The Four Sons of Horus (Facsimile 2, Figure 6)

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Book of Abraham Insight #32

Figure 6 of Facsimile 2 of the Book of Abraham was interpreted straightforwardly by Joseph Smith as “represent[ing] this earth in its four quarters.”1 Based on contemporary nineteenth-century usage of this biblical idiom (Revelation 20:8), Joseph Smith evidently meant the figures represent the four cardinal points (north, east, south, and west).2 This interpretation finds ready support from the ancient Egyptians.

The four entities in Figure 6 represent the four sons of the god Horus: Hapi, Imsety, Duamutef, and Qebehsenuef.3 Over the span of millennia of Egyptian religion, these gods took on various forms as well as mythological roles and aspects.4 One such role was, indeed, as representing the four cardinal directions. “By virtue of its association with the cardinal directions,” observes one Egyptologist, “four is the most common symbol of ‘completeness’ in Egyptian numerological symbolism and ritual repetition.”5 As another Egyptologist has summarized,

The earliest reference to these four gods is found in the Pyramid Texts [ca. 2350–2100 BC] where they are said to be the children and also the “souls” of [the god] Horus. They are also called the “friends of the king” and assist the deceased monarch in ascending into the sky (PT 1278–79). The same gods were also known as the sons of Osiris and were later said to be members of the group called “the seven blessed ones” whose job was to protect the netherworld god’s coffin. Their afterlife mythology led to important roles in the funerary assemblage, particularly in association with the containers now traditionally called canopic jars in which the internal organs of the deceased were preserved. . . . The group may have been based on the symbolic completeness of the number four alone, but they are often given geographic associations and hence became a kind of “regional” group. . . . The four gods were sometimes depicted on the sides of the canopic chest and had specific symbolic orientations, with Imsety usually being aligned with the south, Hapy with the north, Duamutef with the east and Qebehsenuef with the west.6

Glazed polychromatic amulets of the Sons of Horus dating to circa 1069-747 BC. Image via the British Museum.

This understanding is shared widely among Egyptologists today. James P. Allen, in his translation and commentary on the Pyramid Texts, simply identifies the four Sons of Horus as “representing the cardinal directions.”7 Manfred Lurker explains that “each [of the sons of Horus] had a characteristic head and was associated with one of the four cardinal points of the compass and one of the four ‘protective’ goddesses” associated therewith.8

Geraldine Pinch concurs, writing, “[The four Sons of Horus] were the traditional guardians of the four canopic jars used to hold mummified organs. Imsety generally protected the liver, Hapy the lungs, Duamutef the stomach, and Qebehsenuef the intestines. The four sons were also associated with the four directions (south, north, east, and west) and with the four vital components for survival after death: the heart, the ba, the ka, and the mummy.”9 “They were the gods of the four quarters of the earth,” remarks Michael D. Rhodes, “and later came to be regarded as presiding over the four cardinal points. They also were guardians of the viscera of the dead, and their images were carved on the four canopic jars into which the internal organs were placed.”10

Another Egyptologist, Maarten J. Raven, argues that the primary purpose of the Sons of Horus was to act as “the four corners of the universe and the four supports of heaven, and only secondarily with the protection of the body’s integrity.”11

The association of the Sons of Horus with the earth’s cardinal directions is explicit in one scene where, represented “as birds flying out to the four corners of the cosmos,” they herald the accession of king Rameses II to the throne.12

Imsety, go south that you may declare to the southern gods that Horus, [son of] Isis and Osiris, has assumed the crown and the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Usermaatre Setepenre [Ramesses II], has assumed the crown; Hapi, go north that you declare to the northern gods that Horus, [son of] Isis and Osiris, has assumed the crown and the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Usermaatre Setepenre [Ramesses II], has assumed the crown; Duamutef, go east that you may declare to the eastern gods that Horus, [son of] Isis and Osiris, has assumed the crown and the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Usermaatre Setepenre [Ramesses II], has assumed the crown; Qebehsenuef, go west that you may declare to the western gods that Horus, [son of] Isis and Horus, has assumed the crown and the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Usermaatre Setepenre [Ramesses II], has assumed the crown.13

In this scene from the mortuary temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu, the four sons of Horus are set loose as birds to the cardinal directions to herald the kingship of Ramesses II, as described in the hieroglyphs highlighted in red. Image from The Epigraphic Survey, Medinet Habu, Volume 4 (1940).

While Joseph Smith’s succinct interpretation of Figure 6 in Facsimile 2 might have left out some additional details we know about the Sons of Horus (roles which evolved over the span of Egyptian religious history), it nevertheless converges nicely with current Egyptological knowledge.14

Further Reading

John Gee, “Notes on the Sons of Horus,” FARMS Report (1991).

Hugh Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, One Eternal Round (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2010), 299–302.

Footnotes

 

1 “A FAC-SIMILE FROM THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM, NO. 2.,” Times and Seasons 3, no. 16 (March 15, 1842): insert between pp. 720–721.

2 Thus George Stanley Faber, A General and Connected View of the Prophecies, Relative to the Conversion, Restoration, Union, and Future Glory of the Houses of Judah and Israel (London: F. C. and J. Rivington, 1808), 2:84, emphasis in original: “[N]ot merely from the north, but . . . from the east, the south, and the west, that is (in the language of St. John) from the four quarters of the earth.”; Robert Hodgson, The Works of the Right Reverend Beilby Porteus, D. D. Late Bishop of London (London: G. Sidney, 1811), 218: “[A]nd they shall gather together his elect (that is, shall collect disciples and converts to the faith) from the four winds, from the four quarters of the earth; or, as St. Luke expresses it, ‘from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.’”; Matthew Henry, An Exposition of the Old and New Testament (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1828), 3:1415: “As the city had four equal sides, answering to the four quarters of the world, east, west, north, and south; so in each side there were three gates, signifying that from all quarters of the earth there shall be some who shall get safe to heaven and be received there, and that there is a free entrance from one part of the world as from the other.”; Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York, NY: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. quarter: “A region in the hemisphere or great circle; primarily, one of the four cardinal points; as the four quarters of the globe; but used indifferently for any region or point of compass.”; William L. Roy, A New and Original Exposition on the Book of Revelation (New York, NY: D. Fanshaw, 1848), 13, emphasis in original. “Standing on (at) the four corners of the earth. They were placed as sentinels over the hostile armies, there to watch their movements, and prevent them from marching into Judea until the servants of God were sealed. Each of them had his particular station and duty assigned to him. One was stationed in the east, the other in the west, one in the north, and the other in the south.”; William Henry Scott, The Interpretation of the Apocalypse and Chief Prophetical Scriptures Connected With It (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1853), 185–186: “Rome is spoken of as overrunning and subduing the ‘whole earth,’ not merely in reference to the vast extent of her empire in point of territory, or the multitude of kingdoms which she absorded one after another, but properly and immediately because the four quarters of the earth, North, East, West, and South, are all incorporated by Rome into herself.”; Peter Canvan, “The Earth, As We Find It,” Saints’ Herald 20, no. 5 (March 1, 1873): 139: “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth. . . . The four corners may be represented by the north, south, east, west, which are the cardinal points.”

3 Michael D. Rhodes, “A Translation and Commentary of the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus,” BYU Studies 17, no. 3 (1977): 272–273; “The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus . . . Twenty Years Later,” FARMS Report (1997), 11; Tamás Mekis, Hypocephali, PhD diss. (Eötvös Loránd University, 2013), 90, 96–97.

4 For an overview, see John Gee, “Notes on the Sons of Horus,” FARMS Report (1991).

5 Robert K. Ritner, The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice (Chicago, Ill.: Oriental Institute, 1993), 162n750.

6 Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt (London: Thames and Hudson, 2003), 88.

7 James P. Allen, trans., The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, ed. Peter Der Manuelian (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005), 433.

8 Mafred Lurker, An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Egypt (London: Thames and Hudson, 1980), 37–38.

9 Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002), 204.

10 Rhodes, “A Translation and Commentary of the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus,” 272–273.

11 Maarten J. Raven, “Egyptian Concepts on the Orientation of the Human Body,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 91 (2005): 52. As Raven elaborates, “Two conflicting orientation systems can be observed. The Sons of Horus can either occupy corner positions on coffins or canopic chests (Amset in the north-east, Hapy north-west, Duamutef south-east, and Qebehsenuef south-west; both pairs change places in the New Kingdom), or they are represented on the four side walls (Amset south, Hapy north, Duamutef east, and Qebehsenuef west). In the latter case, the corner positions are often taken by four protective goddesses. Obviously, the notions of the corners of the universe and of the four points of the compass were not clearly distinguished.”

