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John D the First

The First Vision

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One only has to look at the many retellings of the Cinderella Story, to realize that while the first many be original, it is not necessarily the best.

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Context, in the case of the first vision accounts, is the better clue, IMO. There is a lot of speculation regarding why JS made the various accounts that he did-from the context of our present day view of the first vision. Within the context of the other information coming out at the time of the 1832 account, it seems to be directly in line with his view about who God was.

And this is serious issue, since it is frequently said IN GENERAL CONFERENCE that the first vision account put to rest the question about the identity of who God the Father was, who Christ was, and their seperate identity as distinct individuals. This statement only makes sense from a post-1838 account and the modern official view taught by the church. Speculation on whether JS misunderstood what he saw when he documented the first vision in the earlier accounts should at the least result in a pause before such a definative statement could be made in good faith.

Likewise, the idea that JS was witholding information to suit the audience seems to contradict the claim in the 1838 account that he was as Paul who "had seen a vision, and he knew that God knew it, and he could not deny it" or something to that affect. In the church history account he is portrayed as the honest, direct "this is what I saw and I can not deny it" 14 year-old prophet-prototype that our white hat history members see him as.

I disagree with Juliann. The first vision should cause the most heartburn because there is an orthodox view held by the church, documented in scripture, yet it can not be reconciled effectively with other evidence including his own written account that predates the official version without projecting a modern view point onto it's understanding. The contemporary evidence regarding LDS faith practise around the 1832 account, including the BoM, seems to show that LDS belief at the time was closer to the tradition christian view of the Godhead, and that this view of God evolved to something more. The 1832 account is very traditional in it's portrail of God.

Of everything that we have, this seems to be the only primary document, written in JS own hand, that is contemprary to the first vision itself. In historical terms, shouldn't this be the most reliable source for what he thought and what he claims to have had happen? Shouldn't all other information be reviewed with an eye to understanding it in light of how it fits with that document, rather than the other way around?

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There is a whole boatload of new First Vision apologetic articles on the FAIR wiki.

Why do the critics keep ignoring them? Do they feel their criticisms are inadequate in light of the information presented in those articles and so they simply choose to ignore them? :P

http://en.fairmormon.org/First_Vision_accounts

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....

I disagree with Juliann. The first vision should cause the most heartburn because

there is an orthodox view held by the church, documented in scripture, yet it can

not be reconciled effectively with other evidence including his own written account

that predates the official version without projecting a modern view point onto it's

understanding...

Precisely my point on the matter.

And, if 13,000,000 contemporary LDS can testify to the God-given fact that

the PGP JS account is utterly true, then the issue is settled once and for all.

In such a case, "truth" is established by definition -- the PGP is the perfect

word of God. End of argument.

Except, of course, for Latter Day Saints such as myself, who cannot and do not believe it so.

UD

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Why do the critics keep ignoring them? Do they feel their criticisms are inadequate in light of the information presented in those articles and so they simply choose to ignore them? :P

http://en.fairmormon.org/First_Vision_accounts

Have you read the articles yourself? The issue with each is what I am responding to. Namely, they retroactively apply a modern understanding of the godhead and the 1838 first vision account onto the prior accounts rather than looking at the context within which the accounts were given. The early accounts do not show the same sophisticated view of the godhead that came out of the late-Kirkland and Nauvoo periods of church history. Documents from the same time period as the accounts seem to correspond with the less-sophisticated view including the BoM writings. As best as I can tell, the apologetic response is to try to realign the accounts into our modern understanding in some way or other. But where is the evidence that JS intended this at the time of original writing?

Each of the articles is anachronistic in that they place latter/modern views and documented sayings retroactively back into a setting where there does not seem to be evidence that they belong there.

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Context, in the case of the first vision accounts, is the better clue, IMO. There is a lot of speculation regarding why JS made the various accounts that he did-from the context of our present day view of the first vision. Within the context of the other information coming out at the time of the 1832 account, it seems to be directly in line with his view about who God was.

And this is serious issue, since it is frequently said IN GENERAL CONFERENCE that the first vision account put to rest the question about the identity of who God the Father was, who Christ was, and their seperate identity as distinct individuals. This statement only makes sense from a post-1838 account and the modern official view taught by the church. Speculation on whether JS misunderstood what he saw when he documented the first vision in the earlier accounts should at the least result in a pause before such a definative statement could be made in good faith.

Likewise, the idea that JS was witholding information to suit the audience seems to contradict the claim in the 1838 account that he was as Paul who "had seen a vision, and he knew that God knew it, and he could not deny it" or something to that affect. In the church history account he is portrayed as the honest, direct "this is what I saw and I can not deny it" 14 year-old prophet-prototype that our white hat history members see him as.

I disagree with Juliann. The first vision should cause the most heartburn because there is an orthodox view held by the church, documented in scripture, yet it can not be reconciled effectively with other evidence including his own written account that predates the official version without projecting a modern view point onto it's understanding. The contemporary evidence regarding LDS faith practise around the 1832 account, including the BoM, seems to show that LDS belief at the time was closer to the tradition christian view of the Godhead, and that this view of God evolved to something more. The 1832 account is very traditional in it's portrail of God.

Of everything that we have, this seems to be the only primary document, written in JS own hand, that is contemprary to the first vision itself. In historical terms, shouldn't this be the most reliable source for what he thought and what he claims to have had happen? Shouldn't all other information be reviewed with an eye to understanding it in light of how it fits with that document, rather than the other way around?

