Mormonism and Wikipedia/First Vision/Recorded accounts of the vision

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    An analysis of the Wikipedia article "First Vision"

A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: Mormonism and Wikipedia/First Vision
A work by a collaboration of authors (Link to Wikipedia article here)
The name Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. Wikipedia content is copied and made available under the GNU Free Documentation License.
I'm certain that I hold the high ground here.
—Wikipedia editor John Foxe, quoting Edward Everett Hale, during an edit battle on the "First Vision" article (16 May 2007)
∗       ∗       ∗

Recorded accounts of the vision  Updated 9/17/2011

From the Wikipedia article:
The importance of the First Vision within the Latter Day Saint movement evolved over time. There is little evidence that Smith discussed the First Vision publicly prior to 1830.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • "The earliest allusion, oral or written, to the first vision is the brief mention that was transcribed in June 1830 and originally printed in the Book of Commandments." Palmer, 235.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Mormon historian James B. Allen notes that:
The fact that none of the available contemporary writings about Joseph Smith in the 1830s, none of the publications of the Church in that decade, and no contemporary journal or correspondence yet discovered mentions the story of the first vision is convincing evidence that at best it received only limited circulation in those early days.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • James B. Allen, “The Significance of Joseph Smith's First Vision in Mormon Thought,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1 (Autumn 1966), 30. [1]

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources
  • It is worth noting that wiki editor John Foxe originally transcribed the quote from James B. Allen as follows: off-site

"...none of the available contemporary writings about Joseph Smith in the 1830s, none of the Church publications in that decade and no contemporary journal or correspondence yet discovered mentions the story in convincing fashion." (emphasis added)

  • When the altered text was noted by two LDS wiki editors, the quote was corrected and the missing portions were added. "Foxe" responded: "I apologize for what was almost certainly my transcription error. But I think if there's any change of meaning, it's trifling."--John Foxe 10:25, 13 October 2007 (UTC) off-site
  • The meaning was indeed changed in the original transcription—it was written in a way that it made LDS scholar James B. Allen appear to say that he found none of the allusions to the First Vision "convincing." In reality, he was stating that there is convincing evidence that it only received a limited circulation. This is a surprising reinterpretation of the quote for an editor who teaches historical writing and repeatedly claims that "truth is truth regardless of its origin." off-site
  • This section also ignores that by the early 1830s, secular newspapers were reporting that Joseph claimed to have seen God:
LDS missionaries were teaching that Joseph Smith had seen God "personally" and received a commission from Him to teach true religion (The Reflector, vol. 2, no. 13, 14 February 1831).


Reputed discussions in the 1820s

From the Wikipedia article:
Smith said that he made an oblique reference to the vision in 1820 to his mother, telling her the day it happened that he had "learned for [him]self that Presbyterianism is not true."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Roberts (1902)

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
Lucy did not mention this conversation in her memoirs.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Lucy Smith's Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, first published in Liverpool in 1853. EMD, 1: 227.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources
    Lucy's 1845 draft mentions Moroni's visit without discussing the First Vision.
  •  References not included in the Wikipedia article
    Lucy also mentioned Moroni's visit in a letter written in 1831. The Prophet's mother said the "first vision" was of an "angel" 1831 (well before her memoirs) which alluded to the events of the First Vision.

"Joseph, after repenting of his sins and humbling himself before God, was visited by an holy angel whose countenance was as lightning and whose garments were white above all whiteness, who gave unto him commandments which inspired him from on high; and who gave unto him, by the means of which was before prepared, that he should translate this book." (Lucy Smith letter, found in Benjamin E. Rich, ed., Scrapbook of Mormon Literature (Chicago: Henry C. Etten and Co., 1913), 1:543–46.) (emphasis added)


From the Wikipedia article:
In the oldest known full account of the First Vision, Joseph Smith, Jr., said he "could find none that would believe" his experience.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1832) , p. 2

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources
  • From Joseph's 1832 account:

...but [I] could find none that would believe the hevnly vision nevertheless I pondered these things in my heart... off-site


From the Wikipedia article:
He said that shortly after the experience, he told the story of his revelation to a Methodist minister

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • According to Mormon apologist Larry C. Porter, the Methodist minister, George Lane, may have passed very near the Smith home and preached at a camp meeting along the way in July of 1820. "In the pursuit of his ministerial duties Rev. Lane was in the geographical proximity of Joseph Smith on a number of occasions between the years 1819-1825. The nature degree or indeed the actuality of their acquaintanceship during this interval poses a number of interesting possibilities... In July 1820 Lane would have had to pass through the greater Palmyra-Manchester vicinity..unless he went by an extremely circuitous route. Present records do not specify Lane's itinerary or exact route... but they do for Lane's friend, Rev. George Peck... [Peck's] conference route took him north to Ithaca, then on to a camp meeting in the Holland Purchase, subsequently passing along the Ridge Road to Rochester... As Rev. Peck, [Lane] may even have stopped at a camp meeting somewhere along the way. A preacher of his standing would always be a welcome guest." Larry Porter, "Reverend George Lane—Good Gifts Much Grace and Marked Usefulness," BYU Studies, Vol. 9, No. 3 (1969) pp. 321-340. [2] Smith never mentions the name of the minister.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.

