Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mummies, Ancient Papyrus and a Mysterious Record

I think this is an amazing story! God works in mysterious ways - in that these ancient records buried in Egypt made their way to Ohio into the hands of the prophet Joseph Smith who knew nothing about them until he received them - and discovered they were the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus. It's a record of the life of the patriarch Abraham and a description of the creation of the world similar to that in Genesis and the Book of Moses.This book is a part of the Pearl of Great Price.

So here's the story behind this amazing discovery:

In the late 1820s an Italian explorer named Antonio Lebolo obtained eleven mummies from an ancient tomb in Egypt. When Lebolo died the mummies were shipped to the United States. A man named Michael Chandler came into possession of the mummies (through inheritance) in 1833. He opened the coffins and was disappointed not to find jewels or valuable treasures. Instead he found attached to some of the bodies of the mummies, linen cloths containing rolls of papyrus. These papyrus rolls had Egyptian writing on them. Mr. Chandler took the rolls to Pennsylvania, in search of someone who could translate the writings, but even the most educated of these men were only able to understand a little of the writings.

File:Joseph Smith Papyrus IV.jpgMr. Chandler decided to travel around the country showing people the mummies, and in the summer of 1835 he came to Kirtland, Ohio. He was told that Joseph Smith, had the ability to interpret the writings. Joseph Smith had already translated the Egyptian writings of the Book of Mormon. Later some friends of the Prophet bought four mummies and the rolls of papyrus from Mr. Chandler. Joseph Smith studied the letters and grammar of the Egyptian language, and then, with the help of the Holy Ghost, he translated the writings on the papyrus rolls. The writings Joseph Smith translated tell about the ancient prophet Abraham and are now published as the book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. This was quite exciting!

Michael Chandler sold the mummies, until four remained and he sold them to the Church in Kirtland.
Two of the four mummies and some papyri were later sold to the St. Louis museum in 1856. In 1863 these two mummies and some records were sold to the Wood's Museum in Chicago. The most common version of the story is that the two mummies and the records were burned in the Chicago fire in 1871. The other two mummies that Combs purchased, and possibly some records, haven't been located yet.

I know that Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price are all works of God brought fourth in our modern day to help us learn the fullness of the gospel so that we can return to live with our Father in Heaven and his son. They are powerful books that have changed and blessed many lives. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ amen. 

No comments: