Joseph Smith's First Vision/Accounts/Further Reading

Table of Contents <onlyinclude>

Further reading

Further reading

FairMormon Answers articles

Joseph Smith's First Vision

Summary: Joseph Smith's claim that he saw the Father and the Son in 1820 has produced a wide variety of criticism. This set of articles addresses the various critical claims related to the First Vision. The linked articles below are designed to help readers to see some of the weaknesses that are found in arguments that are made against Joseph Smith's First Vision accounts. Some of these arguments are currently being advocated in anti-Mormon literature that is handed out near the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York.

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Joseph Smith: Other visionary experiences

Topics

Moroni's visit (summary)

Joseph Smith's early conception of God

Personages who appeared to Joseph Smith

Swedenborg and three degrees of glory


Mormonism and the Nature of God

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Mormon beliefs regarding the characteristics of God

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Elohim and Jehovah in Mormonism

Summary: It is claimed that Elohim, Jehovah, Adonai and other similar Old Testament Hebrew names for deity are simply different titles which emphasize different attributes of the "one true God." In support of this criticism, they cite Old Testament scriptures that speak of "the LORD [Jehovah] thy God [Elohim]" (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:2; 4:35; 6:4) as proof that these are different titles for the same God.

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God's knowledge

Summary: Most Latter-day Saints hold to unlimited foreknowledge. This has been the traditional view of most Christians since the post-New Testament period, and it is one doctrine that Joseph Smith didn't seem to question, as there are no revelations that address it. Indeed, it appears that most LDS leaders and scholars simply haven't questioned its veracity.

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Mormonism and biblical statements that "God is a Spirit"

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Joseph Smith's King Follett discourse on the nature of God

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Do Latter-day Saints actually believe in a practice called "Celestial sex"?

Summary: Mormonism and the nature of God/"Celestial sex"

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Criticisms regarding the character of God

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Mormonism and the belief in the corporeality of God

Summary: Some Christians object to the Mormon belief that God has a physical body and human form by quoting scripture which says that "God is not a man" (e.g. Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Hosea 11:9).

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Early teachings about God in the Book of Mormon, from Joseph Smith, and among Church members

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Early Mormon beliefs regarding the nature of God

Summary: Some evangelical Christians attempt to show that the LDS idea of deification is unbiblical, unchristian and untrue. They seem to think that this doctrine is the main reason why the LDS reject the Psychological Trinity.

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Lecture of Faith 5 teaches the Father is "a personage of spirit"

Summary: Lectures on Faith, which used to be part of the Doctrine and Covenants, teach that God is a spirit. Joseph Smith's later teachings contradict this. More generally, critics argue that Joseph Smith taught an essentially "trinitarian" view of the Godhead until the mid 1830s, thus proving the Joseph was "making it up" as he went along.

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Brigham Young's Adam-God theory

Summary: Brigham Young taught that Adam, the first man, was God the Father. Since this teaching runs counter to the story told in Genesis and commonly accepted by Christians, critics accuse Brigham of being a false prophet. Also, because modern Latter-day Saints do not believe Brigham's "Adam-God" teachings, critics accuse Mormons of either changing their teachings or rejecting teachings of prophets they find uncomfortable or unsupportable.

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Mormon belief in the deification of Man

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Latter-day Saint views of the Trinity

Summary: A collection of articles that address the Latter-day Saint view of the concept of the Trinity.

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Early Mormon beliefs regarding the nature of God

Summary: Some evangelical Christians attempt to show that the LDS idea of deification is unbiblical, unchristian and untrue. They seem to think that this doctrine is the main reason why the LDS reject the Psychological Trinity.

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Mormons and the Nicene Creed

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Theodicy: The Problem of Evil

Summary: This page discusses the problem of evil—can one believe in a good, just, loving God when one considers all the suffering and evil in the world?

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Why would a loving God allow the death of innocents?

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How Mormons worship God

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Mormonism and the multiplicity of gods

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Mormonism and the concept of infinite regress of gods

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Mormons, polytheism and the Nicene Creed

Summary: Some non-LDS Christian claim that Latter-day Saints are polytheists because we don't believe the Nicene Creed. Others say Mormons are polytheists because they believe humans can become gods. Is this an accurate characterization of LDS belief?

