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Notes

1. George Manwaring, “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer,” Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985), hymn #26.
2. This later addition to the text is in the handwriting of the scribe, Frederick G. Williams.
3. Karen Lynn Davidson, David J. Whittaker, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen, eds., Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844, first volume of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: The Church Historian’s Press, 2012) (JSP, H1), 11–13. The First Vision part of this early historical account (which is quoted here) is in the handwriting of Joseph Smith, but the material before and after this is in the handwriting of his scribe, Frederick G. Williams. As an indication of how valuable this 1832 account really is, a comparison could be made of the record of the visit of the angel who told Joseph Smith about the Book of Mormon plates. Early newspaper sources from 1829 to 1831 merely refer to an “angel,” an “angel of light,” a “spirit,” or a “ghost,” without any proper name being attached to the personage. Later LDS sources state either that the angel’s name was Nephi (in earlier accounts) or Moroni (in later accounts). Joseph Smith in the 1832 account stated that the angel “revealed unto me that in the Town of Manchester Ontario County N.Y. there was plates of gold upon which there was engravings which was engraven by Maroni & his fathers”—thus “Maroni” is a third-person reference and not the name of the angel who was speaking to Joseph.
4. JSP, H1, 3–4.
5. Ibid., 5–6.
6. Ibid., 13.
7. Robin Jensen, lead archivist for The Joseph Smith Papers Project, confirmed in an informal telephone conversation on December 20, 2012, that this is a plausible scenario.
8. When Joseph Fielding Smith became president of the LDS Church in 1970, the personal safe in his office was moved into the First Presidency’s walk-in vault. The exact time that the 1832 account was put into the Joseph Fielding Smith office safe and the date that he showed the history to Levi Edgar Young would probably be found in the Joseph Fielding Smith Collection, catalogued as Ms 4250 at the Church History Library Archives. On December 11, 2012 the writer sent to Richard E. Turley a written request for permission to read the diaries (either photocopies or microfilm) of Joseph Fielding Smith from 1930 to 1954, but this request was denied.
9. Jerald Tanner and Sandra Tanner, Joseph Smith’s Strange Account of the First Vision; Also a Critical Study of the First Vision (Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., [1965]), 4, with the quotation being based on notes made by Petersen of the interview with Levi Edgar Young. Emphasis is in the original, but that emphasis is probably due to the Tanners, who added the full caps and underlining. Levi Edgar Young was wrong about the date of the “Strange” account of the First Vision, since we now know that it was written in 1832, not 1837 or 1838.
10. LaMar Petersen, The Creation of the Book of Mormon: A Historical Inquiry (Salt Lake City: Freethinker Press, 2000), xii. Petersen gave the year as 1952, instead of February 3, 1953. Since he had six separate sessions with Levi Edgar Young, these meetings could have covered late 1952 as well as early 1953. The other option is that the 1952 date is an error in the memory of the nonagenarian Petersen.
11. Paul R. Cheesman, “An Analysis of the Accounts Relating Joseph Smith’s Early Visions” (unpublished M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1965), 126. Cheesman thought that this six-page account was written about 1833. In a telephone conversation with the writer on December 15, 2012, his widow, Millie Foster Cheesman, stated that in contrast to the complete restriction placed on Fawn M. Brodie (a niece of President David O. McKay), Cheesman was given full access, allowing him to transcribe the 1832 account of the First Vision.
12. Two decades later Cheesman published his thesis as a hardback book, The Keystone of Mormonism: Early Visions of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Provo: Eagle Systems International, 1988).
13. Dean C. Jessee, “The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” Brigham Young University Studies 9 (Spring 1969): 275–94.
14. Dean C. Jessee, “The Earliest Documented Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” in John W. Welch with Erick B. Carlson, eds., Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820–1844 (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 2005), 1–33. See also James B. Allen, “Eight Contemporary Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision: What Do We Learn from Them?” The Improvement Era 73 (April 1970): 4–13; Allen had a total of eight accounts, because he was not aware of the report in the Levi Richards journal and he correctly ignored the short “account” to Erastus Holmes, which is really a one-sentence reference to the First Vision.
