|Facsimile 1 from the Book of Abraham.|
Although an important text for the church, the book of Abraham is the most controversial of the works found in the Pearl [of Great Price]. The translations and Smith’s commentary on the accompanying facsimiles illustrating various rituals have been the subject of great debate almost from the time of publication and continue to be points of controversy between church members and non-church members. A number of Egyptologists from outside the church have criticized Smith’s translations and interpretations of the papyri. Non-LDS scholars have argued that Smith’s translation of the text was highly flawed, that the text does not contain the name Abraham, and that anachronisms in the text indicate it was not written by Abraham. These scholars have also noted the similarity of the text to The Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Book of Breathings, which were compiled long after the time of Abraham and have little to do with him. Smith’s understanding of the illustrations, according to these scholars, is also problematic; they have maintained that they are depictions of common Egyptian funerary rites that have little to do with Abraham. LDS scholars have responded to these criticisms and have sought to demonstrate the accuracy of Smith’s translation and interpretation; needless to say, neither side has been convinced by the other, and as a result the controversy continues. Scholars have also identified parallels between the book and various works of Jewish and Christian pseudepigraphy.