A few thoughts on your post:

1). It is quite possible to synthesize Joseph Smithâ??s different accounts. That is, there are no contradictions in the separate accounts. Each account can be interpreted as containing different information about the same experience. I think you have a point about Josephâ??s theological perspective early in his career being reflected in early accounts, and his later theological perspective being reflected in later accounts. Letâ??s pretend that an orthodox Christian has an experience like Joseph Smithâ??s. Letâ??s make it a synthesis of all of his accounts. Numerous apparently divine personages appear to him, one of the personages points to the other and says â??This is my Beloved Son, Hear Him!â? Will this orthodox Christian, with his classical theo-ontology presume it was God himself who introduced Jesus, or will he assume it was an angel speaking for God? I think it is reasonable to think he would assume the later, or perhaps he would suspend judgment.

It is universal for human beings to reinterpret their past experiences as their life changes. Of course Josephâ??s interpretation of his visionary experiences at any time in his life will reflect his contemporary theological understanding.

The relationship between human subjectivity and external phenomenon is not simple. Any attempt to make this simple on either side is likely to oversimplify the situation.

The point is, in both cases, Josephâ??s interpretation of his experience was filtered through particular assumptions. Neither would constitute a pure description of what happened. From an LDS perspective Josephâ??s understanding of divine things increased later in life, so we would assume the meaning given to his experience later would be more accurate.

2). Even if Joseph wasnâ??t sure about the identity of the personage making the introduction, he failed to mention the presence of angels. You imply that honesty and forthrightness would require one to tell every detail of this personal experience. I think if an experience is private, however, one has the right to disclose the aspects one chooses to disclose without being labeled dishonest or deceptive. JS History says Joseph could not deny the fact that he had a vision not that he could not deny this or that detail of it.

If I were an orthodox Christian holding your view on what constitutes honesty, I might have difficulty with Godâ??s dishonesty and lack of forthrightness towards Israel about the peculiar Christian doctrines before the Christian Era. Of course this information was Godâ??s to either disclose or withhold according to his best judgment. The same goes for Joseph Smithâ??s choice about which aspects of his experience to disclose.

Best,

Jd1

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As I recall, the 1832 account, written in JS's hand, does not indicate that a being pointed to another and called anyone but JS their son:

"...therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and to obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in (the) attitude of calling upon the Lord (in the 16th year of my age) a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the (Lord) opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph (my son) thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy (way) walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life (behold) the world lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the gospel and keep not (my) commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to th[e]ir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which (hath) been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Ap[o]stles behold and lo I come quickly as it [is] written of me in the cloud (clothed) in the glory of my Father and my soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great Joy and the Lord was with me but could find none that would believe the hevnly vision nevertheless I pondered these things in my heart â?¦"

Therefore, why make the presumption that we should synthesize the accounts? The synthesis methodology will only allow us to understand how we can make each account fit into the model of the 1838 account. But if one divests themselves of the assumption that the first vision happened as is taught currently, the evidence is not there in the contemporary (1832 and prior) documents and accounts. There is no reason to synthesize except to bolster the 1838 account. In my opinion, the evidence is heavily weighed towards each account being in line with the view held by JS at the time of writing, and that he was not gaining a better understanding of one event through new understanding, but instead changing the account of an event to match his then-current view. This is what the evidence suggests, if one does not try to make it fit a given view. Chop away anything he wrote after 1832 and reread it. Then do the same for each of the later accounts. There is a pattern here, and it suggests an evolving view of God and it affects his account of the event.

Again, good historical research practice should require that we take the documents closest to the event, and closest to the person who they happened to, and synthesize in that direction. Not the other way around.

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As I recall, the 1832 account, written in JS's hand, does not indicate that a being pointed to another and called anyone but JS their son:

Correct however... in the prologue, also written by Joseph Smith it does mention the event.

The theophany portion of the 1832 account does seem to indicate that only Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. The relevant text reads as follows:

"a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day c[a]me down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph <my son> thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy <way> walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life <behold> the world lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the gospel and keep not <my> commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to th[e]ir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which <hath> been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Ap[o]stles behold and lo I come quickly as it [is] written of me in the cloud <clothed> in the glory of my Father."[1]

Even though the Savior is quoted as making a direct reference to the Father in this text, there is no indication in the theophany portion of it which would indicate that God the Father made an appearance on this occasion. However, critics have failed to notice a significant phrase found in the introductory remarks of the Prophet's 1832 historical narrative. There he says that this document is -

"A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Ch[r]ist the son of the living God of whom he beareth record and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brough <it> forth and established by his hand <firstly> he receiving the testamony from on high secondly the ministering of Angels thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministring of Aangels to adminster the letter of the Gospel—<—the Law and commandments as they were given unto him—>and the ordinencs, forthly a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God."

This paragraph outlines four major events of the Restoration in chronological order.

FIRST: Reception of "the testimony from on high" - First Vision

SECOND: The "ministering of angels" - Moroni visitations

THIRD: Reception of the Holy Priesthood to administer the letter of the gospel - Aaronic

FOURTH: Reception of the High Priesthood after the order of the Son - Melchizedek

The significant phrase is, naturally, the one associated with the First Vision—"receiving the testimony from on high." When this phrase is compared with the Prophet's 1835 and 1838 accounts of the First Vision experience it becomes apparent that the 1832 phraseology corresponds with the words spoken by God the Father when He introduced His Son in the Sacred Grove.

(1832 ACCOUNT)

“firstly . . . receiving the testimony from on high”

(1835 ACCOUNT)

“He [God the Father] testified unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”

(1838 ACCOUNT)

“This is my beloved Son”

The Father's identification of Jesus Christ as His Son was His "testimony" of Him - i.e., "THIS IS my beloved Son".

http://en.fairmormon.org/Only_one_Deity_ap...he_1832_account

Now you where saying something about "good historical research practice"? :P

There are also other accounts that consistantlhy identify the "Two personages":

1831 sermon by the Prophet reported by Lorenzo Snow

1833 remarks by the Prophet reported by John Alger

1834 sermon by the Prophet reported by Joseph Curtis and Edward Stevenson

1835 missionary statements reported by Samuel Richards

1837 sermon by the Prophet reported by Mary Horne

1839 interview with the Prophet's parents reported by Wandle Mace

1840 missionary pamphlet published by Orson Pratt

1842 missionary pamphlet published by Orson Hyde

1843 sermon by the Prophet reported by Levi Richards

1843 interview with Joseph Smith published in the Pittsburgh Gazette

1844 interview with the Prophet reported by Alexander Neibaur

http://en.fairmormon.org/Search_for_the_Tr...VD:First_Vision

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Yes, I was saying something about good historical research practice. That was not an example of it.

