’re killing our own history. Why would you do that? I think President Hinckley would be rolling in his grave to find out what we’re doing there, to take out those beautiful murals that we spent so much time and effort and money on. To me, that’s very disappointing. But I’m not the Prophet. That’s above my paygrade.  The combining of elders and high priests, I would never have predicted.  I remember, I walked in late to that meeting with my son, and I was like, “Did they just dissolve the High Priest’s quorum?”  The guy said yes.  I was like, “Wow.” So, President Nelson’s definitely got his surgeon’s knife out, and he’s cutting out what he thinks is garbage. I don’t know. I wouldn’t have predicted many of the things that President Nelson has done. I have no idea who’s following [in his footsteps]. We don’t have any other surgeons in the quorum, so, maybe it won’t change much. But, yeah, future telling us is very hard.

Look into your crystal ball and tell us what the future of Mormonism looks like.  What do you predict?  Check out our conversation….

What does the future of Mormon History look like? Tell us!

Don’t miss our previous conversations!

556: Are Faith & Intellect Compatible?

555: Why Start Gospel Tangents?

554: Difference between Evangelicals & Protestants

553:  Background on Rick