    The qualification of Larry C. Porter as a "Mormon apologist" is pejorative. Most readers, who are unfamiliar with the term, interpret "apologist" as one who is "apologizing." Porter's article states: "Mr. Porter is a doctoral candidate in history of religion at Brigham Young University." (Porter, "Reverend George Lane," BYU Studies, Vol. 9, NO. 3 (1969), p. 321)
  •  References not included in the Wikipedia article
    None of Porter's citations are included in the wiki article. The more compelling material from the cited source is not included in the wiki article:

The presence of some 110 ministers and their bishop, Bishop R. R. Roberts at the Genesee Conference meetings representing the New York, Pennsylvania and the Upper and Lower Canada districts must have created at least a moderate stir in the immediate neighborhood. [42] This places Reverend George Lane within a fifteen mile vicinity of Manchester attending the largest Methodist meeting of the year in Western New York among a great number of Methodist ministers at a time when Joseph Smith was aware of "an unusual excitement on the subject of religion" ("some time in the second year [1819] after our removal to Manchester").
Whether or not Joseph attended some of these meetings cannot be determined from any records presently available, but the opportunity cannot be denied—if only to sell confectioneries. [43] To think that the Smiths would not have heard of the gathering is hardly believable.
[42]Minutes of the Annual Conference, 1819, pp. 50-52.
[43]Pomery Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (Palmyra, 1867), p. 12.

  • Although Joseph does not mention the name in his 1832 account, Oliver Cowdery's first installment of Joseph's history in 1834 does mention the name of the minister. Oliver stated when he began writing Joseph's history that he had records in his possession from Joseph himself. This would include his 1832 First Vision account. The following details are mentioned by Oliver, which are entirely consistent with the events described as leading up to the First Vision as described in the account that Joseph wrote four years later in 1838:
  • "...I come to the 15th year of his life..."
  • "...One Mr. Lane, a presiding Elder of the Methodist church, visited Palmyra, and vicinity. Elder Lane was a tallented [talented] man possessing a good share of literary endowments, and apparent humility."
  • "There was a great awakening, or excitement raised on the subject of religion, and much enquiry for the word of life. Large additions were made to the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches."
  • "In this general strife for followers, his mother, one sister, and two of his natural brothers, were persuaded to unite with the Presbyterians."
  • Source text is available here: Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate/Volume 1/Number 3/LETTER III
  • In the next installment of Oliver's history, he claimed that there had been a typographical error and that he would talk about Joseph's 17th year, bringing the date to 1823. He then proceeded to describe the visit of Moroni.
  • For a detailed response, see: First Vision/Accounts/Oliver Cowdery not aware of First Vision in 1834-35


From the Wikipedia article:
who responded "with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there was no such thing as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there never would be any more of them."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1842c) , p. 748 Roberts (1902)

FAIR's analysis:

  • It is interesting to note that an attempt was made by the evangelical editor John Foxe to remove this section, in which Joseph describes his interaction with a Methodist minister, as “unattested Mormon POV.” off-site
  • The word “unattested” means “not bearing the signature of a witness.” Although there is no witness to the conversation between Joseph and the minister, there is a witness that proves that Joseph related the story to others. The following entry from the “Alexander Neibaur Diary” (cited elsewhere in the article) recalls a conversation that Neibaur had with Joseph:

Mr. [Joseph] Smith then asked, "Must I join the Methodist Church?" "No, they are not my people. [They] have gone astray; there is none that doeth good, not one, but this is my Beloved Son, harken ye him." The fire drew nigher, rested upon the tree, enveloped him. Comforted, I endeavored to arise but felt uncommon feeble. [I] got into the house and told the Methodist priest [who] said this was not an age for God to reveal himself in vision. Revelation has ceased with the New Testament.

  • The wiki author’s reason for attempting to remove Joseph’s statement was that “Smith claimed he spoke to a Methodist minister and said he got a reply that no Methodist minister would have given in 1820. That's simple Mormon apologetics because there's no independent confirmation of Smith's improbable story.”—John Foxe (10 September 2007). off-site
  • This is an interesting attitude for this particular editor to take however, since Bob Jones University history professor John Matzko has documented that there was at least one Presybterian minister in the Palmyra area that did "not fit the stereotype." If a Presbyterian minister was in the area that did "not fit the stereotype," then how can one assume that there might not have been a Methodist minister who didn't fit the stereotype as well?[1]
  • We fail to understand how simply repeating what Joseph said becomes "Mormon apologetics." It is a fact that Joseph made this statement.
  • It is an exercise in mind reading to make an assumption regarding what reply a 19th-century Methodist minister “would have given” to a 14-year-old who had claimed to have seen a vision of God, and then impose that "fact" upon the wiki article.


