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Lucy Mack Smith's account of the First Vision


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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

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1844-1845/40

"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."

Edited by blueglass
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Here's more information from Fair mormon on the letter to her brother here;https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Question:_Did_Joseph_Smith's_mother_say_that_the_First_Vision_was_of_an_"angel"%3F

Also, when she dictated her history she was 69 years old and I'm certain her memory would have not been the best and likely jumbled some things in her recollections.

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4 hours ago, alter idem said:

Here's more information from Fair mormon on the letter to her brother here;https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Question:_Did_Joseph_Smith's_mother_say_that_the_First_Vision_was_of_an_"angel"%3F

Also, when she dictated her history she was 69 years old and I'm certain her memory would have not been the best and likely jumbled some things in her recollections.

69 is not very old.  However, people in general seem to jumble events in their memories.  Lucy also could not recall which year her son Alvin was born.  These are just the sort of errors in recall which anyone can make, unless and until they are able to find a diary or document (newspaper, book, family Bible, etc.) which pins things down adequately.  Anyone writing his memoires knows the problem well.  The internet is a big help.

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6 hours ago, blueglass said:

................... 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.  ...............................

I am able to find something similar in Lavina Fielding Anderson, ed., Lucy's Book, 335, but it doesn't affirm that Jesus is the Christ.  Could you give the online JSP source?

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Oops

 

Note to self: Do not assume you know what the thread is about before reading it. ;)

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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On 11/9/2018 at 8:48 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

69 is not very old.  However, people in general seem to jumble events in their memories.  Lucy also could not recall which year her son Alvin was born.  These are just the sort of errors in recall which anyone can make, unless and until they are able to find a diary or document (newspaper, book, family Bible, etc.) which pins things down adequately.  Anyone writing his memoires knows the problem well.  The internet is a big help.

I guess that's a matter of opinion, but I was under the impression that 69 was considered quite old in the 1840's, especially during a time period where they did not have modern medicine to counteract all the problems of aging, but to each his own.

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1 hour ago, alter idem said:

I guess that's a matter of opinion, but I was under the impression that 69 was considered quite old in the 1840's, especially during a time period where they did not have modern medicine to counteract all the problems of aging, but to each his own.

Anyone who did not die from childhood diseases (of which there were many, and no antibiotics) lived to the average age of 72 and in the same condition 72-year-old people are in today.  That meant that some people lived into their nineties, while others died earlier.  There was otherwise no essential difference in longevity between now and then. Longevity is based largely on genetics.  Opinion has nothing to do with it.

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3 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Anyone who did not die from childhood diseases (of which there were many, and no antibiotics) lived to the average age of 72 and in the same condition 72-year-old people are in today.  That meant that some people lived into their nineties, while others died earlier.  There was otherwise no essential difference in longevity between now and then. Longevity is based largely on genetics.  Opinion has nothing to do with it.

I'm not ignorant of this.  However, I still feel there were differences that aren't being taken into consideration.  In her day, there were none of the medications that many 72 year olds take today to remove symptoms and improve life which may have affected their health--emotional and physical, while not shortening their lives.  And I believe that her age ought to be taken into consideration when looking at the Book she wrote with the help of her friends as well as any other recollections she left.  Brigham Young's criticisms of her book were that there were many mistakes in her recollections and personally  I'm certain that was due to her memory.   I believe that it's not unreasonable to consider Lucy Smith's age at the time.

Not that it matters, it is not necessary that we agree on  this.

 

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15 minutes ago, alter idem said:

I'm not ignorant of this.  However, I still feel there were differences that aren't being taken into consideration.  In her day, there were none of the medications that many 72 year olds take today to remove symptoms and improve life which may have affected their health--emotional and physical, while not shortening their lives.  And I believe that her age ought to be taken into consideration when looking at the Book she wrote with the help of her friends as well as any other recollections she left.  Brigham Young's criticisms of her book were that there were many mistakes in her recollections and personally  I'm certain that was due to her memory.   I believe that it's not unreasonable to consider Lucy Smith's age at the time.

Not that it matters, it is not necessary that we agree on  this.

 

What do you think of Lucy's 1831 letter to her brother?  Do you concur with FAIR that this letter has evidence of the first vision due to the forgiveness of sins part written by Joseph in his 1832 history a year in the future?  I thought with Brigham the problem with the history was more over succession and reorganization  - at least that's what Sharalyn says in her interview.   http://www.ldsperspectives.com/2018/05/09/foundational-texts-mormonism/.  