However, I tryed to find the Lorenzo Snow account mentioned (1831?). That would be worth reading, and would back up the evidence for a claim that JS saw God the Father and reported it as such.

The wiki article is, again, an attempt to project later views onto a prior account. "From on high" does not equal "god". That is, frankly, pretty weak.

If you have access to the Snow account, please post it.

Thanks!

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One only has to look at the many retellings of the Cinderella Story, to realize that while the first may be original, it is not necessarily the best.

So, if Joseph's story got beefed up through subsequent retellings, would that not make it a better story? After many of the original Saints departed following the banking blowout and the Missouri adventure, didn't it help attract followers, to know that the Prophet had communed with both God and Christ?

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Again, good historical research practice should require that we take the documents closest to the event, and closest to the person who they happened to, and synthesize in that direction. Not the other way around.

Either way the synthesis remains the same. The accounts do not contradict so adding the details from later tellings do not change any details from the earlier account. It seems to me that you would prefer to disregard any account after 1832. I am not a historian, but if that is sound historical practice it seems to me historical practice is not very sound. The reference to more than one personage appears only three years after the 1832 account. The official account appears only three years after that. We are not talking about very much time that separates the different accounts. Not even approaching the double digits.

How you interpret this evidence depends on one's assumption about Joseph Smith, but I disagree that the evidence compels one in way or the other. Because they do not contradict eachother, one cannot judge the validity of individual accounts based on these differences.

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Yes, I was saying something about good historical research practice. That was not an example of it.

However, I tryed to find the Lorenzo Snow account mentioned (1831?). That would be worth reading, and would back up the evidence for a claim that JS saw God the Father and reported it as such.

The wiki article is, again, an attempt to project later views onto a prior account. "From on high" does not equal "god". That is, frankly, pretty weak.

If you have access to the Snow account, please post it.

Thanks!

Examples of people "Receiving the testimony from on high"...

http://scriptures.lds.org/en/search?search...on+well+pleased

I want FAIR to provide it... its their WIKI. CFR... Please CFR!

I emailed them... I'll share what they say.

EDIT: SEE POST BELOW FOR PRIMARY SOURCE MATERIAL.

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The wiki article is . . . an attempt to project later views onto a prior account. "From on high" does not equal "[G]od".

As best as I can tell, the apologetic response is to try to realign the accounts into our modern understanding in some way or other. But where is the evidence that JS intended this at the time of original writing?

You conveniently left out the most relevant part of the quote. In the 1832 account (which is contemporary, NOT a 'later view') Joseph Smith said that the FIRST thing he received as part of his restoration experience was the "testimony from on high". This is a direct reference to the First Vision - as can be plainly seen by the other chronological items listed in the introductory paragraph of the 1832 account.

This is a perfect conceptual match with the later First Vision accounts:

(1832 ACCOUNT)

â??firstly . . . receiving the testimony from on highâ?

(1835 ACCOUNT)

â??He [God the Father] testified unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of Godâ?

(1838 ACCOUNT)

â??This is [THERE'S THE FATHER'S 'TESTIMONY'] my beloved Sonâ?

The scriptures being linked to above (in post #37) make your argument against the phrase "from on high" null and void since they make it clear that the voice came "from heaven" (Mt. 3:17; Mk. 1:11; Lk. 3:22) [i.e, 'from on high']; "out of the cloud" (Mt. 17:5) [i.e., 'from on high']; "from heaven" (2 Pt. 1:17-18) [i.e., 'from on high']. These scriptures are clear references to the voice of God the Father bearing testimony of His Son --- from on high.

And don't forget --- The Prophet's father gave him a Patriarchal Blessing on 9 December 1834 and recalled that during the Prophet's "youth" he had "heard [God's] voice from on high."

Even the Book of Mormon (an 1828 text produced through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith) follows this same pattern:

"they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven . . . . their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came. And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them: [HERE'S THE FATHER'S 'TESTIMONY'] Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name--hear ye him" (3 Ne. 11:3, 5-7).

The 1828 Book of Mormon text qualifies as an interpretive text for the Prophet's 1832 First Vision account. And don't forget that the FAIR wiki article points out that the JST of John 1:18 also qualifies as an interpretive text since it was also produced before the Prophet wrote down his 1832 First Vision account. It reads:

"And no man hath seen God at any time, except he [i.e., God] hath borne record of the Son"

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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.

UD

.

If my understanding is correct, the Reorganized Church in an earlier day was far more rigid and doctrinaire in historical matters than it is today.

In fact, there has been a rather significant schism in recent times because some members were dissatisfied with the fact that it has abandoned some of its earlier positions.

