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Joseph Smith’S First Vision Accounts: More Mormon Church Suppression And Cover-Up


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As I've indicated on another thread, the earliest written account of the First Vision is part of the latest content just added to the Joseph Smith Papers website.

How wily the Church is! Covering up alternate accounts of the First Vision by publishing or talking about them in these sources.

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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I've never thought the church hid it, but doesn't teach them...and maybe they shouldn't, since only one is canon. It sometimes depends on the narrative. One possiblity is what Smoot presents, that Joseph wanted to highlight certain aspects at different times. Another is one of a con-man developing his story to gain more respect and authority from others. What narrative you choose is up to you.

And yes, they don't contradict any worse than Paul's vision...which contradict each other. I'm not sure what traction that gives unless you hold the writer of acts as authoritative. A contradiction is a contradiction. It took me a long time to see that in religion.

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Darth_Bill:

I've never thought the church hid it, but doesn't teach them...and maybe they shouldn't, since only one is canon. It sometimes depends on the narrative. One possiblity is what Smoot presents, that Joseph wanted to highlight certain aspects at different times. Another is one of a con-man developing his story to gain more respect and authority from others. What narrative you choose is up to you.

And yes, they don't contradict any worse than Paul's vision...which contradict each other. I'm not sure what traction that gives unless you hold the writer of acts as authoritative. A contradiction is a contradiction. It took me a long time to see that in religion.

We all choose to highlight different aspects of the same event depending on circumstances. In fact it is a cause for suspicion of memorization if they are exactly the same. But in any event I see no ill will in either Paul or Joseph. So I'm willing to cut both some slack.

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I've never thought the church hid it, but doesn't teach them...and maybe they shouldn't, since only one is canon. It sometimes depends on the narrative. One possiblity is what Smoot presents, that Joseph wanted to highlight certain aspects at different times. Another is one of a con-man developing his story to gain more respect and authority from others. What narrative you choose is up to you.

And yes, they don't contradict any worse than Paul's vision...which contradict each other. I'm not sure what traction that gives unless you hold the writer of acts as authoritative. A contradiction is a contradiction. It took me a long time to see that in religion.

There is no contradiction in the First Vision narratives.

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Darn sneaky of us too. ;)

The First Vision happened in 1820, with the "official" version published in 1838. And when did the alternate versions become known? I think it was the early 1970s.

While it's wonderful that the Church published an article in 1996 acknowledging the other versions, methinks thou doth gloat too much.

Edited by cinepro
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My previous views were from a uncredible source. Until I find further info to validat My first thoughts they shall be considered false. I have deleted my post

Edited by reelmormon
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The First Vision happened in 1820, with the "official" version published in 1838. And when did the alternate versions become known? I think it was the early 1970s.

While it's wonderful that the Church published an article in 1996 acknowledging the other versions, methinks thou doth gloat too much.

Alternate accounts of the First Vision were published in the United States, England and Germany in the mid-1800s, as per this summary, included in an article I wrote in 2007:

Here is a brief listing of eight of the narratives:

  • An 1832 account written by a 26-year-old Joseph Smith 12 years after the experience. It emphasized his remorse and forgiveness for personal sins and the guidance he received from the Savior.
  • An 1835 account given by the Prophet to a visitor and recorded by a scribe. It referred to the appearance of two heavenly beings, one coming after the other, and mentioned "many angels."
  • The familiar 1838-39 account that today is part of the Pearl of Great Price. As such, it is canonized scripture and the Church's official account of the vision.
  • An 1840 account written by apostle Orson Pratt and published in England. It elaborated on some details of the 1838-39 version.
  • An 1842 account by another apostle, Orson Hyde, published in a missionary tract in Germany, similar to Elder Pratt's account.
  • An 1842 account, part of the letter Joseph wrote to John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat newspaper.
  • An 1843 account given by Joseph to the editor of the Pittsburgh Gazette, which appeared in the New York Spectator on Sept. 23.
  • An 1844 entry in the diary of German immigrant Alexander Neibaur endeavoring to retell the story after hearing it from the Prophet.

Students of Church history have known about alternate accounts of the First Vision long before the early 1970s. It is false to claim that the Church has covered up this information.

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My take

Within the 7 accounts there is a lot of crossover.

There are at least eight accounts; see my post above.

Most of these can be easily fit into the official story. There are also info in 2-3 of the accounts that is troubling and difficult to reconcile with the official version.

I, on the other hand, see nothing that is troubling or difficult to reconcile in them.

the church is happy to mention all these accounts and talk about places that can be reconciled but they do not touch with a 10' pole those parts of the couple versions that can not be reconciled.

If, by "the church," you include historians and others employed by the Church, this is false. Church historians have written about the different versions in depth. And as I've mentioned, it is your own subjective judgment that they "cannot be reconciled."

