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Notes on the JSP

In this issue of the newsletter, we highlight the most recent update to our website, which included the release of all of the annotation in Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838. This issue also features an article by one of our associate managing historians that helps contextualize the origin of the Book of Abraham within nineteenth-century Western culture and describes Joseph Smith’s approach to translating this record.
As we anticipate what the year 2019 holds for the project, we look forward to hosting our third annual Joseph Smith Papers Conference in October. If you are interested in attending or proposing a paper to present, we invite you to see the article in this newsletter that contains more information about the conference.
Ronald K. Esplin, Matthew J. Grow, Matthew C. Godfrey, and R. Eric Smith
General Editors
In This Issue
  • New Content on the Joseph Smith Papers Website
  • Upcoming Conference Call for Papers
  • Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham
New Content on the Joseph Smith Papers Website
We are pleased to announce our latest web content release. Included in this publication are all the documents, introductions, and annotation found in Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, which was published in print in 2017. Documents, Volume 5 includes documents relating to the dedication of the House of the Lord in Kirtland, Ohio, in March 1836; to Joseph Smith’s endeavors to learn Hebrew and his translation of Egyptian documents, including the Book of Abraham; and to the Kirtland Safety Society Bank and Joseph Smith’s store in Chester, Ohio.

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Upcoming Conference Call for Papers

To celebrate the release of volumes seven, eight, and nine of the Documents series, the Joseph Smith Papers Project will host the third annual Joseph Smith Papers Conference on October 11, 2019. Due to the overwhelming public interest in past conferences, this year’s event will take place at the Conference Center Little Theater in Salt Lake City, Utah, to accommodate all who want to attend.

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Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham

By Robin Scott Jensen, Associate Managing Historian
Western culture’s interest in Egypt has waxed and waned throughout the centuries, but during Joseph Smith’s time this interest was so strong that it has been termed “Egyptomania.” As new discoveries of ancient Egypt surfaced, scholars and laypersons alike wondered what civilization could build such impressive structures, statues, and monuments. Following Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt in the late 1700s, the interest in Egyptian artifacts intensified. Multiple museums acquired recently unearthed mummies or scrolls, individuals purchased artifacts, and crowds flocked to traveling exhibits of mummies and other relics. With reports of touring mummy displays published close to his home in Palmyra, New York, a young Joseph Smith would have been familiar with the larger cultural interest in all things ancient Egypt.

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