More on the "First Vision".  What really happened?.

Who did Joseph Smith see?  Was it God the Father and Jesus Christ as the Official version
maintains (1838)? Or only Christ as Joe wrote in 1832 (Ledger Version)?

Or two unnamed personages with angels, as he wrote in the 1835
(Diary Version)? Or one or more angels, as Smith's inspired
successors, Brigham Young and John Taylor, maintain? [See Journal of
Discourses 2:171, 13:78, 18:329, 20:167].

It's hard to keep all these versions straight, you guys.


A few weeks ago, I forwarded some dialogue from ARM about the "first vision."
This looks like a good place to repeat it for the newcomers:

A Mormon had claimed that the Tanners "had lied through their teeth" when
they repeated Wesley Walters' research which showed that there had been no
religious revivals in Palmyra in 1820, contrary to Joseph Smith's assertions
about a "great excitement on the subject of religion," which prompted him to
seek inspiration.  Below is some dialogue on the subject.

A questioning Mormon wrote:

"Changing World of Mormonism" on their website, they just claim that
there was no religious revival in 1819-20 as Joseph Smith claimed, but
mention that there were revivals in that area in 1816-17 and 1824-25.
Is the lie that there was an 1820 revival that the Tanners don't
mention, or that they word their claim in "Shadow or Reality" to
preclude any revivals in the area at other times? --- Roy Stogner

I don't own a copy of Shadow or Reality.  What I've read in it, I read
in the SLC library.  Your request is appropriate in light of my claims,
so I am hoping (and requesting) that someone else with a copy will put
the exact wording for you.  Perhaps Steve has a copy.  If an exact quote
weakens my position, I'm sure someone will be glad to supply a quote.
Perhaps on their website, they are more thorough due to Quinn's

Randy replied:

"Mormonism: Shadow or Reality" is on-line in full at

<A HREF=""</A

*In Smith's original 1832 account of his "first vision," he didn't even
mention a revival spurring him to inquire about religion.

*In his later "official version", Smith claimed that he had been "persecuted"
for telling ministers and others about his 1820 vision; but even though there
exist more than 100 affidavits and accounts from people who knew Smith and
his family intimately in the 1820's, not a single one of them related a word
about Smith claiming to have a vision circa 1820, nor anything about "persecution."

*Several accounts of Smith's 1826 "glass-looking" trial exist, which as a
group, comprise the very earliest public information about Smith.  But none
of them give a hint that Smith had any religious leaning whatsoever, let alone
visions of God, Jesus, or Moroni.  All of those accounts, including Smith's
own trial testimony, paint him as a poor-man's fortune-teller and money-digger,
and that he was rather embarrassed at, and seemingly repentant of his hobby.

*The earliest widely-published newspaper articles about Smith and his "Gold
Bible," from 1830-31, tell nothing about Smith having any visions circa 1820
or 1823.  In fact, those early news articles reveal quite a bit about how Smith
transformed himself from a "peep-stoner" into a Biblical-style "prophet" in
1827, rather than 1820 or 1823.  Read some of them at

<A HREF=""</A

<A HREF=""</A

*In addition to the lack of non-Mormon sources for evidence of the "first
vision," pro-Mormon versions of the alleged event are convoluted and
contradictory to Smith's "official version."  A few examples:

*Oliver Cowdery's account in the 1834 "Messenger and Advocate" stated that
the "first vision" occurred in 1823---not a word about an 1820 vision.   Cowdery's
account also related that Smith's interest in religion was sparked by the
preaching of Methodist elder George Lane, rather than Smith's version which
claimed that he was inspired by reading in the Bible at at 14.  Cowdery also
stated that the date of the "religious excitement in Palmyra and vicinity"
was in Smith's "17th year," which would have been 1823, rather than 1820.

Joseph's brother William's account of the event was closer to Cowdery's than
to Joseph's:

"In 1822 and 1823, the people in our neighborhood were very much stirred up
with regard to religious matters by the preaching of a Mr. [George] Lane, an
elder of the Methodist Church.....The consequences [of this growing religious
revival] was that my mother, my brothers Hyrum and Samuel, older than I,
joined the Presbyterian Church.  Joseph, then being about seventeen years of age
[1823], had become seriously inclined, although not 'brought out',
[converted] as the phrase was, began to reflect and inquire, which of all these sects was
right.....He continued in secret to call upon the Lord for a full
manifestation of his will, the assurance that he was accepted of him, and that he might
have an understanding of the path of obedience.
At length he determined to call upon the Lord until he should get a
manifestation from him.  He accordingly went out into the woods and falling
upon his knees called for a long time upon the Lord for knowledge.  While
engaging in prayer a light appeared in the heavens, and descended until it
rested upon the trees where he was.....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 unto him; that his sins were
forgiven, etc.....he.....told us.....that the angel had also given him a sort
account of the inhabitants who formerly resided upon this continent, a full
history of whom he said was engraved on some plates which were hidden, and
which the angel promised to show him....."