12 Raven, “Egyptian Concepts on the Orientation of the Human Body,” 42. See also Hans Bonnet, Reallexikon der ägyptischen Religionsgeschichte (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1952), 315; Matthieu Heerma van Voss, “Horuskinder,” in Lexikon der Ägyptologie, ed. Wolfgang Helck and Eberhard Otto (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1980), 3:53.

13 The Epigraphic Survey, Medinet Habu, Volume 4: Festival Scenes of Ramses III (Chicago, IL.: University of Chicago Press, 1940), Pl. 213; translation modified from Gee, Notes on the Sons of Horus, 60.

14 Hugh Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, One Eternal Round (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2010), 299–302; John Gee, “Hypocephali as Astronomical Documents,” in Aegyptus et Pannonia V: Acta Symposii anno 2008, ed. Hedvig Györy and Ádám Szabó (Budapest: The Ancient Egyptian Committee of the Hungarian-Egyptian Friendship Society, 2016), 66–67.

The Hathor Cow (Facsimile 2, Figure 5)

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Book of Abraham Insight #31

Figure 5 in Facsimile 2 of the Book of Abraham, a figure of an upside-down cow, is identified by Joseph Smith with this elaborate explanation:

Fig. 5. Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power, which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, as also Floeese or the Moon, the Earth and the Sun in their annual revolutions. This planet receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of Kolob.

From the viewpoint of current Egyptological knowledge, some aspects of this explanation find plausible confirmation from the ancient Egyptians, while other aspects remain unconfirmed.1 One of the elements of this explanation which finds confirmation from the ancient Egyptians is Joseph Smith’s identification of this figure as the sun.2

The identity of this figure is not always easy to establish, since the ancient Egyptians represented various deities and composite-deities with bovine features,3 and because not all hypocephali consistently feature this figure.4 Thankfully, however, this figure is featured in hypocephali and labeled with hieroglyphs often enough to make identifying it not impossible.

The name given to this figure in some hypocephali is that of the goddess Hathor (ḥwt-ḥr).5 Additional names sometimes given to this figure are Ihet (ỉht/ȝht) and Mehet-Weret (mḥt-wrt), which are both cow goddesses “commonly identified with Isis or Hathor.”6 Although this figure is not labeled in the hypocephalus reproduced as Facsimile 2, it is safe to assume that it is very likely the cow goddess Hathor or one of her closely-associated divine emanations.

One of the “most important and popular” goddesses in ancient Egypt, Hathor took on many roles and characteristics over the course of her worship during prehistoric times in Egypt all the way down to the Roman Period some 3,000 years later. “She was most commonly represented as a cow goddess. Her manifestations and associated activities were numerous and diverse, and complementary aspects such as love and hate, or creation and destruction, characterized her from the earliest stages of her worship.” What’s more, “Her aspects [also] incorporated animals, vegetation, the sky, the sun, trees, and minerals, and she governed over the realms of love, sex, and fertility, while also maintaining a vengeful aspect capable of the destruction of humanity.” When represented as a cow or as a human female with cow horns, she “usually bears the sun disk between [her] horns.”7

This last detail, though small, is significant for Joseph Smith’s interpretation of this figure. Hathor, especially in her bovine form, is frequently identified in Egyptian texts as the mother and guardian of the sun disc as it is reborn each morning.8 She is sometimes identified as both the consort and daughter of Re, the sun god, and is frequently identified as “Eye of Re.” She is featured prominently in one myth involving the sun god Re where she devours enemies with a fiery solar glare from her eyes(s).9

The goddess Hathor depicted as a cow on a wall of the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut (circa 1507–1458 BC) at Deir el-Bahari. The red sun disc is prominently featured between her horns. Photo by Stephen O. Smoot

That the goddess Hathor, accordingly, had an unmistakable solar identity to the ancient Egyptians is recognized widely among Egyptologists.10 “Hathor was closely connected with the sun god Re whose disk she wears,” writes Richard Wilkinson. “Thus, Hathor played an important role in the royal sun temples of the later Old Kingdom, and her mythological relationship with the sun god was firmly established. As the ‘Golden One’ she was the resplendent goddess who accompanied the sun god on his daily journey in the solar barque.”11

By the likely time Facsimile 2 was drawn,12 Hathor was being identified by some ancient Egyptians as not only the mother and protector of the sun disc but as the sun itself. “Like her companion, the sun god Re, Hathor [was sometimes identified as] a fiery solar deity.”13 One inscription from the Hathor Temple at Dendera makes this identification explicit: “[The goddess] Keket who pays homage to Hathor, Lady of Iunet: ‘Hail to you, Female Sun, Mistress of Suns’” (ỉnḏ ḥr.t rˁyt ḥnwt n(.t) rˁw).14 Commenting on this text, Egyptologist Barbara Richter explains,

[T]he [play on words] on the root , ‘sun,’ first as the feminine singular substantive rˁyt, ‘Female Sun,’ and then as the plural substantive rˁw, ‘suns,’ emphasizes not only that Hathor is the sun, but also that she is mistress of the other solar deities. Furthermore, because Keket [is a goddess who] represents [primordial] darkness, it is appropriate that she praises Hathor as the ‘Female Sun,’ the bringer of light. . . . [T]he text, iconography, and imagery of [this] scene [in the temple] allude to Hathor as the rising sun at its first illumination of the earth.15

At the temple of Esna, this cow figure in Facsimile 2 is identified as Ihet and described as follows:

The very great cow, who gives birth to her children through her rites, the guardian of her houses who creates the two encirclers in her form of the golden cow, the great horizon, which lifts up the two lights [the sun and the moon] in her belly: she has driven out darkness and brought light. She has lit up Egypt by what came forth from her. She is the divine mother of Re [the sun god], who created light through her creation, who created what exists after her creation, who caused Orion to sail the southern heaven after her, who sealed the dipper in the northern heaven before her. She is [the goddess of the sky] Nut who carries the stars pertaining thereto with her orbit, who strings the bow, so that the decans [stars] tread in her place.16

The imagery in this inscription depicts “a golden cow who bears or creates two encirclers (dbnyw) or two great lights (hȝytỉ) being the sun and the moon . . . . These drive out darkness, bring in light, and lighten the land. She is also connected with the stars, fixing them in their places and orbits. . . . She is explicitly connected with the horizon, but at the same time, since ‘she has driven out darkness, and she has lit up Egypt’ she is identified with the sun. Thus this figure is horizon, sky, and sun.”17

There is nothing obvious in Figure 5 of Facsimile 2 that lends itself to being identifiable as the sun to somebody who is idly speculating about what it might mean. So while not all of Joseph Smith’s explanation of this figure currently finds immediate confirmation, the fact that at least one important element of his explanation does find confirmation from the ancient Egyptians indicates that the Prophet was doing something more than simply guessing.

Further Reading

Hugh Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, One Eternal Round (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2010), 290–299.

Footnotes

 

1 Michael D. Rhodes, “The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus…Twenty Years Later,” FARMS Preliminary Report (1997), 10–11; Hugh Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, One Eternal Round (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2010), 290–299.

2 John Gee, “Hypocephali as Astronomical Documents,” in Aegyptus et Pannonia V: Acta Symposii anno 2008, ed. Hedvig Györy and Ádám Szabó (Budapest: The Ancient Egyptian Committee of the Hungarian-Egyptian Friendship Society, 2016), 61–64; “Book of Abraham, Facsimiles Of,” in Pearl of Great Price Reference Companion, ed. Dennis L. Largey (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2017), 58.

3 Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002), 123–126; Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt (London: Thames and Hudson, 2003), 170–175.

4 Tamás Mekis, Hypocephali, PhD diss. (Eötvös Loránd University, 2013), 1:90–91.

5 Mekis, Hypocephali, 1:90–91n479.

6 Pinch, Egyptian Mythology, 125, 137; Mekis, Hypocephali, 1:90–91n479, 103; Rhodes, “The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus…Twenty Years Later,” 10–11; Elena Pischikova, “‘Cow Statues’ in Private Tombs of Dynasty 26,” in Servant of Mut: Studies in Honor of Richard A. Fazzini, ed. Sue H. D’Auria (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 191.

7 Deborah Vischak, “Hathor,” in The Ancient Gods Speak: A Guide to Egyptian Religion, ed. Donald B. Redford (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002), 157.

8 Mekis, Hypocephali, 1:90–91n479, 96–97, 102–104.

9 François Daumas, “Hathor,” in Lexikon der Ägyptologie, ed. Wolfgang Helck and Eberhard Otto (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1977), 2:1026.

10 For a representative summary of the Egyptological consensus, see Pinch, Egyptian Mythology, 137–138.

11 Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, 140.

12 That is, the end of the Persian Period or the early Ptolemaic Period. Mekis, Hypocephali, 2:122.

13 Alison Roberts, Hathor Rising: The Power of the Goddess in Ancient Egypt (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1995), 8.

