Talk:First Vision

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New side-by-side comparison section [ edit ]

I'm wondering about the side-by-side comparison section added in this edit. At first glance it seemed interesting, but when I look at the rest of the article it seems a but unwieldy and redundant. Earlier in the article we have several subsections with fairly detailed descriptions of each account. And if that's not enough, further down there's a large table explicitly noting the differences between accounts. I feel the more digested version is more accessible to readers than side-by-sides of the complete texts but the side-by-side could be interesting to some. Would it make sense to create a daughter article like Comparison of First Vision accounts? pinging User:Epachamo and User:John Foxe ~Awilley (talk) 04:56, 28 February 2020 (UTC)

Hmm. I can see advantages to both. John Foxe (talk) 15:40, 28 February 2020 (UTC)
Full disclosure, it was me who added the side-by-side comparison. I put it at the end so as not to take away from the simplicity of the 'digested version.' A casual reader can get the general overview, and the reader who finds the complete texts interesting can get what they want as well. If there is a new daughter article, I think it should include ALL of the 'redundant sections', and just keep in this article a summary of the salient points. I am willing to create the new daughter article if it is agreed that this should be the case. It could also include comparisons of secondary accounts as well, which would definitely be unwieldy in this article, but be interesting to some. Unless you object Awilley or John Foxe, I will start to make the change. Epachamo (talk) 15:39, 29 February 2020 (UTC)
That's fine with me. (I pinged you because you had added the new section). As for what happens with this article if/when the daughter is created, I think the new section should go entirely and the other ones might merit some prudent trimming and a {{main article}} template at the top of the section. ~Awilley (talk) 18:16, 1 March 2020 (UTC)
Ok, I'll give it another week of waiting, and if I haven't heard anything by then, I will begin a draft article and invite both of you for editing. My intent would be to include the new section entirely, add content from the other sections. Once it is live and accepted, then prune this current article down to a single section. Epachamo (talk) 15:17, 6 March 2020 (UTC)

I have created Draft:Comparison of First Vision accounts and invite you both, and anyone else to collaborate as you have time. So far I just copied all content from the article that dealt in comparing the first vision accounts. Epachamo (talk) 00:30, 19 March 2020 (UTC)

I looked at your draft. That's a good amount of work. Personally, I don't think a daughter article is the way to go. I don't see a comparison of the accounts as being a separate topic from the vision itself. I think the comparison, at a moderate level of detail, is really a core part of understanding the vision and that severing it from the main article reduces understanding. It's probable that the majority of the people who go to the main article will not see the little link mentioning the comparison article but would see the huge comparison chart if it stayed in the main article. For writers there would now be the burden of always wondering whether something should go in the main article, the comparison article, or both. The issue is not very clear cut, like it was for the cunning folk article. (Good work on that, by the way.)

I just don't see the sense in having the different accounts presented in three different ways - in paragraph form, in a horizontal chart, and in a vertical chart. I think paragraph form and one chart is about right. If the chart had the accounts in the columns it could have increasingly detailed / trivial information in the lower rows of the chart. This might be a way to present the right level of detail for the amount of reading different people are putting in. Just a thought. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Davemc0 (talkcontribs) 04:27, 13 April 2020 (UTC)

I think in the comparison article in its current form is VERY incomplete. It could show ALL the accounts and even second hand recollections, which would make the daughter article more necessary than it is now. I will tell you that I myself came to this article trying to find a side by side comparison and did not find one. I then searched the internet and could not find one, which is why I added it. I completely agree that it is not interesting to every reader, but there is a subset of readers like myself who will find it extremely interesting. The current article is getting rather large and it will get larger over the next month, as several discussions are incomplete. Epachamo (talk) 21:21, 14 April 2020 (UTC)

Removal and movement of the section on Magic in the context section [ edit ]

Over the last couple of weeks I've read dozens of articles and books the last month on the First Vision and only one D. Michael Quinn has anything to say that connects Smith's folk magic background with the first vision. It is the only source quoted in this article, and I argue that the meaning and intent of what Quinn writes in not reflected appropriately here in this article. The vast majority of scholars feel that the First Vision was a result of the religious environment, not folk magic environment. To be clear, Quinn does NOT claim that folk magic was an influence in Smith receiving his vision as is strongly implied in this article. Quinn was and still is a believer that the First Vision actually occurred, and his book is written through that lens. Here is what Quinn says in full:

"In light of the efforts of ordained clergy to suppress folk magic, Joseph Sr.'s 1820 thophany ("first vision") is important. By the early 1820s the Smith family had already participated in a wide range of magic practices, and Smith's first vision occurred whithin the context of his family's treasure-quest. His first emphasis was God's forgiveness, yet some of Smith narratives state that God told him the clergymen of any organized church were wrong. At this time the revivals of western New York's so-called 'Burned-over District' were bringing thousands out of private folk religion and into organized churches, whose clergy opposed folk magic. Nonetheless, Smith's vision of the divine gave him every reason to ignore the clergy's insturctions, including denunciations of the occult."