Note that William's and Cowdery's accounts both pinpoint the preaching of
George Lane as Joseph's impetus for seeking "inspiration."  That calls into
doubt Joseph's claim that his "first vision" occurred in 1820, because Lane
did not preach in the area until 1824.  And where William and Cowdery's accounts
pinpoint Lane as being Joseph's source of inspiration, Joseph himself claimed
that local ministers "persecuted" him.

Note also how William's account co-mingles elements of the alleged "first
vision" with those of "Moroni's visit" of supposedly 1823.  That same
contradiction also occurred in Lucy Mack Smith's original manuscript of her
"Biographical Sketches":

"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 truth contained in scripture......After we
ceased conversation he [Joseph] went to bed and was pondering in his mind
which of the churches were the true way but he had not laid there long till he saw
a bright light enter the room where he lay.  He looked up and saw an angel of
the Lord 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."
(This original version was deleted by Brigham Young when Lucy's book was
ordered recalled and re-published, obviously because Lucy's version
contradicted Smith's 1842 "official version.")

And of course, Smith's 1842 "official version" contradicts on many points his
original 1832 version.  All of these contradictions, originating in accounts
from Smith and his closest family and friends, indicate that those involved
couldn't keep their stories straight----and that, of course, leads us to
believe that Smith simply invented the "first vision" story, probably around
1832 when he wrote his original version of it----and the story changed
somewhat with each re-telling.

There are other contradictions which cast doubt on the "first vision," such
as the Smith family joining the Presbyterian church AFTER God had supposedly
told Joseph that all churches were corrupt; Cowdery's statement that Smith had
wondered, several years after the alleged "first vision," as to whether "a
Supreme Being did exist"; and the fact that as late as 1851, church
publications such as the "Times and Seasons" were calling the angel that
visited Joseph "Nephi," rather than Moroni.  Seeing as how Joseph Smith was
the editor of the "Times and Seasons," it seems incredible that he would allow
his own paper to misstate the name of the angel, and not issue a correction.

Bottom line----all of these contradictions cast serious doubts on Smith's
"first vision" claims.  If this level of contradictions existed in any
"anti-Mormon" claims or publications, Mormon apologists would ridicule and
discredit them.  But unfortunately, Mormon apologists hold "anti-Mormon"
claims and writings to a much higher standard of inerrancy than they do the claims
and writings of their "prophets."  And that double standard renders all the
efforts of modern Mormon apologists nothing more than a silly game of

Randy J.

Oct. 8, 2002

Those of us who point out discrepancies in the stories or versions of
the First Vision are accused by the Morg authorities as lacking in
spirit (of fidelity) and of submission to authority (their
authority). Apostle Neal A. Maxwell writes, "In our own time, Joseph
Smith, The First Vision, and the Book of Mormon constitute stumbling
blocks for many (you don't say, Neal?!)--around or over which they
cannot get--unless they are meek enough to examine all the evidence
at hand, not being exclusionary as a result of accumulated attitudes
in a secular society. Humbleness of mind (I love this term) is an
initiator of expansiveness of mind."  [Neal A. Maxwell, Meek and
Lowly, 76].

Isn't it curious that this Morg mouthpiece seems to applaud a
conscientious examination of all the data available on the subject of
the First Vision and BOM, yet he draws the line when such research
proves unable to support the official version. It seems to me that
Morg apologists find the only way to explain contradictions is to
deny that they exist.