14 Barbara A. Richter, The Theology of Hathor of Dendera: Aural and Visual Scribal Techniques in the Per-Wer Sanctuary (Atlanta, GA: Lockwood Press, 2016), 167.

15 Richter, The Theology of Hathor of Dendera, 167.

16 Gee, “Hypocephali as Astronomical Documents,” 61.

17 Gee, “Hypocephali as Astronomical Documents,” 62.

The Purpose and Function of the Egyptian Hypocephalus

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Book of Abraham Insight #30

Facsimile 2 of the Book of Abraham is a type of document called a hypocephalus. “The term hypocephalus refers to a piece of Late Period and Ptolemaic [circa 664–30 BC] funerary equipment. It is specifically an amuletic disc made of cartonnage, bronze, textile, or rarely from papyrus and even wood, emulating a solar disc.”1 The name was coined by modern Egyptologists beginning with Jean-François Champollion and comes from Greek, meaning literally “under the head.”2 Spell 162 of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead specifies that these amulets were to be placed ẖr tp of the mummy, which has been widely rendered as “under the head” of the mummy. A more technically correct translation of the Egyptian phrase appears to mean “at the head” or “besides the head” of the mummy, meaning at very least in some proximity to the deceased.3

Today there are 158 known hypocephali which have been catalogued and/or published.4 Based on their attested chronological and geographical distribution, “it is clear that the hypocephalus [did] not become a widespread funerary object” in ancient Egypt. Instead they “remained exclusive pieces of funerary equipment reserved for the high clergy and for the members of their families who occupied” high-ranking positions in the temple, especially the temple of Amun at Karnak, the temple of Min at Akhmim, and the temple of Ptah at Memphis.5 Although hypocephali themselves appear to be later creations, the mythological and cosmological conceptions contained in hypocephali have apparent forerunners in earlier Egyptian texts.6

This plaster on linen hypocephalus in the British Museum (EA8445) shares many features with Facsimile 2 while also containing a number of differences. Hypocephali were customizable for the individual owner, leading to a variety of known styles and types. No two known hypocephali are entirely alike. Image via the British Museum.

According to Spell 162 of the Book of the Dead, hypocephali served a number of important purposes: to protect the deceased in the afterlife, to provide light and heat for the deceased, to make the deceased “appear again like one who is on earth” (that is, to resurrect them), and to ultimately transform the deceased into a god.7 Hypocephali were also conceived of (and even sometimes explicitly identified as) the magical eye of the sun god Re that consumed enemies with fire. Their circular shape and function to provide light, heat, and protection naturally lent themselves to this conceptualization in the minds of the ancient Egyptians.8

While these might perhaps have been the primary purposes of hypocephali, it is clear from the explanatory rubric of some copies of Spell 162 of the Book of the Dead and from other surviving evidence that they also served non-funerary roles. For example, hypocephali or objects that served the same purpose as hypocephali were used as divinatory devices in the Egyptian temple and as astronomical documents.9 This is especially significant since Joseph Smith’s interpretation of Facsimile 2 draws connections to the temple and features several astronomical elements. Hypocephali also shared a conceptual link with temple gates. In this capacity they served, among other things, to keep out enemies and admit friends into sacred space and shared a focus on creation motifs.10  Once again, this parallels some of Joseph Smith’s explanations of Facsimile 2 which emphasize creation.

Spell 162 of the Book of the Dead explains the purpose and function of the hypocephalus. The hieroglyphs highlighted in red (ẖr tp; “under the head” or “at the head”) is where the hypocephalus gets its name. Image from Lepsius, Das Todtenbuch der Ägypter (1842).

In summary, while hypocephali served a number of important religious and ritual purposes for the ancient Egyptians, they ultimately “point[ed] toward the Egyptians’ hope in a resurrection and life after death as a divine being.”11

Finally, it is noteworthy that there appears to have been ancient connections between Abraham and the hypocephalus. For example, in one Egyptian papyrus Abraham is referred to as “the pupil of the wedjat-eye” and associated with the primeval creator god (PDM xiv. 150–231).12 “The hypocephalus, based on the representations of [the creator god] Amon in the centre panel of the disc, is, according to the ancient Egyptian theory, identical with the pupil of the wedjat-eye.”13

Michael D. Rhodes has also drawn attention to a possible allusion to the hypocephalus in an extra-biblical text that prominently features Abraham.

The Apocalypse of Abraham describes a vision Abraham saw while making a sacrifice to God. In this vision he is shown the plan of the universe, “what is in the heavens, on the earth, in the sea, and in the abyss” (almost the exact words used in the left middle portion of the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus). He is shown “the fullness of the whole world and its circle,” in a picture with two sides. The similarity with the hypocephalus is striking. There is even a description of what are clearly the four canopic figures labeled number 6 in the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus. The significance of these documents is that they date from the beginning of the Christian era—they are roughly contemporary with the hypocephalus and the other Egyptian documents purchased by Joseph Smith—and they relate the same things about Abraham that Joseph Smith said are found in the hypocephalus and the other Egyptian papyri.14

Besides being interesting and informative in its own right, understanding the purpose and function of the ancient Egyptian hypocephalus is therefore crucial to evaluating Joseph Smith’s interpretation of Facsimile 2 and help readers of the Book of Abraham better appreciate why such a document might have been appropriated by the Prophet to illustrate Abraham’s record.

Further Reading

John Gee, “Hypocephalus,” in The Pearl of Great Price Reference Companion, ed. Dennis L. Largey (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2017), 161–162.

Hugh Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, One Eternal Round (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2010).

Michael D. Rhodes, “The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus…Twenty Years Later,” FARMS Preliminary Report (1997).

Michael D. Rhodes, “A Translation and Commentary of the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus,” BYU Studies 17, no. 3 (Spring 1977): 260–262.

Footnotes

1 Tamás Mekis, Hypocephali, PhD diss. (Eötvös Loránd University, 2013), 1:12, punctuation slightly altered. Other non-round funerary objects which served a same or similar purpose to the “classic” flat disc-shaped hypocephalus have also been identified. See John Gee, “Non-Round Hypocephali,” in Aegyptus et Pannonia III: Acta Symposii anno 2004, ed. Hedvig Győry (Budapest: The Ancient Egyptian Committee of the Hungarian-Egyptian Friendship Society, 2006), 41–54.

2 Champollion used this designation based on a bilingual Greek-Egyptian papyrus in the Louvre which commanded the text be placed ὕπο τὴν κεφαλήν (hypo tēn kephalēn) or “under the head.” Jean-François Champollion, Notice desriptive des monuments Égyptiens du Musée du Charles X (Paris: L’Imprimerie De Crapelet, 1827), 155; Mekis, Hypocephali, 1:15n19.

3 Gee, “Non-Round Hypocephali,” 49–50.

4 These have been helpfully collected in Mekis, Hypocephali.

5 Mekis, Hypocephali, 1:12.

6 Mekis, Hypocephali, 1:12.

7 For an accessible translation of Spell 162, see Michael D. Rhodes, “A Translation and Commentary of the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus,” BYU Studies 17, no. 3 (Spring 1977): 260–262; “The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus…Twenty Years Later,” FARMS Preliminary Report (1997), 13–14; cf. Hugh Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, One Eternal Round (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2010), 224–230; Mekis, Hypocephali, 1:13–15.

8 Mekis, Hypocephali, 1:57, 103–104; Rhodes, “The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus…Twenty Years Later,” 1.

9 Gee, “Non-Round Hypocephali,” 51–54; “Hypocephali as Astronomical Documents,” in Aegyptus et Pannonia V: Acta Symposii anno 2008, ed. Hedvig Györy and Ádám Szabó (Budapest: The Ancient Egyptian Committee of the Hungarian-Egyptian Friendship Society, 2016), 59–71.

10 John Gee, “Hypocephali as Gates,” forthcoming.

11 Rhodes, “The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus…Twenty Years Later,” 12.

12 F. L. Griffith and Herbert Thompson, The Demotic Magical Papyrus of London and Leiden (Oxford: The Claredon Press, 1921), 64–65; cf. John Gee, “Abraham in Ancient Egyptian Texts,” Ensign, July 1992, 61; “Abracadabra, Isaac, and Jacob,” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 7, no. 1 (1995): 76–79.

13 Mekis, Hypocephali, 1:14; cf. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 332-333.

14 Rhodes, “The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus…Twenty Years Later,” 7; cf. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 352–355; Kevin L. Barney, “The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources,” in Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant, ed. John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2005), 121–122.