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Ok... so heres the list of primary sources for the Fair Wiki Article from my earlier post... The Fair correspondant gave me permision to share it here. (Bolding Mine)

http://en.fairmormon.org/Search_for_the_Tr...VD:First_Vision

1831 sermon by the Prophet reported by Lorenzo Snow

1833 remarks by the Prophet reported by John Alger

1834 sermon by the Prophet reported by Joseph Curtis and Edward Stevenson

1835 missionary statements reported by Samuel Richards

1837 sermon by the Prophet reported by Mary Horne

1839 interview with the Prophet's parents reported by Wandle Mace

1840 missionary pamphlet published by Orson Pratt

1842 missionary pamphlet published by Orson Hyde

1843 sermon by the Prophet reported by Levi Richards

1843 interview with Joseph Smith published in the Pittsburgh Gazette

1844 interview with the Prophet reported by Alexander Neibaur

1831 [1901] Lorenzo Snow Account, Circa 1831. Sermon delivered July 14, 1901, Mill Creek Ward, Salt Lake City, Utah [Deseret Evening News, 20 July 1901, 22; Millennial Star 63. 33 (August 15, 1901): 541-544; 63. 34: 545-549];

"Over sixty years ago I saw for the first time Joseph Smithâ?¦. He was holding a meeting in the town of Hiram [Ohio] â?¦about three miles from where I was born and brought up. He was standing by a door and talking to an audience of about two hundred and fifty persons under a bowery. I was about eighteen years of age. â?¦.. He simply bore his testimony to what the Lord had manifested to him, to the dispensation of the Gospel which had been committed to him, and to the authority that he possessed. â?¦.[H]e testified that he had a conversation with Jesus, the Son of God, and had talked with Him personally, as Moses talked with God upon Mount Sinai, and that he had also heard the voice of the Fatherâ?¦â?¦. I was interested in what I saw and heard there. However, being busy in other directions, it passed measurably out of my mind. Some two and a half years later, business called me to Kirtland. My two sisters had been there for some time, and I made my home with them. There I became perfectly acquainted with Joseph Smith, the Prophet. I sat at his table and had a number of conversations with him. I also became somewhat intimate with his father. The first time I saw Father Smith he was holding a patriarchal blessing meeting, at which there were twelve or fifteen persons present. I was then searching to know whether there was any truth in â??Mormonismâ??â?¦.. It was hard for me to be convinced that there could be such extraordinary manifestations as I saw exhibited in visiting the temple and listening to the testimonies of persons and hearing the extraordinary accounts of what the Lord had manifested to them. Talking with President Joseph Smith, and being with him and his father, I could not help but believe that there was something more than common in what was called â??Mormonism.â??â?

[NOTE: also found in Leroi C. Snow, â??How Lorenzo Snow Found Godâ? , Improvement Era, 40.2 (Feb 1937): 82-3; also found in Dean C. Jessee, â??Priceless Words and Fallible Memories: Joseph Smith as Seen in the Effort To Preserve His Discoursesâ?, BYU Studies, 31. 2 (Spring 1991) 23; also found in Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, p. 204-5; also Matthew Brown, â??Historical or Hystericalâ?? Anti-Mormons and Documentary Sourcesâ? FAIR presentation, August 2004, http://www.fairlds.org/pubs/conf/2004BroM.html

1831-1838 John Alger Account, Circa 1831-1838 [1893] (Kirtland, Ohio).

Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, Volume I. 208; Matthew Brown dates it to 1833

Charles Lowell Walker reports Alger's 2 February 1893 statement to a Utah congregation: "Br. John Alger said while speaking of the Prophet Joseph, that when he, John, was a small boy he heard the Prophet Joseph relate his vision of seeing The Father and the Son, That God touched his eyes with his finger and said 'Joseph this is my beloved Son hear him.' As soon as the Lord had touched his eyes with his finger he immediately saw the Savior. After meeting, a few of us questioned him about the matter and he told us at the bottom of the meeting house steps that he was in the House of Father Smith in Kirtland when Joseph made this declaration, and that Joseph while speaking of it put his finger to his right eye, suiting the action with the words so as to illustrate and at the same time impress the occurrence on the minds of those unto whom He was speaking" (Larson and Larson 1980, 2:755-56).

1834 [1893] Edward Stevenson Reminiscence, 1893 [Edward Stevenson, Reminiscences of Joseph, the Prophet, and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Edward Stevenson, 1893), 4.] Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, p. 39

I first saw him [Joseph Smith] in 1834 at Pontiac [Michigan] and the impression made upon my mind by him at that time causes me now much pleasure in presenting the picture to his many friends. The love for him, as a true Prophet of God, was indelibly impressed upon my mind, and has always been with me from that time, although nearly sixty years have since passed away.

In that same year, 1834, in the midst of many large congregations, the Prophet testified with great power concerning the visit of the Father and the Son, and the conversation he had with them. Never before did I feel such power as was manifested on these occasions, and, although only a small percentage of those who saw and heard him accepted the restored Gospel, there was not one who dared to dispute.â?¦ [p. 4]

1834 [1881] Joseph Curtis Journal, 1881 [Joseph Curtis, "History of Joseph Curtis son of Nahum & Millicent Curtis Which was born Dec. 24. 1818 in the town of [-] Erie Co. Penn.," circa 1881, 5-6, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.] Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, I. p. 36 [DHC 2. 168-9; MA 1.2, page 6; Cf. file LDS Biographies]

In the spring of 1835 [October 1834] Joseph smith & Company with his father & mother & some others came to Michigan & paid us a visitâ??in a meeting stated the reason why he preached the doctrin[e] he did I will state a few things according to my memoryâ??as a revival of some of the sec[t]s was going on some of his fathers family joined in with the revival himself being quite young he feeling an anxiety to be religious his mind some what troubled this scripture came to his mind which says if a man lack wisdom let him ask of god who giveth liberaly and upbradeth not [James 1. 5]believing it he went with a determinatio[n] to obtain to enquire of the lord himself after some strugle the Lord manifested to him that the different sects were [w]rong also that the Lord had a great work for him to doâ??it woried his mindâ??he told his fatherâ??his father told him to do as the Lord manifestedâ??had other manifestations [rest of line [p.37] blank] [p. 5] saw an angel with a view of the hill Cumorah & the plates of gold had certain instructions got the plates by the assistance of the Urim & Thumin translated them by the gift & power of God [rest of the blank] also stated he done nothing except he more than he was commanded to do for this his name was cast out as evil for this he was persecuted [rest of line blank] â?¦

