Kerry Muhlestein and Megan Hansen give proposed reconstruction of translation timeline of the Book of Abraham.

Academic / Technical Report
Kerry Muhlestein

Kerry Muhlestein and Megan Hansen, "'The Work of Translating': The Book of Abraham's Translation Chronology," in Let Us Reason Together: Essays in Honor of the Life’s Work of Robert L. Millet, ed. J. Spencer Fluhman and Brent L. Top (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2016), 139–62.

BYU Religious Studies Center, Deseret Book
Kerry Muhlestein, Megan Hansen
Reading Public

One of Joseph Smith’s great gifts was translation. While millions have benefitted from his translation efforts, we understand very little of the process. This is particularly true of the Book of Abraham. Here we will investigate how much of the Book of Abraham was translated in Kirtland and how much in Nauvoo. Understanding this chronology will allow us to better perceive doctrinal developments within the Church and to more fully understand Joseph Smith’s revelatory process.

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At this point, there is no theory that accounts for all of the evidence. Clearly, either we need to find more evidence or create another model. Such is not surprising when dealing with a process so heavily influenced by the Divine and so scattered or absent in the historical record. For the time being, the most we can do is say that it seems likely Joseph Smith translated all of the text of the Book of Abraham we now have, and perhaps even more, by 1835. While such a theory is plausible, it remains problematic because it is simultaneously incomplete and the most probable of the theories proposed thus far.

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