The Idolatrous Priest (Facsimile 1, Figure 3)

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Book of Abraham Insight #29

The explanation accompanying Figure 3 of Facsimile 1 of the Book of Abraham identifies it as “the idolatrous priest of Elkenah attempting to offer up Abraham as a sacrifice.” In order to gauge the validity of this interpretation from an Egyptological perspective, a number of considerations need to be taken into account.

The first issue to resolve is the matter of the lacunae or missing pieces in the original papyrus fragment. As printed in the March 1, 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons, Figure 3 is shown as a standing figure with a bald head and a drawn knife. In the original papyrus fragment, however, the areas with the bald head and knife are currently missing. At some unknown point by some unknown person, an attempt was made to fill in the missing head of Figure 3, although no such attempt was made to fill in whatever is missing in the figure’s hand. Determining whether the figure in the original papyrus is accurately represented in Facsimile 1 is important as it may affect the interpretation of this figure.

A side-by-side comparison of Figure 3 in Facsimile 1, right, and the original papyrus fragment, left. Image via the Joseph Smith Papers website.

First, there is the question as to whether the knife being held by Figure 3 could plausibly have been in the original vignette or illustration. “The existence of the knife has been doubted by many because it does not conform to what other Egyptian papyri would lead us to expect,”1 and so some Egyptologists have denied the possibility that the knife was original to this illustration (even if others have had no objection to the possibility).2 At least two different nineteenth-century eyewitnesses who examined the papyri, including one who was not a Latter-day Saint, however, reported seeing “a Priest, with a knife in his hand”3 or “a man standing by him with a drawn knife.”4 The significance of this is that the presence of a knife in the original papyrus “has here been described by a non-Mormon eyewitness whose description of the storage and preservation of the papyri matches that of independent contemporary accounts. It also matches the description [another eyewitness] made before Reuben Hedlock made the woodcuts of the facsimiles. This gives us two independent eyewitnesses to the presence of a knife on Facsimile 1, regardless of what we might [otherwise] think.”5 As such, despite our unconscious or even conscious assumptions about what we think should be on the original papyrus, “it is not valid to argue that something does not exist because it does not correspond to what we expect.”6

Furthermore, the crescent shape of the knife in Figure 3’s hand is consistent with the shape of ancient Egyptian flint knives which were used from prehistoric times to the Middle Kingdom (and thus Abraham’s day) in, among other activities, “ritual slaughter” and execration rites.7 This reinforces the likelihood that the knife was original to scene.

The knife in Facsimile 1 (bottom left) is consistent in shape with recovered flint knives (top left) and depictions of flint knives (top right, bottom right) from the Middle Kingdom. Images via, starting at top left and running clockwise, Petrie (1891), Pl. VII; Griffith (1896), Pls. VIII, IX; the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Second, there is the question of whether Figure 3 originally had a bald human head as depicted in Facsimile 1 or a black jackal headdress, as proposed by a number of Egyptologists.8 That the figure originally had a jackal headdress seems likely, since traces of the headdress over the left shoulder of Figure 3 can be detected in the surviving papyrus fragment.

The faint remaining traces of what appears to have been the jackal headdress of Figure 3 in Facsimile 1.

With these considerations in mind, the question of identifying Figure 3 comes into play. Some Egyptologists have identified this figure as a priest,9 while others have insisted it is the god Anubis.10 That the figure is Anubis seems plausible on account of “the black coloring of the skin” and the faint remaining traces of the jackal headdress over the figure’s left shoulder.11 However, without a hieroglyphic caption for this figure,12 this identification should be accepted cautiously, as Anubis is not the only jackal-headed, black-skinned figure attested in Egyptian iconography.13

What’s more, the question as to whether the figure is a priest or the god Anubis (or another jackal-headed god), or whether it originally had a bald human head or a jackal head, appears to be a false dichotomy. “The practice of masking for ritual and ceremonial purposes seems to have been important in Egypt from the earliest times and continued to be an element of ritual practice into the Roman period,”14 and “priestly impersonators of Anubis regularly appear in funerary ceremonies, and are styled simply Inpw, ‘Anubis’ or rmt-Inpw, ‘Anubis-men’ . . . [or] ink Inpw, ‘I am Anubis.’”15 At the non-funerary Hathor temple of Deir el-Medineh is a depiction of a ritual taken from chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead which shows “the king offering incense, and a priest masked as Anubis beating a round frame drum.”16

A famous image from a relief at the temple of Hathor at Dendera, left, shows in “false transparency” a bald priest wearing an Anubis mask being assisted by another priest in his ritual duties. Image from Sweeney (1993), 102. An actual example of this type of mask, right, resides in the Pelizaeus-Museum in Hildesheim, Germany. Image via www.globalegyptianmuseum.org.

Similarly, frescoes at the site of Herculaneum depict “ceremonies of the cult of Isis as held in Italy in the first century CE.”17 This ritual scene features a number of priests and priestesses, including one figure who has been variously interpreted as the god Osiris or a priest dressed up as the god Bes and disguised with a mask. “Although the Herculaneum dancer probably represents a masked participant impersonating the god, the matter [would have been] theologically unimportant” to the ancient viewers of this scene, since the priest “masked as Bes” performing the ritual would, for all intents and purposes, have assumed the identity of the god himself in that ritual capacity.18

The potential significance of this for Facsimile 1 has been explained by Egyptologist John Gee:

Assume for the sake of argument that the head on Facsimile 1 Figure 3 is correct. What are the implications of the figure being a bald man? Shaving was a common feature of initiation into the priesthood from the Old Kingdom through the Roman period. Since “complete shaving of the head was another mark of the male Isiac votary and priest” the bald figure would then be a priest. Assume on the other hand that the head on Facsimile 1 Figure 3 is that of a jackal. . . . We have representations of priests wearing masks, one example of an actual mask, literary accounts from non-Egyptians about Egyptian priests wearing masks, and even a hitherto-unrecognized Egyptian account of when a priest would wear a mask. In the midst of the embalmment ritual, a new section is introduced with the following passage: “Afterwards, Anubis, the stolites priest wearing the head of this god, sits down and no lector-priest shall approach him to bind the stolites with any work.” Thus this text settles any questions about whether masks were actually used. It furthermore identifies the individual wearing the mask as a priest. Thus, however the restoration is made, the individual shown in Facsimile 1 Figure 3 is a priest, and the entire question of which head should be on the figure is moot so far as identifying the figure is concerned. The entire debate has been a waste of ink.19

The leopard-skin robe worn by Figure 3 would also be consistent with identifying this figure as a priest (specifically a class called the sem-priest), who is “recognizable by his leopard-skin robe” and certain hair styles. Interestingly, and perhaps significantly for Joseph Smith’s interpretation of Facsimile 1, the ritual clothing of the sem-priest had a clear connection to the god Anubis defeating chaos and evil, personified as the god Seth, through violence. “Papyrus Jumilhac, dating to the Ptolemaic Period (ca. 300 BC), attempts to explain the significance of the leopard skin through a myth that relates the misdeeds of the god Seth. As told in the papyrus, Seth attacked Osiris and then transformed himself into a leopard. The god Anubis defeated Seth and then branded his pelt with spots, hence the robe commemorates the defeat of Seth.”20  Also in Papyrus Jumilhac, Anubis transforms himself into a giant snake who brandishes two flint knives.21

Image from the Roman period tomb of Siamun at Gebel al-Mawta, featuring Siamun, seated on the left, his wife, standing on the right, and his son as a priest wearing a leopard skin-robe and cap. Image from Venit (2015), 142.

Even if some “issues concerning the accuracy of both the artwork and the copying [of Facsimile 1]” remain unanswered at the moment (issues which, unfortunately, “are routinely clouded by shifting the responsibility of the artwork from the engraver, Reuben Hedlock, to Joseph Smith, without adducing any evidence to identify a particular individual with the responsibility for the restorations”22), the identification of this figure as a priest is not outside the realm of possibility from an Egyptological perspective.

Further Reading

Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Abraham (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2009), 287–296, 494–495.

John Gee, “Abracadabra, Isaac, and Jacob,” FARMS Review of Books 7, no. 1 (1995): 80–83.

Footnotes

 

1 John Gee, “Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence of the Joseph Smith Papyri,” in The Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, ed. Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000), 186.

2 On the conflicting Egyptological opinions, see Friedrich Freiherr von Bissing, in Franklin S. Spalding, Joseph Smith, Jr., As a Translator (Salt Lake City, UT: Arrow Press, 1912), 30, and George R. Hughes in Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Abraham (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2009), 144, who saw nothing inordinate with Figure 3 holding a knife; but contrast with Klaus Baer, “The Breathing Permit of Hôr: A Translation of the Apparent Source of the Book of Abraham,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 3, no. 3 (Autumn 1968): 118n34; Stephen E. Thompson, “Egyptology and the Book of Abraham,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 28, no. 1 (1995): 148–149; Lanny Bell, “The Ancient Egyptian ‘Books of Breathing,’ the Mormon ‘Book of Abraham,’ and the Development of Egyptology in America,” in Egypt and Beyond: Essays Presented to Leonard H. Lesko upon his Retirement from the Wilbour Chair of Egyptology at Brown University June 2005, ed. Stephen E. Thompson and Peter der Manuelian (Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 2008), 25n27, 30.