1834/5 [samuel W. Richards], â??Joseph Smith the Prophetâ?, Young Womanâ??s Journal 18. 12 (December 1907): 537-9 [born August 9, 1824] â??When I was but ten years old, at my home in the State of Massachusetts, I heard the report that a young man in the west named Joseph Smith had been visited by God and His Son Jesus Christ was with Him. Not long after hearing this, two men came into the town where I was living and called at my fatherâ??s house as missionaries. From them we learned the facts of the wonderful message they were bearing to the world; viz., that God, the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and authorized him to declare to the world the introduction of a new dispensationâ?¦. My mind from extreme youthfulness had been trained to religious thought of the future, and the importance of all being prepared to meet itâ? (537)

1837 Mary Isabella Hales Horne, Womanâ??s Exponent 39 (June 1910): 6, in Opening the Heavens. Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820-1844, Edited by John W. Welch with Erick B. Carlson (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press; Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2005): 27. â??On the â??special request of a few particular friends,â?? [she] recalled the time when she had heard Joseph â??relate his first vision when the Father and Son appeared to him: also his receiving the Gold Plates from the Angel Moroniâ?¦. While he was relating the circumstances, the Prophetâ??s countenance lighted up, and so wonderful a power accompanied his words that everybody who heard them felt his influence and powerâ??â?

1845 Wandle Mace Autobiography, typescript, BYU Special Collections, 45-6 [dictated to his wife, ends with departure from Nauvoo, 1846] [NOTE: Matthew Brown places this in 1839]

Almost as soon as the father [Joseph Smith, Sr.] and mother [Lucy Smith] of the Prophet Joseph Smith set their feet upon the hospitable shore of Illinois, I became acquainted with them. I frequently visited them and listened with intense interest as they related the history of the rise of the Church in every detail.

With tears they could not withhold, they narrated the story of the persecution of their boy, Joseph, which commenced when he was about fourteen years old, or from the time the angel first visited him. Not only was the boy, Joseph, persecuted but the aged father was harassed and imprisoned on false charges until finally driven from Missouri in the depth of winter he contracted disease from exposure, from which he never recovered.

In these conversations, mother [Lucy] Smith, as she was familiarly called, related much of their family history. She told how their family would all be seated around the room while they all listened to Joseph with the greatest interest as he taught them the pure principles of the gospel as revealed to him by the angels, and of his glorious vision of the Father and the Son, when the father said to him as he pointed to his companion, "This is my beloved Son, hear Him."

1840: 0. Pratt, An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records (Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Hughes, 1840), p. 5. â??When somewhere about fourteen or fifteen years old, he began seriously to reflect upon the necessity of being prepared for a future state of existence; but how, or in what way to prepare himself, was a question, as yet, undetermined in his own mind; he perceived that it was a question of infinite importance, and that the salvation of his soul depended upon a correct understanding of the same. He saw, that if he understood not the way, it would be impossible to walk in it, except by chance; and the thought of resting his hopes of eternal life upon chance or uncertainties, was more than he could endure. If he went to the religious denominations to seek information, each one pointed to his particular tenets, sayingâ??â??this is the way, walk ye in it;â?? while at the same time, the doctrines of each were, in many respects, in direct opposition to one another. It also occurred to his mind, that God was not the author of but one doctrine, and, therefore, could not acknowledge but one denomination as his church; and that such denomination must be a people who believe and teach that one doctrine (whatever it may be,) and build upon the same. He then reflected upon the immense number of doctrines now in the world, which had given rise to many hundreds of different denominations. The great question to be decided in his mind, wasâ??if any one of these denominations be the Church of Christ, which one is it? Until he could become satisfied in relation to this question, he could not rest contented. To trust to the decisions of fallible man, and build his hopes upon the same, without any certainty and knowledge of his own, would not satisfy the anxious desires that pervaded his breast. To decide without any positive and definite evidence on which he could rely, upon a subject involving the future welfare of his soul, was revolting to his feelings. The only alternative that seemed left to him was, to read the scriptures, and endeavor to follow their directions. He accordingly commenced perusing the sacred pages of the Bible with sincerity, believing the things that he read. His mind soon caught hold of the following passageâ??â??if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given himâ??â??James 1.5. From this promise he learned that it was the privilege of all men to ask God for wisdom, with the sure and certain expectation of receiving liberally, without being upbraided for so doing. This was cheering information to him, tidings that gave him great joy. It was like a light shining forth in a dark place, to guide him to the path in which he should walk. He now saw that if he inquired of God, there was not only a possibility but a probability, yea more, a certainty, that he should obtain a knowledge which of all the doctrines was the doctrine of Christ, and which of all the churches was the Church of Christ. He, therefore, retired to a secret place, in a grove, but a short distance from his fatherâ??s house, and knelt down and began to call upon the Lord. At first, he was severely tempted by the powers of darkness, which endeavored to overcome him, but he continued to seek for deliverance, until darkness gave way from his mind, and he was enabled to pray in fervency of the spirit, and in faith; and while thus pouring out his soul, anxiously desiring an answer from God, he saw a very bright and glorious light in the heavens above, which at first seemed to be at a considerable distance. He continued praying, while the light appeared to be gradually descending towards him; and, as it drew nearer, it increased in brightness and magnitude, so that by the time that it reached the tops of the trees, the whole wilderness, for some distance around, was illuminated in a most glorious and brilliant manner. He expected to have seen the leaves and boughs of the tress consumed, as soon as the light came in contact with them; but perceiving that it did not produce that effect, he was encouraged with the hopes of being able to endure its presence. It continued descending slowly until it rested upon the earth, and he was enveloped in the midst of it. When it first came upon him, it produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole system; and, immediately, his mind was caught away from the natural objects with which he was surrounded, and he was enwrapped in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in the features or likeness. He was informed that his sins were forgiven. He was also informed upon the subjects which had for some time previously agitated his mind, namely, that all religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines; and, consequently, that none of them was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom. And he was expressly commanded to go not after them; and he received a promise that the true doctrineâ??the fulness of the gospelâ??should, at some future time, be made known to him; after which, the vision withdrew, leaving his mind in a state of calmness and peace indescribable. Some time after having received this glorious manifestation, being young, he was again entangled in the vanities of the world, of which he afterwards sincerely and truly repentedâ?

