I was just browsing the list of reasons people gave for leaving the Church in John Dehlin’s survey, and came across the concern people had about the Book of Abraham. His translation shows no resemblance to the translations of the papyri done by Egyptologists. Now, one of the most common ways of reconciling this is through the catalyst theory. This theory now enjoys some bit of official sanction given it is now included in the Church’s Gospel Topics essay on the Book of Abraham.
Joseph’s study of the papyri may have led to a revelation about key events and teachings in the life of Abraham, much as he had earlier received a revelation about the life of Moses while studying the Bible. This view assumes a broader definition of the words translator and translation.33 According to this view, Joseph’s translation was not a literal rendering of the papyri as a conventional translation would be. Rather, the physical artifacts provided an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation. They catalyzed a process whereby God gave to Joseph Smith a revelation about the life of Abraham, even if that revelation did not directly correlate to the characters on the papyri.