Listen to another Morg space cadet, James B. Allen, former church
historian. "The variations in these and other accounts suggest that
in relating his story to varius individuals at various times, Joseph
Smith emphasized different aspects of it and that his listeners were
each impressed with different details. This, of course, is to be
expected, for the same thing happens in retelling any story." 
[Allen, "'The Significance of Joseph Smith's First Vision' in Mormon
History" in The New Mormon History, edited by D. Michael Quinn, 1992,
pp.48-49.] Former mission president, Richard I. Winwood, echoes
Allen's sentiments, in "Be Not Deceived", "The basic truths disclosed
in each account are in complete harmony (ROTFLMAO). The differences
that do exist are simple grammatical changes or observations that
show different facets of the same event" (p.40). Winwood believes
that these "differences in details" were the result of Smith's having
an "enormously significant message" couched in "complex and
astounding events" (41). But others, more sober, commentators argue
it was not an uneducated and innocent farm boy who was overwhelmed,
but a religious leader whose determination to provide "evidence" for
his peculiar theology succumbed to his own forgetfulness. Smith
simply couldn't keep track of the various versions that he had spun.

To my thinking, it is difficult to imagine a more deceitful statement
from both James Allen,  and by implication, Gordon Hinckley. We are
not dealing with mere conflicts over how many angels may have
appeared, or how many "personages" there were. The discrepancy
involves what Allen, Hinckley and Ezra T. Benson, describe as bedrock
theology of their church. [Benson, Fourteen Fundamentals in Following
the Prophets, Feb 2, 1980, p. 101]. Given this situational context,
how likely is it that Smith would forget that the Father and the Son
appeared to him? How likely is it, as some apologists argue, that the
version which mentions only one personage (the Son) does not thereby
rule out the presence in bodily form of the Father? Is it likely that
the version that mentions two undefined personages, one of whom
mentions Jesus Christ in the third person, could actually refer to
both the Father and the Son? And is it probable that the version
described by later Mormon prophets as comprised of angels only could
really intend to refer to Christ as an angel?

Why is the dating of the First Vision so important? Why does the
church insist on the earlier dating? One very possible explanation
involves Smith's attempt to authenticate his own mission along with
his changing theology. A vision displaying Father and Son in bodily
form would corroborate the radical changes he later made in the
doctrine on the Nature of God. Further, an earlier vision, received
by an innocent youngster, might serve to thwart his critics'
contentions of a sophisticated manipulation of this "founding event"
of Mormonism. Besides, the date of 1820 would be needed, given
subsequent reported visitations by angels from 1823 to 1827, when he
finally received the golden plates. Not many within his following
would have remembered or have been familiar with the dating of the
Palmyra revival that allegedly led him to the sacred grove.

Problems with the Book of Mormon.  Hinckley does not understand why
the christian world does not accept this (BOM) book? Well, .... , in
a nutshell, Gordo, let me tell you. Those who believe in any but the
true gospel are accursed, Paul said. If he, or "an angel from
heaven," preach anything other than the pure faith delivered once by
Christ to his apostles, they are under condemnation. [See Galatians
1:8]. Neither Scripture nor Tradition makes provision for "another
treatment" of Jesus Christ, much less one containing a gospel at odds
with the one contained in the New Testament.

The dubious coming forth of the BOM, its implausible translation and
its unreliable witnesses, if they are not enough to expose it as a
fraud, then its CONTENTS certainly are:

Consider its GEOGRAPHY and ARCHAEOLOGY, the book's LANGUAGE, and the
vagaries of the THEOLOGY found within the BOM and how that theology
conflicts with later Morg theology. The most accurate statement or
description that one can make about the BOM is to describe it as a
BRIDGE between "authentic" Mormonism that later evolved and orthodox
Christianity. Its language and themes are familiar enough to make it
appear like a pious story about faraway Christians. It is silent
concerning central Mormon teachings. Its "gospel" does not appear so
different from the historical accounts of Christianity. It is a good
tool in converting unsuspecting people. By carefully choosing
plausible passages for investigators to read, missionaries can
convince many of them that Mormon theology is resonable. But, of
course, the real message of the LDS church is not found anywhere in
the BOM, but in other writings of Smith, and in the changing
revelations of later prophets.


The excerpt below comes from the a report in Monday's Oct 7, 2002 SL Trib concerning LDS conference.   Hinckley seems to be drawing a line in the sand and going into a circle-the-wagons, siege mentality.  Consider his comment "[The first vision] either occurred or it did not occur.  If it did not, then this work is a fraud."  That is a very bold statement considering all the evidence that the first vision didn't quite happen the way the Mormon Church officially claims.  Of course, the highly faithful heard his statement, agreed with it, and will think little more about it.  But, the problems surrounding the several accounts of the first vision are becoming better understood, I believe, by more and more active Mormons.  This now puts these members in the difficult position of having to confront this issue.  Some will, to be sure, error of the side of safety and jump inside the circled wagons--exactly what I think Hinckley is attempting to bring about.  That is, I think the church hierarchy is beginning to realize that members, mainly via the internet, have a wide variety of credible information available to them that does not quite agree with the official version of the first vision.   Hence, I believe Hinckley is showing a little (perhaps a lot) of desperation with his statement.  He has drawn a line and is gambling that it will force the budding intellectuals to jump onto his side of the line.  Personally, I doubt that it will and may very well end up doing the exact opposite.  That is, the internet is not going away any time soon and Hinckley can not, even drawing on all the powers of heaven, turn the course of this mighty river.

