Your view of the First Vision
153 members have voted
1. How do you believe the First Vision to be
A literal visitation in the flesh88
An awake, spiritual vision25
A divinely inspired dream-vision to Joseph Smith10
2. Who appeared to Joseph Smith?
God the Father and Jesus Christ103
An Angel or angels1
Hard to define, because it was a visionary spiritual experience22
He made it up26
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A number of church historians recently published a book through Oxford entitled "Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Examining Major Early Sources” (Oxford University Press, $74, 448 pages.)
In the last chapter (13) pg 390 the historian Ronald Barney quotes Donald Enders, the senior curator at the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City where he states, "There is no evidence, that Joseph told his mother that he had talked face-to-face with God. Certainly his mother never claimed to have heard such a declaration."
I knew that very few had heard about Joseph's first vision in the earliest days of the church, I didn't know his own mother was unaware. Then I was digging through the JSP where they have Lucy Mack's original 1844 - 1845 history draft, and I found a first vision account similar to the 1835 account in which the unnamed personage testifies that Jesus is the Christ in the 3rd person. Also compare with Lucy Mack Smith's letter to her brother Solomon Mack, Waterloo, New York, 6 January 1831
"our sons were actively employed in assisting their Father to cut down the grain and storing it away in order, for winter One evening we were sitting till quite late conversing upon the subject of the diversity of churches that had risen up in the world and the many thousand opinions in existence as to the truths contained in scripture Joseph who never said many words upon any subject but always seemed to reflect more deeply than common persons of his age upon everything of a religious nature This After we ceased conversation he went to bed <and was pondering in his mind which of the churches were the true one.> an but he had not laid there long till <he saw> a bright <light> entered the room where he lay he looked up and saw an angel of the Lord stood <standing> by him The angel spoke, "I perceive that you are enquiring in your mind which is the true church there is not a true church on Earth No not one Nor <and> has not been since Peter took the Keys <of the Melchesidec priesthood after the order of God> into the Kingdom of Heaven the churches that are now upon the Earth are all man made churches."
There is a fascinating podcast recently published by Interpreter of an interview with Sharalyn D. Howcraft about early foundational documents of Mormonism in which the difference between "what really happened" and how history is recorded.
For those like me who do not like podcasts, there is also a transcript which is a pretty short and totally fascinating read.
I highly recommend both.
"What really happened" as I have said forever is virtually unknowable, so all we are stuck with are historical accounts which may or may not be "true representations"
I say this often to underscore the necessity of being guided by the Spirit in all matters, regarding virtually every document we read as "HIS-STORY" rather than necessarily "what really happened" which in a historical sense is unknowable in most cases. Observed recorded events like the assassination of Lincoln of course are "facts" and those are another case.
But when it comes to hearsay, questions of motivation, how ideas evolved or what ideas were developed by whomever, we just have to be cautious and in my opinion, regard everything as a story written by a human being and all human beings have a point to make, prejudices to expose or hide, and in some cases the "truth" is simply impossible to know.
So especially in religious matters, we must follow our "gut" or in more regular Mormon parlance, "follow the Spirit".
This podcast and transcription illustrate these points extremely well.
This link goes directly to the transcript
I'm sure some have seen this already, but the church released a new first vision video (see link above).
A few questions came up after I watched this video:
- How do you reconcile the differences between the 1832 account and the 1838 account? (i.e. JS seeing just Christ in 1832; and seeing both Christ and God in 1838)?
- Why would JS wait 12 years to record such an important event, along with so many varying accounts (the church admits to nine)?
- Did JS join and/or attend a Methodist church following the 1st vision when he was commanded not to (as stated below)?
Joseph Smith History
"19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
Finally, the article below, IMO, highlights many of the problems with the first vision accounts. How do you make the different accounts harmonize, given the many inconsistencies?
I was reading the various versions of hte First Vision and I had a question about Joseph's experience.
Satan did not have a body, what was causing the apparent noise of walking that Joseph was hearing?
Joseph says he heard a sound "like" someone walking. A noise of walking that "seemed" be come nearer. Joseph saw nothing that he could see "to produce the noise of walking."
It seems like it leaves out where Joseph Smith said that there was a multitude of angels present and also that he was told many more things, and I think there was also an account where he specifically identified the visitors as the Father and the Son.