For my part, I hold with James Allen, retired professor of history at BYU, who wrote in the Improvement Era (forerunner to the Ensign) in April 1970:

"Although each narrative emphasizes different ideas and events, none is incompatible with other accounts. There is a striking consistency throughout all the narratives, and if one wishes he may combine them into an impressive report that in no way contradicts any of the individual accounts. Moreover, the descriptions given of events related to the vision but that happened outside the grove are consistent with our knowledge of contemporary events."
(Emphasis mine) Edited by Scott Lloyd
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From your article

Criticism: Some have pointed to a possible discrepancy between the 1832 account and later versions. In 1832, Joseph said he had decided after studying the scriptures that no denomination was built upon the New Testament gospel. Yet in the original 1838 account is the parenthetical statement that "at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong."

Response: In a January 1985 Ensign article, Milton V. Backman, BYU professor of Church history, reasoned: "Perhaps the statements are not contradictory. Through a study of the Bible (an intellectual analysis) Joseph Smith may have decided that all the churches he knew of were wrong. At the time he entered the grove, however, and at other times, he may have believed in his heart that God's true church existed somewhere — he just didn't know where."

The response is a "perhaps" and "may have" which is speculation on what would take away the contradiction. Regardless of the mindreading going on, you state the contradiction. That there may be a way to force, and I think that is what it is, a resolution, doesn't take away the contradiction.

Explain away. This is one of the reasons I am not part of apologetics anymore. The solutions are all "maybe" or "perhaps".

And Acts gives contradictory accounts of Paul's vision. That some explain it away with handwaving does not take away the fact. Not enough to leave the faith, but I'm so darn sick of the misdirection.

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From your article

Criticism: Some have pointed to a possible discrepancy between the 1832 account and later versions. In 1832, Joseph said he had decided after studying the scriptures that no denomination was built upon the New Testament gospel. Yet in the original 1838 account is the parenthetical statement that "at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong."

Response: In a January 1985 Ensign article, Milton V. Backman, BYU professor of Church history, reasoned: "Perhaps the statements are not contradictory. Through a study of the Bible (an intellectual analysis) Joseph Smith may have decided that all the churches he knew of were wrong. At the time he entered the grove, however, and at other times, he may have believed in his heart that God's true church existed somewhere — he just didn't know where."

The response is a "perhaps" and "may have" which is speculation on what would take away the contradiction. Regardless of the mindreading going on, you state the contradiction. That there may be a way to force, and I think that is what it is, a resolution, doesn't take away the contradiction.

If there is a plausible and rational way to interpret the quotations from Joseph so that they can be reconciled, then there is no contradiction.

Explain away. This is one of the reasons I am not part of apologetics anymore. The solutions are all "maybe" or "perhaps".

Detractors hate it when I point this out, but it is they who bear the burden of proof. So long as the Church's defenders can keep the question open by establishing plausibility, a sincere truth seeker can go to God in prayer and ask for personal revelation regarding the gospel and the Restoration.

And Acts gives contradictory accounts of Paul's vision. That some explain it away with handwaving does not take away the fact. Not enough to leave the faith, but I'm so darn sick of the misdirection.

Fortunately one does not have to base his testimony of Christ and His gospel upon a literal reading of the Bible, which is a less-than-perfect record (see Eighth Article of Faith).

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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Long time, no see.

Sure, I still think Smoot is snot-nosed, possibly bratty; but I'm glad he's back from his mission intact. And I liked the turns of phrase in this article enough to highlight it, despite my own long absence.

Good stuff.

Isn't that Rommulator?

Good times.

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For those who feel the Church didn't "cover up" the different accounts of the First Vision, is there anything that you do feel that the Church has "covered up" in the past?

I'll assume we all agree that the Mountain Meadows Massacre was a legitimate cover up. But other than that...?

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For those who feel the Church didn't "cover up" the different accounts of the First Vision, is there anything that you do feel that the Church has "covered up" in the past?

I'll assume we all agree that the Mountain Meadows Massacre was a legitimate cover up. But other than that...?

Yes. Former BYU President Ernest Wilkenson played the sinister "Grasscutter" character in the BYU produced movie "The Great Grasscutter." No known copies of that movie are available to the public. Critics attribute this to the crackdown on LDS freedom of expression and the purge of LDS intellectuals and artistic types several decades ago.

Officials refuse to account for the disappearance of the film. Some have even denied its existence. it is rumored to be hidden in a cold storage box in the BYU Creamery.

Bernard

Edited by Bernard Gui
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For those who feel the Church didn't "cover up" the different accounts of the First Vision, is there anything that you do feel that the Church has "covered up" in the past?

I'll assume we all agree that the Mountain Meadows Massacre was a legitimate cover up. But other than that...?

I don't think anybody who is a legitimate historian would argue that MM was covered up. How can you cover up something that does not exist? The church leadership was not involved in the event. It was local paranoid residents who were given bad advice and over reacted.

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