Joseph Smith, prophet and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stated that when he was fourteen years old he had received a visitation from two members of the Godhead: the Father and the Son. He was alone when he went into the woods to pray, and was therefore the only witness to the manifestation of these personages. He also declared that when he was seventeen years old he was visited by an angel named Moroni. Again he was without witnesses. For a first-hand account of these two experiences we must rely on a single source, Joseph Smith. All other sources of the story of his visions of Moroni and the Father and Son are secondary since they have been retold after the authors had hear Joseph's story.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rely upon the story of Joseph Smith as a foundation of their faith. Details left by Joseph himself, however, are only sketchy in nature, making a historical analysis of the events highly difficult. Further problems arise when accounts by other writers who knew Joseph Smith not only fill in a few missing details, but also sometimes present some conflicting details. A survey of these sources and problems, together with an analysis of Joseph Smith's several efforts to re-tell the story, would be helpful to "Mormons" and "non-Mormons" alike in determining what consistent "threads" might run through all the stories, as well as pin-pointing what historical problems may still remain in correlating various accounts. This thesis is not an effort to prove beyond all doubt that Joseph Smith was telling the truth, for this cannot be done by empirical methods. It is simply an effort to analyze as objectively as possible the various sources and to suggest possible reasons for some of the problems and conflicts. It also shows that Joseph Smith was consistent in his recitation of the major aspects of his story over the years.
College and Department
Religious Education; Church History and Doctrine
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Cheesman, Paul R., "An Analysis of the Accounts Relating Joseph Smith's Early Visions" (1965). Theses and Dissertations. 4590.
Joseph Smith, 1805-1844, Visions, Mormons