"WHEN THE LIGHTS CAME ON: Joseph Smith and the Return of Heavenly Manifestations," by Trevan G. Hatch, Cedar Fort, $14.99, 224 pages (nf)
From placing the First Vision into context with the time period's religious fervor to personal accounts of those early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who saw the gold plates, author Trevan G. Hatch explores different aspects of the Prophet Joseph Smith's ministry in "When the Lights Came On: Joseph Smith and the Return of Heavenly Manifestations."
Hatch, a specialist in ancient scripture studies, world relgions and philosophy at Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library, describes many of the revelations and other experiences that played a role in the Restoration. "When the Lights Came On: Joseph Smith and the Return of Heavenly Manifestations" was produced with the average Latter-day Saint reader in mind, Hatch wrote in the introduction. His aim was to provide a scholarly yet accessible summary of Smith's activities and early Mormonism.
Hatch begins by discussing Joseph Smith's First Vision and how it relates to other visions experienced by fellow Christians in the Northeast during the same time frame. From 1740 to 1830, many people in the area claimed to have witnessed appearances of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Other items touched on include the role ancient prophets played in the Restoration, Urim and Thummim and seer stones and how they were a factor, and accounts from early Latter-day Saints who were allowed to see the gold plates.
In "When the Lights Came On," Hatch incorporates first-person accounts together with modern takes on all the facts involved to make a compelling read. There is a little bit of violence and two instances of very mild swearing.