From the Wikipedia article:
He also said that the telling of his vision story "excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Roberts (1902) .

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
There is no extant evidence from the 1830s for this persecution beyond Smith's own testimony.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • James B. Allen, “The Significance of Joseph Smith's First Vision in Mormon Thought,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1 (Autumn 1966), 30. [3] "According to Joseph Smith, he told the story of the vision immediately after it happened in the early spring of 1820. As a result, he said, he received immediate criticism in the community. There is little if any evidence, however, that by the early 1830's Joseph Smith was telling the story in public. At least if he were telling it, no one seemed to consider it important enough to have recorded it at the time, and no one was criticizing him for it."

FAIR's analysis:

  • James B. Allen notes,

…no one seemed to consider it important enough to have recorded it at the time, and no one was criticizing him for it. Not even in his own history did Joseph Smith mention being criticized in this period for telling the story of the first vision. The interest, rather, was in the Book of Mormon and the various angelic visitations connected with its origin…the young prophet said that he had been severely rebuffed the first time he told the story in 1820; and since it represented one of his most profound spiritual experiences, he could well have decided to circulate it only privately until he could feel certain that in relating it he would not receive again the general ridicule of friends. (Allen, p. 30, 34)

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by John Foxe —Diff: off-site

    There are contemporary sources that are not written by Joseph himself that mention persecution. What the wiki editor is really saying is that there is no non-believer who confirms such persecution. One would wonder why any non-believer would find such persecution notable.
  • 1845 Wandle Mace Autobiography, typescript, BYU Special Collections, 45-6 [File Diary Wandle Mace] [dictated to his wife, ends with departure from Nauvoo, 1846] [Born Feb. 19, 1809]

Almost as soon as the father [Joseph Smith, Sr.] and mother [Lucy Smith] of the Prophet Joseph Smith set their feet upon the hospitable shore of Illinois, I became acquainted with them. I frequently visited them and listened with intense interest as they related the history of the rise of the Church in every detail.

With tears they could not withhold, they narrated the story of the persecution of their boy, Joseph, which commenced when he was about fourteen years old, or from the time the angel first visited him. Not only was the boy, Joseph, persecuted but the aged father was harassed and imprisoned on false charges. (emphasis added)


From the Wikipedia article:
None of the earliest anti-Mormon literature mentioned the First Vision.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • James B. Allen, “The Significance of Joseph Smith's First Vision in Mormon Thought,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1 (Autumn 1966), 31. [4]. "Apparently not until 1843, when the New York Spectator printed a reporter's account of an interview with Joseph Smith, did a non-Mormon source publish any reference to the story of the first vision."

FAIR's analysis:

  •  References not included in the Wikipedia article
    Interesting that the statement says "anti-Mormon" rather than "non-Mormon" literature. The statement may be formulated that way because there actually were some possible references in local newspapers.
  • LDS missionaries were teaching with regard to Joseph Smith: "Having repented of his sins, but not attached himself to any party of Christians, owing to the numerous divisions among them, and being in doubt what his duty was, he had recourse [to] prayer" (The Fredonia Censor, vol. 11, no. 50, 7 March 1832).
  • In Richard Abanes' anti-Mormon book Becoming Gods, p. 338 note 71, the author states:

It should be noted that in one 1831 newspaper article about the activities of LDS missionaries (i.e., Oliver Cowdery and three others) there is a vague reference to Smith seeing God. The journalist wrote, "Smith (they affirmed) had seen God frequently and personally" ("God bible No. 4: Book of Mormon," Palmyra Reflector, Feb. 14, 1831). This remark indicates that as early as 1831 Smith might have been starting to privately tell select persons that he had at some point seen God. (emphasis in original)


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith also said he told others about the vision during the 1820s, and some family members said that they had heard him mention it, but none prior to 1823, when Smith said he had his second vision.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Palmer (2002) , p. 245: "There is no evidence of prejudice resulting from this first vision. If his report that 'all the sects...united to persecute me' were accurate, one would expect to find some hint of this in the local newspapers, narratives by ardent critics, and in the affidavits D. P. Hurlbut gathered in 1833. The record is nevertheless silent on this issue. No one, friend or foe, in New York or Pennsylvania remember either that there was 'great persecution' or even that Joseph claimed to have had a vision. Not even his family remembers it."