3 William I. Appleby journal, 5 May 1841, reprinted in Brian M. Hauglid, ed., A Textual History of the Book of Abraham: Manuscripts and Editions (Provo, UT: The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2010), 278–282, quote at 279, line 7.

4 Henry Caswall, The City of the Mormons; or, Three Days at Nauvoo, in 1842 (London: Rivington, 1842), 23.

5 Gee, “Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence of the Joseph Smith Papyri,” 186.

6 Gee, “Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence of the Joseph Smith Papyri,” 208n38.

7 Robert K. Ritner, The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice (Chicago, Ill.: Oriental Institute, 1993), 163, see additionally 163–167; Marquardt Lund, “Egyptian Depictions of Flintknapping from the Old and Middle Kingdom, in Light of Experiments and Experience,” in Egyptology in the Present: Experiential and Experimental Methods in Archaeology, ed. Carolyn Graves-Brown (Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 2015), 113–137; Carolyn Graves-Brown, “Flint and Forts: The Role of Flint in Late Middle-New Kingdom Egyptian Weaponry,” in Walls of the Prince: Egyptian Interactions with Southwest Asia in Antiquity: Essays in Honour of John S. Holladay, Jr., ed. Timothy P. Harrison, Edward B. Banning & Stanley Klassen (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 37–59; William M. Flinders Petrie, Illahun, Kahun and Gurob: 1889–1890 (London: David Nutt, 1891) 52–53, Pl. VII; F. Ll. Griffith, Beni Hasan, Part III (London: Egypt Exploration Fund, 1896), 33–38, Pls. VII–X.

8 Théodule Devéria in Jules Remy, Voyage au pays des Mormons (Paris: E. Dentu, 1860), 2:463; Bell, “The Ancient Egyptian ‘Books of Breathing,’ the Mormon ‘Book of Abraham,’ and the Development of Egyptology in America,” 30.

9 James H. Breasted, Friedrich Freiherr von Bissing, and Edward Meyer in Spalding, Joseph Smith, Jr., As a Translator, 26, 30; George R. Hughes in Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Abraham, 144; John Gee, “Abracadabra, Isaac, and Jacob,” FARMS Review of Books 7, no. 1 (1995): 80–83; Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Abraham, 34, 288, 494–495.

10 Devéria in Jules Remy, Voyage au pays des Mormons, 2:463; William Flinders Petrie in Spalding, Joseph Smith, Jr., As a Translator, 23; Baer, “The Breathing Permit of Hôr,” 118; Thompson, “Egyptology and the Book of Abraham,” 114; Michael D. Rhodes, The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2002), 18; Bell, “The Ancient Egyptian ‘Books of Breathing,’ the Mormon ‘Book of Abraham,’ and the Development of Egyptology in America,” 23.

11 Rhodes, The Hor Book of Breathings, 18.

12 There appears to have been one hieroglyphic caption above the arm of Figure 3 in the original vignette preserved in Facsimile 1, but it is too damaged to read.

13 As noted in Gee, “Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence of the Joseph Smith Papyri,” 208n38, the figure could potentially be the jackal-headed god Isdes (who, incidentally, wields a knife). See Christian Leitz, Lexikon der ägyptischen Götter und Götterbezeichnungen (Leuven: Peeters, 2002), 1:560–561, and additionally Diletta Dantoni, Il Dio Isdes (BA thesis, University of Bologna, 2014), 8–9, on the identity of the god Isdes as judge and punisher of the dead.

14 Penelope Wilson, “Masking and Multiple Personas,” in Ancient Egyptian Demonology: Studies on the Boundaries Between the Demonic and the Divine in Egyptian Magic, ed. P. Kousoulis (Leuven: Peeters, 2011), 77.

15 Ritner, The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice, 249n1142; cf. Wilson, “Masking and Multiple Personas,” 78–79.

16 Alexandra von Lieven, “Book of the Dead, Book of the Living: BD Spells as Temple Texts,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 98 (2012): 263.

17 Robert K. Ritner, “Osiris-Canopus and Bes at Herculaneum,” in Joyful in Thebes: Egyptological Studies in Honor of Betsy M. Bryan, ed. Richard Jasnow and Kathlyn M. Cooney (Atlanta, GA: Lockwood Press, 2015), 401.

18 Ritner, “Osiris-Canopus and Bes at Herculaneum,” 406; cf. Wilson, “Masking and Multiple Personas,” 79–82, who discusses the use of masks in ritual and role playing and what that may have signified to the ancient Egyptians.

19 Gee, “Abracadabra, Isaac, and Jacob,” 80–83, citations removed; cf. A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000), 36–39, internal citations removed; Michael D. Rhodes, “Teaching the Book of Abraham Facsimiles,” Religious Educator 4, no. 2 (2003): 120; Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Abraham, 34, 288, 494–495; Günther Roeder, Die Denkmäler des Pelizaeus-Museums zu Hildesheim (Hildesheim: Karl Curtius Verlag, 1921), 127, Pl. 49; Deborah Sweeney, “Egyptian Masks in Motion,” Göttinger Miszellen 135 (1993): 101–104.

20 Emily Teeter, Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 24–25.

21 P. Jumilhac 13/14-14/4, in Jacques Vandier, Le Papyrus Jumilhac (Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1962), 125–126.

