Throughout his writings, but especially in Abraham in Egypt, Hugh Nibley implies that we all need to be doing the works of Abraham. Abraham’s works should illuminate for all of us a spiritual stance in which light is victorious over darkness, good over evil, the meaningful over the insignificant, in which living is not acted out through a dark glass simply because we have failed to clean the glass, but because in our searchings we have not yet attained the clearest vision. While working on this volume the highest reward for me was the clearer vision I received from Nibley, mostly because he required that I clean the glass of my own perspective.
Nibley, for some time, requested that his earlier Egyptian works not be reprinted before his book One Eternal Round appeared. He was finally persuaded that his historical views on Abraham had value and gave us permission to proceed with the publication of a new edition of Abraham in Egypt. He felt, however, that some of his material from “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” published as a series in the Improvement Era from 1968 to 1970, should be incorporated into this second edition. Sections from that series appearing in this edition include “Appeal to Authority,” “May We See Your Credentials,” “Empaneling the Panel,” “Second String,” “Setting the Stage” The World of Abraham,” “The Sacrifice of Isaac,” and “The Sacrifice of Sarah.”
No doubt Hugh Nibley has made statements and conclusions that some readers would like to have had modified or deleted. Editorially the decision was made that what Nibley originally said should, for the most part, remain the same. Readers who have differences of opinion will need to remember that even Nibley himself would rewrite many of his earlier books and articles to reflect newer insights or research findings. During the editing of this present volume, however, he was heavily involved in finishing his massive work on the hypocephalus (Facsimile 2 in the Book of Abraham), One Eternal Round. Therefore no effort has been made to systematically update Nibley’s interpretations or transliterations in light of more recent research. Some changes have been made to bring the material in line editorially and stylistically with the other books in the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley and as the sources were thoroughly rechecked.
The source checking for this new edition was carried out meticulously. We have tried to make the sources accessible to the interested reader. Unfortunately, some of the sources cited in the original edition have proved impossible to find, mostly because the citations there were made parenthetically with numbers that referred to a numbered bibliographic list; typographical errors in those numbers have made the sources difficult or impossible to find. In a few cases, we have retained the material without source citation for whatever value it may have for the readers; in those cases we have indicated in an endnote that the source was not found.
During the years it took me to edit Abraham in Egypt, the following people have participated in some spiritual experiences with me, provided valuable assistance, and earned my deepest gratitude: Professors John W. Welch, Stephen D. Ricks, and Don E. Norton for moral support and for checking the text; my secretaries Leann Walton and Valene Novak for entering footnotes on the computer; students Lourdes Chile, Anna Damien, Jeanette Decker, Alan Goff, Cristine Guajardo, Jan Lujan, Kaja Hall, Lynne Hall, Barney Madsen, and Jeyantha Ponnuthurai, for retrieving books from the library, checking references, proofreading the retyped manuscript and other odd jobs; and the interlibrary loan staff of the Harold B. Lee Library, especially Kathleen Hansen and Carolin Crosby, for tracking down some very obscure references. John Gee was particularly helpful with the Egyptian sources, and Daniel B. McKinlay and Wendy C. Thompson also assisted in source checking. Michael D. Rhodes shared his indispensable talent in Egyptian to check the hieroglyphics in the Coffin Texts, and Darrell Matthews lent his expertise by editing chapter 12. Michael P. Lyon has enhanced this edition of Abraham in Egypt with his meticulous illustrations based on his artistic talents and broad knowledge of the ancient world. I would also like to acknowledge the assistance given me by the staff of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), especially Mari Miles. Final editorial and production work has been coordinated by Shirley S. Ricks and Alison V. P. Coutts at FARMS and the staff at Deseret Book. We acknowledge and thank Dr. Stephen Ricks for his generous contribution. My family patiently supported me during many hours of working with the text at home, and for their understanding I am truly grateful. Finally, I am indebted to E. Douglas Clark for his insightful comments about Hugh Nibley and Abraham in Egypt provided in the foreword.
Gary P. Gillum