Joseph Smith's First Vision/Church Hides Accounts (1990-1997)

Church publications which discuss various First Vision accounts
Author: Various
LDS-authored publications (1990-1997)

LDS-authored publications which discuss various accounts of the First Vision (1990-1997)

1996 Kent P. Jackson, From Apostasy to Restoration (Deseret Book 1996): 66-79; cf. 80-9. “In the earliest days of the history of the Church, Joseph Smith apparently spoke less frequently about the First Vision than he did about other sacred experiences…. By the end of the Prophet’s lifetime, he may have told the story of the First Vision on many occasions. Yet his own written accounts of it have been preserved in only five places…. Because the accounts were written under different circumstances and perhaps with different readers in mind the emphasis in them varies from one to the next.” He then quotes and discusses 1832; Nov 9, 1835; 1838; 1842 Wentworth letter; 1843 Pittsburgh Gazette (reprinted in New York Spectator and at least two other papers). He also quotes the letter he wrote to I. Daniel Rupp, published by the latter in 1844. He also mentions the accounts by Orson Pratt (1840), Orson Hyde (1842 in German), and the diary entry of Alexander Neibauer 24 May 1844. He also mentions that the 1838 account was reprinted in the Church newspaper in 1842, and again in 1851 in a small missionary pamphlet titled “Pearl of Great Price.” He also refers to several modern secondary works, which contain these accounts:Backman, Eyewitness Accounts; Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith

1996 Russell M. Nelson, “At the Heart of the Church”, in The Prophet and his Work: Essays from General Authorities on Joseph Smith and the Restoration (Deseret Book 1996): 50-65. [After quoting from the canonized version Elder Nelson writes] “The most prominent account of the First Vision, from which I have quoted, was prepared by the Prophet for publication in 1838. At least three other accounts of the vision were also recorded. These accounts were given under different circumstances to different audiences and for different purposes. Because each account emphasizes a different aspect of the same experience, some of the detractors of the Church have attempted to point out discrepancies in the several accounts. In the January 1985 Ensign appears a most noteworthy article by Milton V. Backman, Jr., entitled "Joseph Smith's Recitals of the First Vision." You will want to study this and become familiar with each of the recorded accounts of the First Vision so that you will not be disarmed if you hear that more than one account was given.” (53)

1996 Richard L. Anderson, “Joseph Smith’s Testimony of the First Vision”, Ensign, April 1996. “We now know of nine contemporary reports from the Prophet himself or from those who personally heard him relate his first vision: (1) the Prophet’s handwritten description in 1832, an attempt to start a manuscript history of the Church; (2) a Church secretary’s brief 1835 journal entry of Joseph talking with a visitor who called himself Joshua, the Jewish minister; (3) the 1838 history discussed above, published in 1842 and now in the Pearl of Great Price; (4) Orson Pratt’s publication, the first publicly disseminated, of the Prophet’s vision in his Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, issued in 1840 in Edinburgh, Scotland; (5) Orson Hyde’s revision of Orson Pratt’s pamphlet, published in 1842 for German readers and adding some insights that may have come from his contact with Joseph Smith; (6) the Wentworth Letter, created in response to editor John Wentworth’s inquiry and published by Joseph Smith in 1842 in Times and Seasons; this account adapted parts of Orson Pratt’s pamphlet; (7) Levi Richards’s diary about Joseph Smith preaching in the summer of 1843 and repeating the Lord’s first message to him that no church was His; (8) a newspaper interview in the fall of 1843; (9) Alexander Neibaur’s 1844 journal entry of a conversation at the Prophet’s house.” Rest of article deals with issues between some of these.

1996 Joseph Smith. The Choice Seer. The Prophet’s Greatness as Teacher, Priesthood Leader, and Restorer. Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet ((Bookcraft 1996). “As a service to the reader, in the back of the book we have included three accounts of the First Vision. These are often hard to find elsewhere” (xiii) These are 1832 (369-71); November 9, 1835 (373-7); Wentworth, March 1, 1842 (375-382). Quotes part of the interview with the Pittsburgh Gazette editor, September 1843 (=New York Spectator) (8-9) 1832 partially quoted (35) Orson Pratt’s 1840 version cited and quoted (79-80) Throughout the book they draw from Milton Backman, Joseph Smith’s First Vision (1980); Dean Jessee, The Papers of Joseph Smith 2 volumes (1989); Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (1984).

1996 Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, Revised and Enhanced, edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor 1996 by Bookcraft. . This is the 1853 work by Lucy. In the footnotes to chapter 17, dealing with the first vision, the Proctors refer to 1832, 1835, Wentworth Letter (1842), the William Smith interview in Deseret News for 1894.