22 Gee, A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri, 39.

Facsimile 1 as a Sacrifice Scene

Fac1

Book of Abraham Insight #28

Facsimile 1 of the Book of Abraham visually depicts the narrative contained in Abraham 1:12–19. As interpreted by Joseph Smith, this scene depicts Abraham fastened upon an altar before some idolatrous gods. An idolatrous priest is about to sacrifice Abraham, who is protected by the Angel of the Lord. Since the mid-1800s, when Egyptologists first began analyzing the facsimiles of the Book of Abraham, Joseph Smith’s interpretation of this scene (sometimes called a lion couch scene, due to the prominent lion couch at the center of the illustrations) has clashed with Egyptological interpretations. In 1860, the French Egyptologist Théodule Devéria interpreted Facsimile 1 as depicting the resurrection of the god Osiris.1 In 1912, Egyptologists interpreted Facsimile 1 as, variously, “the well known scene of Anubis preparing the body of the dead man,”2 “a resurrection scene” showing “Osiris rising from the dead,”3 “an embalmer preparing a body for burial,”4 “the body of the dead lying” on a funerary bier,5 and “a dead man . . . lying on a bier” and being prepared for mummification.6 Similar interpretations of Facsimile 1 have been given in more recent years.7 From the weight of this Egyptological authority alone, it may seem absurd to associate Facsimile 1 with sacrifice as Joseph Smith did. However, more recent investigation has turned up evidence which suggests a connection between sacrifice or sacred violence and scenes of the embalming and resurrection of the deceased (or the god Osiris). In 2008 and 2010, Egyptologist John Gee published evidence linking scenes of Osiris’ mummification and resurrection “in the roof chapels of the Dendara Temple” with execration rituals that involved ritual violence.8 Other Egyptologists have already drawn parallels between Facsimile 1 and the Dendara Temple lion couch scenes,9 but, as Gee has elaborated, there is a clear connection with sacrifice and ritual violence in these scenes.10 “In the Dendara texts, the word for the lion couch . . . is either homophonous or identical with the word . . . ‘abattoir, slaughterhouse,’ as well as a term for ‘offerings.’”11 This is reinforced in the inscriptions surrounding the lion couch scenes.
The Egyptian word for “lion couch” (nmỉt; above) is homophonous or nearly homophonous with the words for “slaughter house” (nmt; bottom left) and “offering” (nmt; bottom right). Because of their similar spelling and likely pronunciation, these terms appear in some contexts to have been conceptually associated with each other through paranomasia or play on words, in which the ancient Egyptians frequently engaged. Hieroglyphs reproduced after Wilson (1997).
For example, in the central scene in the innermost eastern chapel, we read, “He will not exist nor will his name exist, since you will destroy his town, cast down the walls of his house, and everyone who is in it will be set on fire, you will demolish his district, you will stab his confederates, his flesh being ashes, the evil conspirator consigned to the lion couch/slaughterhouse, so that he will no longer exist.” . . . Furthermore, in the same chapel, we have depictions of Anubis and the sons of Horus (presumably the figures under the lion couch in Facsimile 1) holding knives. Anubis is here identified as the one “who smites the adversaries with his might, since the knife is in his hand, to expel the one who treads in transgression; I am the violent one who came forth from god, after having cut off the heads of the confederates of him whose name is evil.” The human-headed son of Horus is identified above his head as “the one who repulses enemies” and “who comes tearing out the enemies who butchers the sinners.” The baboonheaded son of Horus says: “I have slaughtered those who create injuries in the house of God in his presence; I take away the breath from his nostrils.” The jackal-headed son of Horus says: “I cause the hostile foreigners to retreat.” Finally, the falcon-headed son of Horus says: “I have removed rebellion.”12
The central scene of the innermost eastern chapel of Osiris at the Dendara Temple depicts the mummification and revitalization of Osiris. Although not reproduced here, the hieroglyphs that run in the columns directly above Osiris in the middle of the scene speak, in part, of slaughtering the god’s enemies. Line drawing taken from Cauville (1997).
From this and other evidence collected by Gee,13 it can be seen that at least some ancient Egyptians “associate[d] the lion couch scene with the sacrificial slaughter of enemies.”14 Why might some ancient Egyptians have done so? It may relate to the myth of the resurrection of the god Osiris, which lion couch scenes were meant to depict. In the classic retelling of the myth, Osiris was slain and mutilated by his evil brother Seth. Through the efforts of his sister-wife Isis, the body of Osiris was magically reassembled and resurrected. The final vindication came when their son Horus slew Seth in combat and claimed kingship.15 The element in this myth of Horus slaying Seth and thereby the forces of chaos or disorder (including foreign peoples, rebels, and enemies of Pharaoh) might explain why sacrifice was associated with embalming and mummification in some ancient Egyptian texts.16 Interestingly, another papyrus from the first century BC (not far removed from the time period of the Joseph Smith Papyri), “comments on the fate suffered in the embalming place during the initial stages of mummification by one who was overly concerned with amassing wealth while alive.”17 As read in the text, “It is the chief of the spirits (= Anubis) who is first to punish after the taking of breath. Juniper oil, incense, natron, and salt, searing ingredients, are a ‘remedy’ for his wounds. A ‘friend’ who shows no mercy attacks his flesh. He is unable to say “desist” during the punishment of the assessor.”18 Commenting on this passage, Mark Smith observes that in this text “the embalming table [the lion couch] is also a judge’s tribunal and the chief embalmer, Anubis, doubles as the judge who executes sentence. For the wicked man, mummification, the very process which is supposed to restore life and grant immortality, becomes a form of torture from which no escape is possible.”19 Indeed, that Anubis had a role as judge of the dead, besides merely being an embalmer, has previously been acknowledged by Egyptologists.20
The sons of Horus hold knives and proclaim their intent to destroy the enemies of Osiris in the god’s chapel at the Dendara Temple. Line drawing taken from Cauville (1997).
One task Anubis fulfilled with this role was as a guard or protector who “administer[ed] horrible punishments to the enemies of Osiris.”21 From surviving evidence it is evident that “Anubis must have been engaged in warding off evil influences, and it is conceivable that he did so as a judge. . . . [One Egyptian text even] identifies Anubis as a butcher slaying the enemies of Osiris while [another] states that such butchers are in fact a company of magistrates.”22 As a “reckoner of hearts” (ỉp ỉbw) Anubis was “the inflictor of the punishment . . . of the enemies” of Osiris.23 So from the perspective of the ancient Egyptians, the process of embalming and mummification included elements of ritual violence against evildoers or agents of chaos. “The punishment of enemies by a ‘judge’ is simply a part of the protective ritual enacted in connection with the embalmment of the deceased.”24 It is thus reasonable to insist, as Gee does, that “excluding a sacrificial dimension to lion couch scenes is un-Egyptian, even if we cannot come up with one definitive reading [of Facsimile 1] at this time.”25

Further Reading

John Gee, “The Facsimiles,” in An Introduction to the Book of Abraham (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2017), 143–156. John Gee, “Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri,” FARMS Review 20, no. 1 (2008): 113–137, esp. 130–135. Hugh Nibley, “Facsimile 1: A Unique Document,” in An Approach to the Book of Abraham (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2009), 115–178.

Footnotes

1 Jules Remy, Voyage au pays des Mormons, 2 vols. (Paris: E. Dentu, 1860), 2:463; cf. A Journal to the Great-Salt-Lake City, 2 vols. (London: W. Jeffs, 1861), 2:540.

2 Franklin S. Spalding, Joseph Smith, Jr., As a Translator (Salt Lake City, UT: The Arrow Press, 1912), 23.

3 Spalding, Joseph Smith, Jr., As a Translator, 26.

4 Spalding, Joseph Smith, Jr., As a Translator, 28.

5 Spalding, Joseph Smith, Jr., As a Translator, 30.

6 Spalding, Joseph Smith, Jr., As a Translator, 30.

7 See e.g. Michael D. Rhodes, The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2002), 18–20.

8 John Gee, “Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri,” FARMS Review 20, no. 1 (2008): 130–135, quote at 132; “Execration Rituals in Various Temples,” in 8. Ägyptologische Tempeltagung: Interconnections between Temples, Warschau, 22.–25. September 2008, ed. Monika Dolińska and Horst Beinlich (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010), 67–80, esp. 73–79.

9 Lanny Bell, “The Ancient Egyptian ‘Books of Breathing,’ the Mormon ‘Book of Abraham,’ and the Development of Egyptology in America,” in Egypt and Beyond: Essays Presented to Leonard H. Lesko upon his Retirement from the Wilbour Chair of Egyptology at Brown University, June 2005, ed. Stephen E. Thompson and Peter Der Manuelian (Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 2008), 26–28.

10 Gee, “Execration Rituals in Various Temples,” 73–79.

11 Gee, “Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri,” 132, citing Penelope Wilson, A Ptolemaic Lexikon (Leuven: Peeters, 1997).

12 Gee, “Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri,” 132–133, citing Sylvie Cauville, Le Temple de Dendara: Les chapelles osiriennes (Cairo: IFAO, 1997); cf. John Gee, “Glossed Over: Ancient Egyptian Interpretations of Their Religion,” in Evolving Egypt: Innovation, Appropriation, and Reinterpretation in Ancient Egypt, ed. Kerry Muhlestein (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2012), 74. Cauville, Le Temple de Dendara, 2:107, calls these figures defending Osiris “aggressive genies” (les génies agressifs) who form a “defensive zone” (zone de défense) around his body.

13 Gee, “Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri,” 134–135.

14 Gee, “Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri,” 134.

15 Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002), 193–194; cf. A. M. Blackman and H. W. Fairman, “The Myth of Horus at Edfu: II. C. The Triumph of Horus over His Enemies: A Sacred Drama,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 28 (1942): 32–38; “The Myth of Horus at Edfu: II. C. The Triumph of Horus over His Enemies: A Sacred Drama (Continued),” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 29 (1943): 2–36; “The Myth of Horus at Edfu: II. C. The Triumph of Horus over His Enemies: A Sacred Drama (Concluded),” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 30 (1944): 5–22.

16 This connection is explicitly made in Papyrus Jumilhac. See Harco Willems, “Anubis as Judge,” in Egyptian Religion: The Last Thousand Years, Part 1: Studies Dedicated to the Memory of Jan Quaegebeur, ed. Willy Clarysse, Antoon Schoors, and Harco Willems (Leuven: Peeters, 1998), 741.

17 Mark S. Smith, Traversing Eternity: Texts for the Afterlife from Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009), 26.

18 Smith, Traversing Eternity, 26–27.

19 Smith, Traversing Eternity, 27.

20 Willems, “Anubis as Judge,” 719–743.

21 Willems, “Anubis as Judge,” 726.

22 Willems, “Anubis as Judge,” 727.

23 Willems, “Anubis as Judge,” 735.

24 Willems, “Anubis as Judge,” 740; cf. Cauville, Le Temple de Dendara, 2:108, who observes that the role of Anubis in these Dendara embalming scenes is to act as both an embalmer and a butcher of Osiris’ enemies. “Cette double fonction est aussi assumée par les trois Anubis: préposés à l’embaumement (ḫnty sḥ-nṯr, nb wˁbt, ỉmỉ-wt), ils massacrent Seth et le découpent en morceaux.”