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Man's interaction with God

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Mormonism and biblical statements that no man has seen God

Summary: It is claimed by some that the Bible teaches that God cannot be seen by mortals, and that therefore claims by Joseph Smith and others to have seen God the Father or Jesus Christ must be false. The most commonly used Biblical citation invoked by those who make this assertion is John 1:18, which reads “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

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Mormon belief in a female divine "Heavenly Mother"

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FairMormon web site

First Vision FairMormon articles on-line
  • Craig Ray, "Joseph Smith's History Confirmed," (Mesa, Arizona: FAIR, August 2002) FairMormon link (Key source)


External links

First Vision on-line articles

Primary sources

On-line articles about the First Vision

  • James B. Allen, "The Significance of Joseph Smith’s ‘First Vision’ in Mormon Thought," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 1 no. 3 (Fall 1966), 29–45. off-site
  • James B. Allen and Leonard J. Arrington, "Mormon Origins in New York: An Introductory Analysis," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (Spring 1969), 241–74. off-site
  • Richard L. Anderson, "The Reliability of the Early History of Lucy and Joseph Smith," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 4 no. 2 (Summer 1969), 13–28. off-site
  • Richard L. Anderson, "Circumstantial Confirmation of the First Vision through Reminiscences," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (1969), 1–27. PDF link
  • Richard L. Anderson, "Joseph Smith’s Home Environment," Ensign (July 1971), 57–59. off-site
  • Richard L. Anderson, "‘Of Goodly Parents’," New Era (December 1973), 34–39. off-site
  • Richard L. Anderson, "Joseph Smith’s Testimony of the First Vision," Ensign (April 1996), 10–21. off-site
  • Carlos E. Asay, "‘Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning!’: Joseph Smith’s First Prayer and the First Vision," Ensign (April 1995), 44–49. off-site
  • Milton V. Backman Jr., "Awakenings in the Burned-over District: New Light on the Historical Setting of the First Vision," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (1969), 301. PDF link
  • Milton V. Backman Jr. and James B. Allen, "Membership of Certain of Joseph Smith’s Family in the Western Presbyterian Church of Palmyra," Brigham Young University Studies 10 no. 4 (Summer 1970), 482–84. off-site
  • Milton V. Backman, Jr., "Joseph Smith's Recitals of the First Vision," Ensign (January 1985), 8. off-site
  • Milton V. Backman, Jr., "Confirming Witnesses of the First Vision," Ensign (January 1986), 32. off-site
  • Milton V. Backman Jr., "I Have A Question: Did Brigham Young Confirm or Expound on Joseph Smith’s First Vision?," Ensign (April 1992), 59–60. off-site
  • Milton V. Backman, "First Vision," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 2:515–516. off-site
  • Ronald O. Barney, "The First Vision: Searching for the Truth," Ensign (January 2005), 14–19. off-site
  • Dale L. Berge, "Archeological Work at the Smith Log House," Ensign (August 1985), 24–26. off-site
  • Davis Bitton, "[review of Richard P. Howard, The Church through the Years, vol. 1,]," Brigham Young University Studies 33 no. 3 (Summer 1993), 607–608. off-site
  • Hoyt W. Brewster Jr., "I Have A Question: What Was There in the Creeds of Men that the Lord Found Abominable, as He Stated in the First Vision?”," Ensign (July 1987), 65–67. off-site
  • Richard L. Bushman, "The First Vision Story Revived," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 4 no. 1 (Spring 1969), 82–93. off-site
  • Richard L. Bushman, "Just the Facts Please (Review of Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record by H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters)," FARMS Review of Books 6/2 (1994): 122–133. off-site
  • Richard L. Bushman, "The Visionary World of Joseph Smith," Brigham Young University Studies 37 no. 1 (1997–98), 183–204. off-site
  • Church Educational System, “Additional Details from Joseph Smith’s 1832 Account of the First Vision,” in Presidents of the Church: Student Manual (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003), 5–6.
