Jump to content

Js And The Accounts Of The First Vision


bluebell

Recommended Posts

How sad. We have evidence (including evidence from unfriendly sources) showing the "Dual visitation" nature of JSJr's First Vision which precedes the 1832 unpublished draft.

No, you don't! Pure fantasy.

And we have the 1838 version, published a few years later, which purports to clear things up, and which makes the "Dual visitation" quite clear. Here are JSJr's words, approved by him for publication:

Clear things up? On one had, JS is expanding the First Vision with anachronistic elements like the 1824-25 revival and contradicting the 1832 account in various ways, and on the other deleting folk magic elements and implying that his treasure seeking was false reports. He promised the truth, but he didn't deliver.

Link to post

Well, lets put it this way. When JS wrote his undertandings of his visions he may not have been careful because he didn't consider it to be important. Perhaps if he were to look into the future and see this debate on this thread, maybe just maybe, he would have been more careful.

Sadly, many members seem more concerned about this than the members at the time of JS. Of course, the reasons for this can vary and I must add that I am only guessing. But it seems to me that when JS wrote these somewhat differing accounts, the members at that time, didn't give a fiddle stick about them. Most likely, those who knew the man, knew that man and knew the kind of man JS was. Plus, I am sure that if asked personally for the reason, he had a satisfactory answer for the enquiring mind.

Unfortunately, no one recorded his response, if he did make one, but we can perhaps guess that he did.

Please stick with an analysis of the evidence that we DO have. Most members in JS day didn't have all the information that we do.

The church did not fall at that time of the varied vision accounts. In fact, the church grew. What did those members know that we seem not to grasp today?

They were not too different from you, really.

Link to post

Please stick with an analysis of the evidence that we DO have.

In your considerably informed analysis of this evidence, Dan, are the First Vision accounts mutually exclusive to one another? Does Smith assert something in one that can in no way be logically harmonized with something he says in another?

This is what is most important in my mind, although the anachronistic elements of his accounts are not something I have spent much time on but am interested in.

Link to post

It should be noted that the scribe for the material which directly precedes and follows after the 1832 First Vision narrative (Frederick G. Williams) never mentioned anything about Joseph Smith's story evolving over time and becoming more elaborate with the inclusion of the Father. This, despite the fact that he faced a Church court, was rejected as a counselor in the First Presidency, and evidently lost his membership for a period of time.

source - Only one Deity appears in the 1832 account - FAIRWiki article

A meaningless argument from silence. JS wrote his Father-and-Son version in 1838, but it wasn't published until April 1842 in the Times and Seasons, which was three and four years after his excommunication, two years after his return to fellowship, and six months before his death. The argument is total nonsense.

Link to post

In your considerably informed analysis of this evidence, Dan, are the First Vision accounts mutually exclusive to one another? Does Smith assert something in one that can in no way be logically harmonized with something he says in another?

This is what is most important in my mind, although the anachronistic elements of his accounts are not something I have spent much time on but am interested in.

Of course, with enough motivation and imagination anything can be harmonized. I'm not sure if I posted the following on this or another thread.

Key Differences Between 1832 & 1838 Accounts

1. No revival mentioned in 1832.

Lucy Smith says she and her children joined the Presbyterian church after Alvinâ??s death (1823). Thus, Joseph Smith pushes 1824-25 revival back to 1820.

2. Motivation for praying in 1832 is forgiveness of sins, but in 1838 it is to know which church is true.

In 1832, Smith--like his parents--has already concluded from reading the Bible that humanity had â??apostatised from the true and liveing faithâ? and â??there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament.â? In 1838, Smith says, â??for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong.â? Smithâ??s concern for which church is true dates to after the 1824-25 revival when his family became split over religion, the meaning of Joseph Sr.â??s dreams, and the fate of Alvin. Thus, Joseph Smith pushes both the revival and his concern for the true church back to 1820.

