Recently, I was forwarded a response received by a concerned member who wrote his BYU professor of ancient scripture regarding the Book of Abraham problem. The professor holds a PhD in the field of ancient scripture and provided the following response. I will include an open response to his explanation.
In 1835, a traveling showman brought an exhibit of Egyptian mummies and papyri to Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith, being fascinated by ancient things, was highly intrigued and was permitted to examine the Egyptian writings. After doing so, Joseph Smith was elated as he announced that these were the writings of the great biblical patriarch Abraham. What good fortune, what were the chances! Furthermore, he said, there were also some writings of Joseph of Egypt. Several members of the Church pooled their money and bought the papyri and mummies for $2,400 (a large sum of money especially in those days). After about seven years, Joseph finished the translation of the scroll which he called the Book of Abraham, but he died before translating the Book of Joseph scroll.