Join John Dehlin and Radio Free Mormon as we speak with Dan Vogel about his new book, “ Book of Abraham Apologetics: A Review and Critique” published by Signature Books.

Said to have been dictated by Joseph Smith as a translation of an ancient Egyptian scroll purchased in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1835, the Book of Abraham may be Mormonism’s most controversial scripture. Decades of impassioned discussion began when about a dozen fragments of Smith’s Egyptian papyri, including a facsimile from the Book of Abraham, were found in the New York Metropolitan Museum in 1966. The discovery solved a mystery about the origin of the Egyptian characters that appear in the various manuscript copies of the Book of Abraham from 1835, reproduced from one of the fragments. Some LDS scholars devised arguments to explain what seemed to be clear evidence of Smith’s inability to translate Egyptian. In this book, Dan Vogel not only highlights the problems with these apologetic arguments but explains the underlying source documents in revealing detail and clarity.


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Show Notes:

Timecodes (for video):

00:00:00 Introduction and opening remarks
00:03:47 The Kirtland Egyptian Papers (KEP), a compendium of pseudo-Egyptian alphabet and grammar
00:18:54 The original papyri and the creation of the KEP
00:35:58 Why apologists are desperate to prove that Smith produced the Book of Abraham BEFORE the KEP
00:47:25 The apologetic argument that the BoA and KEP were dictated simultaneously
01:04:51 Real Egyptian characters combined with fabricated characters in the KEP
01:15:32 Apologetic argument that these characters were decorative or the English explanation was too detailed to have been intended as a translation
01:30:56 Comparing the KEP to the Book of Abraham makes it clear the KEP was intended as a translation
01:40:56 Proof the KEP was not using Egyptian characters decoratively
01:45:21 Egyptian characters in the KEP don’t line up with English paragraph breaks, suggesting the text was not “reverse engineered” from the Book of Abraham
02:07:10 The apologists’ rebuttal to the text alignment problem
02:20:54 The “Valuable Discovery” Notebook and sources of the KEP
02:42:26 What is the significance of all this? The tl;dr version
02:52:37 Joseph needed to claim to be descended from Abraham to explain the patriarchal priesthood
03:00:37 The degrees of the KEP grammar compendium
03:25:47 Apologetic argument that the characters in the KEP so rarely align with phrases used in the Book of Abraham that the KEP could not have been used for translation
03:46:14 The evidence in Joseph Smith’s 1835 journals
03:59:54 The entire Book of Abraham rests on the idea that the KEP was “reverse engineered” without Joseph Smith’s involvement
04:08:42 The “pious fraud” theory
04:15:24 Closing remarks


  1. JG December 23, 2021 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Thank you for this meticulous analysis! Dan makes it so clear exactly what was going on.

    When I first heard of the Egyptian Grammar and Alphabet in the early 80s, I tried to find the documents but was told by my religion professor that they were an anti-Mormon lie and didn’t exist. When I finally did view a copy and real translation, it was clear that Joseph Smith knew nothing about Egyptian but was very good at religious theater and practiced in producing frauds. The members in Kirtland must have been thrilled by the scribes’ exciting accounts of the translation process and the mysteries revealed. I was thrilled to have incontrovertible evidence of Smith’s deception.

  2. Exupery December 24, 2021 at 9:50 am - Reply

    Vogel is back! It’s a Christmas gift! Can’t wait to listen, starting right now as I wrap on Xmas eve

  3. Cory December 25, 2021 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    Please do more episodes with Dan Vogel! Absolutely love anything he does.

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