New Volume Explores Themes, Background of Book of Abraham
Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant, the third volume in FARMS's Studies in the Book of Abraham, was recently published and is now available. This book deals with three broad themes: astronomy in the Book of Abraham, the background of the Joseph Smith Papyri, and the nature of the Abrahamic covenant. In the course of treating these subjects, various papers discuss Jews in Ptolemaic Egypt, commonalities between the Book of Abraham and ancient Islamic texts, accounts of Abraham in 19th-century America, and a number of other interesting issues. All but 3 of the 12 articles were initially presented as papers at a BYU conference on the Book of Abraham.
The book was edited by John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid, both of whom also contributed articles. Additional authors include William J. Hamblin, J. Ward Moody, Daniel C. Peterson, and Michael D. Rhodes.
One of the major features of the Book of Abraham is its treatment of ancient astronomy, an aspect of Abraham's teachings not recounted in the biblical narrative but one that does appear in noncanonical traditions about the patriarch. One paper situates the astronomical accounts in the Book of Abraham among ancient geocentric astronomies, while another argues heliocentric conceptions from contemporary physics to elucidate the same subject. Other papers deal with such subjects as the metaphors of stars and cedars in ancient accounts about Abraham and the question of whether certain scriptural creation stories are allegorical.
The nature of the connection between the Joseph Smith Papyri and the Book of Abraham continues to be a matter of interest and discussion, and several articles in the volume address issues associated with the papyri and their background. One paper, for example, discusses ancient Semitic adaptations of Egyptian iconography and raises the issue of whether an Egyptological interpretation of the facsimiles from the Book of Abraham is relevant.
The Abrahamic covenant, of course, is one of the most important themes dealt with in the Book of Abraham. Various articles treat such topics as the role of women in the Abrahamic covenant and Abraham's redemption in light of the covenant.
Fifteen different scholars—including astronomers, Egyptologists, and historians—contributed to this volume. The two previous titles in this series are Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham and The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary. To order the book online, visit the FARMS Web site (farms.byu.edu) and click on the link for the book.