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Rob Bowman

Alleged early references to the First Vision

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I have five new articles on the First Vision available on the website of the Institute for Religious Research. These articles carefully examine four alleged references to the First Vision that some LDS scholars and apologists have claimed show that people knew about it as early as 1829. The scholars and apologists whose arguments are critiqued include Hugh Nibley, Jeff Lindsay, Kerry Shirts, Richard Lloyd Anderson, Grant Underwood, Elden J. Watson, and the anonymous authors of some First Vision articles on the FAIR website. My first article is called "Alleged Early References to the First Vision" and provides an overview of this subject. This overview article contains links to the other four articles, one on each of the alleged four early references to the First Vision.

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I have five new articles on the First Vision available on the website of the Institute for Religious Research. These articles carefully examine four alleged references to the First Vision that some LDS scholars and apologists have claimed show that people knew about it as early as 1829. The scholars and apologists whose arguments are critiqued include Hugh Nibley, Jeff Lindsay, Kerry Shirts, Richard Lloyd Anderson, Grant Underwood, Elden J. Watson, and the anonymous authors of some First Vision articles on the FAIR website. My first article is called "Alleged Early References to the First Vision" and provides an overview of this subject. This overview article contains links to the other four articles, one on each of the alleged four early references to the First Vision.

I suspect you are aware that the earliest accounts of the resurrection are by non-eyewitnesses (Paul and Mark) and at least 20 years after the event. Using the standard you apply to Joseph Smith, this would mean you reject the authenticity of the resurrection, right?

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Bill,

This is not a serious response.

The articles I announced respond to the arguments of several well-known LDS scholars and apologists, who try to show that people knew about the First Vision as early as 1829. These arguments by these well-known Mormons were relevant, were they not? If they were relevant, then I am right to examine those arguments. If the arguments of those well-known Mormons were not relevant, then you should be critical of them for presenting those arguments in the first place.

A serious response from you would be something like, "You're right about these alleged early references to the First Vision, but it doesn't matter because..." or "I disagree with you about this or that reference, I think it does refer to the First Vision because...."

I would be happy to discuss your "parallel" between the earliest accounts of the Resurrection and the earliest accounts of the First Vision, but first, let's decide if these alleged early references to the First Vision really are what LDS scholars and apologists are advertising them to be.

I suspect you are aware that the earliest accounts of the resurrection are by non-eyewitnesses (Paul and Mark) and at least 20 years after the event. Using the standard you apply to Joseph Smith, this would mean you reject the authenticity of the resurrection, right?

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Bill,

This is not a serious response.

The articles I announced respond to the arguments of several well-known LDS scholars and apologists, who try to show that people knew about the First Vision as early as 1829. These arguments by these well-known Mormons were relevant, were they not? If they were relevant, then I am right to examine those arguments. If the arguments of those well-known Mormons were not relevant, then you should be critical of them for presenting those arguments in the first place.

A serious response from you would be something like, "You're right about these alleged early references to the First Vision, but it doesn't matter because..." or "I disagree with you about this or that reference, I think it does refer to the First Vision because...."

I would be happy to discuss your "parallel" between the earliest accounts of the Resurrection and the earliest accounts of the First Vision, but first, let's decide if these alleged early references to the First Vision really are what LDS scholars and apologists are advertising them to be.

I don't know about the earliest alleged accounts. I haven't studied the matter, and, frankly, it doesn't interest me. If we had an account of the First Vision from, say, 1828, would you accept the First Vision as an authentic theophany? No, right?

There are, on the other hand, many LDS divine manifestations which are clearly documented with multiple witnesses. See Welch (ed) Opening the Heavens (2005).

I understand why you don't want to discuss the methodological issues. You reject the theophanic claims of the JS's first vision, in part because the first surviving written account comes from a few years after the First Vision, yet you accept the claims of the resurrection narratives, despite the fact that they are 2-3 times later than the JS accounts, and they are by non-eyewitnesses. My only point is that you, like most anti-Mormons, fail to apply a consistent methodology to the JS claims you reject, and the biblical claims you accept. All I ask is that you use a consistent method. Please.

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Bill,

Your statement that I "don't want to discuss the methodological issues" shows reckless disregard for what I said. I quite clearly said, "I would be happy to discuss your 'parallel' between the earliest accounts of the Resurrection and the earliest accounts of the First Vision, but first, let's decide if these alleged early references to the First Vision really are what LDS scholars and apologists are advertising them to be." If you're going to ignore what I say, what's the point in your responding at all?

If the earliest alleged accounts don't interest you, then the subject of this thread doesn't interest you, because that is the subject of this thread. You are attempting to redirect attention away from the subject of the thread.

Your characterization of my method as inconsistent is also false. You make a number of assumptions that I dispute. But again, this thread is focused on one question, namely, whether any of these alleged early references to the First Vision are such references. My articles do address certain methodological issues that arise from the way the LDS scholars and apologists I cite in those articles misuse historical records to support their preconceived conclusions. So if you prefer to discuss methodological issues, those would be relevant to this thread.

I don't know about the earliest alleged accounts. I haven't studied the matter, and, frankly, it doesn't interest me. If we had an account of the First Vision from, say, 1828, would you accept the First Vision as an authentic theophany? No, right?

There are, on the other hand, many LDS divine manifestations which are clearly documented with multiple witnesses. See Welch (ed) Opening the Heavens (2005).

I understand why you don't want to discuss the methodological issues. You reject the theophanic claims of the JS's first vision, in part because the first surviving written account comes from a few years after the First Vision, yet you accept the claims of the resurrection narratives, despite the fact that they are 2-3 times later than the JS accounts, and they are by non-eyewitnesses. My only point is that you, like most anti-Mormons, fail to apply a consistent methodology to the JS claims you reject, and the biblical claims you accept. All I ask is that you use a consistent method. Please.

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