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
The reminiscences of Smith's family and Palmyra neighbors offer another perspective. In the early 1820s, Smith was enrolled in a Methodist probationary class. An associate called him a "very passable exhorter,"

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Turner (1852) , p. 214

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources
  • From the cited source,

But Joseph had a little ambition, and some very laudable aspirations; the mother's intellect occasionally shone out in him feebly, especially when he used to help us to solve some portentous questions of moral or political ethics, in our juvenile debating club, which we moved down to the old red school-house on Durfee street, to get rid of the annoyance of critics that used to drop in upon us in the village; amid, subsequently, after catching a spark of Methodism in the camp-meeting, away down in the woods, on the Vienna road, he was a very passable exhorter in evening meetings.


From the Wikipedia article:
although some people considered his interpretations of scripture "persistent blasphemies."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Tucker (1876) , p. 18.

FAIR's analysis:

  • Tucker said,

Can their mockeries of Christianity, their persistent blasphemies, be accounted for upon any other hypothesis?


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith reportedly withdrew from the probationary class, announcing a belief that "all sectarianism was fallacious, and the churches on a false foundation."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Tucker (1876) , p. 18.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    A portion of the citation has been omitted which shed light on the source of the information. Pomeroy Tucker was a hostile source, who wrote his account years after these events transpired. It is worth noting that the last part of the sentence (not included in the Wikipedia article) demonstrates that Tucker was embellishing his story. Joseph never proclaimed that the Bible was a "fable."
  • From the cited source,

The final conclusion announced by him [Joseph] was, that all sectarianism was fallacious, all the churches on a false foundation, and the Bible a fable.


From the Wikipedia article:
According to one recollection, Smith "arose and announced that his mission was to restore the true priesthood. He appointed a number of meetings, but no one seemed inclined to follow him as the leader of a new religion."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Mather (1880) , p. 199.

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
Eventually, he refused to attend any religious services, telling his Mother, "I can take my Bible, and go into the woods, and learn more in two hours, than you can learn at meeting in two years, if you should go all the time."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1853) , p. 90.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
During this time, Smith was also hired to use seer stones in attempts to divine hidden treasure. Although Smith encountered local opposition as a result of this "glass looking" and was brought to trial for it in 1826,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Hill (1972) , p. 2.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.

    This sentence has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of the article "First Vision." Its inclusion here is pejorative.
  • For a detailed response, see: Joseph Smith/Legal trials/1826 glasslooking trial


From the Wikipedia article:
no one but Smith recorded opposition to his putative announcement of the First Vision.


FAIR's analysis:

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.

    This subject was discussed earlier in the article. Mentioning it again is pejorative.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    There is no citation to support this assertion, perhaps because it would involve the re-use of earlier citations which would then make obvious the fact that it is mentioned again here simply to reinforce the point.


1830s reference to early Christian regeneration

From the Wikipedia article:
In June 1830, Smith provided the first clear record of a significant personal religious experience prior to the visit of the angel Moroni.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • The account was first published to non-Mormons in 1831. Howe (1831) .

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
At that time, Smith and his associate Oliver Cowdery were establishing the Church of Christ, the first Latter Day Saint church. In the Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ, Smith recounted his early history, noting
For, after that it truly was manifested unto [Smith] that he had received remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world, but after truly repenting, God visited him by an holy angel...and gave unto him power, by the means which was before prepared that he should translate a book."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Howe (1831) .

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources
  • The reference is Eber D. Howe, "The Mormon Creed," published in the Painseville Telegraph Tuesday, April 19, 1831. off-site Howe is well known for his later work Mormonism Unvailed, considered to be one of the first "anti-Mormon" books. Howe states this this history is "from the hand of Martin Harris, one of the original proprietors of the "Gold Bible" speculation." The story correlates well with Joseph's later 1832 account of the first vision and the later visit of Moroni.
  • Here is the complete quote from the cited source,

For, after that it truly was manifested unto the first elder that he had received remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world, but after truly repenting, God visited him by an holy angel, whose countenance was as lightning, and whose garments were pure and white above all whiteness, and gave unto him commandments which inspired him from on high, and gave unto him power, by the means which was before prepared that he should translate a book; (emphasis added)


From the Wikipedia article:
No further explanation of this "manifestation" is provided. Although the reference was later linked to the First Vision,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Allen (1980) , p. 45; Bushman (2005) , pp. 39, 112.

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
its original hearers could have understood the manifestation as simply another of many revival experiences in which the subject testified that his sins had been forgiven.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 39.

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
However, when in October 1830 the author Peter Bauder interviewed Smith for a religious book he was writing, he said Smith was unable to recount a "Christian experience."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bauder (1834) , pp. 36–38.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.