25 Gee, “Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri,” 135.

Approaching the Facsimiles

Fac1Plate

Book of Abraham Insight #27

As “the only illustrations in our scriptures” the facsimiles of the Book of Abraham “attract attention not only because of their rough-hewn quality but by their very existence as a visual medium in the midst of the written word.”1  Latter-day Saint scholars and interested laypersons have offered a number of different approaches to understanding the facsimiles and gauging the validity of Joseph Smith’s interpretations thereof.2  Some of the more common approaches include:

    1. The illustrations were original to Abraham. To interpret them we should look to how Egyptians in Abraham’s day, or Abraham himself, would have understood them.
    2. The illustrations were original to Abraham but were modified over time for use by the ancient Egyptians. The illustrations we have as preserved in the facsimiles are much later and altered copies of Abraham’s originals. To interpret them we should consider the underlying Abrahamic elements and compare them with how the Egyptians understood these images.3
    3. The illustrations were connected to the Book of Abraham when the Joseph Smith Papyri were created in the Ptolemaic period (circa 300–30 BC). To interpret them we should look to what Egyptians of that time thought these drawings represent.4
    4. The illustrations were connected to the Book of Abraham for the first time in the Ptolemaic period, but to interpret them we should look specifically to what Egyptian priests who were integrating Jewish, Greek, and Mesopotamian religious practices into native Egyptian practices would have thought about them.5
    5. The illustrations were connected to the Book of Abraham in the Ptolemaic period, but to interpret them we should look to how Jews of that era would have understood of them.6
    6. The illustrations were never part of the ancient text of the Book of Abraham, but instead were adapted by Joseph Smith to artistically depict the ancient text he revealed/translated. We can make sense of Joseph’s interpretations by expanding our understanding of his role as a “translator.”7
Facsimile 1 of the Book of Abraham

Each of these approaches has its respective strengths and weaknesses, but none on its own can account for all of the available evidence. For example, the first paradigm (1) is a more straightforward way of thinking about the facsimiles but is severely undermined by the fact that the Joseph Smith Papyri date to many centuries after Abraham’s lifetime.8 The second, third, and fourth paradigms (2–4) are each compelling to varying degrees since they can account for the instances where Joseph Smith’s interpretations of the facsimiles align with other Egyptologists, but no single one of them can account for his interpretations in their entirety from an Egyptological perspective.

Whichever paradigm one adopts, it seems clear that Joseph Smith’s explanations to the facsimiles were original to himself (none of the explanations appear as text next to the illustrations on the papyri he possessed).9 “There are aspects of [these explanations] that match what Egyptologists say they mean. Some [of them] are quite compelling. . . . . However, as we look at the entirety of any of the facsimiles, an Egyptological interpretation does not match what Joseph Smith said about them.”10 This is, however, complicated by the fact that even though none of Joseph Smith’s explanations to the facsimiles in their entirety agree with how modern Egyptologists understand these illustrations, in many instances they do accurately reflect ancient Egyptian and Semitic concepts.11 This requires us to carefully unpack the assumptions we bring when approaching the facsimiles under any of the theoretical paradigms listed above.

Facsimile 2 of the Book of Abraham

Despite some important advances in scholarship, “we [still] do not [entirely] know to what we really should compare the facsimiles.”

Was Joseph Smith giving us an interpretation that ancient Egyptians would have held, or one that only a small group of priests interested in Abraham would have held, or one that a group of ancient Jews in Egypt would have held, or something another group altogether would have held, or was he giving us an interpretation we needed to receive for our spiritual benefit regardless of how any ancient groups would have seen these? We do not know. While [scholars] can make a pretty good case for the idea that some Egyptians could have viewed Facsimile 1 the way Joseph Smith presents it, [we are still] not sure that is the methodology we should be employing. We just don’t know enough about what Joseph Smith was doing to be sure about any possible comparisons, or lack thereof.12

What is clear from all of this is that “much more work needs to be done before we can understand the facsimiles in their ancient Egyptian setting, and only then will it be meaningful to ask whether that understanding matches that of Joseph Smith (to the extent that we understand even that).”13 For example, “Facsimile 3 has always been the most neglected of the three facsimiles in the Book of Abraham. Unfortunately, most of what has been said about this facsimile is seriously wanting at best and highly erroneous at worst.”14  Some valuable work in recent years, however, has helped remedy this by better situating this facsimile in its ancient Egyptian context.15  As that context has become clearer, elements of Joseph Smith’s explanations have become more plausible (although other elements remain at odds with current Egyptological theories).

Whichever theoretical paradigm one adopts in approaching the facsimiles, a respectable case can be made that with a number of his explanations Joseph Smith accurately captured ancient Egyptian concepts (and even scored a few bullseyes) that would have otherwise been beyond his natural ability to know.16  Any honest approach to the facsimiles must recognize this and take this into account. At the same time, however, this is not necessarily conclusive evidence that the facsimiles themselves were actually used as illustrations for Abraham’s record in antiquity. For now, then, the best approach to the facsimiles would be to remain open-minded and inquisitive and to keep asking the best questions that we can based on the best available evidence and information.

Facsimile 3 of the Book of Abraham

Further Reading

John Gee, “A Method for Studying the Facsimiles,” FARMS Review 19, no. 1 (2007): 347–353.

Kevin L. Barney, “The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources,” in Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant, ed. John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2005), 107–130.

Michael D. Rhodes, “Teaching the Book of Abraham Facsimiles,” Religious Educator 4, no. 2 (2003): 115–123.

Footnotes

 

1 John Gee, “A Method for Studying the Facsimiles,” FARMS Review 19, no. 1 (2007): 347.

2 John Gee, A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000), 33–41; “A Method for Studying the Facsimiles,” 347–353; “The Facsimiles,” in An Introduction to the Book of Abraham (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2017), 143–156; Hugh Nibley, “What, Exactly, Is the Purpose and Significance of the Facsimiles in the Book of Abraham?” Ensign, March 1976, 34–36; “The Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham: A Response,” in An Approach to the Book of Abraham (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2009), 493–501; Michael D. Rhodes, “Teaching the Book of Abraham Facsimiles,”Religious Educator 4, no. 2 (2003): 115-123; “Facsimiles from the Book of Abraham,” in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 4 Vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 1:135–137; Kevin L. Barney, “The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources,” in Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant, ed. John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2005), 107–130; Allen J. Fletcher, A Study Guide to the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, Inc., 2006); Terryl Givens, The Pearl of Greatest Price: Mormonism’s Most Controversial Scripture (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2019), 142–153.

3 Rhodes, “Teaching the Book of Abraham Facsimiles,” 115–123.

4 Gee, “A Method for Studying the Facsimiles,” 347–353.

5 Kerry Muhlestein, “The Religious and Cultural Background of Joseph Smith Papyrus I,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 22, no. 1 (2013): 20–33.

6 Barney, “The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources,” 107–130.

7 Givens, The Pearl of Greatest Price, 180–202.

8 Michael D. Rhodes, The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2002), 3.

9 With regard to the authorship of the explanations of the facsimiles, it should be kept in mind that “[w]hile we do not know if Joseph Smith is the original author of these interpretations, we know he participated in preparing the published interpretations and gave editorial approval to them.” Kerry Muhlestein, “Joseph Smith’s Biblical View of Egypt,” in Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith and the Ancient World, edited by Lincoln H. Blumell, Matthew J. Grey, and Andrew H. Hedges (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2015), 469n10.

10 Stephen Smoot, “Egyptology and the Book of Abraham: An Interview with Egyptologist Kerry Muhlestein,” FairMormon Blog (November 14, 2013).

11 In addition to the sources cited above, see additionally Michael D. Rhodes, “The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus…Twenty Years Later,” FARMS Preliminary Report (1997); John Gee, “Abracadabra, Isaac, and Jacob,” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 7, no. 1 (1995): 19–84; Hugh Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, One Eternal Round (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2010).

12 Smoot, “Egyptology and the Book of Abraham.”

13 Gee, “A Method for Studying the Facsimiles,” 353.

14 John Gee, “Facsimile 3 and Book of the Dead 125,” in Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant, ed. John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2005), 95.

15 Gee, “Facsimile 3 and Book of the Dead 125,” 95–105; Quinten Zehn Barney, “The Neglected Facsimile: An Examination and Comparative Study of Facsimile No. 3 of The Book of Abraham,” MA thesis, Brigham Young University, 2019.

16 “Egyptian was not really understood in Joseph Smith’s day. Not a single inscription in either hieratic or hieroglyphs had been completely translated before his death, and none were published until seven years afterwards. Joseph Smith was not in the tradition of Champollion to which Egyptology today belongs. Any knowledge he may have had did not come from that source, and indeed, everyone is in agreement about that.” John Gee, “Joseph Smith and Ancient Egypt,” in Approaching Antiquity, 443.

The Fall of Lucifer

Satan1

Book of Abraham Insight #26

In parallel with other books of Latter-day Saint scripture (e.g. Moses 4:1–4), the Book of Abraham’s depiction of the pre-mortal council includes a brief mention of the fall of Lucifer. As readers encounter at the end of chapter 3 of the Book of Abraham, Lucifer’s fall from the divine council was an act of rebellion because of his not being selected to carry out God’s plan of salvation.