1842: Orson Hyde, A Cry from the Wilderness, A Voice from the Dust of the Earth (Frankfurt, Germany, 1842) Ein Ruf aus der Wuste, eine Stimme aus dem Schoose der Erde [A Cry from the Wilderness, a Voice from the Dust of the Earth] (Frankfurt, 1842); translation by Marvin Folsom, in Dean Jessee, The Papers of Joseph Smith. Volume 1. Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Salt Lake ?City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1989): 405, 4070, 409 [English and German on facing pages]: â??At this sacred moment, the natural world around him was excluded from his view, so that he would be open to the presentation of heavenly and spiritual things. Two glorious heavenly personages stood before him, resembling each other exactly in features and stature. They told him that his prayers had been answered and that the Lord had decided to grant him a special blessing. He was also told that he should not join any of the religious sects or denominations, because all of them erred in doctrine and none was recognized by God as his church and kingdom. He was further commanded, to wait patiently until some future time, when the true doctrine of Christ and the complete truth of the gospel would be revealed to him. The vision closed and peace and calm filled his mindâ? (409). [page 15 in original German text] (German on facing page)].

1843 summer: Levi Richardsâ??s diary about Joseph Smith preaching in the summer of 1843 and repeating the Lordâ??s first message to him that no church was His (see Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., The Words of Joseph Smith (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1980), p. 215: â??Attended Meeting at the Temple weather vary fine moderately warm. Heard J. Smith preach from Math â??Oh Jerusalem Jerusalem &c, how oft would I have gathered you, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings & Ye would not, behold your house is left unto you desolate &c. Pres. J. Smith bore testimony to the same saying that when he was a youth he began to think about these things but could not find out which of all the sects were right he went into the grove & enquired of the Lord which of all the sects were right he received for answer that none of them were right, that they were all wrong, & that the Everlasting Covenant was broken = = he said he understood the fulness of the Gospel from beginning to end--& could Teach it & also the order of the priesthood in all its ramifications = = Earth & hell had opposed him & tried to destroy him, but they had not done it = = & they never wouldâ?

1843 â??The Prairies, Nauvoo, Joe Smith, the Temple, the Mormons, etc.,â? editor, David Nye White, The Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette 58 (September 15, 1843): 3: â??He [Joseph Smith] said: ". . . The Lord does reveal himself to me. I know it. He revealed himself first to me when I was about fourteen years old, a mere boy. I will tell you about it. There was a reformation among the different religious denominations in the neighborhood where I lived, and I became serious, and was desirous to know what Church to join. While thinking of this matter, I opened the Testament promiscuously on these words, in James, 'Ask of the Lord who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.' [James 1. 5] I just determined I'd ask him. I immediately went out into the woods where my father had a clearing, and went to the stump where I had stuck my axe when I had quit work, and I kneeled down, and prayed, saying, 'O Lord, what Church shall I join?' Directly I saw a light, and then a glorious personage in the light, and then another personage, and the first personage said to the second, 'Behold my beloved Son, hear him.' I then, addressed this second person, saying, 'O Lord, what Church shall I join.' He replied, 'don't join any of them, they are all corrupt.' The vision then vanished, and when I came to myself, I was sprawling on my back; and it was some time before my strength returned. When I went home and told the people that I had a revelation, and that all the churches were corrupt, they persecuted me, and they have persecuted me ever since." (Dean Jessee, The Papers of Joseph Smith, 2 vols. 1:443, 444)

1843: New York Spectator, September 23, 1843: â??While thinking of this matter, I opened the New Testament promiscuously on these words, in James, 'Ask of the Lord who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.' I just determined I'd ask Him. I immediately went out into the woods where my father had a clearing, and I kneeled down, and prayed, saying, "O Lord, what church shall I join?" Directly I saw a light, and then a glorious personage in the light, and then another personage, and the first person said to the second, "Behold my Beloved Son, hear Him." I then addressed this second person, saying, "O Lord, what church shall I join?" He replied, "Do not join any of them, they are all corrupt." The vision then vanished.â? (as quoted in Preston Nibley, Joseph Smith the Prophet (Salt Lake City, 1946), p. 31; in Allen, 1966: 43); see also Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents I: 181-2.

1844. Alexander Neibaur Journal, 24 May 1844: â??â??He wanted to get Religion too wanted to feel & shout like the Rest but could feel nothing, opened his Bible the first Passage that struck him was if any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberallity & upbraidat not [James 1. 5] went into the Wood to pray kneelt himself down his tongue was closet cleavet to his roofâ??could utter not a word, felt easier after a while = saw a fire towards heaven came near & nearer saw a personage in the fire light complexion blue eyes a piece of white cloth drawn over his shoulders his right arm bear after a wile a other person came to the side of the first Mr Smith then asked must I join the Methodist Churchâ?¦.â??â? [in Dean C. Jessee, The Papers of Joseph Smith, volume I: Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company): 461; in Allen, 1966: 43-4]

So as you can see... as early as 1831 Joseph Smith was baring testimony of the first vision seeing Jesus and hearing the father bare testimony of the son.

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here's the list of primary sources for the Fair Wiki Article . . . .

The 1824 material from post #17 above could be added to this list of witnesses from within the Prophet's lifetime.