15. Marvin S. Hill, “The First Vision Controversy: A Critique and Reconciliation,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 (Summer 1982): 39.
16. Milton V. Backman Jr., Joseph Smith’s First Vision: Confirming Evidences and Contemporary Accounts (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971), stated that the 1832 account was in the handwriting of the scribe—not Joseph Smith. However, Dean C. Jessee, in “How Lovely Was the Morning,” review of Joseph Smith’s First Vision by Milton V. Backman, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 6 (Spring 1971): 86, pointed out Backman’s error, since Joseph Smith wrote the main part of this account. In the second edition of his book, Joseph Smith’s First Vision: Confirming Evidences and Contemporary Accounts, 2nd ed. rev. and enl. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980), unnumbered “Corrections” page after 227, Backman acknowledged this oversight.
17. Christopher C. Jones, “The Power and Form of Godliness: Methodist Conversion Narratives and Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” Journal of Mormon History 37, no. 2 (Spring 2011): 90, citing a number of contemporary vision accounts.
18. Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2004), 30.
19. D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, 2nd ed., rev. and enl. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2009), 137.
20. Franklin L. West, Life of Franklin D. Richards: President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1924), 120.
21. From 1880 to 1902, the Pearl of Great Price also included the poem, “Truth,” later entitled “O Say, What Is Truth?” which was written by John Jaques, an English convert who joined the LDS Church in 1845 and served as a young missionary at Stratford-upon-Avon, where he wrote the poem. He immigrated with his family to America in 1856 and crossed the plains with the ill-fated Martin Handcart Company, with his daughter being among those who died. Jaques returned to England as a missionary from 1869 to 1871, and then later worked at the Church Historian’s Office. He must have felt proud that his poem “Truth” (which had appeared in the first edition of The Pearl of Great Price in 1851) became part of the official LDS scripture in 1880 and continued in that status for the last twenty years of his life. However, H. Donl Peterson, in The Pearl of Great Price: A History and Commentary (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1987), 23, points out that James E. Talmage “deleted” the poem from Mormon scripture in the 1902 edition of the Pearl of Great Price.
22. The words “This is my beloved Son, hear him” are an exact quotation of Mark 9:7 and Luke 9:35, when God spoke from heaven to Peter, James, and John at the transfiguration of Jesus.
23. Draft 3 of the history has the following parenthetical statement: “(for I supposed that one of them were so.)” See JSP, H1, 215.
24. Draft 2 of the same history in JSP, H1, 214. There are only minor changes to Joseph Smith—History 1:16–20, in the Pearl of Great Price.
25. Mark 7:7 has the same text.
26. For a modern study of the ancient sources about Jesus, see Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000).
27. This ignores the following individuals who in discussing the First Vision only quote or refer to the official account in the Pearl of Great Price: Leon R. Hartshorn, Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration (Provo: Spring Creek Book Company, 2004), 5; W. Jeffrey Marsh, Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration (Springville, Utah: CFI, 2005), 16, 44; Susan Easton Black, Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, Setting the Record Straight Series (Orem, Utah: Millennial Press, 2007), 21–22; Scot Facer Proctor, A Day Like No Other: Joseph Smith and the First Vision (Fairfax Station, Va.: Meridian Publishing, 2009); and Christopher Kimball Bigelow and Jonathan Langford, The Latter-day Saint Family Encyclopedia (San Diego: Thunder Bay Press, 2010), 114.
28. Alexander L. Baugh, “Parting the Veil: Joseph Smith’s Seventy-six Documented Visionary Experiences,” in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820–1844, edited by John W. Welch with Erick B. Carlson (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 2005), 268, 279.
29. Richard N. Skousen and W. Cleon Skousen, Brother Joseph: Seer of a New Dispensation (Orem, Utah: Verity Publishing, 2004), 40–44.
30. J. Carr Smith, A Grove of My Own: Understanding Your Life’s Mission (Springville, Utah: CFI, 2006), xi–xii, 1–3, 7.
31. Davis Bitton, Knowing Brother Joseph Again: Perceptions and Perspectives (Salt Lake City: Kofford Books, 2011), 17–18, 33, and 61.
