CES Letter Core Question
How can the Book of Abraham contain anachronisms and still be authentic?
The anachronisms identified in The CES Letter have been acknowledged for a very long time. Some have fairly straightforward answers while other remain unexplained awaiting new archaeological discoveries.
The problem with criticisms based upon apparent anachronisms is that they depend upon a lack of evidence, which can be satisfied with new discoveries. The question is whether insufficient evidence has been uncovered or whether the anachronism is genuine. Since archaeology has uncovered only a minuscule portion of cultural artifacts, drawing strict conclusions is not justified.
Anachronisms typically mean there is a rich textual history lying behind the text we have received.
Since we don’t know whether the text of the Book of Abraham came from the missing papyri or from revelation, it is impossible to know the source of the anachronistic linguistic elements in this text. Only by making assumptions can the understanding and argumentation proceed.
These questions need to be balanced by the consistencies that the text of Abraham shares with other ancient documents and traditions. The shared elements with other non-Biblical traditions about Abraham are shockingly high even to a believer who expects to find some. The similarities between the autobiographical elements of the Book of Abraham and the only known contemporary account are also quite noteworthy.