There is also a fragmentary, secondhand 1832 source that should be considered (occurring before the Prophet wrote his 1832 account). [see The Fredonia Censor, vol. 11, no. 50, 7 March 1832]

And don't forget Oliver Cowdery's large December 1834 First Vision story 'chunk' printed in the Messenger and Advocate.

Then there is the 27 November 1836 meeting where Joseph Smith told about 500 people concerning the particulars of his "first visions" [” (Parley P. Pratt to the Elders and Brethren of the Church of Latter-day Saints in Canada, 27 November 1836, MS, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah). Letter sent from Kirtland, Ohio to Canada.]

1824 statements by Hyrum Smith and Joseph Smith Sr.

1831 sermon by the Prophet reported by Lorenzo Snow

1832 story fragments related by missionaries Luke Johnson and Orson Pratt

1833 remarks by the Prophet reported by John Alger

1834 sermon by the Prophet reported by Joseph Curtis and Edward Stevenson

1834 beginning of the story recorded by Oliver Cowdery

1835 missionary statements reported by Samuel Richards

1836 discourse by the Prophet reported by Parley P. Pratt

1837 sermon by the Prophet reported by Mary Horne

1839 interview with the Prophet's parents reported by Wandle Mace

1840 missionary pamphlet published by Orson Pratt

1842 missionary pamphlet published by Orson Hyde

1843 sermon by the Prophet reported by Levi Richards

1843 interview with Joseph Smith published in the Pittsburgh Gazette

1844 interview with the Prophet reported by Alexander Neibaur

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You know... it makes you wonder.

Here Joseph Smith is seeing a vision of God and in less than 10 years there are all these various accounts of what happened... both pro and con. I wonder if there are any conteporanious writings about Pauls vision on the road to damascus. Characatures of little old white bearded men and disappearing toads and such.

:P

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Zakuska,

Thank you for taking the time to find the quotes for the bulleted sources cited. I appreciate being able to read them directly.

I think that for now we are going to have to just disagree and let it be at that. For me, it is very difficult to equate a statement made in 1857 of something said in 1831 as being the equivilent to a hand-written and signed statement made in 1832. I can not think of a good reason to apply information to that statement to read things into it that it does not directly say, other than to support the later account of 1838 and the modern version of the first vision. I do not see any information contemporary to the 1832 account that supports those attempts. Likewise, I find that statement quoted in post #17 has to be dated no earlier than the "Mother Smith's History" mentioned (1850's).

So far, my impression is that the earliest account we have of the first vision or JS's views of what may have occured at that time, in a primary first person sense, is the 1832 account alone. As for how we interpret that, well I guess that will have to be a personal decision.

If you happen to find something that was written contemporary to the 1832 account, please post it.

Again, thanks.

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Zakuska,

Thank you for taking the time to find the quotes for the bulleted sources cited. I appreciate being able to read them directly.

I think that for now we are going to have to just disagree and let it be at that. For me, it is very difficult to equate a statement made in 1857 of something said in 1831 as being the equivilent to a hand-written and signed statement made in 1832. I can not think of a good reason to apply information to that statement to read things into it that it does not directly say, other than to support the later account of 1838 and the modern version of the first vision. I do not see any information contemporary to the 1832 account that supports those attempts. Likewise, I find that statement quoted in post #17 has to be dated no earlier than the "Mother Smith's History" mentioned (1850's).

So far, my impression is that the earliest account we have of the first vision or JS's views of what may have occured at that time, in a primary first person sense, is the 1832 account alone. As for how we interpret that, well I guess that will have to be a personal decision.

If you happen to find something that was written contemporary to the 1832 account, please post it.

Again, thanks.

So in other words your are claiming heresay... to each his own. :P

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If you happen to find something that was written contemporary to the 1832 account, please post it.

So, you are just going to ignore all of those eyewitnesses just because they didn't write their accounts when you wanted them to?

Do you believe that the Gospels should be so easily ignored because the eyewitness information they contain wasn't written down contemporaneously? :P

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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

It would be quite worthless to try and convince someone not to do something they had already done - like joining the Presbyterian church.

Do you have ANY undisputed evidence indicating that Mother Smith joined the Presbyterian church after the First Vision? And don't bother trying to use the LMS autobiography (either original or edited versions) since it DOES NOT say that she actually joined the Presbyterian church after Alvin's death.

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The first vision should cause the most heartburn because there is an orthodox view held by the [C]hurch, documented in scripture, yet it cannot be reconciled effectively with other evidence including his own written account that predates the official version without projecting a modern viewpoint onto it's understanding. The contemporary evidence regarding LDS faith practi[c]e around the 1832 account, including the BoM, seems to show that LDS belief at the time was closer to the tradition [C]hristian view of the Godhead, and that this view of God evolved to something more. The 1832 account is very traditional in it's portra[yal] of God.

BALONEY! (all three members of the Godhead are listed in the 1832 First Vision account).

SEE ALSO:

"Joseph Smith's Early Conception of God"

http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith%27s_...nception_of_God

"Lecture on Faith #5 Teaches the Father is a Personage of Spirit"

http://en.fairmormon.org/Lecture_5_teaches...ge_of_spirit%22

"The Father: A Spirit vs. Embodied"

http://en.fairmormon.org/The_Father:_A_Spirit_vs._Embodied

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The 1824 material from post #17 above could be added to this list of witnesses from within the Prophet's lifetime.

There is also a fragmentary, secondhand 1832 source that should be considered (occurring before the Prophet wrote his 1832 account). [see The Fredonia Censor, vol. 11, no. 50, 7 March 1832]

And don't forget Oliver Cowdery's large December 1834 First Vision story 'chunk' printed in the Messenger and Advocate.

Then there is the 27 November 1836 meeting where Joseph Smith told about 500 people concerning the particulars of his "first visions" [” (Parley P. Pratt to the Elders and Brethren of the Church of Latter-day Saints in Canada, 27 November 1836, MS, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah). Letter sent from Kirtland, Ohio to Canada.]

