As a result, all non-LDS Egyptologists (i.e., all Egyptologists who have chosen to believe that Joseph Smith was not prophetically blessed by God) will see things differently than all LDS Egyptologists (i.e., all Egyptologists who have chosen to believe that Joseph Smith was prophetically blessed by God).This should not be surprising to anyone, but we be aware that this beginning assumption is so large that it will inevitably lead to vastly different conclusions.Yet this choice colors the way we see everything else in regard to the Book of Abraham.In our historiographic discussion, let us start out with the realization that those who believe that someone Joseph Smith.Towards that end, we must acknowledge that when it comes to Joseph Smith’s ability to translate, a student of the issue truly has only two choices: that Joseph Smith could translate by the gift of God or that he could not. One has to make a choice about Joseph Smith’s translating ability — or ignore it, as most do, which means that a decision has been made but most often not consciously.I believe all parties agree that Joseph Smith could not translate Egyptian via conventional methods.Understanding the different points of view of these sources of authority is an important part of the epistemological process — the process of learning about the historiography of the study of the Book of Abraham.We can understand the history of the conversation best when we first understand the base assumptions made by all who have been involved in this dialogue.
A focus of this attention has been the source of the Book of Abraham, with some contending that the extant fragments are the source, while others have argued that the source is either other papyri or something else altogether.
Book of Abraham studies have made significant strides forward in the last few decades, while some avenues of research are in need of further pursuit.
In 1967 several papyri fragments once owned by Joseph Smith resurfaced to the public eye.
An exhaustive treatment of all the questions and discussions is not possible in this venue.
In order to facilitate easier reading, in this article some of the historiographic treatment takes place in the footnotes.
These papyri, known as the Joseph Smith Papyri (JSP), are associated with the LDS scriptural text called the Book of Abraham.