14 Comments

Is the Book of Abraham related to Muslim texts?

I was reading an article in Time Magazine a while back about how Abraham is a central figure in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. I was intrigued to learn that the article states, “The Koran includes scenes from Abraham’s childhood in which he chides his father for believing in idols and survives, Daniel-like, in a fiery furnace to which he is condemned for his fealty to Allah.” As I recall, the print version of the magazine had additional information on Abraham and Islam, including more details of this story.

To me, this sounds very similar to the account in the Pearl of Great Price. Is it possible, that Joseph translated a Muslim text? I find no accounts of this in the Bible, and I am not aware of any apocryphal writings about this story. Is anyone out there familiar with this? Are there other parallels with Islam, or is the story found elsewhere?

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14 comments on “Is the Book of Abraham related to Muslim texts?

  1. I don’t believe there are any apocryphal writings about Abraham’s childhood. It is a strange coincidence that the Quaran and Pearl of Great Price are the only religious books — to my knowledge — depicting this era in Abraham’s life.

  2. To me, an interesting and related question pertains to the Qu’ran itself, and its relationship to Mohammed. This article on wikipedia indicates that the book was not compiled until after his death.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qur'an

    I wonder how much of the Qu’ran reflects the inspiration and revelation received by Mohammed, and how much reflects the human interpretation of those teachings. Of course, one can say the Gospels were not written until well after the Savior’s death and resurrection, so perhaps this is a poor question. And one can also say that the problems of succession which Islam faced at the death of Mohammed were not unlike those faced by the Church at the death of Joseph Smith.

  3. We know that Mohammed received inspiration: In 1978 the First Presidency stated that great religious leaders “such as Mohammed … received a portion of God’s light…to enlighten whole nations.”

    Mohammed said that the words of the Koran were revealed to him by the Angel Gabriel. No matter what you believe about that claim, it is certainly possible that this account of Abraham’s childhood was among the divinely inspired messages that Mohammed received.

    I’m not sure if Joseph Smith translated a Muslim text, or if God revealed the same message to both Mohammed and JS. I think the latter possibility is more exciting.

  4. Doug, you raise an interesting question. If God did inspire Mohammed and Joseph Smith regarding Abraham’s childhood, would that mean we should accept the Koran? I think this is a big stretch for most people.

    However, MP, thanks for the link to the Koran. It talks something about the Scrolls of Abraham, known as “Suhuf-i-Ibrahim”. This seems to be a lost book known by the Koran. Is this similar to the once lost Gospel of Judas? Did Joseph translate Suhuf-i-Ibrahim? Seems like an interesting speculation…..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suhuf-i-Ibrahim

  5. MH said:

    would that mean we should accept the Koran?

    I think that we could accept it the same way that we accept the Apocrypha. It’s not doctrine, but there are useful elements to be found by those who diligently search. I think that D&C 91 is the most underutilized, but important scriptures in the Mormon canon. I think it stands for the proposition that God puts revelation into a variety of sources that without the Spirit, you can see and yet see not and hear and yet hear not.

  6. Jeff Lindsay has an excellect collection on this subject in anwer to the question, “Do other ancient documents confirm the details in the text of the Book of Abraham?” See the link here
    For example the Apocalypse of Abraham – an ancient document dealing with Abraham that was first published in 1897 and was first translated into English the following year by two Latter-day Saints, the Testament of Abraham, an ancient document that one non-LDS scholar describes as “a midrashic account, developed in Egypt from the LXX [Septuagint, or Greek translation], embellished by traditions from the Palestinian Targum, written in Therapeutic circles around the time of Christianity, both of which Hugh Nibley’s did an extensive analysis of in his book, Abraham in Egypt.

    It seems to me pretty clear the text of the Book of Abraham either came from God, or Joseph somehow had one of these sources. Some claim the Kabbalah, but I don’t think all the parallels fit and the story is somewhat fanciful. Although probably not any more fanciful than receiving revelation throught the power of God reading Egyptian Papyri.

  7. uh…you know the papyrus that JS used have been found and translated. They do not date to Abraham, or have anything to do with Abraham. How can you possibly overlook that?

  8. I’ve heard that argument before, and let’s assume it’s true. We know the Gospel of Judas certainly couldn’t have been written by Judas, but it does date to at least the 3rd of 4th century because Ireneaus mentions it. The copy we have dates to the 5th or 6th century. While this is certainly not an original text, it is certainly ancient, and corroborates Ireneaus comments. The same could easily apply to the Egyptian papyrus.

    Even if one were to assume that Joseph fraudulently translated the papyrus, how then, do you explain apparent similarities with muslim texts, or to the Kaballah text that Doc mentions? That’s an awfully strange coincidence, don’t you think?

  9. Wow! This post is very interesting. It goes along with my recent post on if Mormonism has truths found in all religions.

    I’m going to add this link to my post for others to view.

    Check it out here: http://graceforgrace.com/2008/02/15/does-mormonism-cover-truths-from-all-religions/

  10. Pseudo-Philo has the story of Abraham in the furnace. Found in eighteen complete texts and three fragmentary texts – excluding the Dead Sea Scrolls and any other recent finds since 1985. An Aprocryphal work ascribed to Philo of Alexandria. Believed to be originally written in Hebrew due to some very distinct Semetic idioms. Translated into the Greek – also due to some untranslated Greek words (As the New Testament likely was) – and found in the Latin text. Was in some of the LXX mss. Translated into the German by John Sichardus at Basel in 1527. Text reprinted by S. Gryphe at Lyon in 1552. Became commonly known as Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum – or Liber Antiquatatum, for short. Hebrew fragments are preserved in the Chronicles of Jerahmeel. (Bodleian MS Heb. d. 11; 14th C.)

    L. Cohn wrote – An Apocryphal Work Ascribed to Philo of Alexandria in 1898. There is still debate if this writing was really written by Philo. Abraham in the Furnace was not an new invention by JS. There are other MSS about Abraham that are just now being re-discovered. This is in addition to any possible Jewish oral histories.

  11. Hi, I stumbled upon this thread via an “Abraham in the furnace” search. We just received a book for our collection called, “Avraham be-khivshan ha-esh : mered be-olam pagani” (i.e., Abraham in the furnace of fire : a rebel in a pagan world) by Vered Tohar. Ramat-Gan : Hotsaat Univeristat Bar-Ilan, 2010. ISBN 9789652266305. Sadly, it’s in Hebrew, but still it seems to indicate that there’s a whole Jewish homeletical (midrashic) tradition in this vein, Psuedo-Philo bedanged.

  12. @Mormon Heretic
    Dude…you should check the Quran more deeply and compare…:)

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