CES Letter Core Question
The first written account of the First Vision is 1832, twelve years after the event. Is this a sign of fabrication?
Multiple sources support Joseph was sharing his vision with selected audiences prior to 1832.
Joseph recounted that after telling a preacher, his account was rejected, which may have greatly diminished his willingness to tell his story thereafter.
Joseph’s account acknowledges that he did not even tell his mother when she asked him about it. It is consistent with the position that he didn’t often speak about it.
As early as 1827, antagonists recall Joseph claiming to have conversed with God. Click here
D&C 20:5 (part of the Articles and Covenants of the Church presented by Joseph Smith for approval at a Church conference held in Fayette, New York on 9 June 1830) declares that Joseph had previously been forgiven of his sins as described in the earliest published reference of the First Vision story.
In 1879 Emma Smith recalled that Joseph was not particularly given to writing or even dictation in 1829: "Joseph Smith could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter; let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon." (The Saints' Herald, vol. 26, pp. 289, 290 [1 Oct 1879].) That he did not write or declare formal statements about the First Vision is not surprising.
Newspapers would not have considered a visionary claim from a 14-year-old boy to have been newsworthy.
We have very few records dealing directly with Joseph Smith between 1820 and 1830. That the few in existence do not mention the First Vision is not surprising.