  • Church Educational System, “The First Vision,” in Church History in the Fullness of Times: Student Manual (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003), 29–36. off-site
  • Richard H. Cracroft, "Rendering the Ineffable Effable: Treating Joseph Smith’s First Vision in Imaginative Literature," Brigham Young University Studies 36 no. 2 (1996–97), 93–116. off-site
  • Peter Crawley, “A Comment on Joseph Smith’s Account of His First Vision and the 1820 Revival,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 6, no. 1 (Spring 1971), 106–107.
  • Donald L. Enders, "A Snug Log House," Ensign (August 1985), 14–23. off-site
  • Donald L. Enders, "The Sacred Grove," Ensign (April 1990), 14–17. off-site
  • James E. Faust, "The Magnificent Vision Near Palmyra," Ensign (May 1984), 67–69. off-site
  • Marvin S. Hill, "A Note on Joseph Smith’s First Vision and Its Import in the Shaping of Early Mormonism," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 12 no. 1 (Spring 1979), 90–99. off-site
  • Marvin S. Hill, "The First Vision Controversy: A Critique and Reconciliation," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 no. 2 (Summer 1982), 31–46. off-site
  • Dean C. Jessee, "The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (Spring 1969), 279–80.
  • Dean C. Jessee, "The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision (1831–1839)," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (Spring 1969), 275–296.
  • Dean C. Jessee, "The Earliest Documented Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision," in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations 1820–1844 (Documents in Latter-day Saint History), edited by John W. Welch with Erick B. Carlson, (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press / Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 2005), 1–33. ISBN 0842526072. This book has recently been reprinted, in paperback. BYU Studies and Deseret Book (July 13, 2011)
  • Melvin J. Peterson, "“I Have A Question: Does D&C 84:19–22 Indicate that a Person Has to Have the Melchizedek Priesthood in Order to See God? Joseph Smith Didn’t Have the Priesthood at the Time of the First Vision," Ensign (December 1985), 60–61. off-site
  • Paul H. Peterson, "[review of Marquardt and Walters, Inventing Mormonism,]," Brigham Young University Studies 35 no. 4 (1995–96), 209–15. off-site
  • Larry C. Porter, "Reverend George Lane—Good ‘Gifts,’ Much ‘Grace,’ and Marked ‘Usefulness,’," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (Spring 1969), 321–40. off-site
  • Larry C. Porter, "Reinventing Mormonism: To Remake or Redo (Review of Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record by H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters)," FARMS Review of Books 7/2 (1995): 123–143. off-site
  • Larry C. Porter, "Solomon Chamberlain’s Missing Pamphlet: Dreams, Visions, and Angelic Ministrants," Brigham Young University Studies 37 no. 2 (1997–98), 113–29. off-site
  • D. Michael Quinn, "Joseph Smith's Experience of a Methodist 'Camp-Meeting'," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought - Dialogue Paperless: E-Paper #3 (12 July 2006), PDF link
  • Joseph Fielding Smith, "I Have A Question: What evidences do we have to substantiate the First Vision of Joseph Smith?," Ensign (October 1987), 58–59. off-site See also original version in Joseph Fielding Smith, Improvement Era (February 1960), 80–81.
  • Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1996), 1–4. LDS link
  • Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Fruits of the First Vision," Ensign (May 2005), 36–38. off-site
  • Elden Watson, "Joseph Smith's First Vision—A Harmony";—complete text of all Joseph Smith's accounts on-line off-site  (Key source)
  • Elden Watson, "Joseph Smith's First Vision (introduction)" off-site
Joseph Smith other visionary issues on-line links
  • Dean C. Jessee, "Early Accounts of Joseph Smith (1831–1839)," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (1969), 275–294. PDF link
  • David L. Paulsen, "The Doctrine of Divine Embodiment: Restoration, Judeo-Christian, and Philosophical Perspectives," Brigham Young University Studies 35 no. 4 (1995–96), 6–94. PDF link (Key source)

