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Radio Free Mormon: 202: The David Bokovoy Interview Part 3

Professor David Bokovoy and RFM dig deep into  the third chapter of the Book of Abraham.  What does all this material about astronomy really mean?  And what can it tell us about the actual author?  These questions, along with a host of others, are delved into in this fascinating discussion!


27 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 202: The David Bokovoy Interview Part 3”

  1. Did I hear correctly when Josephus or Jasher was being read the phrase ” Lifted up”? Did Smith borrow absolutely everything or what. Moses chapter 1 vs 11 has Moses using his SPIRITUAL eyes not his natural eyes. That is a direct quote from treasure hunting days and gold plate witness accounts.
    I feel so sorry for the foolish beliefs Mormons are death bound to protect. It is so ridiculous it’s hard to fathom how I ever believed.
    More awesome info. Thank you both.

      1. Yes!

        Even the “one eternal now.”

        I know you thought that was something special that Joseph Smith came up with on his own.

        And I also know how disappointing it can be to find out otherwise.

        1. For the negative impact Mormonism had on my entire life this is some justification. I walked away from my true love since he was not Mormon. As fate would not allow me to be stupid forever, he and I reconnected after 30 years and both of us free. We’ve been married 8 years and he has shown me what Love is. I wanted to know.
          Thanks for the link. This is why I am surprised when people go coo coo for Smith. He was an artist…a con artist.

          1. I am very happy for you that you were able to reconnect and have love. I’m recently divorced – which happened at the same time as I left the church – so your story is very encouraging.

    1. Actually, the twin usage of “lifted up” was also found in the Book of Mormon, which had been translated 6-years before chapter 1 of the Book of Abraham.

      Let me see if I can dig out the reference again.

      Here it is!

      Helaman 8:14–“Yea, did he (Moses) not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he LIFTED UP the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be LIFTED UP who should come.”

      Compare with Abraham 1:15–“And as they LIFTED UP their hands upon me, that they might offer me up and take away my life, behold, I LIFTED UP my voice unto the Lord my God, . . .”

      Remember. You heard it here first!


  2. There is a book called “The Hieroglyphics of Horapollo Nilous” that may have influenced Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham project. You can access this book online for free at There are four reasons that I think this book influenced Joseph Smith:

    1. The Greek psalter incident in 1842. Henry Caswall attempted to expose Joseph Smith as a fraud by showing him a copy of the Psalms in Greek and challenging him to translate it. Joseph Smith declared the psalter to be a “dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics,” which of course it wasn’t. It was an oddly specific guess for Joseph Smith, and it’s exactly what Hieroglyphics of Horapollo is: a dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics in Greek.

    2. Kolob as the governing star. Near the very beginning of Hieroglyphics of Horapollo, the author says that a star called Sothis, or Astrocyon in Greek (meaning the dog star), presides over the other stars. Compare this with Abraham 3:3 which says the same thing about Kolob. The word “Kolob” may be Hebrew for “dog,” and the Greeks identified Sothis as the dog star. We know this star by the name Sirius.

    3. Conflation of length and time. In facsimile 3 figure 1, it says, “…celestial time signifies one day to a cubit.” Compare this with Horapollo book 1 part 5: “To represent the current year they [the Egyptians] depict the fourth part of an Arura: now the Arura is a measure of land of an hundred cubits.”

    4. The overall style of Joseph Smith’s explanations of facsimile 2 is very similar to the style of Hieroglyphics of Horapollo.

    I should add that Horapollo’s Hieroglyphics fell out of favor after translation of the Rosetta stone, but it would have been the best option available to Joseph Smith if he wanted to try and use “secular learning” to translate the scrolls.

    1. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Shane.

      I do not recall having heard of this before. You make some great points.

      As to the Greek Psalter episode, that one is easy enough for apologists to brush off because it is based on the witness of Henry Caswall.

      What it makes it more difficult to brush off is Joseph Smith’s translation of the Kinderhook Plates, in addition to what we are learning about his translations of the Book of Abraham, the Book of Mormon, and the Bible.

      In context of his other translation projects, Henry Caswall’s story about the Greek Psalter incident seems to fit Joseph Smith’s pattern.

  3. Thanks for a great podcast. It’s nice to know my teenage reaction to the Book of Abraham “What a load of sh!t” still remains valid decades later.

