Read the intro to the article, “The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” from the 1969 journal below. We are also featuring the “Opening the Heavens” chapter that correlate to the article.
The Earliest Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision
In his chapter, Dean Jessee includes the full text for the eight known accounts by Joseph Smith of his First Vision. He also includes the text for five contemporaneous accounts by others who had close association with the Prophet. In addition to including the full text, Jessee briefly considers the context in which each was created. He keeps his analysis to a minimum in order to preserve these accounts in the broad record-keeping setting in which they were created.
Analysis of Joseph Smith's Accounts of His First Vision
Joseph Smith spoke and wrote on several occasions about the First Vision. In addition to numerous circumstantial and secondary evidences that have expanded and supported our historical knowledge of this all-important event, ten accounts, written or dictated by Joseph Smith himself or recorded at the time by someone who heard him, are available to modern readers. Few events so central to the foundation of any world religion are so informatively documented. What do these ten accounts say? What can we learn from them? For whom and why were they written? Why are they not all the same? This overview provides answers to such questions as it analyzes and synthesizes these various accounts. The ten texts are presented in full in the preceding chapter, "The Earliest Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision," by Dean C. Jessee.