    This is unsurprising, since Peter Bauder was an ardent critic—a fact completely obscured by the wiki article. It should be noted that elsewhere in the wiki article that statements from LDS believers are qualified using the term "apologist," while critic Peter Bauder is simply an "author."
  • Bauder's attitude becomes more apparent when one examines the source. The Wikipedia article lists the source as Bauder, Peter (1834), "The Kingdom and the Gospel of Jesus Christ", in Vogel, Dan, Early Mormon Documents, 1, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996, pp. 16–17. However, the actual title of the document is "The Kingdom and Gospel of Jesus Christ: Contrasted with That of Anti-Christ." It is no small wonder that Bauder didn't grant Joseph Smith a "Christian experience." Bauder states, "...Among these imposters there has one arisen by the name of Joseph Smith, Jr. who commenced his system of church government in this state..."
  • There are many today who do not wish to grant that Latter-day Saints have a "Christian experience."
  • For a detailed response, see: Jesus Christ/Accusations that Mormons aren't Christians


1832 Joseph Smith account

From the Wikipedia article:
The earliest extant account of the First Vision was handwritten by Joseph Smith in 1832, but it was not published until 1965.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • "One of the most significant documents of that period yet discovered was brought to light in 1965 by Paul R. Cheesman, a graduate student at Brigham Young University. This is a handwritten manuscript apparently composed about 1833 and either written or dictated by Joseph Smith. It contains an account of the early experiences of the Mormon prophet and includes the story of the first vision. While the story varies in some details from the version presently accepted, enough is there to indicate that at least as early as 1833 Joseph Smith contemplated writing and perhaps publishing it. The manuscript has apparently lain in the L.D.S. Church Historian’s office for many years, and yet few if any who saw it realized its profound historical significance." James B. Allen, “The Significance of Joseph Smith's First Vision in Mormon Thought,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1 (Autumn 1966). [5].

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
[T]he Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in <the> attitude of calling upon the Lord <in the 16th year of my age> a pillar of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph <my son> thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy <way> walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life <behold> the world lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned aside from the gospel and keep not <my> commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them according to th[e]ir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which <hath> been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Ap[o]stles behold and lo I come quickly as it [is] written of me in the cloud <clothed> in the glory of my Father . . . ."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1832) , p. 2. Angle brackets indicate insertions by Smith.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    For some reason, the wiki editors ignore the strikeouts within the source text. Thus, we get "fire light" instead of noting that Joseph wrote the word "fire," then crossed it out and replaced it with the word "light."
the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in the attitude of calling upon the Lord in the 16th year of my age a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy way walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life behold the world lieth in Sin and at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the gospel and keep not my commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to th[e]ir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which hath been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Ap[o]stles behold and lo I come quickly as it [is] written of me in the cloud clothed in the glory of my Father...


From the Wikipedia article:
Unlike Smith's later accounts of the vision, the 1832 account emphasizes personal forgiveness and mentions neither an appearance of God the Father nor the phrase "This is my beloved Son, hear him." In the 1832 account, Smith also stated that before he experienced the First Vision, his own searching of the Scriptures had led him to the conclusion that mankind had "apostatized from the true and living faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Joseph Smith History, 1832, EMD, 1:28.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.

    The wiki editors fail to note that some of the later accounts continued to indicate that Joseph sought or received a forgiveness of sins.
  • From the 1832 account: "...another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee..." Diary of Joseph Smith, p. 23.
  • From Orson Pratt's account: "...and saw two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in their features or likeness. He was informed that his sins were forgiven..." A Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, p. 5.


1834 account by Oliver Cowdery

From the Wikipedia article:
In several issues of the LDS periodical Messenger and Advocate (1834–35),

Wikipedia footnotes:

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
Oliver Cowdery wrote an early biography of Joseph Smith, Jr. In one issue, Cowdery explained that Smith was confused by the different religions and local revivals during his "15th year" (1820), leading him to wonder which church was true. In the next issue of the biography, Cowdery explained that reference to Smith's "15th year" was a typographical error, and that actually the revivals and religious confusion took place in Smith's "17th year."


FAIR's analysis:

  • Oliver's account was split across two issues. In the first installment, he is clearly describing the events leading up to the First Vision, and he was in possession of Joseph's 1832 First Vision account. Here is what Oliver says in the first installment:
  • "...I come to the 15th year of his life..."
  • "...One Mr. Lane, a presiding Elder of the Methodist church, visited Palmyra, and vicinity. Elder Lane was a tallented [talented] man possessing a good share of literary endowments, and apparent humility."
  • "There was a great awakening, or excitement raised on the subject of religion, and much enquiry for the word of life. Large additions were made to the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches."
  • See: Primary source: Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate/Volume 1/Number 3/LETTER III
  • For a detailed response, see: Joseph Smith's First Vision/Accounts/Oliver Cowdery not aware of First Vision in 1834-35


From the Wikipedia article:
Therefore, according to Cowdery, the religious confusion led Smith to pray in his bedroom, late on the night of September 23, 1823, after the others had gone to sleep, to know which of the competing denominations was correct and whether "a Supreme being did exist." In response, an angel appeared and granted him forgiveness of his sins. The remainder of the story roughly parallels Smith's later description of a visit by an angel in 1823 who told him about the Golden Plates. Thus, Cowdery's account, containing a single vision, differs from Smith's 1832 account, which contains two separate visions, one in 1821 prompted by religious confusion (the First Vision) and a separate one regarding the plates on September 22, 1822. Cowdery's account also differs from Smith's 1842 account, which includes a First Vision in 1820 and a second vision on September 22, 1823.


