Elder Holland BBC Interview

CES Letter Core Question

Is “I don’t know and I don’t understand but it’s the word of God” really the best answer that a “prophet, seer, and revelator” can come up with to such a profound problem and stumbling block that is driving many members out of the Church?

The CES Letter forgets that Joseph Smith “translated” several documents, but none were in the traditional sense of translation. They were translated “by the gift and power of God.” Elder Holland did not profess to know how that process occurs, nor should he be expected to know.

When Sweeney pressed Elder Holland on the matter of the translation of the Book of Abraham, Elder Holland responded, "[W]hat got translated got translated into the word of God; the vehicle for that I do not understand." What does this statement reveal? First, notice carefully that Elder Holland calls the Book of Abraham a "translation." He also calls it the "word of God." So Elder Holland, it appears, both accepts the Book of Abraham as an authentic "translation" and as inspired scripture.

Notice that Elder Holland simply remarks that he doesn't know the mechanism ("vehicle") of the translation of the Book of Abraham. In other words, he doesn't know precisely how the translation was performed. This is different from how Runnells and others have characterized Elder Holland's remarks.

Due to some apparent heavy editing of the original footage, it is impossible to know precisely what, if anything, Elder Holland said in addition by way of clarification. Saying he didn’t know was not obfuscating in some way about the Church's position.

Latter-day Saint prophets and apostles do not claim infallibility or omniscience. The author of The CES Letter is, apparently, seeking for some kind of definitive, authoritative (and presumably divinely revealed) answer that will settle the issue permanently. This expectation is misplaced, however, since the Lord himself revealed that answers do not always come automatically to all of our questions.

The author of The CES Letter expects something that the Church, in its scriptures, officially disavows: instant, absolutely definitive answers to every question. For this reason, the Lord commanded to seek knowledge by academic as well as revelatory means (D&C 88:78–80, 118).


Additional Resources:

Admission and Omission: What Is the Church’s Position on the Book of Abraham?

Additional Book of Abraham Resources:

Top Websites:

FAIRMORMON: Book of Abraham

Questions About the Book of Abraham by Jeff Lindsay 

Top Essays:

“Book of Abraham,” from LDS.org Essay

“Introduction to the Book of Abraham Manuscripts” JosephSmithPapers.org Essay

“Egyptian Papyri and the Book of Abraham: A Faithful, Egyptological Point of View,” by Kerry Muhlestein

“Thoughts on the Book of Abraham” by Brian M Hauglid

A Method for Studying the Facsimiles –  by John Gee

The Apocalypse of Abraham: An Ancient Witness for the Book of Moses,” (PDF) (2010 FAIR Conference) by Jeffrey Bradshaw

The Book of Abraham: Dealing with the Critics,” (PDF) (2003 FAIR Conference) by Michael D. Rhodes

Ancient Affinities within the LDS Book of Enoch Part One, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen

Ancient Affinities within the LDS Book of Enoch Part Two, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen

Revisiting the Forgotten Voices of Weeping in Moses 7: A Comparison with Ancient Texts, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw,Jacob A. Rennaker, and David J. Larsen

The Book of Abraham and Muslim Tradition by Brian M. Hauglid

“Look unto Abraham Your Father” –  by Brian M. Hauglid

A Faint but Interesting Christian Voice from the Dust of Egypt –  by John W. Welch

A New Resource on the Book of Moses –  by Brian M. Hauglid

A Powerful New Resource for Studying the Book of Abraham –  by E. Douglas Clark

An Egyptian Context for the Sacrifice of Abraham –  by Kerry Muhlestein, John Gee

And I Saw the Stars – The Book of Abraham and Ancient Geocentric Astronomy by John Gee, William J. Hamblin, Daniel C. Peterson

Approaching Understandings in the Book of Abraham –  by Kerry Muhlestein

Astronomy and the Creation in the Book of Abraham by Michael D. Rhodes, J. Ward Moody

