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Js And The Accounts Of The First Vision


bluebell

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JS wrote in 1832 that he was in his 16th year. In 1838 JS wrote that he was in his 15th year. (Verse 7 - "I was at this time in my fifteenth year.") If he didn't remember then why did he change his age in 1838 from the 1832 account?

Maybe he realized that his figuring was inaccurate in the 1832 account?

Thatâ??s possible, though earlier accounts are usually more accurate. But if he realized his figuring was inaccurate in 1832 then he probably remembered he had really been in his 15th year.

Also, in verse 3 of the 1838 account he wrote " . . . and moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) county, in the State of New York, when I was in my tenth year, or thereabouts. In about four years after my fatherâ??s arrival in Palmyra . . ." (emphasis mine)

In verse 3, he uses imprecise language to approximate when his family moved. In verse 7, he does not use imprecise language with regard to when he had his vision. I guess I fail to see the significance of this.

What I see is that when JS doesnâ??t remember for sure he seems to indicate this with his wording. In the 1838 account it looks like he is sure he was in his 15th year for two reasons - he didnâ??t use the words â??thereaboutsâ?? or â??aboutâ??, and he corrected the 1832 account.

The significance for me is that things donâ??t add up.

In 1838 JS says (JS History, verse 7), â??I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My fatherâ??s family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church, namely, my mother, Lucy; my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison; and my sister Sophronia.â?

The note to the New York Religious Chronicle, Nov. 20, 1824 (Uncle Daleâ??s site) says â??It was in the midst of this 1824-25 religious excitement that Lucy Smith and her children (Hyrum, Sophronia, and Samuel) joined the Presbyterian church in Palmyra.â?

In the 1838 account JS claims the first vision took place in 1820, but it looks like it had to have taken place in 1824-25 or later. I understand that we donâ??t always remember how old we were, but we usually remember events that happened at the same time as the event we are telling about. The setting for the first vision account (1838) is during the revival, but there was no revival in 1820.

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Thatâ??s possible, though earlier accounts are usually more accurate.
I wonder where this idea comes from?

I mean... police try and get accounts by witnessed very quickly so they can figure out what happened. But some times one witness will say something that will jog the memory of another and so on.

There was to a "revival" of sorts... there was a meeting just down the street from his house. That was advertized in the Newspaper. Uncle Dale has them Im sure.

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There is an account of Joseph Smith, Sr., and Joseph Smith, Jr., given to Willard Chase in 1827 that I found. This account says (a few years ago) JS saw a spirit who told him about gold plates. Then on Sept. 22, 1827 JS was finally able to retrieve the gold plates. This date matches verse 59 of the 1838 account. This account has many interesting elements. However, this account does not mention the possible 1820 first vision event.

There is another account from 1827 given by Martin Harris to Rev. John D. Clark. Harris says JS (while in bed after a money-digging excursion) saw an angel who told him about the â??golden Bibleâ?. This account also does not mention the possible 1820 first vision event (though Harris is speaking to a Reverend).

Another account was by Oliver Cowdery (with Joseph Smith) - published in the LDS Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1834-Jan. 1835. The setting is the area revival (about 1824-25). Interestingly, Cowdery writes â??You will recollect that I mentioned the time of a religious excitement, in Palmyra and vicinity to have been in the 15th year of our brother J. Smith Jr.â??s age â?? that was an error in the type â?? it should have been in the 17th. â?? You will please remember this correction, as it will be necessary for the full understanding of what will follow in time. This would bring the date down to the year 1823.â? Cowdery reports that on Sept. 21, 1823, as JS was retiring to rest and praying that his sins were forgiven, he saw â??a messengerâ? sent by the Lord. The messenger tells JS about the new book of scripture.

In this last account Cowdery keeps the 1823 date of JS seeing an spirit/angel/messenger who tells him about the gold plates, but Cowdery adds that JS was seeking God and seeking forgiveness for his sins. Cowdery combines the â??first vision accountâ? (the 1832 account and verses 14-20 of the 1838 account) with the account of an angel telling JS about golden plates. He places both of these events in 1823. (This 1823 date is pretty consistent in these early accounts.) But, later, these two events are split and one is moved to 1820. And, interestingly, Cowdery corrects JSâ??s age from his 15th year to his 17th year, but in 1838 â??15th yearâ? is used again.

Doesnâ??t it seem possible that the first vision account was added to the account of the angel telling about the golden plates? Doesnâ??t it seem like the accounts move from a non-religious setting to a very religious setting?

Moving the first vision account to 1820 makes the setting of the revival not work.