1824 statements by Hyrum Smith and Joseph Smith Sr.

1831 sermon by the Prophet reported by Lorenzo Snow

1832 story fragments related by missionaries Luke Johnson and Orson Pratt

1833 remarks by the Prophet reported by John Alger

1834 sermon by the Prophet reported by Joseph Curtis and Edward Stevenson

1834 beginning of the story recorded by Oliver Cowdery

1835 missionary statements reported by Samuel Richards

1836 discourse by the Prophet reported by Parley P. Pratt

1837 sermon by the Prophet reported by Mary Horne

1839 interview with the Prophet's parents reported by Wandle Mace

1840 missionary pamphlet published by Orson Pratt

1842 missionary pamphlet published by Orson Hyde

1843 sermon by the Prophet reported by Levi Richards

1843 interview with Joseph Smith published in the Pittsburgh Gazette

1844 interview with the Prophet reported by Alexander Neibaur

I'll paste in below the report of what missionaries Pratt and Johnson had to say, about an angelic

first vision below. It would be the first item on your list that we can document from extant

contemporary sources. Which makes 1832 an interesting year in this regard. -- See also this:

http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/NE/miscne01.htm#051132

and this:

http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/NE/miscne01.htm#081032

Clearly, Pratt and Johnson were NOT preaching the PGP JS first vision story in 1832, but instead

an angelic first vision account, similar to what Lucy and William Smith later recalled hearing.

Elder Bean was using his own historical interpretation, in what is reproduced

from his book in my past #17. Such very late, individual interpretations of

events (and from a partisan writer at that) should not be taken at face value,

without our first assembling and reviewing much additional confirming evidence.

Uncle Dale

From the Franklin (Pa.) Democrat.

MORMONISM.

We of this place were visited on Saturday last by a couple of young men styling themselves Mormonites. They explained their doctrine to a large part of the citizens in the court house that evening. They commenced by reading the first chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Galatians: also by giving an account of their founder, Joseph Smith, then an inhabitant of the state of New-York, county of Ontario, and town of Manchester. Having repented of his sins, but not attached himself to any party of Christians, owing to the numerous divisions among them, and being in doubt what his duty was, he had recourse prayer. After retiring to bed one night, he was visited by an Angel and directed to proceed to a hill in the neighborhood where he would find a stone box containing a quantity of Gold plates. The plates were six or eight inches square, and as many of them as would make them six or eight inches thick, each as thick as a pane of glass. They were filled with characters which the learned of that state were not able to translate. A Mr. Anthony [sic], a professor of one of the colleges, found them to contain something like the Cyrian, Chaldean, or Hebrew characters. However, Smith with divine aid, was able to translate the plates, and from them we have the Mormon bible, or as they stated it, another Revelation to part of the house of Joseph.

The Revelation commenced about 600 years before Christ, with a prophet of the name of Lehi, of the tribe of Joseph, and a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah, who had also warned the inhabitants of Jerusalem of their idolatry, & becoming unsafe in the city, was ordered by God to leave Jerusalem and journey toward the Red Sea. He with another family who accompanied him, built themselves a ship and landed on the coast of South America, where they increased very fast, and the Lord raised up a great many prophets among them. They built cities, and encouraged the arts and sciences. -- Their prophecies foretold the appearance of the Messiah on the other continent, and gave as a sign that they should have two days without a night -- also of his death, which was the cause of the terrible earthquakes, which rent all the rocks in our hills into the different shapes they now are. After our Savior's ascension to heaven, that he came down to this continent and appointed twelve disciples, and that Christianity flourished for three or four generations. -- After that the inhabitants divided and wars ensued, in which the pagans prevailed.-- The first battle was fought nigh to the straits of Darien, and the last at a hill called Comoro, when all the Christians were hewn down but one prophet. * He was directed to hide the plates in the earth, and it was intimated to him that they would be found by a gentile people. The last entry on the plates is 420 years after the commencement of the Christian era. The whole history contains their account of 1020 years. The balance of their discourse was on repentance, and quotations from our prophets to prove their doctrine, and the return of the Jews to Palestine, which was to be done by the gentile nations, accompanied with power from above, far superior to that which brought their fathers out of Egypt. They insisted that our Savior would shortly appear, and that there were some present who would see him on the earth -- that they knew it -- that they were not deceiving their hearers; that it was all true. They had one of their bibles with them, which was seen by some of our citizens who visited them.

Mr. Editor -- I have compiled the foregoing from memory. If you think it worth publishing, it will probably give some outline of the doctrine of this new sect.

__________

* This prophet they say was Mormon.

.

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Clearly, Pratt and Johnson were NOT preaching the PGP JS first vision story in 1832, but instead

an angelic first vision account

Not so fast . . .

The non-Mormon who is doing the secondhand reporting in the newspaper article indicated that he related the details as best he could remember them ("Mr. Editor -- I have compiled the foregoing from memory"). He seems to be conflating the two different stories.

The earlier D&C 20:5-6 (April 1830) indicates that the angel appeared an appreciable period AFTER Joseph Smith's sins had been remitted (cf. 1832 First Vision account where the sequence is (1) remission of sins during the First Vision, (2) appearance of the angel).

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Joseph Smith, then an inhabitant of the state of New-York, county of Ontario, and town of Manchester. Having repented of his sins, but not attached himself to any party of Christians, owing to the numerous divisions among them, and being in doubt what his duty was, he had recourse prayer.

I count six orthodox fragments of the First Vision story in this secondhand recital:

(1) Joseph Smith lived in Manchester, New York

(2) Joseph Smith repented of his sins

(3) Joseph Smith did not belong to any Christian denomination

(4) There were numerous "divisions" among the Christian denominations

(5) Joseph Smith was in doubt about what to do with regard to the Christian denominations

(6) Joseph Smith prayed about the matter

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