The Book of Abraham: Understanding the why behind the facsimiles
When we last left our intrepid astronomer priest he was in Egypt, trying to show Pharaoh that he has the needed qualifications to be an astronomer priest in Egypt. This is where the interesting part of the facsimiles comes in. Abraham doesn't just need to show that he knows his stuff when it comes to the movement of the planets, and how those movements affect the lives of the Egyptian population, be he also needs to demonstrate that his orthodoxy is compatible with existing Egyptian theology. We see something similar later on with King Lamoni and Ammon.
24 And Ammon began to speak unto him with boldness, and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God?
25 And he answered, and said unto him: I do not know what that meaneth.
26 And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit?
27 And he said, Yea.
28 And Ammon said: This is God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth?
Now, Ammon didn't quibble over the nature of God, whether he has a body or not, he instead built on the King's existing beliefs and world view. As I look at Abraham, and more specifically the facsimiles, I see him doing the same thing; showing that his orthodoxy fits within Pharaoh's world view and belief system. This is something we find often in the scriptures, but also something we all do in our own lives. If we look at the vignettes in this light, we can see Abraham explaining to Pharaoh how he, Abraham, would interpret some of these scenes. Facsimile 1, is the exception to this, as Abraham used it to show a lion couch, like the one on which he was to have been sacrificed, with some notable changes to the scene to reflect his experience and differentiate it from other such vignettes. In the other facsimiles, Abraham gives interpretations that do not fit with the Egyptian interpretation of the figures, but that instead match his world view, and importantly, would show that his teachings could live peacefully along side of the teachings of the Egyptian priests. An example of this borrowing is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, which is based on an older Jewish interpretation of an Egyptian parable where the part of Abraham is played by Osiris. Even Christ used this method of teaching, borrowing from pagan (and in this case Egyptian) lore and parables, because his audience would understand them. Abraham was no different, and neither were the early Christians, who borrowed local pagan holidays and wrapped them all up in Christian stories and lore.