3. In 1838, Smith is instructed to join none of the churches, but not in 1832.

If Josephâ??s 1820 vision had contained the prohibitive information he later claimed for it, it is difficult to explain Lucyâ??s pressuring Joseph to join and his not citing his vision as the reason he did not want to attend or join. Lucy says Joseph did not object to her joining the Presbyterians.

4. In 1832, all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life (regardless of church affiliation).

5. In 1832, Smith sees Jesus, but it is unclear if Jesus is in heaven or on earth. In 1838, both Jesus and the Father descend to earth in the beam of light.

6. In 1832, Jesus is coming â??quicklyâ? to destroy the wicked. In 1838, destruction of the wicked is not mentioned.

Link to post

A meaningless argument from silence. JS wrote his Father-and-Son version in 1838, but it wasn't published until April 1842 in the Times and Seasons, which was three and four years after his excommunication, two years after his return to fellowship, and six months before his death. The argument is total nonsense.

In light of this information, the argument does lose some of its zing, doesn't it? (I wonder if the FAIRWiki editors are aware of this.... But maybe we can use the 'JS 1832' defense on their behalf and just point out that that article is only a draft.) :P

Is there historical criticism of Smith's changing accounts? Was this something that anti-Mormons seized on in Smith's lifetime? I realize they probably did not have access to all the accounts that we do today, but were any of the discrepancies noticed by anyone in Smith's time? (I'm not asking these questions to advance some sort of defense; I'm genuinely curious.)

Link to post

That's not the only alternative, TCM. Indeed, one could take the position that the best explanation of such data is that JSJr grew in his understanding of what he saw ca. 1820 and that expanding understanding is prior to, and not an evolution of JSJr's views on the Trinity.

USU "Not that I take that position" 78

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here, but I think I know where you're going. Could you flesh it out for me with some "for example's"?

Link to post
I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here, but I think I know where you're going. Could you flesh it out for me with some "for example's"?

Here's the concept: If I experience something when I'm in my early teens, my perceptions of that experience are going to be necessarily limited [excuse split infinitive, please] by the limitations of my experience and perceptive machinery. As I mature, I begin to appreciate more fully what I experienced both qualitatively and quantitatively because of life experience and learning.

Example: I am in a car accident when I'm 5. All I remember of the experience is that I'm chasing my ball and something big came at me from the right. It really hurt and I felt like I was flying. Then I woke up in a weird, noisy room that smelled funny with strange people dressed weird.

When I'm 20, I understand who those people were and why they were dressed that way. I further understand that the noise I forgot to mention when I was 5 was the sound of screetching brakes and my mother screaming. I may even get that the smells were anticeptics and cleaning solutions.

When I'm 40, I understand something of the horror felt by the driver of the car, my mother's feeling of utter helplessness and rage at her impotence in that moment, the urgency of the health care folks who put me back together, and pity for myself as so young a child experiencing something so painful, frightening and unwarranted. I might even spend a few moments considering the problem of evil and the problem of pain as it applied to my, my mother's, and the driver's situations.

Ancient languages often had words for one, two, three (sometimes) and beyond that, "many." They ended up borrowing from other sources the higher ordinal and cardinal numbers, and it wasn't because they were stupid. It was because they lacked the need for precision. Commerce forced precision on them. The same concept is here. You can experience the world from your limited viewpoint, come to appreciate your early experience better when you've acquired, through necessity, better means for acquiring and processing information, as well as more sophisticated means of expression. Your greater understanding and ability to communicate do not necessarily mean that your initial impressions were not as you now communicate them. Indeed, there needs to be something far more persuasive to establish that your present understanding (as you express it) is not precisely what you perceived in your youth.

Link to post

In light of this information, the argument does lose some of its zing, doesn't it? (I wonder if the FAIRWiki editors are aware of this.... But maybe we can use the 'JS 1832' defense on their behalf and just point out that that article is only a draft.) :P

Is there historical criticism of Smith's changing accounts? Was this something that anti-Mormons seized on in Smith's lifetime? I realize they probably did not have access to all the accounts that we do today, but were any of the discrepancies noticed by anyone in Smith's time? (I'm not asking these questions to advance some sort of defense; I'm genuinely curious.)

