Book of Abraham Manuscript, circa July–circa November 1835–A [Abraham 1:4–2:6]
Book of Abraham, [, Geauga Co., OH, ca. July–ca. Nov. 1835]; English in the handwriting of ; hieratic and unknown characters in unidentified handwriting (likely Williams); four pages; Book of Abraham Manuscripts, CHL. Includes archival markings.Two leaves, the first leaf measuring 12½ × 7⅝ inches (32 × 19 cm) and the second leaf measuring 12½ × 7¾ inches (32 × 20 cm). The first leaf is unruled, and the second leaf is ruled with thirty-seven blue lines that are now mostly faded. Both leaves were originally part of two larger sheets that were cut in half; the other halves of the two larger sheets are now the first and second leaves of Book of Abraham Manuscript–B. The first and second pages each bear a vertical line drawn in graphite; the third page bears a vertical line in ink. The fourth page does not contain a vertical line. These lines formed a margin on the left side of each page, ranging in width from ½ inch to ¾ inch (1–2 cm). Characters from the Book of Breathing for Horos, the Egyptian Alphabet documents or the Grammar and Alphabet volume, and possibly other unknown sources were copied in the margins. It appears that paginated the entire manuscript.At some point, the leaves were folded in half, perhaps for storage. The edges of the right side of the first leaf and the upper edge of the second leaf are worn. Both leaves have significant staining and foxing. The dimensions and distinct outline of the staining on the verso of the first leaf match the dimensions and outline of the plate used in to print Facsimile 3, the third illustration from the papyri that was printed with the Book of Abraham. This staining indicates that the printing plates and the manuscripts were stored together for some time. By the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, the pages of this document were labeled in blue ink with letters of the alphabet from J to M. The handwriting in which this labeling is inscribed is similar to that of early-twentieth-century apostle James E. Talmage. This document was presumably stored with the Egyptian material mentioned in periodic inventories of the Historian’s Office, which suggests continuous institutional custody.
In late 1835, inscribed the following version of the first portion of the Book of Abraham. Williams’s manuscript was closely related to Book of Abraham Manuscript–B, which was inscribed by . Evidence suggests that large portions of this version and Book of Abraham Manuscript–B were created and revised simultaneously. The similarities in the revisions to the two manuscripts suggest that Williams and Parrish created portions of these texts by taking down dictation and perhaps by copying portions from a nonextant version of the Book of Abraham. The heading found at the beginning of Book of Abraham Manuscript–A, which reads “sign of the fifth degree of the first <Seccond> part”, is similar to headings found in the Grammar and Alphabet volume and the Egyptian Alphabet documents documents, indicating this manuscript was associated with JS’s earlier efforts to study the Egyptian language—although the nature of this relationship is uncertain.Two relatively large insertions in this version illustrate a connection between the Book of Abraham text and a vignette on the papyri. The insertions refer readers to a representation of the attempted sacrifice of Abraham upon an altar, which points readers to the vignette, or illustration, from the Book of Breathing for Horos. These insertions by may have been first added to the Book of Abraham Manuscript–A and then silently incorporated in later versions, including Book of Abraham Manuscript–B, which suggests that at least some parts of the manuscripts were not created simultaneously.Along the left margin of each page of this version are characters copied from the surviving fragments of the papyri, from the Egyptian Alphabet documents or the Grammar and Alphabet volume, and possibly from other unknown sources. The characters show evidence of having been copied in groups; the characters on the last page all seem to have been copied at the same time. At times, gradually tightened or spaced out his handwriting to ensure an English paragraph would fill but not extend beyond the space between each character and the one following it in the left margin. On the last extant page of the text, however, Williams made a significant copy error, accidentally recopying multiple lines. This copying error indicates that at the final stage in the creation of the manuscript, Williams was copying from another manuscript. The extant manuscript ends near the bottom of the verso of the last leaf. It is possible, therefore, that another, nonextant leaf bearing additional material was inscribed by Williams.Unless otherwise indicated in the annotation, Book of Abraham Manuscript–A and Book of Abraham Manuscript–B contain the same text, as well as the same cancellations and insertions. Differences in spelling, capitalization, and punctuation between the two manuscripts are not noted. Because Book of Abraham Manuscript–C was not created alongside the other two versions, differences between it and Book of Abraham Manuscript–A are not tracked closely in the annotation to this version.
Rhodes, Michael D. The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary. Studies in the Book of Abraham, edited by John Gee. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University, 2002.
Coenen, Marc. “The Ownership and Dating of Certain Joseph Smith Papyri.” In The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, P. JS 1–4 and the Hypocephalus of Sheshonq, by Robert K. Ritner, 57–71. Salt Lake City: Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2011.