32. Richard Lloyd Dewey, Joseph Smith: A Biography (Arlington, Va.: Stratford Books, 2005), 12–16.
33. Richard E. Bennett, School of the Prophet: Joseph Smith Learns the First Principles, 1820–1830 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010), 139n4, quoting Jesus’ statement “Joseph thy Sins are forgiven thee, go thy way [and] walk in my statutes and keep my commandments.”
34. David Paulsen, “Joseph Smith Challenges the Theological World,” in The Worlds of Joseph Smith: A Bicentennial Conference at the Library of Congress, edited by John W. Welch (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 2006), 181, 205n18.
35. Larry C. Porter, “The Youth of the Grove and the Prophet of the Restoration,” in Joseph: Exploring the Life and Ministry of the Prophet, edited by Susan Easton Black and Andrew C. Skinner (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 36, 38, and 40.
36. Ibid., 41.
37. Heidi S. Swinton, American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Shadow Mountain, 1999), 36, footnotes 4 and 8.
38. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007), 2–3, 28. Stephen C. Taysom, in “Approaching the First Vision Saga,” Sunstone 163 (June 2011): 22, incorrectly states that the chapter of this manual on the First Vision “contains only material from the canonical 1838 version.”
39. Ibid., 37–38.
40. Hartt Wixom, Critiquing the Critics of Joseph Smith (Springville, Utah: CFI, 2005), 78–79. Wixom, in Critiquing, 76, states that Frederick G. Williams is the scribe of the earliest account, instead of Joseph Smith himself.
41. Matthew B. Brown, A Pillar of Light: The History and Message of the First Vision (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, Inc., 2009), 92.
42. Richard Lyman Bushman, with the assistance of Jed Woodworth, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 35–40.
43. Matthew Bowman, The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith (New York: Random House, 2012), 13.
44. James B. Allen and John W. Welch, “The Appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith in 1820s,” in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820–1844, edited by John W. Welch with Erick B. Carlson (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 2005), 63–64. In the ellipsis Allen and Welch point out that eight of the accounts mention two personages, but it is not a question of counting the different accounts, but rather looking at them in chronological order—especially the earliest and the only one written by Joseph Smith himself.
45. Ibid., 74n27.
46. Steven C. Harper, Joseph Smith’s First Vision: A Guide to the Historical Accounts (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012), 90–91. Later in his book (112), Harper refers again to his strained interpretation that these two occurrences of the word “Lord” in the same sentence might perhaps refer to “two separate heavenly beings.”
47. The three original diaries of Robert Harris Fife were lost for over fifty years, but fortunately found and donated to Utah State University in June 2009. See Mss 355, Box 1, Special Collections, Merrill-Cazier Library, Utah State University, Logan, Utah.
48. James B. Allen, “The Significance of Joseph Smith’s ‘First Vision’ in Mormon Thought,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 1, no. 3 (Autumn 1966): 33.
49. Kathleen Flake, “Re-Placing Memory: Latter-day Saint Use of Historical Monuments and Narrative in the Early Twentieth Century,” in Stephen C. Taysom, ed., Dimensions of Faith: A Mormon Studies Reader (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2011), 231.
50. Kay Briggs, Most Quoted Scriptures of the Standard Works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Orem, Utah: Raymont Publishers, 1980), 371, with the specific verse being Joseph Smith—History 1:17.
51. Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1997), 227. President Hinckley also made the following statement in the October 2002 General Conference: “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,” Ensign 32 (November 2002).
52. Thomas S. Monson, A Prophet’s Voice: Messages from Thomas S. Monson (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012), 477.
53. Jerald Tanner, Letter to Dee Jay Nelson, December 18, 1970, quoted in the writer’s Quest for the Gold Plates: Thomas Stuart Ferguson’s Archaeological Quest for the Book of Mormon, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Freethinker Press in association with Smith Research Associates, 2004), 142.
54. Leonard J. Arrington, “Why I Am a Believer,” in Philip L. Barlow, comp. and ed., A Thoughtful Faith: Essays on Belief by Mormon Scholars (Centerville, Utah: Canon Press, 1986), 230.

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