Comments about ‘'Joseph Smith's First Vision' thoughtfully explores 5 different accounts of the event’

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Published: Thursday, Jan. 3 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

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I am anxious to read the book because I had thought for most of my life that the 1838 account was the only account. It disturbed me at first to read the other accounts and it will be interesting to read how the author analyses the different accounts.


Keep reading Allen. There's lots of disturbing things you probably don't know yet.

Far East USA, SC

"There are five different accounts of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s First Vision that either he penned or he asked others to write..."

And you guys wonder why outsiders view Mormonism with such skepticism.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Many people throughout history have claimed experiences in which they were touched by God. I have no problem in considering the claim of a farm boy. What makes Joseph Smith's account controversial is that the version he gave eighteen years after the 1820 event impugns the legitimacy of the whole of institutional Christianity which has a rich history that Joseph had little if any schooled knowledge of. Add to that the fact that at this point, Joseph was the leader of an upstart religion vying for adherents and it's not hard to see why his claim is so rigorously scrutinized by a skeptical world.

Medical Lake, Washington

I have been aware for twenty years or more that there were more 'versions' of the First Vision. They are not entirely different, some simply include more details, others less.

The challenge would be for anyone -- especially with limited time and resources to try to write out even the most significant experiences of their lives --- multiple times -- and some of those accounts written at intervals with a year or more in between. Then, go back and compare and see how each of those five or so accounts vary.

The very fact that Joseph's Smith accounts do vary actually supports his claims. Had he been trying to pull a major hoax, the first rule is to 'get your story straight' -- in other words, make sure that each account of the founding event in LDS history are all identical, word for word. Instead, Joseph repeated his vision more than once, to different audiences and in each setting recounted, or omitted certain portions depending on the circumstances and the audience -- just as we give different details of our wedding day if we are talking to our toddlers, or teaching young adults about appropriate intimacy.

Far East USA, SC

"The very fact that Joseph's Smith accounts do vary actually supports his claims."

Well, in our court system, when a witness gives multiple, differing accounts of what they claim to have seen, it is never thought to add credibility.

And I doubt that you would accept this logic from your child, your spouse, or anyone else you know.

Vancouver, BC

In the last 25 years, I've written out my conversion story on several occasions (usually for a talk or less). I went back and compared some and it's amazing how over the years different things because more prominent than others, or how I remember things I'd forgotten a few years earlier (or vice versa). I can totally understand how multiple written autobiographical recollections could differ over a span of a couple of decades. It actually makes the study of the event more interesting. I'm sure even combining all the recollections would still leave them missing some details.

Chapel Hill, NC

For His own reasons, Heavenly Father gave me a vision when I was six. It led to my finding and joining the Church. I am not any more special than anyone else, and I am not called to lead others on account of it. I have met others who have had visions and "unusual" dreams. People who have experienced these have in common a sense of the memory of the them as being unlike other memories. When I recall my vision, it is like taking a familiar but complex object out of a box. I know it well, but as I study it, I find new details and perspectives. Thus I am confirmed in my testimony of Joseph's sincerity when I encounter variances in his recounting of his experiences over time. I would be suspicious of anyone who claimed to have had a vision from God who could fully and accurately recount it on the first try, or who didn't discover new insights with each retelling. Moreover, each of Joseph's many visions were of greater import than mine, so they were likely to have been even more complex.

Springville, UT

I think it's safe to say I was disturbed when I found out that there were many versions of Joseph Smith's First Vision, and that there were some significant differences between the different version. So it's encouraging to find out that this book will address those differences. I'd like to read it.

Disturbing, yes, but it didn't really damage my testimony. I know why I believe in God, and I know why I believe God inspires the LDS Church; the different accounts don't really affect those two things.

Phoenix, AZ

If in truth Joseph Smith counseled in person with God of the universe and Jesus the Christ this being the greatest unique event in all human history then all other aspects of Mormon religion (pro, or con) are all just incidentals and one might wish to get on the Smith band wagon .

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

I find less difference between the various accounts of the First Vision than I do between the Gospels.

Doesn't bother me in the least.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

All one has to do is go to the main Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints website and search First Vision and find all the information necessary. The explanations and reasons why are given. Why another book to explain what has already been explained over and over again.

