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John D the First

The First Vision

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I was reading on another thread about the critics' beef with the differing accounts of the first vision. They say something to the effect of "How could Joseph Smith forget to mention that he saw God the Father?"

I personally do not see the problem here. Joseph Smith recounted those aspects of the vision that were least controversial, which behavior makes perfect sense considering the place Joseph Smith was in his career. The claim to see God himself is seen as incredibly pretentious to this day. Later in his career Joseph was in a better place to have this claim taken seriously.

So the early non-disclosure can be seen as calculated, rather than whimsical.

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Recently I was listening to one of the discussions on Joseph Smith on BYU tv and I can't remember if it was a discussion on the D&C or a Sperry Symposium, but the point was made that Joseph was always aware of his audience and had a tendency to not exaggerate but to reveal less rather than more. I think he was very aware of his audience on every occasion, but I also think his understanding of what he saw grew as he received more revelation.

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Recently I was listening to one of the discussions on Joseph Smith on BYU tv and I can't remember if it was a discussion on the D&C or a Sperry Symposium, but the point was made that Joseph was always aware of his audience and had a tendency to not exaggerate but to reveal less rather than more. I think he was very aware of his audience on every occasion, but I also think his understanding of what he saw grew as he received more revelation.

I don't think so about that last part.... Reason being is "key" persons through the years having associated with Joseph seemed to NOT think a thing about it when "his" versions of the event were published. It seems that either some of them actually knew the truth, or they new very well what he was meaning when he said some of the things that "are" second or third person recorded, or both.

Also key to this issue, if there was "deception" involved from the beginning, certainly "someone" in the Church or having left the Church would have said something about it, but there is not a hint about such a problem until years and years later, when most are dead and there are just a few known written accounts of the event, that the anti's then base their judgements on. Seems to really have been a non-issue for a long time.

There's also a good FAIR Conference article at the FAIR website on this issue, that goes about the issue in another interesting but sensible way at explaining what Joseph was actually doing in those "accounts".

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I was reading on another thread about the critics' beef with the differing accounts of the first vision. They say something to the effect of "How could Joseph Smith forget to mention that he saw God the Father?"

I personally do not see the problem here. Joseph Smith recounted those aspects of the vision that were least controversial, which behavior makes perfect sense considering the place Joseph Smith was in his career. The claim to see God himself is seen as incredibly pretentious to this day. Later in his career Joseph was in a better place to have this claim taken seriously.

So the early non-disclosure can be seen as calculated, rather than whimsical.

I would suppose that he would at least tell his own parents and a few other

close family members. I mean, were I to see God the Father, face-to-face,

and live to tell of the experience, I might at least try and talk my own mother

out of joining the Palmyra Presbyterian church and following abominable creeds.

UD

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I don't think so about that last part.... Reason being is "key" persons through the years having associated with Joseph seemed to NOT think a thing about it when "his" versions of the event were published. It seems that either some of them actually knew the truth, or they new very well what he was meaning when he said some of the things that "are" second or third person recorded, or both.

Well, I think the point of the OP is that in some person's accounts there are differences. I'm not saying there weren't those to whom Joseph revealed more in the beginning. As I said Joseph knew his audience and how much he should reveal, something which I'm sure became more apparent as persecution began.
Also key to this issue, if there was "deception" involved from the beginning, certainly "someone" in the Church or having left the Church would have said something about it...
I never said anything about deception so I'm not sure where this is coming from. There is a difference between revealing a little to someone who may not be ready and revealing more to someone who is. I teach Nursery and I guarantee lessons are given in the simplest terms, not because of deception but because of the audience. I don't think any deception was involved on Joseph's part, only care in what he should reveal. He had so much more revealed to him than most of the church has ever heard and before he died he was trying to get as much out as possible to those who would be in leadership. No doubt when he died many more great truths went with him.

