See Rhodes, "A Translation and Commentary of the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus"; John Gee, "Notes on the Sons of Horus" (Provo: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991). See also Apocalypse of Abraham 18, , 1:698.
The Apocalypse of Abraham is a vital source for understanding both Jewish apocalypticism and mysticism. Written anonymously soon after the destruction of the Second Jerusalem Temple, the text envisions heaven as the true place of worship and depicts Abraham as an initiate of celestial priesthood. Andrei A. Orlov focuses on the central rite of the Abraham story – the scapegoat ritual that receives a striking eschatological reinterpretation in the text. He demonstrates that the development of the sacerdotal traditions in the Apocalypse of Abraham, along with a cluster of Jewish mystical motifs, represents an important transition from Jewish apocalypticism to the symbols of early Jewish mysticism. In this way, Orlov offers unique insight into the complex world of the Jewish sacerdotal debates in the early centuries of the Common Era. The book will be of interest to scholars of early Judaism and Christianity, Old Testament studies, and Jewish mysticism and magic.
Counted among the pseudepigrapha.
The apocalypse of Abraham is counted as one of the pseudepigrapha.
Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on the apocalypse of Abraham:
“A passage in the Apocalypse of Abraham reads like a modern description of the seething, ever-changing elements within a star. Abraham was shown the stars. An angel comes and takes him on a journey, during which Abraham goes into a trance. His spirit leaves his body, for when he comes back, it enters his body again and he has to be raised onto his feet. His spirit leaves his body, and the angel takes him to watch a star in the process of transformation.
Rhodes devotes much of his lecture to supposed parallels to the Book of Abraham from pseudepigraphic Jewish texts such as the Apocalypse of Abraham and the Testament of Abraham. Yet no historian thinks these texts preserve any historical information about Abraham (at least beyond what one might glean from the Old Testament). Both of these works were probably written in the second century AD (or perhaps the late first century), or roughly two thousand years after Abraham’s death. What Rhodes does is to cherry-pick a few verbal or thematic parallels between the Book of Abraham and these ancient books, arguing that (of course) Joseph Smith could not have known what those books said. This supposedly means that Joseph “hit the nail on the head” by happening to produce these elements that parallel elements in Jewish pseudepigraphic writings about Abraham. In recent years this line of reasoning seems to have become the LDS apologists’ favorite argument for the Book of Abraham, but it’s hopelessly unworkable. We have no reason to think those elements actually reflect truth about Abraham (or truth about him not discernible from the Bible), and in any two books about the same subject one would expect there to be some parallels, so that the parallels in and of themselves prove nothing. Hitting the nail on the head is of no value if the nail is in the wrong piece of wood.