Kerry Muhlestein, professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, PhD in Egyptology at UCLA in 2003.
But I’ve heard that there is little if any corroborating evidence of the Book of Abraham.
In the end I believe too much has been made about the lack or presence of corroborating evidence for the Book of Abraham. Many have claimed there is none, many of us have shown there is.i So what? Yes there are some things about the Book of Abraham we would not expect to see. This is also the case with almost every new discovery of an ancient text. As scholars we love it when we find a text that has new and surprising evidence. We hope for and look for this. And then we find ourselves in an uproar if it happens with the Book of Abraham? Conversely, yes, we have found a number of elements in the Book of Abraham that have ancient parallels. This is interesting. It helps me understand Abraham and his world better. It paints a picture of plausibility. It can also lead to poor scholarship that starts to point out any and every possible parallel. Furthermore, it cannot prove anything.
The problem with the concern of corroborating evidence is that it takes us away from the text itself.ii The text is so beautiful, powerful, and significant. In my judgment, the best way to determine anything about the text is to read it carefully, to study it intimately. The doctrines are deep and the language is beautiful. I am not suggesting we ignore the storm over plausibility, corroboration, and verification.iii Yet these things have played themselves to a standstill and will continue to play in such a way, just as they have with the Bible. Thus our task becomes searching the text itself. If we do not think it possible that God inspired this text and that He could give us answers as to whether it is true or not, then there is no need to do so. But for those who believe this is at least possible, and who are willing to honestly seek for truth regarding the text of the Book of Abraham, there is a course forward. Use your God-given mind to study these issues, balancing arguments, seeing assumptions, and maintaining an open mind. Use this same mind then to study the text. Then, if you are willing, honestly seek an answer from God. All of the work we do on the Book of Abraham, from every point of view, is worthwhile if it is employed in an informed, honest intellectual search. But it is not enough. Fortunately, more is available.
i Besides the discussions in these videos, see Kerry Muhlestein, “Egyptian Papyri and the Book of Abraham, in The Religious Educator 11/1 (2010): 99-100; and Kerry Muhlestein, “Egyptian Egyptian Papyri and the Book of Abraham” A Faithful, Egyptological Point of View in No Weapon Shall Prosper, Robert L. Millett, ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 232-234; Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham, Studies in the Book of Abraham, vol. 1, ed. John Tvedtnes, Brian Hauglid, and John Gee (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2001); and See Michael D. Rhodes, “The Joseph Smith Hypocephalus—Seventeen Years Later,” (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1994), for just a few examples. See also https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/volume-11-number-1-2010/egyptian-papyri-and-book-abraham-some-questions-and-answers.
iii On this, see John Gee and Stephen D. Ricks, “Historical Plausibility: The Book of Abraham as a Case Study,” in The Historicity of the Scriptures, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2001), 63-98.