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I would suppose that he would at least tell his own parents and a few other

close family members. I mean, were I to see God the Father, face-to-face,

and live to tell of the experience, I might at least try and talk my own mother

out of joining the Palmyra Presbyterian church and following abominable creeds.

UD

Maybe he did?

:P

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Maybe he did?

:P

Maybe so -- and perhaps Mother Lucy and Bro. Hyrum Smith joining the

Presbyterians was the first rebellion against the new "latter day work."

Laman and Lemuel were said to have witnessed and experienced the

direct power of God first hand, and yet they also were just such rebels.

What do LDS historians have to say about JS having told his family of

the details of the "first vision?" And what did those family members

say about it thereafter?

UD

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Maybe so -- and perhaps Mother Lucy and Bro. Hyrum Smith joining the

Presbyterians was the first rebellion against the new "latter day work."

Laman and Lemuel were said to have witnessed and experienced the

direct power of God first hand, and yet they also were just such rebels.

What do LDS historians have to say about JS having told his family of

the details of the "first vision?" And what did those family members

say about it thereafter?

UD

Its been wayyy to many years ago for me to say on the first vision as to excatly what the historians say? but i do know the E.V,S and born agains probably have a whole lot of supposed correct information?

:P

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Recently I was listening to one of the discussions on Joseph Smith on BYU tv and I can't remember if it was a discussion on the D&C or a Sperry Symposium, but the point was made that Joseph was always aware of his audience and had a tendency to not exaggerate but to reveal less rather than more. I think he was very aware of his audience on every occasion, but I also think his understanding of what he saw grew as he received more revelation.

I think explainations of the variances in terms of the different audiences is too narrow. I think we need to look at the entire context of time and place. Joseph's movement was new and he was well aware that people thought of him as a pretensious charlaton. Claiming to see God would only hurt his cause at this point. His early vision story was similar to narratives common at the time. This kind of adaptation is a common practice. People typically adapt stories and experiences into normative narrative structures when telling them.

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I would suppose that he would at least tell his own parents and a few other

close family members. I mean, were I to see God the Father, face-to-face,

and live to tell of the experience, I might at least try and talk my own mother

out of joining the Palmyra Presbyterian church and following abominable creeds.

UD

I think this is a good point. You have provided a motivation for Joseph to share the statement made by Christ about the other churches, not the detail of him seeing God however. If that were to happen to me, I don't know if I would tell anyone. It really is an outrageous claim. It's unprecedented in the scriptures. I still think it is perfectly plausible that he simply omitted this detail because of its pretentious nature, even from his parents. I think it's telling that Joseph had to be commanded by Moroni to tell his father about Moroni's visitation.

Also, Lucy's version of one of Joseph's visits from Moroni contains a statement very similar the statement attributed to Jesus by Joseph about all churches being wrong. I think it would be easy for Lucy to confuse which statement went with which vision later in life.

It's also possible that Joseph conflated the two visions. Our memories are not nearly as reliable as we think they are. I think it's probable that Joseph remembered aspects of his visions incorrectly later in life. It would be a stretch to say he confabulated God the Father into his first vision, but he may have confabulated some of the words Jesus spoke to him. We humans do that kind of thing all the time, we just don't realize it (I speak as one who has done a little research into cognitive studies of memory).

Best,

Jd1

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....

It's also possible that Joseph conflated the two visions.

....

Very likely you are getting closer to the facts of the matter here.

But the JS account in the PGP was canonized by the common consent

of all the Brighamite Latter-day Saints. So, for a Mormon to question

even one clause of that "Word of God" would be a matter for critical

priesthood counsel and perhaps even a church trial.

I suppose that Mormons can ponder such possibilities in their hearts,

but I am not at all sure that they can voice them in public.

As a Reorganized Latter Day Saint, I come from a different (earlier)

Church heritage, in which the members were allowed a certain amount

of questioning and doctrinal speculation in these historical matters.

So, for me at least, the possibility of JS conflating his professed

spiritual communications is unsettling, but not at all an impossibility.

