A Comparison of Various Accounts of
Joseph Smith's First Vision

Element of Account 1st Hand Accounts Accounts Written in Joseph's Lifetime
1832 1835 1838 1842 Pratt Hyde Richards White Neibaur

About age 12 he became concerned for the welfare of his soul


He searched the scriptures

He discovered that those of different denominations did not behave according to the scriptures and this grieved his soul X                
There was an unusual excitement in the place the Smiths lived about religion among various religious sects     X         X X
Some in his family joined the Presbyterian faith during this time/ "got religion"     X           X
He wanted to know which church he should join     X         X X
As he considered the different systems of religion, he knew not who was right and who was wrong   X X X X   X    
He wondered if all the religious parties were wrong together     X            
From age 12-15 he pondered the wicked state of mankind X                
At about age 14 he began to reflect upon the importance of being prepared for a future state       X X X      
He became convicted of his own sins X                
By searching scripture he found that mankind had apostatized from the truth and none were built upon Gospel of Christ as found in the NT X         X      
He mourned his own sins as well as the sins of the world X                
He learned from scripture that God was the same yesterday, today, and forever; and was no respecter of persons X                
He pondered upon the sun, moon, stars, earth, beasts, fowls, fish, and the majesty of man and concluded there was a God X                
Realizing that God wants people to worship him in spirit and truth, he went into the wilderness and cried unto the Lord X                
He went to the woods/grove to pray X X X X X X X X X
It was a beautiful morning in early Spring of 1820     X            
He went to a clearing in the woods where he had stuck his axe when he had quit work               X  
He prayed because the Bible said he would receive an answer if he did so   X X            
Mention of Matthew 7:7 (ask and ye shall receive, etc.)   X              
Mention of James 1:5 (if any of you lack wisdom, etc.)   X X X X X X X X
He turned to James "promiscuously" (ie. randomly)               X ?
It was his first attempt to pray   X X            
He was in his 16th year (hence 15 yrs old) at the time of his 1st vision X                
He was about 14 years old at the time of his 1st vision   X X            
He was severely tempted by the powers of darkness         X        
The adversary filled his mind with doubts and all manner of inappropriate images           X      
His tongue felt swollen in his mouth/cleaved to the roof of his mouth, so he could not speak   X             X
He heard a noise behind him like walking nearer and nearer to him   X              
He sprang to his feet to look around but saw no one   X              
He again called upon the Lord in mighty prayer   X     X        
He was seized upon by an unseen power which entirely overcame him and bound his tongue     X            
Thick darkness gathered around him and he seemed doomed to sudden destruction     X            
He exerted all of his power to call upon God at this moment of greatest alarm     X            
A pillar of fire/light above the brightness of the noon day sun came down and rested upon him X X X X X        
He saw a light               X X
The light/fire descended gradually     X   X       X
The fire did not consume anything in the grove though it spread all around   X     X        
The light enveloped him                 X
He was freed him from the unseen enemy which held him bound     X            
He was filled with the Spirit of God X                
He was filled with unspeakable joy as the fire/light rested upon him   X              
He felt comforted                 X
The light produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole body         X        
His mind was caught away from the natural objects with which he was surrounded and he was enwrapped in a vision       X X X      
He saw two personages ? X X X X X      
One personage appeared first, then the second   X           X X
He (the first personage) had a light complexion, blue eyes, a piece of white cloth drawn over his shoulders, and his right arm bear                 X
The two beings exactly resembled each other in features and likeness       X X X      
The Father called Joseph by name     X            
The Lord called him by name X                
The Father testified that Jesus was his son   ? X            
The Lord told him his sins were forgiven X X     X        
The Lord told him he was the Lord of Glory and had been crucified for the sins of the world X                
Joseph asked Them which of all the religious sects was right/which one he should join     X       X X  
He asked if he should join the Methodist Church                 X
He was forbidden to join any of the sects for they were all wrong     X X X X X X  
He was told that the Everlasting covenant was broken             X    
He was told all their creeds were an abomination     X            
He was told that all religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines       X X X      
He was told that none of them was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom       X X X      
The Lord told him to keep his commandments X                
The Lord told him the world lies in sin, none doeth good X               X
The Lord told him the whole world has turned from the gospel X               X
The Lord told him that they draw near him with their lips but their hearts are far from him X   X            
The Lord said his anger is kindled against earth's inhabitants, that he would visit them according to ungodliness to bring to pass what was spoken by the mouth of the prophets & apostles X                
The Lord said he would come quickly in the cloud, clothed with glory X                
He received a promise that the fulness of the gospel would at some future time be made known unto him       X X X      
When he came to himself he was lying on his back and had no strength for a time     X         X X
Joseph's soul was filled with love for many days X                
His mind was in a state of calmness and peace indescribable         X X      
He could get no one to believe his vision X                
He pondered these things in his heart X