And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him. (Abraham 3:24–28)

While later biblical and extra-biblical writings from the first millennium BC contain reworked allusions to pervasive Near Eastern myths about the fall of rebellious deities or angels (e.g. Genesis 6:1–4; Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28:1–10; 28:11–19; Job 38; Daniel 11–12; Psalm 82),1 a fair question to ask is whether this mythic archetype is attested in Near Eastern literature from Abraham’s day. In fact, there does appear to be evidence for elements of this mythic concept in the literature of earlier Near Eastern cultures.

Biblical scholar Mark Smith has recently drawn attention to the “basic idea” underlying the myth of the “conflict between competing deities in the divine realm” being present in texts from the Middle and Late Bronze Age sites of Mari and Ugarit. “These cases of divine conflict are set in the divine council that meets in heaven; they end in the demotion or expulsion of the defeated deity.”2 In the Mari corpus is a letter from Šamaš-naṣir, the governor of the city of Terqa, to Zimri-Lim, the king of Mari from circa 1775–1760 BC.3 In this text, Šamaš-naṣir “gives account of a vision concerning a heavenly verdict” by the god Dagan, the chief deity of Mari, against other deities, including the god Tišpak of the city Ešnunna. “This is done in the presence of other gods” in the divine council and “corresponds to Zimri-Lim’s hoped-for victory over King Ibalpiel II of Ešnunna, whose god [Tišpak] – and, through him, the king himself – is threatened with” destruction.4 As the relevant section of the text reads:

“‘[Now, let them c]all [Tišpak before me] and I will pass judgment.’ So they called on Tišpak for me, and Dagan said to Tišpak as follows: ‘From Šinaḫ (?) you have ruled the land. Now your day has passed. You will confront your day like [the city] Ekallatum.’”5

As scholars recognize, this text clearly depicts a divine council scene where “a denial of the right of [another deity] to rule” is issued by the edict of a superior deity.6 As such, it provides broad parallel with and precedent to later biblical texts which depict the fall of rebellious divinities,7 as well as the Book of Abraham.

Turning to the material from Ugarit, the Late Bronze Age text known as the Baal Cycle depicts “cases of divine conflict [which] are set in the divine council that meets in heaven; they end in the demotion or expulsion of the defeated deity.”8 One such scene from the Baal Cycle (KTU 1.2 I 19–48) narrates how the god Baal defiantly rebuked the messenger gods of his rival, the deity Yamm, after they brought the divine council a message demanding surrender. The cycle ends with Baal defeating Yamm and claiming kingship in the divine council (KTU 1.2 IV 30–41).9 That the Ugaritic Baal Cycle provides clear underlying mythic and literary precedent for later biblical iterations of this type-scene is widely recognize by scholars.10

An image of the Canaanite storm god Baal (left) on a limestone stela (Louvre AO 15775) discovered at the site of the ancient city of Ugarit. The celebrated Baal Cycle as preserved in cuneiform script on clay tablets (Louvre AO 16641+16642) discovered at Ugarit (right) narrates how this deity became the chief god of the Ugaritic pantheon. Images via Wikimedia.

The mythic tales of Illuyanka and Kumarbi from ancient Anatolia might also provide additional parallel material to the rebellion of Lucifer in the Book of Abraham.11 In the Illuyanka tales, which date to the Old Hittite period (circa 1750–1500 BC), the chief deity of the people of Hatti, a storm god, is “defeat[ed] and incapacitat[ed] . . . by an evil and powerful reptile. . . In both versions of the myth, the Storm God needs the help of a mortal and a trick in order to regain supremacy over the serpent.”12 In the second version of the myth, the storm god battles and ultimately prevails over the serpent at “an unspecified sea.”13

Finally, in the Hurrian Kumarbi Cycle (circa 1400–1200 BC) “the central theme . . .is the competition between [the gods] Kumarbi and Tessub for kingship over the gods.”14  This mythic cycle depicts how Kumarbi “attempt[ed] . . . to supplant Tessub as king of the gods” through stratagem. This included one attempt where Kumarbi raised up his son Ullikummi “to destroy . . . the city of Tessub, and to dethrone Tessub” himself. Tessub, however, concocts his own plan for defeating Ullikummi with the help of members of the divine council, which he eventually does.15

While there are very clear differences between these texts and the Book of Abraham, and while none of this is to suggest that the Book of Abraham is directly drawing from these texts, or vice versa, important parallels nevertheless remain which are indicative of a shared cultural and religious backdrop. The common elements in these ancient Near Eastern and Anatolian myths and the Book of Abraham include the divine council as the setting, the involvement of multiple divinities or gods, some kind of attempt to supplant or overthrow the chief deity of the council in an overt act of rebellion or defiance,16 and the ultimate humiliation or downfall of the rebellious character.

From this and other evidence,17 “several striking affinities with Semitic traditions are immediately available” in the Book of Abraham. As seen above, “the council scene in particular is consistent with a standard motif in Mesopotamian and Ugaritic literature, wherein a divine assembly convenes to consider a problem and a series of proposals is offered.”18 This in turn reinforces the overall sense of antiquity and historical believability of the book.

Further Reading

John Gee, “The Preexistence,” in An Introduction to the Book of Abraham (Provo and Salt Lake City, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, and Deseret Book, 2017), 121–127.

Stephen O. Smoot, “Council, Chaos, and Creation in the Book of Abraham,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 22, no. 2 (2013): 28–39.

Footnotes

 

1 On this topic, consult Hugh Rowland Page, Jr., The Myth of Cosmic Rebellion: A Study of its Reflexes in Ugaritic and Biblical Literature (Leiden: Brill, 1996); R. Mark Shipp, Of Dead Kings and Dirges: Myth and Meaning in Isaiah 14:4b–21 (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2002), esp. 81–127; Mark S. Smith, The Genesis of Good and Evil: The Fall(out) and Original Sin in the Bible (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019), 15–28.

2 Smith, The Genesis of Good and Evil, 22.

3 Reproduced in “6. Šamaš-naṣir to Zimrli-Lim,” in Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East, ed. Peter Machinist (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003), 26–27.

4 Martti Nissinen, “Prophets and the Divine Council,” in Kein Land für sich allein: Studien zum Kulturkontakt in Kanaan, Israel/Palästina und Ebirnâri für Manfred Weippert zum 65. Geburtstag, ed. Ulrich Hübner and Ernst Akel Knauf (Freiburg and Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Freiburg Schweiz and Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002), 9.

5 “6. Šamaš-naṣir to Zimrli-Lim,” 27, punctuation slightly modified and footnotes removed.

6 Mark Smith, God in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World, rep. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2010), 138.

7 Smith, God in Translation, 137–139.

8 Smith, The Genesis of Good and Evil, 22.

9 Smith, The Genesis of Good and Evil, 22, 107n42. A translation of the Baal Cycle can be accessed in Simon B. Parker, ed., Ugaritic Narrative Poetry (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 1997), 81–180.

10 For a summary of the scholarly consensus, see Page, The Myth of Cosmic Rebellion; cf. Smith, The Genesis of Good and Evil, 22–24; Michael D. Coogan and Mark S. Smith, ed. and trans., Stories from Ancient Canaan, 2nd ed. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), 97–109.

11 For translations of these texts, see Harry A. Hoffner, Jr., Hittite Myths, 2nd ed. (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 1998), 9–14, 40–80.

12 Hoffner, Hittite Myths, 10–11.

13 Hoffner, Hittite Myths, 13.

14 Hoffner, Hittite Myths, 41.

15 Hoffner, Hittite Myths, 55–56.

16 The Book of Abraham does not make this point as explicitly as other Restoration scripture, such as the Book of Moses, which depicts Satan as seeking “to destroy the agency of man, which . . . the Lord God, had given him” and also demanding “that [God] should give unto him [his] own power.” This Satan does by proclaiming, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1, 3). Nevertheless, an implication of Satan actively rebelling against God in the Book of Abraham can be seen in his being described as “angry” at God’s decision to choose the one “like unto the Son of Man.” Additionally, that “many followed after him [=Satan]” also suggests a collective act of rebellion.

17 David E. Bokovoy, “‘Ye Really Are Gods’: A Response to Michael Heiser concerning the LDS Use of Psalm 82 and the Gospel of John,” FARMS Review 19, no. 1 (2007): 267–313, esp. 272–279; Stephen O. Smoot, “Council, Chaos, and Creation in the Book of Abraham,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 22, no. 2 (2013): 28–39.

18 Terryl Givens, When Souls Had Wings: Pre-Mortal Existence in Western Thought (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010), 215–216; cf. The Pearl of Greatest Price: Mormonism’s Most Controversial Scripture (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2019), 125–128.