I donâ??t know . . . maybe itâ??s just me.

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In 1838 JS says (JS History, verse 7), â??I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My fatherâ??s family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church, namely, my mother, Lucy; my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison; and my sister Sophronia.â?

A possibility is that â??in his 15th yearâ? means 14. (i.e. right now we are in the 21st century... but it is only 2006 [not 2106]). -- Don't know if that makes sense.

As for your many other questions/statements... I fear I have nothing to offer.

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Thatâ??s [that JSJr corrected a factual error in the 1832 bi-holograph when he put the 1838 account together] possible, though earlier accounts are usually more accurate.

Does this, in your experience, hold for drafts which are never submitted in final form? How would you like to have somebody claim your prior drafts (which are necessarily earlier in time) are more reliable than your approved-for-publication final versions?

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Or it could be that the Bible contains errors, contradictions, improbabilities, and morally questionable actions perpetrated by Godly men and God Himself - and not even Joseph Smith could get rid of them.

(I've been reading Letter to a Christian Nation and The Sins of Scripture; can you tell?)

This sounds like a tangent, so I won't follow it on this thread! I will only say that JS was supposed to correct Christianity, right? Did he? Wasn't he hearing from God? His translation leaves in the Johannine Comma but he changes verses before and after this passage, so I'm going to guess he looked at it. It's not like he didn't get to this section.

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Did the Gospel writers avail themselves of the first opportunity to pen their witness of Christ? Paul, his vision? And what of the disciples who didn't bother to make a record of Christ's miracles and resurrection at all? Oral tradition and all that, yes, I know. But the idea of preserved, written scripture was not alien to any of them. They had the Jewish scriptures, after all.

Maybe the real question is, when scripture is being written, is its author aware that he is writing what future generations will consider scripture? New thread, maybe.

No, the Gospel writers certainly didn't write down their memories asap. Many believe they had a sense of urgency because they thought Jesus was coming back real soon so they were orally spreading the word as quickly as they could. They did have some scrolls, but they were still used to learning orally, and thinking orally. I have not researched this, but I think the average Joe didnâ??t write scrolls but scribes who were meticulously trained and part of the synagogue system did(the synagogues which quickly threw out the Jesus-followers).

But JS wrote on paper and printed copies of the BoM. He lived in a society where he could do this. (He had scribes too.) He did not attempt to orally spread the BoM at all - it got written down right away.

More importantly, we have no written account of the first vision until 1832, though we have accounts of the angel telling JS about the golden plates from at least 1827. Why? Why is the first vision not ever mentioned?

Were the authors of scripture aware that they were writing scripture? I donâ??t even think they were thinking that way. They were just trying to spread the word that sets prisoners free and gives Life.

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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. 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:

PoGP, JS History 1:1a -

"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 Latter-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 world . . ."

Unfortunately, we don't seem to have this evidence. We don't seem to have the reports JS is speaking about here. Where are they?

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All over the Newspaper... just visit Uncle Dales sight. All the libel that was being thown in the newspaper is what JS is refering to. The one report... that has already been posted speaks of God in a 3 personage nature even. And this is before 1832.

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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.)

I don't think a lot of the stuff we've been looking at was available to everyone in the 1800s. We certainly know the 1832 account wasn't published. We live in a society where everything seems to get printed (even old stuff that wasn't printed before) and most everything is available on the internet. We live in an "information era".

I'm going to guess that many of those who rejected JS (and other leaders) and Mormonism didn't do so because of discrepancies. They looked at the witness of these leaders - their lives, their teachings, their character. I'm thinking this told them all they needed to know.

I don't think most of those that followed JS would care about discrepancies either. I think they followed because they liked the message. I'm going to guess JS (and possibly other leaders) had charisma and personality as well.

Maybe a few noticed discrepancies - maybe some felt they couldn't say anything and maybe some quietly slipped away. But I think it was few.

Honestly, how many Christians or Mormons (or other) today investigate what they believe? I would say that most don't. Boards like this make it even easier to discuss and examine what you believe. Would you be discussing what you believe with people face to face if you didn't have the internet?

(Perhaps you can tell I have lived long enough to remember homes without computers!)

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QUOTE(Freedom in Truth @ Jan 23 2007, 04:48 PM)

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

Hmm. Given Mormons' view that scripture and prophets/apostles are fallible, I don't know that this is a wise approach to addressing Paul.

Well, then let's look at it from a Mormon's perspective. JS had an opinion about Paul (that he stood on his vision no matter what). JS thought he was like his opinion of Paul. So JS still is claiming he stood on his vision like he thinks Paul did.

