Introduction

Brian Hauglid is a leading LDS Scholar (see his FairMormon bio, his Maxwell Institute bio and publication list).

Among his other specialities, he is also a leading scholar on the history and translation of the Book of Abraham. For example, Hauglid’s work is cited in seven of the 46 footnotes from the Church’s Book of Abraham essay, and he is one of two editors responsible for The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, Vol. 4: Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts, a massive effort which compiles and analyzes all the original source material related to the Book of Abraham translation effort.

The Book of Abraham gospel topics essay references Hauglid specifically when it describes the missing papryi theory:

It is likely futile to assess Joseph’s ability to translate papyri when we now have only a fraction of the papyri he had in his possession. Eyewitnesses spoke of “a long roll” or multiple “rolls” of papyrus. [32] Since only fragments survive, it is likely that much of the papyri accessible to Joseph when he translated the book of Abraham is not among these fragments. The loss of a significant portion of the papyri means the relationship of the papyri to the published text cannot be settled conclusively by reference to the papyri.

Footnote 32 points to a source written by Hauglid:

[32] Hauglid, Textual History of the Book of Abraham, 213–14, 222.

Recent reversal

Hauglid recently1 said (at 52:46):

There’s also an argument that the Book of Abraham was on papyri that we no longer have–it’s called the missing paypri theory–at least from my perspective, anyway, I’ve found evidence that argues against that [the missing paypri theory] that they were working off of the papyri that we actually have in the Church today.

And in a recent facebook comment2 (formatted with bullets for greater clarity):

For the record, I no longer hold the views that have been quoted from my 2010 book in these videos. I have moved on from my days as an “outrageous” apologist. In fact, I’m no longer interested or involved in apologetics in any way. I wholeheartedly agree with Dan’s [Dan Vogel’s] excellent assessment of the Abraham/Egyptian documents in these videos.3

  • I now reject a missing Abraham manuscript.
  • I agree that two of the Abraham manuscripts were simultaneously dictated.
  • I agree that the Egyptian papers were used to produce the BoA.
  • I agree that only Abr. 1:1-2:18 were produced in 1835 and that Abr. 2:19-5:21 were produced in Nauvoo.
  • And on and on.

I no longer agree with Gee or Mulhestein. I find their apologetic “scholarship” on the BoA abhorrent. One can find that I’ve changed my mind in my recent and forthcoming publications. The most recent JSP Revelations and Translation vol. 4, The Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts (now on the shelves) is much more open to Dan’s thinking on the origin of the Book of Abraham. My friend Brent Metcalfe can attest to my transformative journey.

What data convinced him?

At least some of the kinds of data informing Hauglid’s opinion were recently presented by Hauglid and Robin Jensen, the other editor of the Book of Abraham manuscript portion of the Joseph Smith Papers project, at a Maxwell Institute lecture(especially this point made by Robin Jensen). Although Hauglid and Jensen do not present these as counterarguments to the idea that the Egyptian Alphabet was a retro-active effort, Hauglid’s (and Jensen’s) presentation clearly lays out the basic data suggesting that the various alphabet documents were almost certainly meant to associate characters on the papryus with the BoA text and at least in part were associated with the translation (not a retro-fit) effort.

Hauglid also refers to Vogel’s analysis which persuasively makes the case for the connection between the existing fragments/characters and the Book of Abraham.

Additional reading

A visual demonstrating (at a superficial level) the documentary evidence that the Book of Abraham characters associated with the translation were pulled from the papyri now in the Church’s possession may be found here.

Also see:

Acknowledgements: Reddit user fuzzy_thoughts pointed out Hauglid in Vogel’s video info section and the connection to Hauglid in the gospel topics essay. The number of Hauglid citations in the Book of Abraham essay was originally h/t the “Prove All Things” article and was verified to be the case on 2019-02-13.

  1. Reddit user admiraldjibouti noted that Hauglid has held a nuanced view of the Book of Abraham for perhaps a very long time:

    I took a class at BYU on the Pearl of Great Price from Hauglid back in 2000 or 2001 and he was pretty much saying the papyri was the Book of the Dead and we needed a more nuanced view of the Book of Abraham already.

    I’m not certain how to reconcile this with what seems like the more recent shift noted above. Perhaps Hauglid is merely more convinced against the missing papyri theory? Or perhaps admiraldjibouti is overstating how progressive Hauglid was previously? 

  2. A slightly abridged version of this comment was also shared in the info notes of part 6 of Dan Vogel’s Book of Abraham video series. 

  3. Dan Vogel and many other non-LDS scholars have been making this argument for a long time. See Vogel lay out the kinds of evidence that likely persuaded Hauglid in Vogel’s latest video series (particularly part 1 and part 7).