FAIR's analysis:


1835 Joseph Smith accounts

From the Wikipedia article:
On November 9, 1835, Smith dictated an account of the First Vision in his diary after telling it to a stranger

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • The stranger was Robert Matthias, a religious con-artist using the alias "Joshua the Jewish minister".

FAIR's analysis:

a personage appeard in the midst of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testified unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and I saw many angels in this vision I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication;
Diary of Joseph Smith, Jr. (1835-1836)


From the Wikipedia article:
who had visited his home earlier that day.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1835) , pp. 22–24.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith said that when perplexed about religions matters, he had gone to a grove to pray

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1835) , p. 23.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
but that his tongue seemed swollen in his mouth and that he had been interrupted twice by the sound of someone walking behind him.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1835) , pp. 23–24.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
Finally, as he prayed, he said his tongue was loosed, and he saw a pillar of fire in which an unidentified "personage" appeared.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1835) , p. 24.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
Then another unidentified personage told Smith his sins were forgiven and "testified unto [Smith] that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1835) , p. 24.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
An interlineation in the text notes, "and I saw many angels in this vision."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1835) , p. 24.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith said this vision occurred when he was 14 years old and that when he was 17, he "saw another vision of angels in the night season after I had retired to bed" (referring to the later visit of the angel Moroni who showed him the location of the golden plates).

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1835) , p. 24.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
  • Smith identified none of these personages or angels with "the Lord" as he had in 1832.

Wikipedia footnotes:
  • Abanes, 16; [http://www.irr.org/mit/First-Vision-Scans/first-vision-1835A.html the 1835 account]. In 1835, Smith approved the Lectures on Faith, an orderly presentation of Mormonism (probably by Sidney Rigdon) in which it was taught that although Jesus Christ had a tangible body of flesh, God the Father was a spiritual presence—a view not out of harmony with orthodox Christian belief. The Lectures on Faith were canonized as scripture by the LDS Church and included as part of the Doctrine and Covenants until de-canonized after 1921. (Bushman, 283-84.)
FAIR's analysis:

From the Wikipedia article:
A few days later, on 14 November 1835, Smith told the story to another visitor, Erastus Holmes.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1835) , p. 35.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
In his journal, Smith said that he had recited his life story "up to the time I received the first visitation of angels, which was when I was about fourteen years old."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1835) , pp. 35–36. When LDS Historian B.H. Roberts included this account into his History of the Church, 2: 312, he changed the words "first visitation of angels" to "first vision."

FAIR's analysis:


1838 Joseph Smith History

From the Wikipedia article:
In 1838, Joseph Smith began dictating the early history of what later became known as the Latter Day Saint movement.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • The original 1838 manuscript has been lost, but the account was copied to manuscripts dating from 1839, which indicates that the year of writing was 1838, a fact also confirmed by Smith's journal entries. See Jessee (1969) , pp. 6–7.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    The term "Latter-day Saint movement" is self-referential—as far as we are aware, the term was created in Wikipedia itself. The citation does not support this.
  • For a detailed response, see: First Vision/Accounts/1838


From the Wikipedia article:
This history included a new account of the First Vision, later published in three issues of the Times and Seasons journal.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Times and Seasons, March and April, v3 no9, and v3 no 11

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
This version was later incorporated into the Pearl of Great Price, which was canonized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1880. Thus, it is often called the "canonized version" of the first vision story.


FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
This canonized version differs from the 1840 version because the canonized version includes the proclamation "This is my beloved son, hear him" from one of the personages, whereas the 1840 version does not. The canonized version says that in the spring of 1820, during a period of "confusion and strife among the different denominations" following an "unusual excitement on the subject of religion", he had debated which of the various Christian groups he should join. While in turmoil, he read from the Bible: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • James 1: 5; Joseph Smith's [[s:Pearl of Great Price/History#Template:!History]], an account of his First Vision.

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
One morning, deeply impressed by this scripture, the fourteen-year-old Smith went to a grove of trees behind the family farm, knelt, and began his first vocal prayer. Almost immediately he was confronted by an evil power that prevented speech. A darkness gathered around him, and Smith believed that he would be destroyed. He continued the prayer silently, asking for God's assistance though still resigned to destruction. At this moment a light brighter than the sun descended towards him, and he was delivered from the evil power.


FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
In the light, Smith "saw two personages standing in the air", identified as God the Father and Jesus Christ. One pointed to the other and said "This is My Beloved Son, hear Him." Smith asked which religious sect he should join and was told to join none of them because all existing religions had corrupted the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Wikipedia footnotes:

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    Although the Church certainly identifies the personages as God the Father and Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith does not identify them as such in his 1838 account. To state that Joseph explicitly identified them as such in his 1838 account is incorrect.
  • From the cited source,

I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved gSon. Hear Him!

  • For a detailed response, see: Apostasy


1840 Orson Pratt Version

From the Wikipedia article:
In September 1840, Orson Pratt published a version of the First Vision in England.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, Orson Pratt, Ballantyne and Huges publ, 1840 (reprinted in Jessee, v1 p 149-160)

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
This version states that after Smith saw the light, "his mind was caught away, from the natural objects with which he was surrounded; and he was enwrapped in a heavenly vision."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Pratt (1840) , p. 5

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
Pratt's account referred to "two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in their features or likeness",

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Pratt 1840 5,

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
but this account does not include the proclamation by one of the personages "This is my beloved son, hear him", which is found in the canonized version.


FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


1842 Wentworth Letter

From the Wikipedia article:
In 1842, two years before his assassination, Joseph Smith, Jr. wrote to John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, outlining the basic beliefs of the Latter Day Saint movement and including an account of the First Vision.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1842a) , pp. 706–710.

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith said that he had been "about fourteen years of age" when he had received the First Vision

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1842a) , pp. 706

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
Like the Orson Pratt account, Smith's Wentworth letter said that his "mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1842a) , pp. 706

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
and had seen "two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features, and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noon-day."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1842a) , pp. 707

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith said he was told that no religious denomination "was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom" and that he was "expressly commanded to 'go not after them.'"

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1842a) , pp. 707

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources
  • From the 1838 account:

When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!


Smith's accounts found in later reminiscences

From the Wikipedia article:
Late in his life, Smith's brother, William, gave two accounts of the First Vision, dating it to 1823,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1883) , pp. 6, 7–8

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
when William was twelve years old. William said the religious excitement in Palmyra had occurred in 1822-23 (rather than the actual date of 1824-25),

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Persuitte (2000) , p. 26

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.

    The wiki editor has stated the conclusion that "religious excitement" in Palmyra could only have occurred in 1824-1825 as if it were an indisputable fact. This is the opinion of the author, Persuitte.
  • For an analysis of David Persuitte's critical work, see A FAIR Analysis of Joseph Smith and the Origins of The Book of Mormon. Persuitte uses as his source a critical work by Presbyterian minister Wesley P. Walters, who claims that there was no religious revival activity between 1819 and 1823 in Palmyra.


From the Wikipedia article:
that it was stimulated by the preaching of a Methodist, the Rev. George Lane, a "great revival preacher," and that his mother and some of his siblings had then joined the Presbyterian church.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1883) , p. 6

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Correct, per cited sources


From the Wikipedia article:
William Smith said he based his account on what Joseph had told William and the rest of his family the day after the First Vision:

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1883) , pp. 6, 8–9

FAIR's analysis:

  • William also adds that, "A more elaborate and accurate description of [Joseph Smith's] vision, however, will be found in his own history" (William B. Smith, William Smith on Mormonism [Lamoni, IA: Herald Steam Book and Job Office, 1883], 9).


From the Wikipedia article:
[A] light appeared in the heavens, and descended until it rested upon the trees where he was. It appeared like fire. But to his great astonishment, did not burn the trees. An angel then appeared to him and conversed with him upon many things. He told him that none of the sects were right; but that if he was faithful in keeping the commandments he should receive, the true way should be made known to him; that his sins were forgiven, etc.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1883) , pp. 6, 8–9

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


From the Wikipedia article:
In an 1884 account, William also stated that when Joseph first saw the light above the trees in the grove, he fell unconscious for an undetermined amount of time, after which he awoke and heard "the personage whom he saw" speak to him.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1884)