|✦ ||sign of the fifth degree of the first <Seccond> part|
|✦ ||I sought for <mine> the appointment whereunto unto the priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed|
|✦ ||my fathers having turned from their righteousness and from unto them unto the worshiping of the Gods of the hethens|
|✦ ||utterly refused to harken to my voice for their hearts were set to do evil and were wholly turned to the God of Elk<=>Kener and the God of Zibnah and the God of Mah-mackrah and the God of Pharoah King of Egypt therefore they turned their hearts to the sacrafice of the heathens in offering up their children unto these dumb Idols and harkened not unto my voice but indeovered [endeavored] to take away my life by the hand of the priest of Elk=Kener|
|✦ ||The priest of Elk=Keenah was also the priest of Pharoah, now at this time it was the custom of the priest of Pharaoh the King of Egypt to offer up upon the Alter which was built in the land of Chaldea for the offering unto ther these strange gods both men, women, and children— and it came to pass that the priest made an offering unto the god of Pharaoh and also unto the god of Shag=reel even after the manner of the Egyptians now the god of Shag-reel was the Sun— even a thank offering of a child did the priest of Pharaoh offer upon the Alter which stood by the hill called Potipher<s> hill at the head of the plains of Olishem|
|✦ ||Now this priest had offered off upon this alter three virgins at one time who were the daughters of Onitus Onitah—one of the regular royal discent directly from the loins of Ham these virgins were offered up because of their virtue they would not bow down to worship Gods of wood, or of stone therefore they were Killed upon this alter|
|✦ ||And it was done after the manner of the Egyptians and it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this alter, and that you might have a knowledge of this alter <I will refer you to the representation that is at the (commencement of this record>|
|✦ ||It was made after, the form of a bedsted such as was had among the Chaldeans and it stood before the Gods of Elk-keenah Zibnah Mah-Mach-rah—and als[o] a God like unto that of pharaoh King of Egypt|
|✦ ||And as they lifted up their hands upon me that they might offer me up to and <an and> take away my life behold I lifted up my voice unto the Lord my good God; and the lord harkened, and heard and he filled me with a vision of the almighty and the angel of his presence stood by my feet and immediately loosed my bands|
|✦ ||And his voice was unto me. Abram Abram Behold my name is Jehovah. and I have heard thee and have come down to deliver thee. and to take thee away from thy fathers house, and from all thy Kinsfolks, in to a strange land which thou knowest not of, and this because their hearts are turned they have turned their hearts away from me to worship the god of Elk Kee-nah and the god of Zibnah- and of Mah-Mach-rah— and the god of pharaoh King of Egypt. Therefore I have come down to visit them. and to distroy him, who hath lifted up his hand against thee Abraham <Abram> my son to distroy thy take away thy life, Behold I will lead thee by my hand and I will take thee, to put upon thee my name even the priesthood of thy father, and my power shall be over thee; as it was with Noah so shall it be with thee, that through thy ministry, my name shall be known, in the earth forever, for I am thy God|
|✦ ||Behold Potiphers hill was in the land of Ur of Chaldea and the Lord broke down the alter of Elk-Keenah and of the gods of the land, and utterly distroyed them gods of the land and smote the priests that he died and there was great morning in Chaldeea and also in the court of Pharaoh which Pharaoh signifies King by royal blood. Now this King of Egypt was a discendent from the loins of Ham and was a partaker of the blood of the Cananitess by birth: From this decent sprang all the Egyptians and thus the blood of the cannites was preserved in the land|
|✦ ||The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham; and the daughter of Zep-tah. which in the Chaldea signifies Egypt, which sign[i]fies that which is forbidden. Whin this woman discovered the land it was under water, who after settled her sons in it: And thus from Ham sprang the that race which preserved the curse in the land.|
|✦ ||Now the <first> government of Egypt, was established by Pharaoh the eldest sun <son> of Egyptes the daughter of Ham; and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was Patriarchal. Pharaoh being a righteous man established his kingdom, and Judged his people wisely and Justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generation in the days of the first Patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam. And also Noah his father. For in his days Who <who> blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and of with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the priesthood.|
|✦ ||Now Pharaoh being of that leniage [lineage] by which he could not have the right of priesthood; notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah through Ham: Therefore, my father was led away by their—idolatry, <;> but I shall indeaver [endeavor] hereafter to dilliniate the chronology run[n]ing back from myself to the begining of <the> creation, for the reccords, have came <come> into my hands which I hold unto this present time|
|✦ ||Now after the priest of Elkkeenah was smitten that he died, there came a fulfilment of those things which were spoken unto me concerning the land of Chaldea, that there should be a famine in the land; and accordingly a famine prevailed throughout all the land of Chaldea: and And my father was sorely tormented because of the famine, and he repented of the evil which he had determined against me, to take away my life: But the reccords of the fathers even the patriarchs concerning the right of priesthood, the lord my god preserved in mine own hand<s:>|
|<M>||Therefore a knowledge of the begining of creation an and also of the planets, and of the stars, as it was made known unto the fathers, have I kept even unto this day.——|
|✦ ||And I shall endeaver to write some of these things, upon this reccord, for the benefit of my posterity, that shall come after me|
|✦ ||Now the Lord God caused the famine to wax soar in the land of E◊ Ur insomuch that Haran my brother died: but Terah my father yet lived in the land of Ur of the chaldees. And it came to pass; that I Abram took sarai to wife, and Nahor my brother took Milcah to wife|
|✦ ||Who was the daughter of Haron|
|✦||Now the Lord had said unto me Abram get the[e] out of thy country, and from thy Kindred and from thy fathers home, unto a land that I will shew thee: Therefore I left the land of Ur of the chaldees to go into the land of canaan; and I took Lot my brothers son, and his wife, and Sarai my wife; and also my father followed after me unto the land which we denominated Haran. And the famine abated, and my father tarried in Haran and dwelt there, as there were many flocks in Haran; And my father turned again unto his idolitry: Therefore he continued in Haran|
|Now the Lord had said unto Abram <me> get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindr[ed] and from thy fathers home unto a land that I will shew thee. Therefore I left the land of Ur of the chaldees to go into the land of canaan, and I took Lot my bro son and his wife and sarah my wife and also my father follo[we]d me unto the land which we denominated Haran and the famine abated, and my father tarried in Haran and dwelt there as they <there> were <many> flock in Haran. and my father turned again unto his idolitry Therefore he continued in Haran but <I> Abram and and Lot my brothers son prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord appeared|