There are 4 thoughts on “Variants in the Stories of the First Vision of Joseph Smith and the Apostle Paul”.

  1. Pingback: How Paul's conversion can strengthen your faith in Joseph Smith's accounts of the First Vision | Meridian Magazine

  2. [In one account, Joseph says that he saw “the Lord,” while in another he notes that he saw “two personages.”] Of course, this supposed inconsistency is rather silly to pick at, and I’m sure it has been debunked many times over, but it seems to me that when Joseph first encountered the Heavenly messengers, he didn’t know who they were until they identified themselves, and it may yet have taken a while for the reality of it to sink in that he had been visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ when he saw those two separate beings. Joseph would, of course, relate having spoken to the Lord on that occasion, whether in recorded histories or unrecorded discussions, but when setting out to record a definitive history years later (to clear up distortions, etc.), he is recording events in a manner AS HE WAS EXPERIENCING THEM. In other words, describing the unfolding scene as he recalled it happening at the time: “I saw two personages…” who later identified themselves (one called the other “my beloved son”).

  3. Having read books on and studied all the variants of the first vision, I personally don’t have a problem with any of the differences between them. They show simply that they were written at different times for different reasons which emphasize different points. As an example, I served in Viet Nam during 1971-1972. What I first felt and what I wrote and talked about regarding those experiences is much changed between 1972 and 2012. I have given talks about those experiences to priesthood classes, young women classes, and other groups such as military class graduations. Were the talks identical? No, I made sure to emphasize the points I thought pertinent for each group That didn’t mean the experiences were different, it simply meant my each presentation was different based on whatever the point was that I was trying to get across to that particular audience. That is the perspective that I have about the variants of the first vision. I believe that Joseph Smith (and later scribes) were simply trying to communicate different points to different audiences. That doesn’t mean the events didn’t happen.

  4. John T’s comments are very much on point and well-argued, even though he didn’t point out the obvious discrepancy between Acts 9:7 (men heard the voice) and 22:9 (men heard not the voice). These are the very kinds of variants one finds in the recording by others (in this case Luke) of the same event.
    However, there are also parallels with Old Testament events included, e.g.,
    (a) Acts 9:4, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” sounds very much like David’s question to King Saul at I Samuel 26:18 “Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant?”
    (b) Acts 9:25 and II Corinthians 11:33 both have Saul being let down in a basket from a window in the wall in order to escape Damascus, just as Joshua 2:15 has two Israelite spies being let down from a window in the wall of Jericho.
    Given the careless way in which some people account for the variants in Joseph’s accounts of his First Vision, one might well expect them to equally carelessly deal with biblical variants (and parallels).

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