Last week I was in London on business. While I didn’t see any colorful geckos, I did get to spend Sunday afternoon in the British Museum, which makes the top 10 list of museums in the world on anybody’s list. I paid particular attention to items that might have a Mormon connection.
In the section on coinage, I was disappointed not to see any mention of a Senine, a Senum, or even a Onti. In fact there was no coinage in the new world until the Europeans arrived.
Next in the Egyptian exhibits, I did see many drawings that looked similar to the Book of Abraham’s facsimiles, but none of them in the museum were attributed to the “hand of Abraham”.
Then I saw the Rosseta Stone. I often wonder if Joseph Smith would have written/translated/revealed the Book of Abraham if he had know about the Rosetta Stone. While the stone was discovered in 1799, the translations on the stone were not deciphered until 1822 by Champollion, and then not widely know in the Americas until 20-30 years later. So while Joseph may have heard of the Rosetta Stone’s discovery, the fact that it was used to decipher hieroglyphics was not known to him.
Would Joseph Smith have made such bold claims about the translation of the hieroglyphics on the facsimiles if he had know that in a few years Egyptian scholars would be able to read them? As a kid in church, usually bored out of my mind (bait for a JCS comment), I loved looking through the facsimiles, and especially liked number 2, with all the secret stuff on it.
I would stare at Figures 8-21, wondering what secret stuff they had in them
Fig. 8. Contains writings that cannot be revealed unto the world; but is to be had in the Holy Temple of God.
Fig. 9. Ought not to be revealed at the present time.
Fig. 10. Also.
Fig. 11. Also. If the world can find out these numbers, so let it be. Amen.
Figures 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21 will be given in the own due time of the Lord.
We now know that figures 8-11 are actually read in order 11, 10, 9, 8, and they they are translated to something like “O noble god from the beginning of time, great god, lord of heaven, earth, underworld, waters [and mountains,] cause the ba-spirit of the Osiris Sheshonq to live.”. I don’t know about you, but the last time I went to the temple, I never heard anything about the ba-spririt or the Osiris Sheshong. I guess the “own due time of the Lord” has arrived, because all of it has been translated.
Did Joseph think it would never be translated, and he was safe from ever being questioned? Did he really believe he was translating, and thought he had the right translation, or did he know it was all made up, but thought he would never be discovered?