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Joseph Smith has translated the Book of Joseph of Egypt. Why has it not been published?



Dear Dan,

You start with a strong assertion that the “Book of Joseph” was translated. If such is the case, I will be greatly edified if you sent me your references.

In referencing the Egyptian scrolls purchased in Kirtland, Joseph said that “one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt” (“History of the Church” vol 2 ch 16 entry for July 6, 1835). Joseph discovered this while examining the scrolls as a favor to the owner. Upon discovering the value of the records, he took up a collection to purchase the scrolls so they could be translated. The content of these scrolls were described by Oliver Cowdery:

“The representation of the god-head-three, yet in one, is curiously drawn to give simply, though impressively, the writers views of that exalted personage. The serpent, represented as walking, or formed in a manner to be able to walk, standing in front of, and near a female figure, is to me, one of the greatest representations I have ever seen upon paper, or a writing substance; and must go so far towards convincing the rational mind of the correctness and divine authority of the holy scriptures, and especially that part which has ever been assailed by the infidel community, as being a fiction, as to carry away, with one might sweep, the whole atheistical fabric, without leaving a vestige sufficient for a foundation stone. Enoch’s Pillar, as mentioned by Josephus, is upon the same roll…. The inner end of the same roll, (Joseph’s record,) presents a representation of the judgment: At one view you behold the Savior seated upon his throne, crowned, and holding the sceptres [sic] of righteousness and power, before whom also, are assembled the twelve tribes of Israel, the nations, languages and tongues of the earth, the kingdoms of the world over which satan is represented as reigning. Michael the archangel, holding the key of the bottomless pit, and at the same time the devil as being chained and shut up in the bottomless pit.” (Messenger and Advocate vol 2, no 3, pg 236)

As an observation, Oliver is not providing the translation but instead describing the vignettes from a latter-day saint perspective – or rather, if he is referencing a translation, it would only be a translation of the Book of Joseph facsimiles (for a reference of what he’s describing, you can find the Joseph Smith Papyri (specifically IV and V) at the Joseph Smith Papers site).

I have mentioned elsewhere that some scholars do suppose that the Book of Joseph was also translated, but they make no mention of what leads them to such a conclusion and I find it unwarranted.


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