As a historian of early Mormonism, this is one of the frustrations. Most non-Mormons saw JS as a freak curiosity. There were no serious interviewers of JS, who took the time study the subject and ask probing questions. That was unfortunate for us.

Link to post

JOSEPH SMITHâ??HISTORY

EXTRACTS FROM THE HISTORY OF JOSEPH SMITH, THE PROPHET

History of the Church, Vol. 1, Chapters 1-5

Joseph Smith tells of his ancestry, family members, and their early abodesâ??An unusual excitement about religion prevails in western New Yorkâ??He determines to seek wisdom as directed by Jamesâ??The Father and the Son appear and Joseph is called to his prophetic ministry. (Verses 1-20.)

1 Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil-disposed and designing persons, in relation to the rise and progress of the Church of Jesus Christ of aLatter-day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors thereof to militate against its character as a Church and its progress in the worldâ??I have been induced to write this history, to disabuse the public mind, and put all inquirers after truth in possession of the bfacts, as they have transpired, in relation both to myself and the Church, so far as I have such facts in my possession.

2 In this history I shall present the various events in relation to this Church, in truth and righteousness, as they have transpired, or as they at present exist, being now [1838] the aeighth byear since the organization of the said Church.

Link to post

JOSEPH SMITHâ??HISTORY

EXTRACTS FROM THE HISTORY OF JOSEPH SMITH, THE PROPHET

History of the Church, Vol. 1, Chapters 1-5

Joseph Smith tells of his ancestry, family members, and their early abodesâ??An unusual excitement about religion prevails in western New Yorkâ??He determines to seek wisdom as directed by Jamesâ??The Father and the Son appear and Joseph is called to his prophetic ministry. (Verses 1-20.)

1 Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil-disposed and designing persons, in relation to the rise and progress of the Church of Jesus Christ of aLatter-day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors thereof to militate against its character as a Church and its progress in the worldâ??I have been induced to write this history, to disabuse the public mind, and put all inquirers after truth in possession of the bfacts, as they have transpired, in relation both to myself and the Church, so far as I have such facts in my possession.

2 In this history I shall present the various events in relation to this Church, in truth and righteousness, as they have transpired, or as they at present exist, being now [1838] the aeighth byear since the organization of the said Church.

And this was the point of my previous post. Much was happening at that time and to assume that the early members were ignorant is a stretch of imagination. Many seem to forget that the arguments we now have on this board are pretty much the same arguments hashed over at the beginning of the church and throughout its history. There is very little uniqueness in many of these discusssions...since they have been going on for infinity or since the church was founded.

Link to post

That's not the only alternative, TCM. Indeed, one could take the position that the best explanation of such data is that JSJr grew in his understanding of what he saw ca. 1820 and that expanding understanding is prior to, and not an evolution of JSJr's views on the Trinity.

It's hard to imagine how one's understanding of having seen God and Jesus could be so lacking as to have been described as only seeing one being at first, but then, as years pass, the person "grows in his understanding of what he saw" and realizes that he'd actually seen two personages. If I go fishing one day and describe my catch as a 9" trout, and several years later I write about the trip again and now my catch is a 23" trout, would you think that a good explanation of this is that I grew in my understanding of what I'd caught?

Arguments like Joseph not understanding that he'd seen two people right after he saw them, but realizing years later that he had in fact seen them, do no credit to the church account's credibility or believability. Most people, who aren't already committed to an idea, are going to see such arguments and see right through them.

I fall back to my previously-offered opinion, which is that it's unreasonable to say that a person would fail to mention having seen God the Father and Jesus, standing over him in a pillar of light, merely because he thought it wasn't important, or he didn't give a fiddle stick about it, or he didn't understand at first what he'd seen but years later he did, etc.

This doesn't prove the church isn't true. It does, however, take its place in the giant puzzle whose assembled image is one of a man-made church.

Link to post
It's hard to imagine how one's understanding of having seen God and Jesus could be so lacking as to have been described as only seeing one being at first, but then, as years pass, the person "grows in his understanding of what he saw" and realizes that he'd actually seen two personages.