UD

.

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So, for me at least, the possibility of JS conflating his professed

spiritual communications is unsettling, but not at all an impossibility.

It's not unsettling for me. My consideration of this possibility does not come a lack of confidence in Joseph Smith, but from a recognition of the fallibility of human autobiographical memory overtime. I do not propose intentional fabrication on Joseph's part.

I don't think recognizing that some aspects of the story might be remembered wrong hurts the validity of the Joseph Smith story as whole. I think we should expect anyone to remember some parts of a story wrong later in life. Some have proposed Joseph remembered the year of the first vision wrong, for example. The validity of the Gospel does not depend on Joseph Smith having a perfect memory. I would not be afraid to express this idea publicly. I couldn't imagine being disciplined for it.

Best,

Jd1

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A neighbor of the Smiths whose name was Palmer, said â??she remembered... the excitement stirred up among some of the people over the boy's first vision.â? (BYU Studies9/3 1969:235)

[i take this as an immediate response in 1820]. Joseph Knight Jr says that Joseph Smith told him of the First Vision in 1826 (Autobiography of Joseph Knight Jr., p. 1 (church archives), cited in Backman, Eyewitness Accounts, 72). In February 1830 Joseph Smith's own hometown newspaper announced that he had seen God "personally." (The Reflector, 14 February 1830)

1824 - Fall. Joseph Smith's father tells Martin Harris about the First Vision (Willard Bean, A.B.C. History of Palmyra and the Beginning of Mormonism [Palmyra, New York: Palmyra Courier Co., 1938], 35).

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It's not unsettling for me. My consideration of this possibility does not come a lack of confidence in Joseph Smith, but from a recognition of the fallibility of human autobiographical memory overtime. I do not propose intentional fabrication on Joseph's part.

I don't think recognizing that some aspects of the story might be remembered wrong hurts the validity of the Joseph Smith story as whole. I think we should expect anyone to remember some parts of a story wrong later in life. Some have proposed Joseph remembered the year of the first vision wrong, for example. The validity of the Gospel does not depend on Joseph Smith having a perfect memory. I would not be afraid to express this idea publicly. I couldn't imagine being disciplined for it.

Best,

Jd1

As I recall, under President Kimball, some passages in the BoM were changed in their

wording ("white" changed to "pure," etc.) Somehow the matter was brought before

the LDS prophet for consideration and the decision was made to update the text.

That is the only way I can envision (no pun) the PGP JS account being further clarified.

UD

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A neighbor of the Smiths whose name was Palmer, said â??she remembered... the excitement stirred up among some of the people over the boy's first vision.â? (BYU Studies9/3 1969:235)

[i take this as an immediate response in 1820]. Joseph Knight Jr says that Joseph Smith told him of the First Vision in 1826 (Autobiography of Joseph Knight Jr., p. 1 (church archives), cited in Backman, Eyewitness Accounts, 72). In February 1830 Joseph Smith's own hometown newspaper announced that he had seen God "personally." (The Reflector, 14 February 1830)

1824 - Fall. Joseph Smith's father tells Martin Harris about the First Vision (Willard Bean, A.B.C. History of Palmyra and the Beginning of Mormonism [Palmyra, New York: Palmyra Courier Co., 1938], 35).

Thanks for those references. I will have to look into those. Could you tell me what details Joseph Smith Sr. shared with Martin Harris?

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So the early non-disclosure can be seen as calculated, rather than whimsical.

Yes, I'd agree it was calculated:-)

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Thanks for those references. I will have to look into those. Could you tell me what details

Joseph Smith Sr. shared with Martin Harris?

For what it's worth, here's the 1831 Reflector article:

http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/NY/wayn1830.htm#021431

And here is the other citation, copyright © 1930 by Willard Bean:

b034.jpg

UD

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I ran across an article by Eldon J. Watson. It's entitled The William Smith Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision. http://eldenwatson.net/wmsmith.htm

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I have never had a problem with this because I always felt it was exactly what you would expect from a genuine intense spiritual experience.

