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The Various Editions of the Hypocephalus in the Pearl of Great Price and Their Significance
Research by Kerry A. Shirts
It has been contended that the Hypocephalus itself is considered scripture. This is not supported by the evidence of the various hypocephali in the various editions of the PofGP. No website critical of Mormonism has dealt with these editions nor the ramifications, let alone other Mormon websites dealing with the Book of Abraham and the facsimiles.
We consider the descriptions of Joseph Smith on the figures of the hypocephali far more important than the hypos themselves. Consider the various editions! No two are even drawn with a serious eye towards details or getting the figures drawn correctly. Considering the EAG Hypo was incomplete, it is no wonder the Mormons have been so sloppy. But then why should they worry about exactness? The descriptions have always remained the same and it is to them that we properly check up on Joseph Smith, not to the drawings. The ancient Egyptian scribes did not exactly resemble Leonardo Da Vinci in their own drawing capacities anyway. There is nothing particularly sacred about the drawings near so much as the descriptions rendered as to what they represent. Consider the evidence......
The 1842 edition here was printed in the Times and Seasons.
The 1851 edition didn't include all the hieroglyphics behind the standing figure at the top, admittedly, a minor difference, but a difference nonetheless.
The 1878 edition didn't include the staff of the top figure all the way to the ground. Neither are there 15 dots in the boat on the figure with outspread wings on the upper left hand quadrant. It also excluded the phallis on the upside down seated figure with his arm to the square.
The 1879 edition restored the staff going to the ground as well as including the fifteen dots in the ship in the upper left hand quadrant, and the phallus of the upside down seated figure. But it failed to include all the hieroglyphics behind the standing two headed figure.
The 1891 edition also muffed the hieroglyphics behind the standing figure.
The 1907 edition is by far the most important one for us in this survey. The reason is because it was this hypo which the Reverend F.S. Spaulding gave to Egyptologists to examine, all the while claiming it was the original. The Egyptologists were understandably upset because so many of the figures were mangled. They accused Joseph Smith of this, not knowing that it was Spaulding who did the mangling! The standing figure in the upper center doesn't even have his arm, let alone the staff he was holding! The Jackal on the staff is mangled also. The dots in the boat in the upper left hand are wrong in number. There is no phallus in the upside down seated figure, next to the cow. One of the Wedjat Eyes are missing in the seated figure in the boat in the upper right hand corner. Now this is indeed very interesting! Critics to this day utilize the Egyptologists' comments from Spaulding in order to demonstrate that Joseph Smith was wrong! Yet they labored under many misconceptions which Spaulding himself created, this facsimile was NOT the original, it was NOT the one Joseph Smith commented on, and it was NOT included in the Joseph Smith Papyri, all of which Spaulding told the Egyptologists! Critics, rather than getting the full data and information would rather take the lazy way out and show that Egyptologists disagree with Joseph Smith. In Spaulding's day they certainly did, but mainly their criticisms were VALID because of what Spaulding did to the facsimile! He cheated from the get go, lied to the Egyptologists, Budge, Deveria, Theodule, Mercer, etc., and then proceeded to destroy the LDS scholars' arguments of that day. This is the basis from which critics continue to operate from to this day, and it is all skewed. ONLY by having the various editions of the hypocephali, including the one that Spaulding submitted to be tested, can we see how invalid the conclusions are because of the problems Spaulding deliberately created. Having these various editions of the hypocephali help us in understanding the true issues concerning this remarkably interesting Egyptian object.