FAIR's analysis:
 FAIR WIKI EDITORS: Check sources


Notes

  1. John A. Matzko, "The Encounter of Young Joseph Smith with Presbyterianism," Dialogue 40/3 (2007): 75.

References

Wikipedia references for "First Vision"
  • Abanes, Richard, (2002), One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church , New York: Four Walls Eight Windows .
  • Allen, James B., (1980), Emergence of a Fundamental: The Expanding Role of Joseph Smith's First Vision in Mormon Religious Thought off-site .
  • Allen, James B., (1966), The Significance of Joseph Smith's First Vision in Mormon Thought off-site .
  • Anderson, Richard Lloyd, Joseph Smith’s Testimony of the First Vision off-site .
  • Anderson, Richard Lloyd, (1969), Circumstantial Confirmation Of the first Vision Through Reminiscences off-site .
  • Backman, Milton V., Jr., (1969), Awakenings in the Burned-over District: New Light on the Historical Setting of the first Vision off-site .
  • Berge, Dale L., Archaeological Work at the Smith Log House off-site .
  • Bauder, Peter, Vogel, Dan (editor) (1834), Early Mormon Documents , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Bitton, Davis, (1994), Historical Dictionary of Mormonism , Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press .
  • Brown, Matthew B., Historical or Hysterical— Anti-Mormons and Documentary Sources Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research off-site .
  • Bushman, Richard Lyman, (2005), Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling , New York: Knopf .
  • Cowdery, Oliver, Far West Record: Minutes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1844 , Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company .
  • Cowdery, Oliver, (1834), Letter III off-site .
  • Cowdery, Oliver, (1835), Letter IV off-site .
  • Flake, Kathleen, (2004), The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle University of North Carolina Press .
  • Hill, Marvin S., (1980), The First Vision Controversy: A Critique and Reconciliation .
  • Howard, Richard P., (1980), Joseph Smith's First Vision: The RLDS Tradition off-site .
  • Howe, Eber Dudley, ed., The Mormon Creed off-site .
  • Jessee, Dean (1989), The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings {{{pages}}}
  • Jessee, Dean C., (Spring, 1971), How Lovely was the Morning off-site .
  • Jessee, Dean C., (1969), Early Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision .
  • Mormon History off-site .
  • Mack, Solomon, (1811), A Narraitve [sic] of the Life of Solomon Mack Windsor: Solomon Mack off-site .
  • Matzko, John A., (2007), The Encounter of the Young Joseph Smith with Presbyterianism .
  • McKune, Joshua, Review of Mormonism: Rejoiner to Elder Cadwell off-site .
  • Neibaur, Alexander, (1841–48), Journal of Alexander Neibaur off-site .
  • Palmer, Grant H., (2002), An Insider's View of Mormon Origins Signature Books .
  • Phelps, W.W., ed., (1833), A Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ , Zion: William Wines Phelps & Co. off-site .
  • Porter, Larry C., (1969), Reverend George Lane—Good "Gifts", Much "Grace", and Marked "Usefulness" off-site .
  • Pratt, Orson, (1840), A Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records , Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Hughes off-site .
  • Quinn, D. Michael, (1998), Early Mormonism and the Magic World View Signature Books .
  • Ray, Craig N., (2002), Joseph Smith's History Confirmed Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research off-site .
  • Riley, I. Woodbridge, (1903), The Founder of Mormonism: A Psychological Study of Joseph Smith, Jr. , New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. off-site
  • Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1902), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints LDS Church off-site .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., Jessee, Dean C (editor) (1832), Personal Writings of Joseph Smith , Salt Lake City: Deseret Book off-site .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., Jessee, Dean C (editor) (1835), Personal Writings of Joseph Smith , Salt Lake City: Deseret Book off-site .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., (1838), History of the Church , copied to Jessee, Dean C (editor) (1839–1843), Personal Writings of Joseph Smith Deseret Book .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., (1842a), Church History [Wentworth Letter] off-site .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., (1842b), History of Joseph Smith off-site .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., (1842c), History of Joseph Smith off-site .
  • Smith, Lucy Mack, (1853), Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations , Liverpool: S.W. Richards off-site .
  • Smith, William, (1883), William Smith on Mormonism: A True Account of the Origin of the Book of Mormon , Lamoni, Iowa: RLDS Church off-site .
  • Smith, William, (1884), The Old Soldier's Testimony off-site .
  • Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1987 (5th ed)), Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? {{{pages}}}
  • Taylor, John, How a Knowledge of God is Obtained—The Gospel to the Dead—Various Dispensations of the Most High to Mankind—Power of the Priesthood—Restoration of the Gospel Through Joseph Smith—Failings of the Saints—Corruptions of the Wicked off-site .
  • Tucker, Pomeroy, (1867), Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism , New York: D. Appleton off-site .
  • Turner, Orasmus, (1851), History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, and Morris' Reserve , Rochester, New York: William Alling off-site .
  • Vogel, Dan (editor) (1996), Early Mormon Documents , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Vogel, Dan (editor) (1999), Early Mormon Documents , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Vogel, Dan (editor) (2000), Early Mormon Documents , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Vogel, Dan (editor) (2002), Early Mormon Documents , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Vogel, Dan (editor) (2003), Early Mormon Documents , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Vogel, Dan, (2004), Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Waite, David Nye, Sr., The Prairies, Nauvoo, Joseph Smith, the Temple, the Mormons &c off-site .

Further reading

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