Hugh Nibley and The Defense of The Book of Abraham

“We have often been asked during the past months why we did not proceed with all haste to produce a translation of the papyri the moment they came into our possession. Well, for one thing others are far better equipped to do the job than we are, and some of those early expressed a willingness to undertake it. But, more important, it is doubtful whether any translation could do as much good as harm.”

(Dr. Hugh Nibley – BYU Studies – Spring 1968 – Page 251)


“…the presence on the scene of some of the original papyri, including those used by the Prophet in preparing the text of the Book of Abraham and the facsimiles wi their commentaries, has not raised a single new question, though, as we shall see, it has solved some old ones.”

(Dr. Hugh Nibley – Improvement Era – May 1968 – Page 54)


Richard A. Parker is the egyptologist who declared the sensen papyrus as part of the Egyptian Book of Breathings and nothing else, is credible even to top Mormon scholars: “[Richard] Parker [is] the best man in America for this particular period and style of writing.”

(Dr. Hugh Nibley – Speech at the University of Utah – May 20th, 1960)


“Did he [Joseph Smith, Jr.} really think he was translating? If so he was acting in good faith. But was he really translating? If so, it was by a process which quite escapes the understanding of the specialists and lies in the realm of the imponderable…

“Today nobody claims that Joseph Smith got his information through ordinary scholarly channels. In that case one wonders how any amount of checking along ordinary scholarly channels is going to get us very far.”

(Dr. Hugh Nibley – Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought – Summer 1968 – Page 101)


“Of particular interest to us is the close association of the Book of Breathings with the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham. It can be easily shown by matching up the fibers of the papyri that the text of Joseph Smith’s Pap. No. XI was written on the same strip of material as Facsimile Number 1, … our ‘Sensen’ Papyrus is closely bound to all three facsimiles by physical contact, putting us under moral obligation to search out possible relationships between the content of the four documents.”

(Dr. Hugh Nibley – BYU Studies – Winter 1971 – Pages 160-161)


“A few faded and tattered little scraps of papyrus may serve to remind the Latter-day Saints of how sadly they have neglected serious education… Not only has our image suffered by such tragic neglect, but now in the moment of truth the Mormons have to face the world unprepared, after having been given a hundred years’ fair warning.”

(Dr. Hugh Nibley – BYU Studies – Winter 1968 – Pages 171-172)


“‘The papyri scripts given to the Church do not prove the Book of Abraham is true,’ Dr. Hugh Nibley said… Wednesday night. ‘LDS scholars are caught flat-footed by this discovery,’ he went on to say. According to Dr. Nibley, Mormon scholars should have been doing added research on the Pearl of Great Price years ago.

Non-Mormon scholars will bring in questions regarding the manuscripts which will be hard to answer because of lack of scholarly knowledge on the subject…. Dr. Nibley said ‘worldly discoveries are going to bury the Church in criticism’ if members of the Church don’t take it upon themselves to become a people of learning.”

(BYU’s Daily Universe – December 1st – 1967)


“I don’t consider myself an Egyptologist at all, and don’t intend to get involved in the P.G.P. [Pearl of Great Price] business unless I am forced into it….”

(Dr. Hugh Nibley: “Letter to Dee Jay Nelson,” – June 27th, 1967 – Reprinted in Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? – By Sandra and Jerald Tanner – Page 308)

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