 

Edited by blueglass
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On 11/9/2018 at 11:48 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

I am able to find something similar in Lavina Fielding Anderson, ed., Lucy's Book, 335, but it doesn't affirm that Jesus is the Christ.  Could you give the online JSP source?

Took me awhile to find a good reference for the 1831 letter from a reputable source.  

Here are the 3 direct references cited in the OP:

Lucy's 1831 letter to her brother Solomon (see pg86)

https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/give-all-and-follow-your-lord-testimony-and-exhortation-early-mormon-womens-letters-1831

1835 account of first vision given by Joseph Smith, Warren Parrish as scribe

https://josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/journal-1835-1836/25#foot-notes

1844 account of first vision by Lucy Mack Smith (handwriting by Martha Coray)

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1844-1845/40

 

Edited by blueglass
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On 11/10/2018 at 3:03 AM, mfbukowski said:

Oops

 

Note to self: Do not assume you know what the thread is about before reading it. ;)

 

There are many accounts of the first vision as their are 4 gospels which each share their own light of the life of the Savior Mark, Q, John, Paul, etc.   I just think Lucy's account is special in the sense that I see a family home evening in which they are conversing about the diversity of churches and thousand opinions on the truth of scripture, and she has this reflection on the spiritual personality of Joseph which is unique and real.  She says he "seemed to reflect more deeply than common persons of his age upon everything of a religious nature".  Joseph then goes to bed, and sees an Angel who says, "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."  As far as source criticism I see this as interweaving visionary accounts and insight into the Smith family spiritual life.  The part about Peter taking the Keys of the Melchisidek priesthood is new to me for both the first vision and the vision with Nephi (Moroni). 

Edited by blueglass
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On 11/9/2018 at 3:14 PM, pogi said:

It sounds like details from the first vision and Moroni's visits are getting mixed together here.

It does seem to be speaking about Moroni's visit. On the next page it says the following:

The next <day> he <and his father and> his brother Alvin [Smith] were reaping in the field togather when <sudenly> Joseph stopped and seemed to be in a deep Study for some time Alvin hurried <him> saying Joseph we will must keep to work or we shall not get our store task done Joseph worked again dilligently then stopped in the same way again <a second time> when alvin <his father> Saw that he look was very pale and urged him to go to the house to and tell his mother that he was sick he went a short distance till he came to a green sward under an apple tree here he lay down <on his face> for he was so weak he could go no farther. The personage whom he saw the night before came to him again"

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4 hours ago, alter idem said:

I'm not ignorant of this.  However, I still feel there were differences that aren't being taken into consideration.  In her day, there were none of the medications that many 72 year olds take today to remove symptoms and improve life which may have affected their health--emotional and physical, while not shortening their lives.  And I believe that her age ought to be taken into consideration when looking at the Book she wrote with the help of her friends as well as any other recollections she left.  Brigham Young's criticisms of her book were that there were many mistakes in her recollections and personally  I'm certain that was due to her memory.   I believe that it's not unreasonable to consider Lucy Smith's age at the time.

Not that it matters, it is not necessary that we agree on  this.

When writing about their master, Socrates, both Plato and Xenophon were not in agreement as to details.  This is also true of the 4 Gospels.  Professional historians and police know that memory of people at any age is very likely to be error ridden.  That Brigham and Lucy might have seen things differently is meaningless.  That just goes with the territory of historiography, and we can't blame it on getting old.  69 just isn't that old.  I'm 77 and I was still outperforming youngsters on memory at age 69.  Maybe not so much now.  😎

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3 hours ago, blueglass said:

Took me awhile to find a good reference for the 1831 letter from a reputable source.  

Here are the 3 direct references cited in the OP:

Lucy's 1831 letter to her brother Solomon (see pg86)

https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/give-all-and-follow-your-lord-testimony-and-exhortation-early-mormon-womens-letters-1831

1835 account of first vision given by Joseph Smith, Warren Parrish as scribe

https://josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/journal-1835-1836/25#foot-notes 

Thanks for that.

3 hours ago, blueglass said:

1844 account of first vision by Lucy Mack Smith (handwriting by Martha Coray)

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1844-1845/40 .

As I said above, "something similar in Lavina Fielding Anderson, ed., Lucy's Book, 335, but it doesn't affirm that Jesus is the Christ."

Just wanted to be sure that we weren't talking about a new instance.  I have been citing that part of the Coray MS since about 1984, and it doesn't affirm that Jesus is the Christ.

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3 hours ago, blueglass said:

.................... The part about Peter taking the Keys of the Melchisedek priesthood is new to me for both the first vision and the vision with Nephi (Moroni). 