The only thing necessary is the event toook place ushering the Last Dispensation of the Fullness of times. By the way I leave out on purpose a lot of what I experienced on the night of me gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have only tolk approximately four or five individuals the entire events of that night. I do so because many would not nor would they ever believe what actually took place, yet I knew it happened. I see nothing wrong with the different visions. I do so as well as it really depends on the audience and whom I'm speaking to. Again one must know there really are no contradictions but hey you can't tell that to know it alls.

Fred W. Anson
Lake Forest, CA

I'm puzzled over why the author only discusses five (5) different versions of the First Vision when in fact there are nine (9) known accounts. Eight (8) of them done while Joseph Smith, Jr. was alive. The remaining account was recorded in 1859 by Martin Harris based on what he was told by Smith while he was alive.

Does anyone know why this book limits itself to only five of these nine known accounts?

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


I would certainly agree that "Christ needs no re-edit or vindication." As to God's Word (assuming you mean the Bible) there is a whole lot of disagreement as to what it means.

Many of "Those wacky born-agains" are my friends. But from the words of Christ in the Bible, I cannot resolve myself to sola fide. I think that was Martin Luther's trump card for the authority he knew Protestantism would lack. But Christ focuses much more on deeds than words. I think Paul is taken out of context (and no need to battle with scriptural references, I have read them all - I am just telling you the results of my search).

As to your final paragraph, I (and any Latter-day Saint) have no argument that "There is no other way. And all the debate and skepticism will leave you empty. Only Jesus saves. Only Jesus gives Life. Then you will know Who the authentic is, and who the imposter (sic) is."

Only Christ is the Savior. Period. Full stop.

Joseph was no impostor because he neither was Christ nor pretended to be. Rather he served the Savior all of his life.

layton, UT

To:Twin Lights: I find less difference between the various accounts of the First Vision than I do between the Gospels. OK, Why 9 First Vision Accounts.

Why four Gospels,? "Four" is the number of the earth. It is, therefore, also, the world number. A few illustrations: There are four points to earth’s compass—north, east, south, and west. There are four seasons to earth’s year—spring, summer, autumn, and winter. There are four elements connected with our world—earth, air, fire, and water. The Grecian, and the Roman. Scripture divides earth’s inhabitants into four classes—"kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rev. 5:9 etc.). In the Parable of the Sower, our Lord divided the field into four kinds of soil, and later He said, "the field is the world." The 4th commandment has to do with rest from all earth’s labors. The fourth clause in the Lord’s prayer is, His will be done on earth." Four is the earth number. How fitting, that the Holy Spirit has given us four Gospels of the earthly ministry of the Heavenly One.

Stay the Course
Salt Lake City, utah

Book of Mormon is still proof enough for me Joseph is/was a prophet

sandy, ut

Twin Lights

The reason you find differences in the gospels is because they were written by different people. If they were all written by the same person, and major details were different like the Joseph Smith vision accounts, then you should be very suspicious.

Millsap fan
Taylorsville, UT

I'm surprised that so many members didn't know that there were more accounts than just the one found in the Pearl of Great Price. Of course he'd tell the most significant event in his life more than once! Truman Madson said that the First "visitation" as he calls it, most likely lasted hours. A lot of things took place in that grove and Joseph simply summarized in JSH he did not give a full account at that time. But if we read the different accounts they are not contradictory in any way.

My testimony grows when I hear of people who devote their lives to studying Joseph Smith's life and their testimony grows, such as this man, Truman Madson, and the compilers of the Joseph Smith papers.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


Thank you. I was aware of the different authorship of the Gospels (though many experts believe in a similar source text).

As to the differences in the First Vision accounts, I simply do not find them to be earth shaking.

What I am curious about is whether all none accounts mentioned below are supposed to be by Joseph himself. I assume these include accounts given by others from what they say they heard. That might explain the difference in count.

sandy, ut

Twin Lights - That is fair enough. To me, the contradictions are earth shaking. It isn't just one or two details that are different. The first time Smith wrote about this vision is in 1832 - 12 years after it happened. Then the "official" account of it isn't released until 1838 - 18 years after it happened. It just doesn't add up. But hey, that is just me. I don't have a problem with some believing it.

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