Cedars and Stars: Enduring Symbols of Cosmic Kingship in Abraham’s Encounter with Pharoah by E. Douglas Clark

Egyptian Society during the Twenty-sixth Dynasty by John Gee

A Note on Chiasmus in Abraham 3:22-23” by Julie M. Smith 

Enoch Translated –  by John W. Welch

Enoch Translated –  by John W. Welch

Facsimile 3 and Book of the Dead 125 by John Gee

Notes and Communications: Two Notes on Egyptian Script –  by John Gee

On Elkenah as Canaanite El –  by Kevin L. Barney

Out of the Dust: Ancient Semitic in Egyptian Pyramids? –  by Paul Y. Hoskisson, Michael D. Rhodes

Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri –  by John Gee

Telling the Story of the Joseph Smith Papyri –  by John Gee

The Book of Abraham: Ask the Right Questions and Keep On Looking –  by Larry E. Morris

The Book of Abraham: Divinely Inspired Scripture –  by Michael D. Rhodes

The Book of Breathings in Its Place –  by Kerry MuhlesteinBook Notes –

The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources by Kevin L. Barney

The Religious and Cultural Background of Joseph Smith Papyrus I –  by Kerry Muhlestein

The Larger Issue,” (2009 FAIR Conference) by John Gee

Egyptian Influence in Ancient Israel,” (PDF) (2001 FAIR Conference) by John Gee

“Encirculing Astronomy and the Egyptians: An Approach to Abraham 3” by Kerry Mulestein

“Egyptian Papyri and the Book of Abraham: Some Questions and Answers” by Kerry Mulestein

“Teaching the Book of Abraham Facsimiles” by Michael D. Rhodes

“Abraham’s Creation Drama,” [Transcript] (1999), by Hugh Nibley

“Introduction to the Egyptian Materials” JosephSmithPapers.org Essay

Jeremy Runnells and the Book of Abraham by Brian Hauglid

Top Podcasts:

Marginal Characters in the Book of Abraham Manuscripts. by John Gee

Mormon FAIR-Cast 62: “A Most Remarkable Book: Evidence for the Book of Abraham”

Facsimile 1 of the Book of Abraham– Evidence and Insights from the DVD Most Remarkable Book

The Book of Abraham- Interview with Brian Hauglid– Fair Mormon Podcast part 1

The Book of Abraham- Interview with Brian Hauglid– Fair Mormon Podcast part 2

FAIR Conversations, Episode 7: Brian M. Hauglid p.1, Brian M. Hauglid, 0:50:15A

FAIR Conversations, Episode 8: Brian M. Hauglid p.2, Brian M. Hauglid, 0:55:52

Mormon FAIR-Cast 62: “A Most Remarkable Book”, Tyler Livingston, 0:09:59

Mormon FAIR-Cast 139: “The Book of Abraham and the Prophetic Power of Joseph Smith,” Martin Tanner, 0:19:54

Top Videos:

“Joseph Smith and Ancient Egypt,” by John Gee (25min)

“Joseph Smith and Egyptian Artifacts: Towards a Preliminary Paradigm for Evaluating Prophetic and Mundane Ideas Regarding Aspects of the Ancient World,” by Kerry Muhlestein (25min)

 “Respondent to John Gee, Kerry Mulestein, and Brian M Hauglid” by John S. Thompson (15min)

Where did the book of Abraham come from? A Most Remarkable Book

How can Jewish Scripture be Associated with Egyptian text in the Book of Abraham?

Evidence for the Book of Abraham: Most Remarkable Book

Lion Couch Scene in the Book of Abraham: Evidence of Authenticity

Council of gods in the book of Abraham: A Most Remarkable Book

The Apocalypse of Abraham: An Ancient Witness for the Book of Moses by Jeffrey Bradshaw

Abraham 1:11

Book of Abraham evidence. Facsimile 2 fig. 6

Could Joseph Smith have written the book of Abraham?

How can we know the book of Abraham is true?

Did the Church try to hide the Joseph Smith Papyrus when it was found?