Could JS, in his fallibleness, have been wrong that he stood on his vision like he thought Paul did?

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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.

Does this discrepancy change the story for you, Zakuska? There are lots of little things in the various first vision accounts (1832, 1838, etc.). We have not been discussing all these little things.

We have been discussing the vision and the religious message - the revelation of the first vision.

Do you see discrepancies in the revelation - the message - of Paul's accounts? How about discrepancies in the important events? Please do notice that Paul's first account is written to the readers of Acts, his second account is to the Jews of Jerusalem (who were not feeling very warm and fuzzy toward him) and his third account is to King Agrippa, of Jewish descent but in a Gentile world. (JS's accounts have the same readership.)

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I wonder where this idea comes from?

I mean... police try and get accounts by witnessed very quickly so they can figure out what happened. But some times one witness will say something that will jog the memory of another and so on.

There was to a "revival" of sorts... there was a meeting just down the street from his house. That was advertized in the Newspaper. Uncle Dale has them Im sure.

No one was with JS. There would be no one to jog his memory.

A revival in 1820? Could you give me the evidence/link? Uncle Dale said the revival was 1824-25 from what I read.

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In the 1838 account JS claims the first vision took place in 1820, but it looks like it had to have taken place in 1824-25 or later. I understand that we donâ??t always remember how old we were, but we usually remember events that happened at the same time as the event we are telling about. The setting for the first vision account (1838) is during the revival, but there was no revival in 1820.

From the previously cited Quinn article:

"As a historian who has analyzed original narratives and revised documents that anachronistically changed Mormon developments, I have another perspective about the fact (and it is a fact) that Smith's official narrative about 1820 included circumstances which occurred during Palmyra's revivals of 1824-25. Merging (conflating) circumstances from similar events that happened years apart will certainly confuse the historical record and will perplex anyone trying to sort out basic chronology. Nonetheless, conflation of actual circumstances is not the same as fraudulent invention of events that never occurred. Conflation also is not the combination of an actual event with a fictional event. Instead, it is very common for memoirs and autobiographies to merge similar events that actually occurred, due to the narrator's memory lapses or his/her intentional streamlining of the narrative to avoid repeating similar occurrences."

(emphasis in original; also, see original for Quinn's examples of others making a similar 'conflation')

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Does this discrepancy change the story for you, Zakuska? There are lots of little things in the various first vision accounts (1832, 1838, etc.). We have not been discussing all these little things.

We have been discussing the vision and the religious message - the revelation of the first vision.

Do you see discrepancies in the revelation - the message - of Paul's accounts? How about discrepancies in the important events? Please do notice that Paul's first account is written to the readers of Acts, his second account is to the Jews of Jerusalem (who were not feeling very warm and fuzzy toward him) and his third account is to King Agrippa, of Jewish descent but in a Gentile world. (JS's accounts have the same readership.)

Does it change the story... Yes... it shows me that Pauls story was changed to impress a King. EVERYONE falls before a King!!! But the taylored story just wasn't quite powerful enough...

Acts 26: 28

28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

DOH! Darn... almost had him!

So why can Paul taylor his story but JS gets crucified? :P

It's funny... you are using the same apologetic argument I've heard so many times about the various JS first visions. This argument even made it into Dutchers movie... God's Army.

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To me, revivals are not really a one night event or even a few days (though it may be called a revival meeting). A revival is a movement of the Holy Spirit and usually is months or years in length, like the Great Awakening or the Second Great Awakening. It is a revival of our relationship with God - we are convicted of our sin and our lack of walking with God. It involves repentance and often the manifestation of spiritual/supernatural occurrences (maybe healings, prophesies, speaking in tongues, etc.) Revivals are many times highly emotional.

Revivals can be â??messy.â? It seems that when the HS moves other spirits not of God jump on the bandwagon. People are hungry for God and open to the spiritual, and ungodly spirits seem to see this as their chance to influence. So, spiritual events of a revival have to be looked at with wisdom and discernment.

Revivals donâ??t have to show an increase in church membership, even though many times new believers are a product of a revival. For example, think of all the people in the U.S. included on membership lists of various churches that are not actively walking with God. If a revival broke out and brought more of the reality of God, current inactive members might start living actively and passionately for God. But some inactive members, when faced with Godâ??s reality, might leave the church.

Revivals can be hard to date, for only in retrospect might we see that a small meeting might have been the start of a movement. It can be hard to define the end of a revival movement as well. But there is usually a period of time that is intense.

I believe revivals should be judged by the evidence of repentance and changed lives. Are people living differently, or are they just excited by possible miracles? Drawing closer to God should show in who we are and how we live.

