Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Abraham facsimile no. 2 was "A FACSIMILE FROM THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM". This claim is still displayed above the facsimile to this day in the Pearl of Great Price. But can this be true? Is the facsimile really from the Book of Abraham?

The Book of Abraham facsimile no. 2 has nothing to do with Abraham at all. Egyptologists have identified facsimile no. 2 as a hypocephalus. A hypocephalus is an Egyptian magic amulet that is placed under the head of the deceased mummy to keep the body warm. You can view nine different hypocephali at my web site for comparison purposes.

Joseph Smith published the hypocephalus (facsimile no. 2) in the Times and Seasons in 1842. In this publication Joseph not only claimed that the facsimile was "FROM THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM", but that he could interpret sections of it. He even had numbers placed on specific locations of the facsimile so that he could give his explanation of the figures. Who would have ever guessed that the figures and text that he would attempt to explain were not even from the hypocephalus in the first place?

ABOVE FIGURE: The drawing of the hypocephalus on the left was preserved in what is commonly called the Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar. The figure on the right is how the facsimile was presented in the Times and Seasons in 1842.
The facsimile no. 2 as presented in the Times and Seasons shows what appears to be a complete hypocephalus. However, the drawing of the hypocephalus as shown in Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar shows significant missing portions, including parts of the outer ring, central figure, and much of the upper right quadrant. This indicates that Joseph Smith had the missing portions filled in.

How can one be so certain that Joseph Smith filled in the missing portions? It's really easy to know, like a jig-saw-puzzle, we can exam where the missing portions existed and see what Joseph Smith put in its place. In these location, we find that Joseph copied from the Book of Breathings and the Book of the Dead scrolls, showing a complete lack of understanding of the Egyptian language.

ABOVE FIGURE: The above figure shows how the Sensen Text from the Book of Breathings scroll was used to fill in the missing portions of the hypocephalus.
Joseph Smith used the "Small" Sensen Text of the Book of Breathings scroll (lines two, three and four, of the Joseph Smith Papyri IX) to copy and paste them into the outer ring. This not only shows that Joseph Smith didn't know Egyptian, but also that the papyri was not in "perfect preservation". Some Mormons have argued that because Joseph Smith did not provide an explanation of the outer ring that it was not necesary to have it restored correctly. To me, this argument is very weak. If Joseph Smith knew the Egyptian language and was divinely inspired he most certainly should have restored the hypocephalus to its original form. Furthermore, many of the missing portions were numbered and explanations were given to them.

ABOVE FIGURES: The top figure on the left shows the Egyptian characters as they appeared in the drawing preserved in Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar. The top figure on the right shows the missing portions filled in. Notice that these figures are numbered 12, 13, 14, 15 as shown in the Book of Abraham facsimile no. 2. The bottom figure shows the Egyptian characters aligned with the "Small" Sensen Text from the Book of Breathings scroll.
Again, Joseph Smith clearly filled in the missing portion of the hypocephalus and he even numbered these areas so as to identify them for an explanation. In this case, Joseph Smith only noted that the explanation of these figures (12, 13, 14, 15) were to "given in the own due time of the Lord". If you are to examine the areas that were filled in closely you can determine that Joseph Smith once again copied from the Book of Breathings scroll, fourth line of the "Small" Sensen Text.

ABOVE FIGURES: On the left one can see Figure 3 as published in the Times and Seasons. On the right once see the same figure as shown in the Book of the Dead Scroll (Joseph Smith Papyrus IV).
Joseph Smith not only used the Book of Breathings scroll for material to fill in the missing portions, he also used the Book of the Dead scroll. Furthermore, Joseph Smith provides an interpretation to this figure, as if it existed in the original. The fabrication doesn't stop there....

Even the central figure (Figure 1, of Facsimile no. 2) which Joseph Smith associates with "Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the Celestial, or the residence to God." is restored incorrectly. Joseph Smith draws the head of the diety off of its shoulders. This is very easy to see when you compare the central figure of other hypocephali (numbered above as 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7) with the one shown in facsimile no. 2 (lettered M). But what source did Joseph Smith use to draw in the head because this piece was missing in the original?

To fill in the head of the seated diety Joseph Smith simply copied from the standing diety in figure 2 of the same facsimile.


The original for facsimile no. 2 is certainly not from the Book of Abraham as Joseph Smith claimed. In fact, as I have shown, facsimile no. 2 is a combination of the hypocephalus, the Book of Breathings text, and the Book of the Dead figure. In my view, this not only shows that Joseph Smith did not know the Egyptian language, but that he made an effort to hide his lack of understanding by filling in the missing portions. What does this mean to you? I do not know. But, for me, it is just one more example where Joseph Smith acted to misrepresent the truth.
The above figures were reproduced from Gerald and Sandra Tanner's Mormonism: Shadow or Reality, by Jerald and Sandra Tanner , Utah Lighthouse Ministry, P.O. Box 1884, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84110, (801) 485-8894. The images were changed slightly in appearance by drawing an outline, adding descriptive text, and erasing copy blemishes.
Book of Abraham Facsimile No. 2
Last Updated January 1, 1998
Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998 All Rights Reserved.
Created by James David,