You missed the part, I guess, where I said this was definitely not my position? Right?

I frankly don't understand the 1832 bi-holograph's failure to mention the Father, as somebody sometime somewhere would surely have made something of it if there were indeed a disconnect between what JSJr said in 1830, 1832, 1838, and 1842. Fact is, the best evidence is that the message was consistent except arguably in the 1832 unpublished bi-holograph. It seems to me that the one who wishes to make something out of that alleged inconsistency ought to come forward with some evidence that it is evidence of something other than an anomaly.

USU "They do occur, you know, even on Star Trek" 78

Link to post

Why Me, you seem to have offered up as an argument the idea that early church members knew a lot about Joseph Smith and his claims, and didn't object to them, so why should we object now?

You'll have to excuse me while I pick my jaw up from the floor. If I'm not mistaken, church members left in droves at various times. How many First Presidencies did we go through, till one of its near-final counselors, William Law, published that first edition of the Nauvoo Expositor? How many Apostles left or were excommunicated? How many of the 11 Witnesses of the Book of Mormon left the church or were excommunicated? How many members did the church still have in Kirtland when Joseph left and went to Missouri?

Yes, these early members knew a lot about Joseph Smith, his claims, and what kind of man he was. But the evidence of what they thought about what they knew is not nearly as beneficial to the church as you seem to think it is.

By the way, one of the arguments against the First Vision account problems is that the First Vision wasn't even really used or taught very much in the early days of the church, and was retroactively put back into the history in a prominent way only later. So arguments that early church members weren't objecting to a changing story probably serve to reinforce this view rather than counter it. After all, if they hadn't even heard the story, how could they object to any particular version of it?

You missed the part, I guess, where I said this was definitely not my position? Right?

Ah yes, you put that in your name, I see. So you were just arguing Devil's Advocate.

Link to post

By the way, one of the arguments against the First Vision account problems is that the First Vision wasn't even really used or taught very much in the early days of the church, and was retroactively put back into the history in a prominent way only later. So arguments that early church members weren't objecting to a changing story probably serve to reinforce this view rather than counter it. After all, if they hadn't even heard the story, how could they object to any particular version of it?

Interesting point. And a good one.

Link to post

Do we have all of the records on Paul's life? Do we have his personal journal about himself? Or just public statements? Could there be a difference?

What about letters to his parents? Letters to friends? Do we have any of these?

Joseph made reference to what is known, not what wasn't. Many make assumptions about JS because of lacking evidence to the contrary. Why not do the same about Paul?

I don't think I am totally understanding what you are saying.

We do have at least some of Paul's letters in the NT. Are you suggesting that Paul really didn't stand on what he believed (on his conversion experience)?

I am not making assumptions about JS. I am looking at what he wrote. JS wrote -

JS History, verse 24 - "However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise."

JS is saying Paul stood by his vision. Wouldn't a prophet like JS know the Truth here? This section is part of your scriptures, correct?

Mormon apologists are the ones who say JS's first vision account (1832) was JS identifying with Paul. And in the above verse JS is identifying with Paul. Are you saying JS was identifying with a guy who didn't stand on his vision?

It seems to me that we don't need to know anything else about Paul - JS gave him his stamp of approval.

Link to post

It's funny that all his neighbors and Anti-Mormons of the time called him dumber than a bump on a log. Of course they've changed their toon now. Just ask RAbanes.

"They" haven't changed their tune now - the information I gave you was from 1822. There is more such information - I have not posted it because it is somewhat of a tangent to this thread.

Link to post

At the risk of staining my credibility, I actually haven't thoroughly read and compared all the accounts. I've glanced at the Watson site, and, as a missionary, I often read and discussed the canonized version (the 1838 account?), but I could easily accept that the 1838 is not the most descriptive (can't remember, did I say that it was?)

