Radio Free Mormon: 188: Dr. Robert K. Ritner on the Book of Abraham part 1

Dr. Robert K. Ritner is a world renowned Egyptologist and professor of Egyptology at the prestigious Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.  I am honored to have been invited by John Dehlin to engage in a multi-part interview with Dr. Ritner to explore his views on the Book of Abraham; a subject he is uniquely qualified to address.  This is part one of that interview.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT! As you know, Dr. Ritner needs a kidney because his is failing. If you can help, call Dana McClain, Northwestern Medicine Transplant Coordinator, at 312-695-0828. Donors will be given an application asking for Dr. Ritner’s date of birth. It is 05-05-1953. Thanks so much!!! RFM


8 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 188: Dr. Robert K. Ritner on the Book of Abraham part 1

  1. Watched the entire video last night, RFM. Fascinating. If you haven’t read it already, Dan Vogel left some comments over at Mormon Stories. They were short, succinct and absolutely knocked me out of the water!

  2. RFM this was an amazing episode.

    Highlights included learning that 1) prior to Egyption translations being widely available, it was commonly believed that written Egyptian had an amazing shorthand quality whereby a few characters could express paragraphs of concepts in other languages (providing a potential rationale for Joseph Smith’s choice of “reformed” Egyptian as the purported original written language of the Book of Mormon; and 2) (slightly off topic) the significant connections between Egyptian religion and Christianity and Judaism.

    Like you and John, the Egyptian prayer/spell at 2:54:08 (from Book of the Dead 151) felt very familiar to me. My personal (uninformed) take on that is based on the (per Dr. Ritner) Egyptian influences on the Hebrew religion. So to me, the protections and blessings mentioned in the spell–relating to health, posterity and destruction of enemies, etc.–correspond to themes and passages in the Old Testament which were picked up by Joseph Smith when he created the washing and anointing and endowment ceremonies. (“I’m going with that”)

    Finally, the other thing that struck me was how the prevailing apologist arguments about the Book of Abraham are so blatently and shockingly dishonest. And to think there was a time when I considered Hugh Nibley a scholar?

    Thanks again.

  3. The idea that a spell or prayer written down and buried with the deceased, reminds me of the magic parchments owned by the Smith family. Like talismans, possession of these written magical documents was believed to empower the owner. Crazy how nothing is ever new in the world of myth, spirituality, and story.

  4. Yes, this is an incredible series. As high of value as ever given on RFM. But my mind is drawn much more to the status Dr. Ritner and his failing health. In that his current situation is quite precarious, I did a serious review of my own health status to assess whether or not I should pursue the vetting process. Unfortunately, my blood pressure issues don’t allow it. This is what is involved:


    It’s my deepest hope that someone in the ExMO community who is in good health will go through the vetting process.

    Even before this series while other Egyptologists remained disinterested, Dr. Ritner donated a massive amount of his time to dispelling the false assertions of Mormon apologists. Something that he didn’t have to do. Dr. Ritner is an amazing individual which only makes it sadder if no one in our community steps forward.

  5. Was he ever able to get his kidney transplant? I’ve been wondering about this yet I don’t think there was ever any follow up on how his health is these last several months.

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