Ron "Jethro"

"LDS faithful believe it all began with when 14-year-old Joseph Smith, the church's founder, had a vision of God and Jesus Christ in a grove of trees in 1820."

"Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision," Hinckley declared. "It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most wonderful and important work under the heavens."

That "unique, singular and remarkable event is the pivotal substance of our faith," he said.

Hinckley said although he can understand why outsiders do not accept Smith's account -- "it is almost beyond comprehension" -- the vision story "is so reasonable" to him and church members.
  Oct 2002 Conference from the SL Tribune Oct. 7, 2002

Subject: Gordon B. Hinckley vs. Early Mormon Prophets (First Vision)
Date: Oct 23 23:46
Author: Deconstructor
Mail Address:

Just when you thought the Book of Mormon was the "sudden-death, do-or-die" keystone of Mormonism, Hinckley declares that the First Vision is the ultimate keystone.

Compare Hinckley's declarations with those of early Mormon Prophets and Apostles:

"Our entire case as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rests on the validity of this glorious First Vision. ... Nothing on which we base our doctrine, nothing we teach, nothing we live by is of greater importance than this initial declaration. I submit that if Joseph Smith talked with God the Father and His Beloved Son, then all else of which he spoke is true. This is the hinge on which turns the gate that leads to the path of salvation and eternal life."
- Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign Mag., Nov. 1998, pp.70-71

"We declare without equivocation that God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared in person to the boy Joseph Smith. When I was interviewed by Mike Wallace on the 60 Minutes program, he asked me if I actually believed that. I replied, "Yes, sir. That's the miracle of it." That is the way I feel about it. Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens."

"Good men and women, not a few—really great and wonderful people—tried to correct, strengthen, and improve their systems of worship and their body of doctrine. To them I pay honor and respect. How much better the world is because of their bold action. While I believe their work was inspired, it was not favored with the opening of the heavens, with the appearance of Deity."

"Then in 1820 came that glorious manifestation in answer to the prayer of a boy who had read in his family Bible the words of James: "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" (James 1:5)."

"Upon that unique and wonderful experience stands the validity of this Church."

"In all of recorded religious history there is nothing to compare with it.

"Why did both the Father and the Son come to a boy, a mere lad? For one thing, they came to usher in the greatest gospel dispensation of all time, when all of previous dispensations should be gathered and brought together in one."

It is easy to see why people do not accept this account. It is almost beyond comprehension. And yet it is so reasonable... Can they legitimately deny the need for an appearance of the God of heaven and His resurrected Son in this very complex period of the world's history?"

"That They came, both of Them, that Joseph saw Them in Their resplendent glory, that They spoke to him and that he heard and recorded Their words—of these remarkable things we testify. I knew a so-called intellectual who said the Church was trapped by its history. My response was that without that history we have nothing. The truth of that unique, singular, and remarkable event is the pivotal substance of our faith.
- "The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith," Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, October 2002 General Conference

Now what did other Mormon Church Prophets say about the First Vision?

In 1834

"You will recollect that I mentioned the time of a religious excitement, in Palmyra and vicinity to have been in the 15th year of our brother J. Smith Jr.’s age — that was an error in the type — it should have been in the 17th. You will please remember this correction, as it will be necessary for the full understanding of what will follow in time. This would bring the date down to the year 1823... while this (religious) excitement continued, he continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him, the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him."