Printed material

First Vision printed materials
  • James B. Allen, "The Emergence of a Fundamental: The Expanding Role of Joseph Smith’s First Vision in Mormon Thought," Journal of Mormon History 7 (1980): 437–461.
  • James B. Allen, "Eight Contemporary Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision–What Do We Learn From Them?," Improvement Era (April 1970), 4–13.
  • Richard L. Anderson, “Alvin Smith,” in Kyle R. Walker, ed., United By Faith: The Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family (American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 2005), 83–121.
  • Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana and Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press; Reprint edition, 1987), 56. ISBN 0252060121.
  • Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 30–56.
  • James B. Allen and John W. Welch, "The Appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith in 1820," in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations 1820–1844 (Documents in Latter-day Saint History), edited by John W. Welch with Erick B. Carlson, (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press / Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 2005), 35–75. ISBN 0842526072. This book has recently been reprinted, in paperback. BYU Studies and Deseret Book (July 13, 2011) See also BYU Studies version: PDF link
  • Milton V. Backman, Joseph Smith’s First Vision: The first vision in its historical context (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971).
  • Milton V. Backman Jr., Joseph Smith’s First Vision: Confirming Evidences and Contemporary Accounts, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980).
  • Milton V. Backman Jr., Joseph Smith’s First Vision: Cornerstone of a Latter-day Faith,” in Robert L. Millet, ed., To Be Learned Is Good, If... (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987), 21–41.
  • Milton V. Backman Jr., “Lo, Here! Lo, There! Early in the Spring of 1820,” in Larry C. Porter and Susan Easton Black, eds., The Prophet Joseph: Essays on the Life and Mission of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), 19–35.
  • Milton V. Backman Jr., “Verification of the 1838 Account of the First Vision,” in H. Donl Peterson and Charles D. Tate Jr., eds., The Pearl of Great Price: Revelations from God (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1989), 237–48.
  • Milton V. Backman Jr., "Defender of the First Vision [Elder Orson Pratt]," in Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman, Jr., and Susan Easton Black, eds., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: New York and Pennsylvania (Provo: BYU Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1992), 33–48.
  • Donald Q. Cannon, "Palmyra, New York: 1820–1830," in Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman, Jr., and Susan Easton Black, eds., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: New York and Pennsylvania (Provo: BYU Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1992), 1–13.
  • Larry E. Dahl, “The Theological Significance of the First Vision,” in Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Volume 2: The Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985), 315–37.
  • Donald L. Enders, “The Joseph Smith Sr., Family: Farmers of the Genesee,” in Susan Easton Black and Charles D. Tate Jr., eds., Joseph Smith: The Prophet, The Man (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1993), 213–25.
  • Kent P. Jackson, “The First Vision,” in Kent P. Jackson, From Apostasy to Restoration (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 66–79.
  • Kent P. Jackson, “Lessons from the Sacred Grove,” in Kent P. Jackson, From Apostasy to Restoration (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 80–89.
  • Dean C. Jessee, "The Earliest Documented Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision," in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations 1820–1844 (Documents in Latter-day Saint History), edited by John W. Welch with Erick B. Carlson, (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press / Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 2005), 1–33. ISBN 0842526072. This book has recently been reprinted, in paperback. BYU Studies and Deseret Book (July 13, 2011) (Key source) See also BYU Studies version: PDF link
  • Dean C. Jessee, The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision (Mormon Miscellaneous reprint series) (Mormon Miscellaneous, 1984).
  • Dean C. Jessee (editor), The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Vol. 1 of 2) (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1989), 6–7, 127, 272–73, 429–30, 444, and 448–49.. ISBN 0875791999
  • Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, [original edition] (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1984), 5–6, 75–76, 199–200, 213. ISBN 0877479747. GL direct link
  • Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002), 9–20.  (Key source)
  • Dean C. Jessee, “The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” in Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Volume 2: The Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985), 303–314.
  • Neal E. Lambert and Richard H. Cracroft, “Literary Form and Historical Understanding: Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” Journal of Mormon History, vol. 7 (1980), 31–42.
  • Truman G. Madsen, “The First Vision and Its Aftermath,” in Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989), 7–18.
  • Adele Brannon McCollum, “The First Vision: Re-Visioning Historical Experience,” in Neal E. Lambert, ed., Literature of Belief: Sacred Scripture and Religious Experience (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1981), 177–96.
  • Hugh W. Nibley, Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass: The Art of Telling Tales About Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Vol. 11 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by David J. Whittaker, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991),55–101. ISBN 0875795161. GL direct link
  • Larry C. Porter, “The Youth of the Grove and the Prophet of the Restoration,” in Susan Easton Black and Andrew C. Skinner, eds., Joseph: Exploring the Life and Ministry of the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 36–46.
  • John W. Welch, “‘All Their Creeds Were an Abomination’: A Brief Look at Creeds as Part of the Apostasy,” in Fred E. Woods, et al., eds., Prelude to the Restoration: From Apostasy to the Restored Church (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and BYU Religious Studies Center, 2004), 228–49.
Joseph Smith other visionary issues printed works
  • Hugh W. Nibley, Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass: The Art of Telling Tales About Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Vol. 11 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by David J. Whittaker, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), 1. ISBN 0875795161. GL direct link