Could any scripture come from Egypt? By Allen Richardson

The Missing portion of the Abraham papyrus or Lacana: Evidence of the book of Abraham

What is the book of Breathings and book of the Dead?

Biblical Characters associated with Osiris and Egyptian Gods

Did the Egyptians Know about Abraham? Evidence of the Book of Abraham

The Egyptian Endowment

Egyptology, an Evolving Field- Book of Abraham

Most Remarkable Book: Evidences of the Divine Authenticity of the book of Abraham- Bonus Features

Challenge 1: Papyri Found and It Doesn’t Relate? Book of Abraham

Challenge 2: Facsimile 1 Not About Abraham? Book of Abraham

Challenge 3: The Three Facsimile Translations Wrong? Book of Abraham

Challenge 4: Joseph Smith’s Attempt at an Egyptian Grammar. Book of Abraham

Challenge 5: Translating Without Knowing Egyptian? Book of Abraham

Challenge 6: The Joseph Smith papyri were made nearly 2,000 years after Abraham. Book of Abraham

Challenge 7: Anachronisms? Book of Abraham

Challenge 8: Evidences. Book of Abraham

Challenge 9: Other Egyptologists Opposed? Book of Abraham

Challenge 10: Main Summary: More and More Questions? Book of Abraham

Challenge 11: What value is the Book of Abraham text itself? (extra)

Challenge 12: Are Egyptologists Joining the Mormon Church Book of Abraham YouTube original

Challenge 13: Are You, Kerry Muhlestein, Qualified Book of Abraham

Challenge 14: hat About the Internet Videos That Prove You’re Wrong Book of Abraham

Authentic Ancient Names in the book of Abraham by John Tvedtnes

The Microcosmic Egyptian Temple

An Odor of Sanctity: The Egyptian Incense

The Role of Violent Rituals in the Egyptian Temple

The book of Abraham: Dealing with the critics by Dr. Michael Rhodes

Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri by John Gee

Abraham Upon the Altar: The Role of Violent Rituals in the Egyptian Temple

A Most Remarkable Book: Evidence for the Divine Authenticity of the book Abraham- DVD preview

Facsimile 3 in the book of Abraham

The Book of Abraham

pt 1, Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri

pt 2, Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri

pt 3, Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri

pt 4, Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri

pt 5, Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri

pt 1, Facsimile 3. The book of Abraham

pt 2, Facsimile 3, The book of Abraham

pt 3, Facsimile 3, The book of Abraham

pt 1, Egyptian Influence in Ancient Israel

pt 2, Egyptian Influence in Ancient Israel

pt 3, Egyptian Influence in Ancient Israel

pt 4, Egyptian Influence in Ancient Israel

pt 1 An Odor of Sanctity: The Egyptian Incense

pt 2 An Odor of Sanctity: The Egyptian Incense

pt 3 An Odor of Sanctity: The Egyptian Incense

pt 1, The Role of Violent Rituals in the Egyptian Temple

pt 2, The Role of Violent Rituals in the Egyptian Temple

pt 1, Book of Abraham 201

pt 2, The Book of Abraham 201

pt 3, The Book of Abraham 201

pt 3, The Role of Violent Rituals in Egyptian Temples

pt 4, The Book of Abraham 201

pt 1 Investigating the Kirtland Egyptian Papers

pt 2 Investigating the Kirtland Egyptian Papers

pt 3, Investigating the Kirtland Egyptian Papers

pt 4, Investigating The Kirtland Egyptian Papers

pt 5, Investigating the Kirtland Egyptian Papers

pt 6 Investigating the Kirtland Egyptian Papers

pt 7 Investigating the Kirtland Egyptian Papers

pt 1, rebuttal to Lost Book of Abraham, by a faithful LDS

pt 2, rebuttal to Lost Book of Abraham, by a faithful LDS

pt 3, rebuttal to Lost Book of Abraham, by a faithful LDS

“Abraham’s Creation Drama,” by Hugh Nibley (1:20min)