FairMormon Answers Wiki Table of Contents
Question: What differences are there between Joseph Smith's 1832 First Vision account and later accounts?
"At about the age of twelve years my mind become seriously imprest"
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At about the age of twelve years my mind become seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns
of for the wellfare of my immortal Soul which led me to searching the scriptures believeing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God...
"my intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations"
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...thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations led me to marvel excedingly for I discovered that
instead of adorn ing their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository...
"this was a grief to my Soul thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen"
: A religious revival is not mentioned in Joseph Smith's handwritten 1832 First Vision account.
"for I become convicted of my sins....I felt to mourn for my own sins and for the sins of the world"
: Joseph Smith's stated motivation for praying to the Lord changes between the first known account of the First Vision (1832) and the official version of it (1838).
"by searching the scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord"
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...and by searching the scriptures I found that
mand did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament...
"I cried unto the Lord for mercy"
...therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and to obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness...
"in the 16th year of my age"
: In Joseph Smith's 1832 First Vision recital he said that he was "in the 16th year of [his] age" when the manifestation took place but when he created the 1838 account he changed this information to say that he was "in [his] fifteenth year."
"I saw the Lord"
: Joseph Smith says in the official Church history account of the First Vision that directly before the theophany occurred he had a struggle with Satan. But this struggle is not mentioned in his 1832 recital of the experience.
: In the 1832 account of the First Vision—which is in the handwriting of Joseph Smith—it only says that Jesus Christ made an appearance to the Prophet; the Father is missing.
: There seems to be a discrepancy between the location of Deity in the Prophet's 1832 and 1838 First Vision accounts. The 1838 version says that the Prophet saw two Personages standing in the air above the earth, within his proximity. But the 1832 version is not so clear - it seems to locate Deity in heaven.
"thy sins are forgiven thee"
: The 1832 First Vision account does not portray the Lord giving Joseph Smith an injunction against joining any church; it does not portray the Lord as announcing that all the churches were corrupt. These details do not show up until the 1838 account.
: Did Joseph Smith join the Methodist, Presbyterian, or Baptist churches between 1820 and 1830—despite the claim made in his 1838 history that he was forbidden by Deity (during the 1820 First Vision experience) from joining any denomination?
: One critical author states, "Joseph [Smith] added new elements to his later narratives that are not hinted at in his earlier ones. His first vision evolved from a forgiveness epiphany [1832 account] to a call from God the Father and Jesus Christ to restore the true order of things [1842 account]."
"all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life"
: When Jesus Christ speaks to Joseph Smith in the 1832 First Vision account He says that all of those who believe on His name may have eternal life. Does this mean that one receives eternal life regardless of what church they are affiliated with?
"mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth"
: One difference between the 1832 First Vision account and the official 1838 recital is that it portrays Jesus Christ as prophesying that He will return to earth quickly to destroy wicked mortals. The 1838 story makes no mention of the impending doom of this planet's depraved inhabitants.
"I could find none that would believe"
: Joseph Smith's 1832 First Vision account does not say that he was persecuted for relating his spiritual manifestation to others.
"I pondered these things"
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nevertheless I pondered these things in my heart
about that time my mother and but after many days I fell into transgression and sinned in many things which brought a wound upon my soul and there were many things which transpired that cannot be writen and my Fathers family have suffered many persicutions and afflictions and it—came to pass when I was seventeen years of age I called again upon the Lord and he shewed unto me a heavenly vision