Introduction to Copies of Egyptian Characters, circa Summer 1835

Document Transcript

Copies of Egyptian Characters, circa Summer 1835
Likely in summer 1835, JS and his clerks created three loose-leaf documents bearing copies of Egyptian characters and vignettes. None of the documents bear English text that might provide clues regarding dating or motive for production. One of the documents—here identified as Copies of Egyptian Characters, circa Summer 1835–C—contains not only a few lines of copied Egyptian characters but also fragments of papyrus pasted to the paper. As compared to that document, the two other documents—Copies of Egyptian Characters, circa Summer 1835–A and Copies of Egyptian Characters, circa Summer 1835–B—contain many more lines of copied characters. Though described copying “four or five different sentences or separate pieces” from the papyri, his description appears to better match the two notebooks that were probably created in early July 1835. Like the notebooks, these documents were likely created in summer 1835, near the time that JS and others purchased the papyri. Alternatively, JS and his clerks may have made some or all of these copies at any time through the end of 1835, when work on the Egyptian-language project ceased.
Some characters on Copies of Egyptian Characters–A and –B come from what seems to have been a damaged papyrus fragment containing chapters from the Book of the Dead for Semminis. While there is some overlap between the two copies, each document also contains unique characters not found on the other document or on any extant papyrus fragment. Copies of Egyptian Characters–A also contains some drawings of baboons and of a priest offering water, which seem to have been copied from papyrus fragments that are still extant. Copies of Egyptian Characters–A appears to indicate original line breaks with short, wavy vertical lines, while Copies of Egyptian Characters–B appears to reproduce the original line breaks.

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, to William Frye, Lebanon, IL, 22 Dec. 1835, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 71; see also “Valuable Discovery,” ca. Early July 1835; and Notebook of Copied Egyptian Characters, ca. Early July 1835.  

    Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

  2. 2

    See “Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts.”  

  3. 3

    Ritner, Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri, 156–165, 201–204.  

    Ritner, Robert K. The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, P. JS 1–4 and the Hypocephalus of Sheshonq. Salt Lake City: Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2011.

  4. 4

    Ritner, Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri, 165; see also Miscellaneous Scraps of Book of the Dead for Semminis, ca. 300–100 bc.  

    Ritner, Robert K. The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, P. JS 1–4 and the Hypocephalus of Sheshonq. Salt Lake City: Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2011.