I believe you said the 1838 account is more detailed than the 1832 account. The 1838 account does contain more detail, and one might theorize that JS in 1838 developed and added detail to his 1832 account. But in that case I wouldnâ??t expect details that I consider essential to JSâ??s religious experience to be dropped (having his sins forgiven) - I would expect them to be developed. I also wouldnâ??t expect there to be a lot of new information in the 1838 account - new information that I consider important (examples - donâ??t join any denominations, seeing the Father, brush with the enemy). JS remembered this new information in 1838 but forgot it in 1832?

Also, I noticed on Elden Watsonâ??s site under â??and saw 2 glorious personagesâ? that in 1844 it said â??saw a personage in the fire, light complexion, blue eyes, a piece of white cloth Drawn over his shoulders his right arm bearâ?. This is even more specific in detail, yet it is not included in the earlier accounts. So, I wondered if you believed the information was accurate in all the various accounts.

The point of my Burger King analogy was primarily to illustrate that seemingly conflicting accounts does not necessarily equal mutual exclusion. As to would I tell everyone if I saw Smith and Jesus at Burger King? I would tell only one person: a psychiatrist.

I understand the point you were making with your Burger King analogy. I think the problem is in using a mathematical or logical term (mutually exclusive) in a situation that is influenced by emotions, personalities, motives, etc. Logically, you saw three people - but you didnâ??t mention them to everyone. Logically I would expect JS to mention seeing two personages if that is what he saw (same audience, same reason for writing the account in 1832 and 1838). If you (for some odd reason) sat down and formally recorded your Burger King visit - if you included that you saw friends I would expect you to mention all three.

Maybe you wouldnâ??t own up to seeing Jesus and JS, but another Mormon might! But you would probably tell people you saw two celebrities!

This is interesting. I'll have to look at it a bit before I could make a judgement as to its significance.

Yes - do look into it.

What is significant about 1830? (My bad if this has been firmly established as a pivotal year for whatever reason, but I've hardly read every post in these 16 pages!) I, personally, am unsure as to what the actual 'evidence' could be that Smith actually had his vision. Or maybe you mean 'claimed to have had', to which I would answer, I don't know.... But if there was evidence of his claim in 1829, would it then be significant to establish whether or not he had mentioned it in 1828? Maybe I'll have another glance at prior posts so I can see what the 1830 fuss is about.

I chose 1830 myself. This is how I was thinking - if JS did indeed have this first vision experience around 1820 then by at least 1827 (the beginning of transcribing the BoM) I would expect JS to have at least told people he was working with about his experience. By 1830 (the printing of the BoM) I would expect people to know about his first vision, especially since there was a newspaper article claiming that JS saw God, Jesus, the H.S., and angels. However, if the first vision account really didnâ??t happen, then sometime before 1832 I would expect JS to have started thinking of producing a first vision account. So, if JS wrote his first vision account in 1832 then he might have mentioned it before he wrote it down. Therefore I would not put much weight on a witness saying JS spoke about his first vision in, say, 1831. Do you follow my reasoning?

Continuation of my last post to Trashcan Man -

I was researching this morning and found something very interesting. In October, 1830 Peter Bauder interviewed JS. Here is a portion of the account -

From http://www.irr.org/mit/First-Vision-Scans/...ision-1830.html

â??I called at P[eter] Whitmerâ??s house for the purpose of seeing Smith, and searching into the mystery of his system of religion, and had the privilege of conversing with him alone, several hours, and of investigating his writings, church records, &c. I improved near four and twenty hours in close application with Smith and his followers; he could give me no christian experience, but told me that an angel told him he must go to a certain place in the town of Manchester, Ontario County, where was a secret treasure concealed, which he must reveal to the human family.â?

Bauder spent 24 hours with JS and his followers and investigated JSâ??s writings and church records. JS could give no christian experience.

It seems reasonable to me that JSâ??s authority as a man of God would be very questioned after the printing of the BoM. Therefore I conclude that the first vision did not really happen but was fabricated to give JS godly authority. JS needed another identity other than treasure-seeker.

Link to post

Here's the concept: If I experience something when I'm in my early teens, my perceptions of that experience are going to be necessarily limited [excuse split infinitive, please] by the limitations of my experience and perceptive machinery. As I mature, I begin to appreciate more fully what I experienced both qualitatively and quantitatively because of life experience and learning.