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I think JS was a guy who was very hungry for the spiritual/supernatural world. He also seemed to be very imaginative and able to be influenced by people, ideas, events, etc. I am not sure the line between the real and the imaginary was a firm boundary for him. Here are some of his many influences -

1851 History of Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase by Orsamus Turner (on the internet) - â??The elder Smith [JSâ??s father] . . . was a good deal of a smatterer in Scriptural knowledge; but the seed of revelation was sown on weak ground; he was a great babbler, credulous, not especially industrious, a money digger, prone to the marvellous; and withal, a little given to difficulties with neighbors, and petty law-suits.â? (p. 213)

â??Mrs. Smith was a woman of strong uncultivated intellect; artful and cunning; imbued with an illy regulated religious enthusiasm. The incipient hints . . . that a Prophet was to spring from her humble household, came from her; and when matters were maturing for denouement, she gave out that such and such ones -- always fixing upon those who had both money and credulity -- were to be instruments in some great work of new revelation. The old man was rather her faithful co-worker . . . Their son, Alvah, was originally intended . . . as the forth coming Prophet . . . but Alvah, . . . sickened and died. . . . The mantle of the Prophet which Mrs. and Mr. Joseph Smith and one Oliver Cowdery, had wove of themselves . . . fell upon their next eldest son, Joseph Smith, Jr.â? (p. 213) (Alvah died in 1823.)

â??Legends of hidden treasure, had long designated Mormon Hill as the depository. Old Joseph had dug there, and young Joseph had not only heard his father and mother relate the marvelous tales of buried wealth, but had accompanied his father in the midnight delvings, and incantations of the spirits that guarded it.â? (p. 214)

â??The primitive designs of Mrs. Smith, her husband, Jo and Cowdery, was money-making; blended with which perhaps, was a desire for notoriety . . . The idea of being the founders of a new sect, was an after thought, in which they were aided by others.â? (p. 214)

Mormonism: Its Origin, Rise, and Progress by Pomeroy Tucker (on the internet) - â?? . . . Smith family, they were popularly regarded as an illiterate, whisky-drinking, shiftless, irreligious race of people . . . by reason of his [JS] extravagances of statement, his word was received with the least confidence by those who knew him best. He could utter the most palpable exaggeration or marvelous absurdity with the utmost apparent gravity.â? (p. 16)

â??Joseph . . . had learned to read comprehensively . . . As he further advanced in reading and knowledge, he assumed a spiritual or religious turn of mind, and frequently perused the Bible, becoming quite familiar with portions thereof, both of the Old and New Testaments; selected texts from which he quoted and discussed with great assurance when in the presence of his superstitious acquaintances. The Prophecies and Revelations were his special forte. His interpretations of scriptural passages were always original and unique, and his deductions and conclusions often disgustingly blasphemous, according to the common apprehensions of Christian people.â? (p. 17)

â??At one time he joined the probationary class of the Methodist church in Palmyra, and made some active demonstrations of engagedness, though his assumed convictions were insufficiently grounded or abiding to carry him along to the saving point of conversion, and he soon withdrew from the class. the final conclusion announced by him was, that all sectarianism was fallacious, all the churches on a false foundation, and the Bible a fable.â? (p. 18)

Hymns spoke of praying outside, seeing Jesus and a light all around (from Quinnâ??s discussion of hymns sung at camp-meetings, p. 49-50)

Joseph's maternal grandfather published an account of seeing a heavenly light and hearing Jesus' voice.

The Smith family experienced a series of financial setbacks and lost their farm in 1825.

( http://www.signaturebooks.com/JosephSmithMaking.htm )

The ideas of seeing Jesus, seeing a light, praying outside, being a prophet (especially after Alvah died), something important buried when JS found the golden plates, the Bible not being true - these were all ideas in JSâ??s everyday life. Add to this family financial needs in 1825. This is the backdrop for the roots of Mormonism and the various first vision accounts.

Finally to Quinnâ??s article - I have no problem accepting that Methodist meetings/events were happening between 1817 and 1824. I donâ??t know if I would call them a revival though. But, I donâ??t recall JS using the word â??revivalâ? either.

I think it is possible - perhaps even likely - that JS attended meetings before 1824. I think it is likely that he was spiritually searching. It is possible he had an experience in the woods of praying, but it is possible this was imagined. But, real or imagined, he seemed to not have proceeded as a changed man.

I think evidence from the various books cited plus Uncle Daleâ??s newspapers, etc. is strong that JS was involved in religious activity around 1823ish -25 (the possible height of the revival). However, at this time JS seems to reject Biblical Truth.

