From the moment Joseph Smith first spoke of it, many have considered, examined, and questioned his account of God and Christ appearing to him in a grove of trees in upstate New York. As the only tangible evidence of the miraculous event, Joseph's recorded statements on the first vision are important today for both believers and critics: the truth of these records attests to Joseph's prophetic calling, the reality of the Restoration, and the assurance that God continues to speak to us today.
In this volume, Church historian Steven C. Harper provides all known accounts of the first vision written during Joseph Smith's lifetime and places them within the historical context of his family, community, and culture. Brother Harper includes practical explanations of the variations and nuances of each account as well as an analysis of three notable critiques of Joseph's statements. Using historical and analytical methodology, Brother Harper helps us better understand what he declares may be the "best document theophany — vision of God — in history."
Joseph Smith's First Vision: A Guide to the Historical Accounts is enhanced by images of accounts of the vision and of individuals and places associated with it. Most important, this faithful work offers a fresh look at important records with neither a doubting nor a defensive bias. It is a book that will inform, uplift, and inspire those who seek to know the truth.
This book examines the historical accounts from the first vision giving the reader the tools to seek learning through study...not just by faith alone. His analysis and summary of each account gives the a glimpse into Joseph Smith, his life & times, his parents & siblings and deep insight into the evidence of the first vision. He maintains, "the testimony itself and our ability to independently test is veracity -- are essential to this [knowing]...reading, remembering, pondering -- all with real intent, or focused purpose."
Eight chapters in all, the first 1/3 of the book provides historical data introducing the reader to the Smith family up until the vision in the sacred grove. The next few chapters take a look at 1832, 1835, 1838, 1842 accounts and their transcriptions plus transcriptions of accounts as shared by others including: Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, Levi Richards, Davide Nye White and Alexender Neibaur. An entire chapter examines the three main arguments against the first vision including a defense against author Fawn Brodie and the final chapters invite the reader to examine the evidence and seek answers.
18 color plates show pictures of journals, entry pages, and samples of Joseph Smith's autobiography.
This is an interesting book, albeit it is scholarly so a little bit slow as I tried to digest and understand the information. I appreciate the matter-of-fact manner in sharing the details behind the first vision. While this book is not dripping with testimony you can feel the strong assurance that Steven C. Harper wants you to find a secure knowledge of the first vision for yourself through study AND faith.