1996 David Paulsen, “The Doctrine of Divine Embodiment: Restoration, Judeo-Christian, and Philosophical Perspectives”, BYU Studies, 35. 3 (1996): Refers to Pratt (1840); Hyde 1842 German; Pittsburgh Gazette 1843; Citing Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith

1995 Joseph Wirthlin, Finding Peace in Our Lives (Deseret Book Company: Salt Lake City, Utah 1995). “A key document of the restoration of the gospel is a letter the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in reply to a request of John Wentworth, editor of a Chicago newspaper. In it, the Prophet wrote a "sketch of the rise, progress, persecution, and faith of the Latter-day Saints." It apparently was the first published account of principal events that occurred in the thirty-six-year period after the Prophet's birth.” (130)

1994 T. Edgar Lyon, Twelfth Annual Joseph Smith Memorial Sermon, Logan L.D.S. Institute of Religion, December 5, 1954. The Annual Joseph Smith Memorial Sermons Presented each year near the birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. at the Logan Institute of Religion 1944-1994 Joseph Smith Memorial Sermons, copyright 1994 by Institute of Religion: Logan, Utah, as enhanced by Infobases, Inc. All rights reserved. Lyon primarily discusses John Wentworth, but also points out the differences between the Wentworth account of the first vision, and the canonized version. [NOTE: It is not clear if this was published in 1954, or possibly 1966; but certainly in 1994]

1992 Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel Ludlow (1992). Sv ‘first vision’ On several occasions between 1832 and 1842, the young Prophet wrote or dictated accounts of the vision, each in a different setting, the last two for publication. Each record omits or adds some details. In 1832, for example, Joseph Smith wrote that prior to his First Vision he searched the scriptures and concluded that no society taught New Testament Christianity (Backman, p. 156; Jessee, p. 5). In the 1838 account he notes that he often said to himself, "Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together?" Later in this same account he parenthetically adds "(for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)" (JS-H 1:10, 18; Jessee, pp. 198, 200).

1992 Did Brigham Young confirm or expound on Joseph Smith’s first vision? Milton V. Backman, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Apr. 1992, 59.

1992 Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, General Conference April 1992. A key document of the restoration of the gospel is a letter the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in reply to a request of John Wentworth, editor of a Chicago newspaper. In the Wentworth letter, the Prophet wrote a "sketch of the rise, progress, persecution, and faith of the Latter-day Saints." (History of the Church, 4:535.) It apparently was the first published account of principal events that occurred in the 36-year-period after the Prophet's birth. The last part of the letter, the Articles of Faith, is a concise statement of fundamental beliefs of the Church. The fact that one heaven-inspired person rather than a council of scholars produced this remarkable document is another evidence of Joseph Smith's divine calling. (See History of the Church, 4:535.)

1992 Milton V. Backman, Jr., “Defender of the First Vision,” in Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: New York. Editors Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman, Jr., Susan Easton Black (Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. 1992): 33-46. Quotes or cites Joseph Smith’s 1832, 1838 accounts, the Wentworth account. Orson Pratt: 1840 pamphlet was the first publication of the first vision. Elder Pratt also spoke of it often, and wrote elsewhere about it: Millennial Star 1849; seven sermons by Elder Pratt: JD 12:353; 7:220; 14:140; 17:279; 22:29; 15. 181; 21. 303 ff.

1992 James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed., rev. and enl. (Deseret Book 1992; first edition 1976): 164. Pratt’s 1840 pamphlet “which contained the first printed account of Joseph Smith's first vision.” (164)

1991 David Whittaker, “Foreword. Responding to the Critics”, Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley: Volume 11. Joseph Smith and the Restored Gospel (FARMS and Deseret Book 1991): ix-xxi. “Recent work has now been done on the now available accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision.” (xvi, citing Paul Cheesman, An Analysis… (MA 1965); Jessee, “The Early Accounts…” (1969); Backman, Joseph Smith’s First Vision (1980 2nd edition); Marvin Hill (Dialogue 1982).

1990 Kent P. Jackson, “Moroni’s Message to Joseph Smith. A look at the verses the angel Moroni quoted to the Prophet Joseph Smith on 21-22 September 1823”, Ensign (August 1990): 12-16. “During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, he wrote or dictated four separate accounts of the appearance of Moroni: one dictated to Frederick G. Williams in 1832; a journal entry in 1835 [November 9]; another, the ‘official’ account, dictated in 1838 [and published 1842]; and the Wentworth Letter, published by the Prophet in 1842.” In the footnote to this list he points out that the 1832, 1838, and Wentworth accounts followed first vision accounts. It is a fact however, that each of the others also followed first vision accounts. He also refers to the Moroni accounts in Orson Pratt’s 1840 pamphlet, and Cowdery’s 1834-5 letters.

Further reading

First Vision Publications