Is the Book of Abraham Incomplete?

First, textual evidence suggests that there’s more story to be told.

  1. The story of Abraham, Sarah, and Pharoah is interrupted (Abraham 2:22-25). That is, we know that Abraham tells Sarah that they’re going to tell Pharaoh that she is his sister, not his wife. But since that story is interrupted by Abraham teaching the Egyptians astronomy, we never find out what happened. Does Pharaoh find out that Sarah is Abraham’s sister? How? What does he do about it? Is this how Abraham becomes wealthy (it is in the version in Genesis)? We don’t know the answer to any of these questions.
  2. Abraham’s retelling of the creation account(s) is interrupted in Abraham 5:21. This happens after Adam has named all the animals, which occurs after God creates Eve (notably, this order differs in Genesis). Clearly, this is not the end of the story, although this does correspond to the end of Genesis 2, given the switch of Adam’s naming of the animals and Eve’s creation.
  3. Finally, in Abraham 1:28, Abraham gives us a brief outline of the work. According to this outline, the work is incomplete. He says: “But I shall endeavor, hereafter, to delineate the chronology running back from myself to the beginning of the creation, for the records have come into my hands, which I hold unto this present time.” He does begin retelling the creation, but he does not connect the creation to his own chronology.

Second, Joseph Smith appears to have claimed that there was more to come. Kevin Barney reports (here) that “In February of 1843, Joseph promised that more of the text would be published, but none ever was, and no manuscript evidence of additional text has been discovered.” Brian Hauglid says “Evidence from multiple sources suggests that JS may have produced other Abraham material that is no longer extant. However, JS did not subsequently publish any additional Abraham texts” (Hauglid, Textual History of the Book of Abraham, 5–6., cited here, scroll to the bottom of the page.).

Of course, this isn’t really anything more than an exercise in textual analysis (at least initially; obviously the points from Barney and Hauglid go beyond that). It’s interesting to think of what more Joseph Smith might have written about Abraham.

Note: While I realize that I don’t have much in the way of readership right now, I will point out that any comments not on topic, including comments about the relationship of the Book of Abraham to the Joseph Smith Papyrus and Joseph Smith’s role or status as a prophet will be deleted. This is not the place for that conversation.


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