Cosmology

CES Letter Core Question

Does the Book of Abraham teach an outdated Newtonian view of the universe?

The CES Letter alleges that Abraham 3 teaches a “Newtonian view of the universe,” but it fails to recognize the context. The (already printed) Book of Mormon clearly states “for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun” (Helaman 12:15) showing Joseph already knew the true configuration of the cosmos.

The author of The CES Letter ignores the work done by scholars showing how the Book of Abraham's cosmology fits nicely in an ancient setting. The text seems to portray an ancient, geocentric vision of the cosmos, and follows other ancient Near Eastern creation myths by linking the cosmos with a pre-mortal divine council of other deities, creation from unorganized chaos, and creation by fashioning pre-existing material (as opposed to creating everything ex nihilo or out of nothing). The Book of Abraham also links the creation with the temple, which is also authentic to ancient Near Eastern creation mythology.

Why would the Book of Abraham teach pre-modern and pre-scientific cosmological precepts? Wouldn't this invalidate it as the word of God? If we assume that the Book of Abraham is an authentic ancient text, then perhaps the reason it doesn't teach a modern cosmology is because God wanted to communicate truths to Abraham using the culture, mythic imagery, and language familiar to him. This is to say that God revealed eternal truths about the plan of salvation to Abraham but either the Lord or Abraham formulated those truths in a way an ancient audience would've better comprehended. After all, the Lord "give[s revelation] unto [his] servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding" (D&C 1:24).

The author of The CES Letter simply ignores the entire cosmological picture of the Book of Abraham (which begins in Abraham 3 and extends to the end of the book) and must cherry-pick from the text in order for his reading to have any support. The purpose of Abraham 3:1-11 is to give Abraham teachings to share with Pharaoh (Abraham 3:15). It was not a vision of the cosmos but provided information regarding the visible universe.

Numerous references are made to the fact that Abraham is standing on the earth (Abraham 3:3, 4, 6, 7, 9), and that God and Abraham are discussing things that Abraham can see with his own eyes ("behold thine eyes see it" [Abraham 3:6] and "I saw the stars" [Abraham 3:2, cf. v. 16]). Abraham is talking with the Lord at night, when the stars would be visible: "And it was in the night time when the Lord spake these words unto me" (Abraham 3:14).

Several ancient sources portray Abraham's as an ancient astronomer. Pseudo-Eupolemus, states that "While living with the Egyptian priests in Heliopolis, Abraham taught them many things, including astronomy, and other related things. . . . Abraham, having been trained in the science of astronomy, first went to Phoenicia, to teach the Phoenicians astronomy, then went into Egypt."

The cosmology portrayed is not unique. Kolob, which is “near unto” God is described as having a 1000 year revolution (Abr. 3:4), which is identical to Peter’s comment “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).


See:

"And I Saw the Stars": The Book of Abraham and Ancient Geocentric Astronomy

Council, Chaos, and Creation in the Book of Abraham

Abraham's Visions of the Heavens

Terryl Givens on the Pre-Mortal Council in the Book of Abraham

Abraham's Temple Drama

Encircling Astronomy and the Egyptians: An Approach to Abraham 3

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)