In other words, according to Quinn, the role that magic played into how Smith and other's responded to it. He continues in another section:

"It was not because of its content that Palmyra residents ridiculed Joseph Smith's first vision, but because of the claim that God appeard to a local treasure-seer."

It should be noted that Quinn's book came out at the same time as the Salamander letter, and was in part a response to it. The only other section that I could find in his book connecting magic to Smith's vision is painful when viewed from this side of history:

"After Joseph Smith's 1820 face-to-face vision of God, his cultural heritage predisposed him to expect a visitation from ' Salamanders, the inflamed guests of the region of fire.' The salamander symbolized divinity."

I plan on paring down and moving the information on magic into the "Interpretations and Responses" unless an additional source can be found. Epachamo (talk) 01:02, 30 March 2020 (UTC)

  • In reading old comments, and searching around Wikipedia, I was amazed to find out that there was NO article about Magic and the Latter Day Saint Movement, which made me feel less good about removing the extensive commentary in this article. I decided to make the article, and it is titled: Cunning Folk Traditions and the Latter Day Saint Movement. I invite all to contribute.Epachamo (talk) 02:07, 31 March 2020 (UTC)
    • If you believe, as I do, that Smith didn't create the First Vision story until after he had founded the church, then it makes sense that folk magic had little influence on its telling. Smith had already set his sights far beyond the grubby treasure hunting of his youth. John Foxe (talk) 13:08, 1 April 2020 (UTC)

Update: I did find a historian (Jan Shipps) who found that Smith's cunning folk traditions was important to religious background in the context of the first vision and added its mention back in. Epachamo (talk) 22:19, 4 May 2020 (UTC)

Thanks for checking. Good call. John Foxe (talk) 01:26, 5 May 2020 (UTC)

Conversion of Lucy Mack Smith to Presbyterianism and dating of the First Vision [ edit ]

The conversion of Lucy Mack Smith to Presbyterianism is a controversial topic. Smith's 1838 account is clear that Lucy and several siblings joined the Presbyterian church in or shortly before 1820. Other sources have her conversion occurring in 1824 or 1825. This article intimated that it was before 1822, citing Dan Vogel and Lucy's history. I'd like to throw out and explain some of the sources on the table to help craft some NPOV phrasing.

  • 1838 First Vision account: Has the conversion happening in or shortly before 1820.
  • 1844-1845 draft of History_of_Joseph_Smith_by_His_Mother: Has her joining after Alvin's death in November 1823[1][2]
  • 1853 History_of_Joseph_Smith_by_His_Mother: Previous remarks were removed, and replaced with a 1838 copy of First Vision. As far as her baptism, she writes during the early 1800s but does not specify a date: "At length I considered it my duty to be baptized, and, finding a minister who was willing To baptize me, and leave me free in regard to joining any religious denomination, I stepped forward and yielded obedience to this ordinance; after which I continued to read the Bible as formerly, until my eldest son had attained his twenty-second year." I cannot find what happened in her sons 22nd year in her source or any other, but she talks about attending a Methodist church at some time in the interim.
  • Vogel states: "Until she joined the Presbyterian church in Palmyra, New York, in 1824 or 1825, she pursued her version of private religion." [3] Vogel makes it clear that in his mind the evidence strongly points to an 1824 conversion [4]
  • Bushman states: "Sometime in the half dozen years after 1818, the religious rift in the family broke open again. Lucy joined the Western Presbyterian Church in Palmyra." [5] In the footnote to this he writes: "All the circumstantial evidence notwithstanding for an 1820 membership, the date of Lucy Smith's engagement to Presbyterianism remains a matter of debate. It is possible to argue plausibly that she did not join until later Palmyra revivals in 1824." Other than the 1838 account, I can't find any evidence that she joined any earlier than 1823 (help?). Bushman notes the interview of William Smith in 1893, which states that Reverend Stockton was the Presbyterian preacher at the center of the revival who converted Lucy.[6] Bushman also sites Marquardt, who considers the 1820 setting anachronistic and prefers the 1824 revival.[7]
  • Marvin S. Hill notes that Stockton did not arrive in Palmyra till 1823, and strongly supports an 1824 conversion.[8]

I cannot find any evidence outside of the 1838 account that has Lucy joining the Presbyterian church prior to 1824, and the above corroborating evidence to the contrary. Some secondary sources are more sure than others. Is anyone aware of any other sources that discuss this? Epachamo (talk) 03:55, 3 April 2020 (UTC)


  1. ^ Source: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 34, No. 1/2 (Spring/Sum 2001), pp.35-53 Published by: University of Illinois Press Stable URL: page 45
  2. ^ "Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, Page [1], bk. [1]," p. [7], bk. 4, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed April 2, 2020,
  3. ^ Vogel, D. (2004). Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet. Signature Books. online at:
  4. ^
  5. ^ Rough Stone Rolling e-book location 978
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^

Relevance of official proclamation [ edit ]

Following up on this revert I'd like to discuss whether the following paragraph is notable enough for this article.

LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson stated that the First Vision marked the onset of the restoration of Jesus Christ's ancient church and that the year 2020 would be a bicentennial year in honor of the 200th anniversary of Smith's theophany. Nelson designated the Sunday morning session of General Conference on April 5th as a solemn assembly to commemorate the First Vision, and announced an official proclamation [174] to the world as a "monument of words" honoring the inceptive role of the vision in the restoration.

If you read the actual text of the "official declaration" link you'll see there is nothing new or uniquely pertinent to this article. (Yup, church members still see it as the founding event of the restoration, but we've already covered that ground in this article.) Only 4 sentences in the declaration even talk about the First Vision, and those are a garden-variety retelling. I think the only unique thing is that it was celebrating the 200th anniversary. But I'm not convinced that gives it lasting significance here. That's why I cited WP:RECENTISM. ~Awilley (talk) 23:20, 6 April 2020 (UTC)

  • I think I see where you are coming from with WP:RECENTISM with respect to the proclamation. What would you say to taking out the part talking about the proclamation and leaving in the part about the year 2020 being a bicentennial in honor of the 200th anniversary (the centennial is mentioned for example)? I see that as passing the WP:10 year test and can live with that. Time will tell with the proclamation and when it does we can add it back, or not. Epachamo (talk) 02:27, 7 April 2020 (UTC)
You're right that the centennial anniversary is mentioned, but it's only in passing, and the purpose of mentioning it is to illustrate the contrast with how relatively unknown it was 50 years prior. I'm just not convinced that something happening 200 years ago is enough of a reason to explicitly write that it had a 200th anniversary. I'm trying to think of other things that have had 200 year anniversaries recently. United States Declaration of Independence happened in 1976 and I'm sure there was a grand celebration. I think I have a couple 1976 drummer boy quarters stashed away somewhere. But I can find no mention of any bicentennial celebration in that article. (There is an article about the bicentennial though at United_States_Bicentennial, and I'm sure it's mentioned elsewhere.) Does that make sense? Maybe there's something I'm missing. Do you know if there were any celebrations outside of the church's bi-annual general conference, or if they had to cancel planned celebrations because of the Covid-19 thing? ~Awilley (talk) 20:43, 8 April 2020 (UTC)
My reading of the section is that it is meant to show how the First Vision is used by the LDS Church over the years. In this context, I find it very relevant, but it could be considered WP:OR. The importance and relevance of the Declaration of Independence to the United States has never really been questioned, and not much of a topic. That is not true for the First Vision. I just got done reading Steven Harpers "First Vision: Memory and Mormon Origins"[1] where the entire book is on the subject of how the LDS Church has viewed the First Vision over its history. The 200th bicentennial commemoration certainly would have had significant discussion had it been written today. Another article discussing these shifts is James Allen's landmark 1966 paper in Dialogue.[1] You should watch [2] which compares the usage of the First Vision in the LDS Church to the Community of Christ (from a BYU series of lectures and artwork in honor of the bicentennial I might add). A declaration in honor of the bicentennial certainly would have made it into their research. This is a small sampling of books and articles that talk about evolving usage of the First Vision in the LDS Church. I guess my bottom line is that I find it both notable and lasting and think that will definitely be reflected in future research, but am willing to acquiesce if the WP community disagrees. At this point, it is just my viewpoint and could be considered WP:OR and I wouldn't have a strong counterargument. Epachamo (talk) 21:07, 9 April 2020 (UTC)


  1. ^ THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JOSEPH SMITH'S "FIRST VISION" IN MORMON THOUGHT Author(s): James B. Allen Source: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 1, No. 3 (AUTUMN, 1966), pp. 28-45

Deletion of "Methodist revivals within twenty road miles of Palmyra" phrase [ edit ]

I plan on deleting the following phrase but want to explain because it might be controversial to delete it: "In the intervening years, there were Methodist revivals, at least within twenty road miles of Palmyra; and more than sixty years later a newspaper editor in Lyons, New York, recalled 'various religious awakenings in the neighborhood.' " The sources cited are "Mather 1880, pp. 198–199 ; Roberts 1902." Besides being extremely old, the sources don't really support the claim that is being presented, and is misleading. I assume Mather 1880 refers to this anti-mormon article, a first hand account written 6 decades after the event, hardly a reliable primary source. The closest I could find in this was Mather's statement,

"There had been various religious awakenings in the neighborhood, and when the various sects began to quarrel over the converts Joe arose and announced that his mission was to restore the true priesthood. He appointed a number of meetings, but no one seemed inclined to follow him as the leader of a new religion."

There is no date given for these 'religious awakenings', and right before and after the pamphlet discusses the Hill Cumorah and the visitation of Moroni in 1823. The use of this citation is clearly WP:OR.

I assume the 'Roberts 1902' citation refers to the History of the Church. No page number is given for this six volume work, and the section on the first vision simply copies the 1838 account. Epachamo (talk) 19:33, 11 April 2020 (UTC)

What is this?