  4. At the center of all discussion in the l d s faith is the simple and fundamental doctrine of Pre mortal life and eternal lives these are front and center in the Christian decry that Mormons are not Christian these discussions are great as they give those of us in full fledged faith crisis a bone to chew. But I am very much a believer in God and in the eternal nature of our souls I struggle with Joseph smith though he represents the quintessential partiality honest man and though I have no formal schooling after high school I get the concept Jesus taught that it is as difficult for the Mormon leaders of today as it was for the Sanhedrin of his time to accept that love is the nature of God and love is the only thing worth inherenting from Him . What is so hard to understand about that . It’s funny to me that we get our calling and election made sure by a feeling of accomplishment not by a love for our fellow man or our guiding star the life of a simple teacher who lived 2 k years ago . Mormonism is difficult to live it is complicated and requires ignorance of history and blindness of Joe’s last year of life . He brought many to think .he pushed many to act .as we all have done who have served missions . The scriptures teach that the truth shall set you free . It just seems to me we have been set free into a laberinth. Thanks you two for great thinking points we can all agree on one thing you can’t be partially honest you either are or your not. Joseph would have been found guilty of treason and guilty of destruction of private property it would have been the unveiling of his failing character but 1/3 had to follow Brigham to the great beyond and now we have a faith that barely resembles the mess of polygamy and theocracy that was the Utah territory 1848-1900. Here we sit waiting for something to occur that was supposed to happen during Joseph’s lifetime.
    I would declare it all good but the apologists need their place in this organization. The bees nest has the stick of history in it and the queen’s are not happy

    1. Thanks for your great comments, Bill!

      I have sometimes thought what new and exciting doctrines Joseph Smith would have revealed if he had lived to his expected eighty-five years of age.

      But then I also sometimes think that Joseph Smith died at just the right time.

      Because had he lived any longer, a number of unsavory aspects of his character would likely have been made public.

      1. It’s true that defending a guilty man who acted in ignorance is much easier than defending an innocent man who acted indifferent we all have time in this religion time we cannot get back it has its ups and downs . But leaders cannot deal with faith crises lest they become victims themselves. Heal thyself is their decry and that is what we all should do . Thanks for great thinking points we were not blessed to be pawns we were blessed to become kings . We were blessed to think and act for ourselves. That’s powerful stuff especially when you have faith in it .

    2. “ The scriptures teach that the truth shall set you free . It just seems to me we have been set free into a laberinth.”

      I LOVE this! It covers the reality of way more than Mormonism. Thank you 🙂,

  5. This was great. You guys make a great team. Would also love to hear you guys discuss the BoM, the Bible or even D&C.

    After each of these discussions, I think to myself “I must have sat through thousands of hours of church talks/instruction over the course of my lifetime and I never heard anything remotely as interesting as this.”

    Thanks again.

    1. Thanks, Rick!

      I agree that Mormonism becomes fascinating when we are able to talk about all the things Mormonism doesn’t want us to talk about.


  6. I did that astronomy class too. My buddy talked me into it thinking great place to meet girls and get a study partner. Let look at constellations. Nope – one week of that then on to what I nicknamed intro to NASA navigation.

    1. I was fortunate enough to avoid that experience.

      All I know about astronomy I learned from books at home and star gazing on my own.

      I think I dodged a bullet!

    2. I took a class called “Quarks, Quazars & Black Holes’. The class was in a room with stacked, movable chalk boards that ran the width of the room. There was an equation written across about 2/3”s of the bottom board.

      After everyone settled, prof pointed to the equation and did his best to convince us that it would not be a fun class, we would learn and use that equation. We would learn and use other equations.

      Apparently one needs a great deal of advanced math to understand quarks, quazars & black holes.

  7. The series discussion with David Bokovoy was extremely interesting! As someone who believed she knew the scriptures, I was blown away. Bokovoy’s discussion with RFM was deep; another level of discussion that seems so rare. Thanks to both of you!

  8. RFM,

    Instead of the moon’s retrograde motion being responsible for its prolonged time, could it be that the moon takes approximently one month to complete a rotation on its axis compared to 24 hours on the earth. The moon’s rotation would be verifiable by simple visual observation by anyone knowing that the moon is approximately a sphere and nothing that the moon always presents its near-side and hides its dark-side.

    Also, Math rocks!

    Great Series!

  9. I should have noted that the earth presents its near-side and hides its dark-side during its month long orbit of the earth. Consequently, it has a rotational period of one month.

  10. Hey guys. David mentions a couple of times Dan Vogel’s work on this subject. Could you narrow it down to which on of those videos you’re talking about, as there is a bunch of them, and I’m interested in his take. Excellent series, and I love the depth and width of the discussion, as a couple of times I had to rewind and listen a couple of times to digest the content, which is good. Thanks for this, as always.

  11. My son is currently at BYU – WHY WHY WHY can’t David be his INSTITUTE TEACHER!!!!! He/they need REAL religious teachers!!! Teachers with REAL answers and REAL conversations!!!!!! Sooooo frustrating!!!!!!

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