Because my deep spiritual experiences were so personal and meaningful, my reaction was to not tell the details, or even to discuss them at all. I have told people that I've had spiritual experiences, and talked in general about what happened, but I have never shared all the details. I just have no desire to, nor do I feel it would be appropriate.

I think that the First Vision accounts are true but not complete, in that more happened that Joseph felt no need to reveal or discuss. He would reveal just enough to satisfy the needs of each situation. Deep spiritual experiences like that are not something you brag about or trumpet around to everyone you meet.

We can't forget that Joseph was fourteen. At this point in his life, the First Vision was an intensely personal experience directed just at him. He wasn't thinking in terms of starting a new church or being a prophet of God. As time went by, and his role in God's plan became clearer, his understanding of what portions of the First Vision should be revealed would change.

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I've thought about this a little before. What makes since to me is that the concept of man being able to become exalted where we are like God didn't come to him until well after the 1st Vision. Perhaps at that point he decided it would be better, for doctrinal purposes, if God the Father was there also...so he just put him in it.

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I have never had a problem with this because I always felt it was exactly what you would expect from a genuine intense spiritual experience.

Because my deep spiritual experiences were so personal and meaningful, my reaction was to not tell the details, or even to discuss them at all. I have told people that I've had spiritual experiences, and talked in general about what happened, but I have never shared all the details. I just have no desire to, nor do I feel it would be appropriate.

I think that the First Vision accounts are true but not complete, in that more happened that Joseph felt no need to reveal or discuss. He would reveal just enough to satisfy the needs of each situation. Deep spiritual experiences like that are not something you brag about or trumpet around to everyone you meet.

We can't forget that Joseph was fourteen. At this point in his life, the First Vision was an intensely personal experience directed just at him. He wasn't thinking in terms of starting a new church or being a prophet of God. As time went by, and his role in God's plan became clearer, his understanding of what portions of the First Vision should be revealed would change.

Having had one myself I must add that it was not so much the 'intense spiritual experience' as it was the sacredness of God and that I must never say anything about it which could be misleading of what actually happened. That Joseph told accounts that could easily be taken as misleading or not just laying out the facts leads me to the conclusion that he either made it up or had lack of respect and regard for the event.

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But the JS account in the PGP was canonized by the common consent

of all the Brighamite Latter-day Saints. So, for a Mormon to question

even one clause of that "Word of God" would be a matter for critical

priesthood counsel and perhaps even a church trial.

.

Good grief...why the drama? When was the last "trial" for questioning a "clause"? Of anything in church history I would say the First Vison accounts cause the least heartburn. The question should be...why would he go around blabbing about it?

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I would be curious to see if there are any documented accounts of the First Vision that were printed between the spring of 1820 and September 20, 1823. Whether from personal journals, newspaper articles, interviews, or whatever source, but having a printing date sometime between 1820 and 1823. Are there any sources of documentation like this? If so, it would certainly put to rest any speculation that the First Vision actually referred to the angelic visitation in 1823.

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Yes, I'd agree it was calculated:-)

What I mean by caulculated is that it's easy to see a motive for this omission. This makes an explanation of the variances in terms of selective telling of a real experience more plausable.

If I went on a hike and saw a rare blue jay and a UFO I might tell about the former and ommit the latter from an account of my hike for the same reason.

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I also think his understanding of what he saw grew as he received more revelation.

I used to think this was an implausable explanation, but now that I think about it, it may not have hit Joseph that he actually saw God until later in life. We know from John's account (which Joseph was familiar with) that angels stand proxi for God. Joseph may have thought the personage that said "this is my beloved Son" was an angel proxi standing in for God.

His increased understanding about the nature of God could have facilitated the conviction that it was not an angel proxi, but God the Father himself that appeared to him.

Best,

Jd1

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