Other Problems – Who Appeared?

Who Appeared to Joseph in the First Vision?

The CES Letter asks: “Who appears to him –a spirit, an angel, two angels, Jesus, many angels, the Father and the Son.” It seems to be a forced question because the obvious answer is that they all did and he chose to report only some of them in each account.

Below are the statements from each of the nine accounts dealing with the Beings Joseph encountered in the First Vision. There is no evidence of an evolving story or contradictions. Joseph was always cautious when referring to his experiences with Deity.

Firsthand Accounts


“I saw the Lord”

Nov. 9th

“personage appeard in the midst, of this pillar  of flame which was spread all around, and yet  nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard  like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are  forgiven thee, he testifyed unto me that Jesus Christ  is the son of God; <and I saw many angels in this vision”


Nov. 14th


“I received the first visitation of Angels"


“I saw  two personages (whose brightness and glory defy all description) standing above me in the air.  One of <them> spake unto me calling me by name and said (pointing to the other) ‘This is my  beloved Son, Hear him.’”



“saw two glorious  personages who exactly resembled each  other in features, and likeness”

Secondhand Accounts

Orson Pratt 1840

“saw two  glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in  their features or likeness.”

Orson Hyde 1842


“Two glorious heavenly personages stood before him, resembling each other exactly in features and stature”

Levi Richards 1843

[Deity not mentioned]

David Nye White 1843


“a glorious personage in the light, and then another personage, and the first personage said to the second,  ‘Behold my beloved Son, hear him.’”

Alexander Neibaur 1844

“saw a personage in the fire light complexion  blue eyes a piece of white cloth drawn over  his shoulders his right arm bear after a w[h]ile  a other person came to the side of the first”