Joseph Smith Sr. Dream
CES Letter Core Question
Is Lehi's dream actually copied from a dream Joseph Smith's father had?
In 1811, Joseph smith Sr. apparently had a dream that was similar to the dream described by Lehi. His dream (1 Ne. 8:4-28) comprises 789 words out of the total Book of Mormon word count of 268,163.
Lehi's dream comprises a very small portion of the Book of Mormon text.
The details of the dream were written long after the Book of Mormon was published Lucy's manuscript for Joseph Smith, The Prophet And His Progenitors For Many Generations, which she dictated to Martha Jane Coray in the winter of 1844–45.
There are many obvious connections between this dream and Lehi's vision of the tree of life recorded in 1 Nephi 8:
A desolate field representing the world (8:4).
A narrow path (8:20).
A river of water (8:13).
A rope running along the bank of the river (similar in function to the rod of iron in 8:19, 24).
A tree with dazzling white fruit (8:10–11).
Joseph, Sr. desires that his family should partake of the fruit also (8:12).
A spacious building filled with people who are mocking those who eat the fruit (8:26–27).
Joseph, Sr. and his family ignore the mocking (8:33).
The fruit represents the love of God (11:22).
The building represents the world (11:36; 12:18).
Dissimilarities are also present supporting that, rather than plagiarism, God could teach similar principles through dreams to worthy recipients across generations and continents.
None of Joseph's family regarded the similarities as evidence that Joseph Jr. was engaging in a forgery.
It is possible that Lucy's late recollection was influenced by what she read in the Book of Mormon. Her memory would have been affected by what she learned in the more detailed Book of Mormon account (even as it stands, the Book of Mormon account is far more detailed and lengthy than the material from 1844-45).
FAIR Issues 62: Old World Narratives and Lehi’s dream, Michael R. Ash, 0:07:50