On the evening of the 21st of September, 1823, previous to retiring to rest, our brother’s mind was unusually wrought up on the subject which had so long agitated his mind, all he desired was to be prepared in heart to commune with some kind of messenger who could communicate to him the desired information of his acceptance with God. While continuing in prayer for a manifestation in some way that his sins were forgiven; endeavoring to exercise faith in the scriptures, on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a purer and far more glorious appearance and brightness burst into the room. It is no easy task to describe the appearance of a messenger from the skies. But it may be well to relate the particulars as far as given — The stature of this personage was a little above the common size of men in this age; his garment was perfectly white, and had the appearance of being without seam. Though fear was banished from his heart, yet his surprise was no less when he heard him declare himself to be a messenger sent by commandment of the Lord, to deliver a special message, and to witness to him that his sins were forgiven, and that his prayers were heard;"
- Oliver Cowdery with Joseph Smith's help, Messenger and Advocate, Kirtland, Ohio, Dec. 1834, vol.1, no.3

In 1854

Speaking in General Conference April 6, 1854, Apostle Orson Hyde stated:

"Some one may say, 'If this work of the last days be true, why did not the Saviour come himself to communicate this intelligence to the world?' Because to the angels was committed the power of reaping the earth, and it was committed to none else.
(Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.335)

In 1855

LDS President Brigham Young taught on Feb. 18, 1855: " it was in the advent of this new dispensation....The messenger did not come to an eminent divine...The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven,...But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith jun., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day,..."
( Journal of Discourses, vol.2, p.171)

(It is certain Young is speaking of the First Vision for he says the angel told Smith to join no church for they were all wrong. This is the very question the Official Account states Smith asked of the Father and the Son in the Sacred Grove.)

A few days later Apostle Wilford Woodruff declared: "That same organization and Gospel that Christ died for, and the Apostles spilled their blood to vindicate, is again established in this generation. How did it come? By the ministering of an holy angel from God,... The angel taught Joseph Smith those principles which are necessary for the salvation of the world;... He told him the Gospel was not among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world,... This man to whom the angel appeared obeyed the Gospel;..."
(Journal of Discourses, Vol.2, pp.196-197)

In 1857

LDS Apostle Heber C. Kimball, speaking Nov. 8th, 1857, seemed to be oblivious to any vision where Smith saw God and Christ: "Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates."
(Journal of Discourses, vol.6, p.29)

In 1863

Apostle John Taylor explained in a sermon March 1, 1863: "How did this state of things called Mormonism originate? We read that an angel came down and revealed himself to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him in vision the true position of the world in a religious point of view."
(Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p.127)

LDS Apostle George A. Smith, Nov. 15th, 1863, preached: "When Joseph Smith was about fourteen or fifteen years old,...he went humbly before the Lord and inquired of Him, and the Lord answered his prayer, and revealed to Joseph, by the ministration of angels, the true condition of the religious world. When the holy angel appeared, Joseph inquired which of all these denominations was right and which he should join, and was told they were all wrong,..."
(Journal of Discourses, Vol.12, pp.333-334)

In 1869

Five years later Apostle Smith again referred to Smith's first vision: "He sought the Lord by day and by night, and was enlightened by the vision of an holy angel. When this personage appeared to him, of his first inquiries was, 'Which of the denominations of Christians in the vicinity was right?' "
(Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p.77-78 June 20, 1869)

Is it just me, or is the First Vision a weak keystone?

There seems to be a lot more damning evidence from church leaders against the "official" First Vision account than there is against the Book of Mormon.

What is Hinckley thinking?

Subject: Re: Gordon B. Hinckley vs. Early Mormon Prophets (First Vision)
Date: Oct 24 00:49
Author: Mom
Mail Address:

When my son was about 7 he said Jesus came into his room on two different occasions. On Christmas day he told us that Jesus had been in his room that night. I asked him what Jesus was doing and he said he was kneeling at his desk praying. He didn't say much else about it and really didn't think it was that big a deal. Then on Easter when our family was in Las Vegas for a basketball tournament he said Jesus was in his room praying again. We asked him if he was scared and he said no and went about his business. Whats interesting about this is my son hardly ever went to church and yet he is pretty sure it was Jesus in his room. What do you think,is he a prophet? Or just maybe we all can have unique spiritual experiences that may or may not be real or mean anything else to anyone but the person who experienced it. If every person who had visitations from the other side thought he was a prophet we would have prophets everywhere. Many people have had visitors from the other side and generally they didn't invite them. If Joseph Smith did have a visitor, he must have become so full of himself that he labeled himself a prophet. I personally think many mediums are more in tune with the other side than the so called Prophet, Seer and Revelator. What do you think?

Subject: I've had visions too..
Date: Oct 24 01:35
Author: Deconstructor
Mail Address:

Now that you mention it, I've had visions too. When I was young I had a brother that died. I missed him so much that I thought I had a vision of him visiting me at night. Now I think it was a dream.

I know this sounds funny, but I also had a vision of Darth Vader in my room late one night when I was 13. I can still remember conversing with him in the middle of the night as he stood in the middle of my room. The memory still seems "real" to me now, but I accept that it was a lucid dream of some kind.

