Scripture, Translation, and Belief

Jul 10, 2014

The LDS Church yesterday released its latest essay on contentious issues within the faith. The article concerns Joseph Smith’s claims to have translated a book of scripture from Egyptian papyri. Some Mormons believe the Book of Abraham is a literal translation, while others say modern translations of the papyri don’t jibe with Smith’s rendition. The new essay makes room for both sides. Thursday, we’re talking about the essay and the questions it raises about belief and the difficulty of literalness.

Read the Church of Latter Day Saints' recent essay, "Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham."

This image appears as a frontispiece in the LDS scripture The Book of Abraham. Mormonism holds that it depicts Abraham "fastened upon an altar" being sacrificed by an "idolatrous priest" as an "angel of the Lord" hovers nearby.


David Bokovoy is an associate instructor at the University of Utah, where he teaches courses on scripture as literature. He's author of the book Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis—Deuteronomy [Amazon|Publisher].