As most of you probably already know, the "critics" have argued the Book of Breathings which followed Facsimile #1 is the source for the Book of Abraham. The strongest piece of evidence for this, aside from Abr 1:12, is in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, where the Book of Abraham manuscripts place Egyptian characters in sequence which mostly come from the papyrus in question. Other characters were divined by Joseph Smith as they fell into the lacuna:
William S. West said in 1837, "These records were torn by being taken from the roll of embalming salve which contained them, and some parts entirely lost; but Smith is to translate the whole by divine inspiration, and that which is lost, like Nebuchadnezzar's dream, can be interpreted as well as that which is preserved
So we know Joseph Smith restored what was lost in the deteriorated portions of the papyrus.
The graphics below illustrates the 27 characters used, as they appear in Manuscript 2 of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers. I will show the first four lines from the papyrus and how they line up in sequence in the Book of Abraham manuscripts:
In August, William Schryver presented John Gee's research at the FAIR Conference arguing that the assumption that these characters were taken in sequence, is just a "fantasy." Will then begins a PowerPoint presentation of "Reality vs. Fantasy."
But the sequence seems perfectly obvious, right? So how did they manage to pull this off? You're not going to believe this. According to Gee/Schryver, the characters numbered 13, 14, 15, 16 and 23 are actually copies from other areas on the papyrus! If you look above, these are precisely the characters that fall into the lacuna. So according to Gee/Schryver the sequencing actually goes as follows:
So do they have a case? No. BUt first I want to touch on the most deceptive portion of his talk. It was when he goes across from the first character and points out a linear sequence up until character 11. He then pulls a typical straw man and says: "This is about as far as anyone (i.e. critics) feels the need to go. What is happening seems pretty clear. But it isn't
. The next one is clear and pulled from two lines down."
Now at the moment he said, "the next one is clear and pulled from two lines down" (alluding to character 13) the Power Point slide was showing character #12 on line one
, along with a blown up image of the character as it appears in both the papyrus and the manuscript. Of course the copy is a faithful replica of the original, which led people to think his argument was sound. As if to think, "Wow, this was taken from two lines down
completely out of sequence
." But it wasn't. Will was just expecting to rush along through another deceptive presentation because he knew no one in the audience would catch what he was doing.
In reality, the character Will referred to was character #13 which he believes was copied from a character "two lines down," but when compared side by side, it is clearly a huge stretch
to say they resemble anything at all. And a character that, ironically, looks exactly like the number 13! Here are the characters Gee'Schryver claim are copied from other areas of the papyrus. You tell me if any of these resemble one another.
It takes a creative leap of the imagination just to connect these two in even the most superficial of ways. But Gee/Schryver insist they are the copies because they need them to be. Amazing, especially when you consider the fact that virtually all of the other copied characters represent clear replicas of the character in question. So you have to seriously question Gee and Schryver's credibility here by expecting us to believe these characters derived from the portions they claim. These aren't even close!
What's worse, they want us to believe that #23 was a copied from both #19 and #20 while at the same time the scribes recognize 18 and 20 as separate characters. How does this even begin to make sense? They're just jumping all over the place in order to do their "zig-zags" and say, "see, the critics are fantasizing about a sequence."
This is Book of Abraham apologetics running backwards at full speed.
Anyway, there is more to come...