Joseph Smith and his early followers all started out explaining Moroni as a dream, not a vision. Then after 1830 they started calling it a vision. I can see how these things can evolve, especially if people take the earlier stories as true and want to believe it's more.

Here's examples of evidence, with references:

Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon:
"Consequently long before the idea of a Golden Bible entered their minds, in their excursions for money-digging, which I believe usually occurred in the night, that they might conceal from others the knowledge of the place, where they struck their treasures, Jo used to be usually their guide, putting into a hat a peculiar stone he had through which he looked to decide where they should begin to dig."

"It was after one of these night excursions, that Jo, while he lay upon his bed, had a remarkable dream. An angel of God seemed to approach him, clad in celestial splendor."
Reference: Testimonies of Book of Mormon Witnesses, John Clark, Gleanings (1842), p.226 "Martin Harris Interview"

Letter of Testimony, 26 Nov. 1830, Parley P. Pratt:
"This new gospel was found in Ontario Co., N.Y. and was discovered by an Angel of Light, appearing in a dream to a man by the name of Smith"
Reference: Letter from Amherst, Ohio, 26 Nov. 1830, "BEWARE OF IMPOSTERS," The Telegraph. Reprinted in The Reflector (Palmyra NY), 14 Feb. 1831. Also see Early Mormonism: Correspondence and a New History by Dale Morgan (Signature Books, 1986)

Martin Harris Testimony:
September 5, 1829, the rochester Gem reported on the origins of Mormonism and quoted Book of Mormon Special Witness Martin Harris: "he states that after a third visit from the same spirit in a dream he (Smith) proceeded to the spot."
Reference: A GOLDEN BIBLE, Gem, (Rochester, NY), 5 Sept. 1829. Source of reference: A New Witness for Christ in America, (Zion's printing and Publishing, 1951)

Report from the Palmyra Freeman in August 1829:
"In the autumn of of 1827, a person by the name of Joseph Smith, of Manchester, Ontario Co., reported that he had been visited in a dream by a spirit from the Almighty and.. After having beeen thrice visited, as he states, he proceeded to the spot."
Reference: A New Witness for Christ in America, (Zion's printing and Publishing, 1951)

Joseph Smith Sr, the father of Joseph Smith:
During his 1830 interview with Fayette Lapham, Joseph Smith Sr. referred to the Moronivisit as "a very singular dream" about "a valuable treasure, buried many years since."
Reference: Early Mormon Documents, Volume 1, Page 458, reprint from Fayette Lapham's original work from 1830, Interview with the Father of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet

Family living with Smith:
A cousin of Emma, who stayed with Emma and Joseph Smith during the dictation of the Book of Mormon reported "the statement that the prophet Joseph Smith made in our hearing, at the commencement of his translating his book, in Harmony (in 1828-1829), as to the manner of his finding the plates, was as follows... He said that by a dream he was informed by a ghost."
Reference: Photocopy of letter, Photocopy in fd 8, box 149, H. Mcihael Marquardt Papers, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah. Also see Mormon History, A New Chapter, by JosephLewis and Hiel Lewis and Early Mormon Documents, Volume 2.

Ohio Star, reporting on preaching by Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer in December 1830:
"(They said) In the fall of 1827, a man named Joseph Smith of Manchester, Ontario Co., NY, reported that he had three times been visited in a dream, by the spirit of the Almighty..."
Reference: THE GOLDEN BIBLE, Ohio Star, (Ravenna, OH), 9 Dec. 1830, Madeline R. McQuown Papers, Marriott Library UofU, in fd 4, box 46. Also see History of the Church, Volume 1, page 118-119.

Subject: Re: Gordon B. Hinckley vs. Early Mormon Prophets (First Vision)
Date: Oct 24 01:43
Author: missinglink
Mail Address:

I was also rather surprised by GBH's focus on the 1st vision as being the keystone. Perhaps he realizes some of the difficulties inherent in keeping the BofM as the keystone and so is trying to shift the focus to something not so well known? Thanks for your insightful (as always) work.

Subject: Thanks for the references
Date: Oct 24 09:22
Author: Stray Mutt
Mail Address:

No wonder the brethren don't like members poking
around in the Journal of Discourses.

When we were kids we had to memorize the official
account of the first vision, but here are leaders of the
church whose versions don't match the current party

Added to JS's variations on the story, it's clear the first
vision evolved.