First Vision accounts

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"The official account of this first vision found in Mormon Scripture (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith — History, 1:14-20) was not recorded by Joseph Smith until 1838, 18 years after the supposed event. However, for years before this, Joseph, and his close associates did talk about his early visionary experiences. These earlier accounts contain significant variations from the official First Vision account." [1]


[edit] Conflating different events

"[T]he most significant problem with Palmyra's camp-meeting of late June 1820 is that the Prophet specifically stated that his vision of deity occurred 'early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty.' Therefore, citing the Palmyra Register in June-July 1820 to demonstrate pre-vision revivalism would seem to be a fallacy of irrelevant proof, and skeptics can accurately say there is no indication of a revival there in March, April, nor even in May of that year... Smith's official narrative about 1820 included circumstances which occurred during Palmyra's revivals of 1824-25." - Michael Quinn [2]

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[edit] Development of the account

"No one knew of today's version of the First Vision until after Joseph dictated it in 1838, and no published source mentions it until 1842". [3]

[edit] Insignificant in early Mormon history

"There is little if any evidence, however, that by the early 1830s Joseph Smith was telling the story in public. At least if he were telling it, no one seemed to consider it important enough to have recorded it at the time, and no one was criticizing him for it. Not even in his own history did Joseph Smith mention being criticized in this period for telling the story of the First Vision" (James B. Allen [BYU historian and LDS bishop], "The Significance of Joseph Smith's First Vision in Mormon Thought", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966, p. 30).
"The first vision does not seem to have been of much importance to early Church members. For them, the Book of Mormon was the important thing. This may be the result of the fact that during JS's time, there were numerous newspaper articles regarding people who reported seeing Jesus, angels etc. and receiving one divine commission or another from them. Interestingly, no newspaper accounts of JS's experience have been found, but the accounts of many other similar and ontemporaneous experiences did make the papers. In one case, six people signed affidavits testifying that they saw the angel Gabrielle (I think) standing on the roof of a house in front of them in broad daylight, and that he commissioned them to do some things that related to the founding of their church... Perhaps, the first vision was not initially considered to be that important, whereas the BofM, which was unique to JS, was without any question the centrepiece of the early Church. As Joseph's theology related to the character of God evolved near the end of his life, the first vision became important because it then seemed like evidence to support what Joseph came to believe about God's nature (anthropomorphic; physical body; etc.). Early in his ministry his beliefs about the character and nature of God were much more consistent with typical protestant beliefs of his time (God is unknowable, the trinity is "all in one and one in all"; etc.)." -Bob McCue [4]

The development of the "first vision" corresponds to Smith's developing theology on the nature of God.

[edit] List of known accounts

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[edit] Joseph Smith, Sr., and Joseph Smith, Jr. (1827)


[edit] Martin Harris (1827)

[edit] Peter Bauder (1830)

[edit] Joseph Smith (1832)

[edit] Oliver Cowdery (1834-35)

[edit] Joshua the Jewish minister (1835)

[edit] Erastus Holmes (1835)

[edit] Joseph Smith (1838)

[edit] Joseph Smith (1844)

[edit] Martin Harris (1859)

[edit] Notables

[edit] Notes

  1. Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reexamined, Rodger I. Anderson, Signature Books, 1990, p. 121.
  2. S. Dilworth Young, Improvement Era, June 1957, p. 436. Report of April 1957 General Conference. Available online here. Young was a senior member of the First Council of the Seventy, and one of the General Authorities.

[edit] External links

[edit] Non-Mormon

[edit] Mormon

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