Example: I am in a car accident when I'm 5. All I remember of the experience is that I'm chasing my ball and something big came at me from the right. It really hurt and I felt like I was flying. Then I woke up in a weird, noisy room that smelled funny with strange people dressed weird.

When I'm 20, I understand who those people were and why they were dressed that way. I further understand that the noise I forgot to mention when I was 5 was the sound of screetching brakes and my mother screaming. I may even get that the smells were anticeptics and cleaning solutions.

When I'm 40, I understand something of the horror felt by the driver of the car, my mother's feeling of utter helplessness and rage at her impotence in that moment, the urgency of the health care folks who put me back together, and pity for myself as so young a child experiencing something so painful, frightening and unwarranted. I might even spend a few moments considering the problem of evil and the problem of pain as it applied to my, my mother's, and the driver's situations.

Your analogy, while interesting, doesn't address the issues with the multiple versions of the First Vision. At the very least, it is disingenuous to imply that 14 year old Joseph couldn't comprehend the separate identities of God the Father and Jesus, nor understand their message beyond "thy sins are forgiven thee".

It's the nature of the subsequently added details, and their timing, that calls them into question.

Link to post
It's the nature of the subsequently added details, and their timing, that calls them into question.

Tell me about it...!

Acts 9: 7

7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

Acts 26

14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Link to post
Your analogy, while interesting, doesn't address the issues with the multiple versions of the First Vision. At the very least, it is disingenuous to imply that 14 year old Joseph couldn't comprehend the separate identities of God the Father and Jesus, nor understand their message beyond "thy sins are forgiven thee".

It's the nature of the subsequently added details, and their timing, that calls them into question.

Will everybody please listen up. I am not advocating this position. I initially posted that there was more than one possible explanation for an "evolving JS view of the Trinity" than he started out as Trinitarian and the 1832 bi-holograph is evidence for this position. I offered an alternative as evidence that one view is the only possible view. I expressly disclaimed then that I held to such a position. Then somebody asked me to explain how one could have a "non-Trinitarian" view of the G-dhead, yet not be able fully to express it. Hence my story of the kid getting hit by the car.

Let's not get all excited that my example was intended as anything other than an explanation of how such a theory might work.

I DO NOT HOLD TO THE THEORY.

Link to post
In October, 1830 Peter Bauder interviewed JS. Here is a portion of the account - . . . .

â??I called at P[eter] Whitmerâ??s house for the purpose of seeing Smith, and searching into the mystery of his system of religion, and had the privilege of conversing with him alone, several hours, and of investigating his writings, church records, &c. I improved near four and twenty hours in close application with Smith and his followers; he could give me no christian experience, but told me that an angel told him he must go to a certain place in the town of Manchester, Ontario County, where was a secret treasure concealed, which he must reveal to the human family.â?

Bauder spent 24 hours with JS and his followers and investigated JSâ??s writings and church records. JS could give no christian experience.

I believe that if you look more carefully at the historical documents you will find that this October 1830 statement by Joseph Smith is simply a reference to the fact that before he was visited by the angel Moroni he was not a member of any Christian denomination.

It seems reasonable to me that JSâ??s authority as a man of God would be very questioned after the printing of the BoM. Therefore I conclude that the first vision did not really happen but was fabricated to give JS godly authority.

Why bother fabricating another vision when you have already indicated publicly that it was "an angel of God" who was connected with the golden plates? The "godly authority" was already in place (and there is much more evidence). Your fabrication theory is not even logical.

To see your theory go down in flames . . . click on the link below:

CLICK HERE ("Bye, Bye" theory) :P

Link to post

It's from the Watson site. However, Smith uses similar wording in accounts where he does mention the Father, so it would be impossible to say for sure if the use of this disclaimer in 1832 pertained to him seeing the Father.

O-K, I found the phrase. Yes, I agree, the phrase doesn't necessarily pertain to JS seeing the Father.

Link to post

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...