|“One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith–––History 1:17)|
Joseph Smith’s First Vision has attracted considerable criticism over the years. For anyone who may have encountered criticisms of the First Vision and are looking for some good resources responding to these criticisms, or at least for anyone who is just interested in more information on the First Vision, I would recommend the following.
1. The Church has released this article on the First Vision that includes helpful links to the Joseph Smith Papers, so that you can read for yourself Joseph’s various accounts of his 1820 theophany. Lest anyone think that this very recent article is just further evidence that the Church has been hiding this information until the Internet forced them release it, I would also recommend these articles from 1984 (see the section “Joseph Smith’s First History”), 1985, 1986 and 1996.
|An excerpt of Joseph Smith’s 1832 history, written in his own hand, |
describing his vision.
2. FairMormon has some handy wiki articles on the First Vision (here, here, and here) addressing the major criticisms. See also this article from the excellent book BYU Religious Studies Center book No Weapon Shall Prosper. Another RSC publication that addresses the First Vision can be read here.
4. These two books (here and here) are excellent. You may be able to read the first one online sometime later this year, but the second one you’ll have to order. Steven C. Harper had a hand in both of the books (as both an editor and an author). You can read more of his thoughts on the First Vision here in the Religious Educator. You can also listen to a podcast interview of Professor Harper here.
6. An interesting harmony of Joseph’s different accounts can be read here.
7. Finally, some videos on the First Vision are on YouTube. Check them out below.
It should be apparent that there are very cogent responses to criticisms of the First Vision by professional, competent historians. I would go so far as to say that there are actually no real compelling arguments against it. One can choose to believe or disbelieve in the First Vision on personal, religious, or areligious grounds as one wishes, but the historical and theological arguments against the First Vision are seriously debatable at best or highly erroneous at worst.