Article of the Week

The First Vision as a Prehistory of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Monday, July 13, 2020

The First Vision as a Prehistory of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Today we are featuring "The First Vision as a Prehistory of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," by Kathleen Flake, from Journal 59:2. Below is the abstract for the article.

Kathleen Flake, the Richard L. Bushman Professor of Mormon Studies at the University of Virginia, addressed a conference held at the Huntington Library in January 2020 and discussed what the First Vision tells us about religion rather than history. Joseph Smith, Flake suggests, was not so much interested in which church was true as which church would save him. The primary account of the vision purports to give an account of the “rise and progress of the Church.” The 1832 account reveals that he sought to know which church could truly save him. These accounts became the pattern for other stories told by members of the Church. She also illustrates how the vision has become ritualized through monthly testimony meetings, where Saints extemporaneously bear testimony regarding the First Vision and other religious realities. This article examines history and prehistory, metanarrative and mythos, and ritualization of First Vision accounts.