In 1825 JSâ??s family came upon hard financial times. I think this explains the money-digging context of the first accounts. (The occult context was true and wasnâ??t being covered up at this time.) I believe the plan was to make money, and what better way to do this than to produce something of interest to the many involved in the revival. However, I think when the Christian community heard about the â??Gold Bibleâ? they wanted some Christian credibility. JS becomes a prophet (kind of predicted by his mother anyway). Prophets need to have a Christian experience, so JS remembers his earlier (real or imagined) experience and uses it. Then, with the influence of others like Cowdery (and possibly the understanding that followers want leaders), the BoM printing expands to the beginning of a new sect. I believe the modifications in the first vision accounts show this progression.

1827 Account given to Willard Chase - spirit appears to JS and tells of the golden plates, JS finally retrieves them on Sept. 22, 1827, money-digging context with occult elements. No revival mentioned.

1827 Account given by Harris to Clark - angel appears to JS and tells of the golden plates, money-digging context with occult elements, some standard Christian terms - JS called prophet, business arrangement with Harris. No revival mentioned.

1830 Account given by JS to Bauder - angel told JS of the golden plates, JS could give â??no christian experienceâ? - understood to be no conversion experience or manifestation of God in JSâ??s life.

1832 Account of 1st Vision by JS - pondered God from 12-15, at 15 (1821) sees sins of self and others, asks for mercy, sees Jesus, receives forgiveness, falls back into sin, at age 17 (1823) angel appears and tells of the golden plates, JS retrieves them on Sept. 22, 1827, Christian context - seeking God (not money). No revival mentioned.

1834-35 Account by Cowdery in Messenger and Advocate - Sept. 21, 1823, JS (age 17) in bedroom asking for forgiveness in prayer, messenger sent by the Lord tells about new book of scripture, seeking God (not money). 1st time for revival setting (1823ish -25) - some family members joined Presbyterian church after Alvin died (1823), after this event JS wonders which church is correct. (First vision of praying in the woods is combined with angel appearing and telling of golden plates.)

1838 Account by JS - family members join church, prays in woods in 1820, sees Jesus and God, forgiveness not mentioned (seeking God to know which sect was right), Sept. 21, 1823 - prayed for forgiveness in room, angel appears and tells of the golden plates, JS retrieves them on Sept. 22, 1827. Christian context - seeking God (not money). Revival mentioned.

With all the variations in these accounts the date of Sept. 22, 1827 is remarkably consistent.

I cannot accept Quinnâ??s conflation theory of the 1838 account. The account is a detailed progression of dates and events, not a general setting. Having JSâ??s family members join the Presbyterian church in 1820 gives the reason why JS prayed to know which sect is true - but we know that JSâ??s family members joined the church after Alvin died in late 1823 (verse 4 and 56). How could JS be struggling in 1820 about which sect was true if some of his family hadnâ??t joined a church yet? Also, the idea that various churches were competing with each other for members doesnâ??t make sense if in 1820 the church activity is Methodist camp-meetings. The only explanation that makes sense to me is that the first vision (praying in the woods) - real or imagined - was manipulated for a purpose, but not all details were taken into consideration. It is only in the 1834-35 and 1838 account that JS prays about which sect is right. If one is starting a sect the information that all other sects are wrong gives authority to the new sect.

http://www.irr.org/mit/First-Vision-Accounts.html - my springboard source - also Uncle Dale

(sorry for the length - I have read too much Quinn!)

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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.

Your definition of "christian experience" is not agreed upon by Mormons or non-Mormons. On rickgrunder.com - "Smith apparently demured from mentioning his first vision ('. . . he could give me no christian experience . . .' p.36)". I believe this site is Mormon. Also, from irr.org/mit - "Joseph Smith could give Bauder no 'christian experience', ie. no conversion experience or manifestation of saving grace in his life ".

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.

In the 1827 account given to Willard Chase the word "spirit" is used, not "angel". In the 1827 account given by Harris to Clark, the word "angel" is used, but the account has a money-digging context with occult elements. This last account is not definitely Christian.

For more of my thoughts please see post # 372.

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Does this, in your experience, hold for drafts which are never submitted in final form? How would you like to have somebody claim your prior drafts (which are necessarily earlier in time) are more reliable than your approved-for-publication final versions?

When you edit your drafts are you editing facts or grammar/punctuation/writing style/etc.?

In 1832 JS was said to be 15. In 1834-35 JS was said to be 17. And in 1838 JS was said to be 14.

However, the date "Sept. 22, 1827" is remarkably consistent. (post #372)

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