Roman Catholics are adamant that Peter was the first Pope (Papa Bishop), and that he held the keys symbolic of authority in the papacy -- to the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is the very priesthood which Roman Catholic priests claim to hold. Those are the keys still used by the papacy:

Image result for keys of peter

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On 11/9/2018 at 2:22 PM, blueglass said:

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

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1844-1845/40

"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."

This account is about the moroni appearance as it talks about an angel appearing, not the Lord.

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32 minutes ago, Exiled said:

This account is about the moroni appearance as it talks about an angel appearing, not the Lord.

What are your thoughts on the first vision elements included by Lucy?  What are your thoughts on the 1835 first vision account?  The two personages are not identified as the Lord either, and the second personage to appear testifies of Christ in the 3rd person.  "he testifyed unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God"

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Roman Catholics are adamant that Peter was the first Pope (Papa Bishop), and that he held the keys symbolic of authority in the papacy -- to the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is the very priesthood which Roman Catholic priests claim to hold. Those are the keys still used by the papacy:

Image result for keys of peter

Catholic apologists usually use three points to counter ideas about a universal apostasy, removal of the keys of the priesthood, and thus claims that a restoration was necessary.  1)  Matthew 16:17-19 "on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".  2)  Ephesians 3:21 "to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." 3)  The epistle of Clement to the Corinthian saints.  A very early letter dated very close to the book of John at 96AD. in which Clement relates a priesthood succession plan upon the death of the priesthood leaders, "Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church, and who have blame-lessly served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry."  

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5 hours ago, JAHS said:

It does seem to be speaking about Moroni's visit. On the next page it says the following:

The next <day> he <and his father and> his brother Alvin [Smith] were reaping in the field togather when <sudenly> Joseph stopped and seemed to be in a deep Study for some time Alvin hurried <him> saying Joseph we will must keep to work or we shall not get our store task done Joseph worked again dilligently then stopped in the same way again <a second time> when alvin <his father> Saw that he look was very pale and urged him to go to the house to and tell his mother that he was sick he went a short distance till he came to a green sward under an apple tree here he lay down <on his face> for he was so weak he could go no farther. The personage whom he saw the night before came to him again"

I agree that everything which follows the part highlighted follows the traditional times and seasons article as a copy and paste with the exception of the nephi anomaly.  Main point was to show that Lucy did say at least a few lines about the first vision as compared to the Donald Enders quote.  

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Thanks for that.

As I said above, "something similar in Lavina Fielding Anderson, ed., Lucy's Book, 335, but it doesn't affirm that Jesus is the Christ."

Just wanted to be sure that we weren't talking about a new instance.  I have been citing that part of the Coray MS since about 1984, and it doesn't affirm that Jesus is the Christ.

I meant in comparison to the 1835 first vision account in which an unidentified second personage appears "he testifyed unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God".  This would indicate multiple beings in the theophany, God the father, the Lord Jesus Christ, another unnamed angel who testifies of Christ, and a host of angels.  "I saw many angels in this vision".  

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1 hour ago, blueglass said:

What are your thoughts on the first vision elements included by Lucy?  What are your thoughts on the 1835 first vision account?  The two personages are not identified as the Lord either, and the second personage to appear testifies of Christ in the 3rd person.  "he testifyed unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God"

The 1835 account adds to the confusion as to what happened, if anything happened at all. This and accounts by Olver Cowdery, Martin Harris and Brigham Young talk of an angelic experience as being the first visionary experience, not a vision of deity. Lucy's account agrees with these accounts as well. So, whether elements of her account are first visionary or not seems to be a function of Joseph Smith's evolving story and not of Lucy alluding to something similar to the 1838 account. Joseph told her one thing and that thing evolved into 1838 eventually.

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16 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

When writing about their master, Socrates, both Plato and Xenophon were not in agreement as to details.  This is also true of the 4 Gospels.  Professional historians and police know that memory of people at any age is very likely to be error ridden.  That Brigham and Lucy might have seen things differently is meaningless.  That just goes with the territory of historiography, and we can't blame it on getting old.  69 just isn't that old.  I'm 77 and I was still outperforming youngsters on memory at age 69.  Maybe not so much now.  😎

An analogy I use sometimes which always seems to communicate the point is to ask the one questioning the reasons for different descriptions of any historical event, is to ask the questioner if she has ever discussed a childhood event with her siblings, and whether or not all the siblings agreed on what happened.

Pretty effective, I think.

Of course I have no siblings so I am infallible about my past, in my being a perfect child in every way.  ;)

 

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