I was wondering – recently my husband heard that there were contradicting accounts of the First Vision from the Prophet Joseph Smith. Do you know anything about this? This is very disheartening to my husband and I’m at a loss.. not sure what to do. Any info would be great! Thanks!
Of course there are conflicting accounts of the First Vision, in which God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ appeared to the fourteen-year-old boy Joseph Smith, in answer to his fervent prayer asking which of all the churches was right. That vision occurred in the spring of 1820. The earliest extant account of the First Vision in the grove is that written by the Prophet eighteen later, in 1838.
It was first published by Joseph Smith in The Times and Seasons in 1842. However, in that same year, and some time before the publication of The Times and Seasons, J. B. Turner, a non-Mormon, published a book in which he gave an account of the First Vision. His version, although it contains some errors of date, corroborates the Prophet’s account (see John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p.336).
Joseph first related the account of his vision to his own mother on the day that it happened.. How many times to you think that the account of the first vision was related and passed from one person to another in the twenty-two year period between its occurrence and its publication? You must also remember that in the early 1800s there were no computers, no Xerox machines and no typewriters. Hand written copies of verbal accounts as they were remembered by the listeners were the only way, other than verbal communication, of relaying information.
So your husband needs to feel no concern if various accounts of historic events of those days contain some discrepancies. In truth, there were many discrepancies. Brigham Young, in referring to the written accounts of his sermons, is reported to have said,
“I only wish that they would write what I said.”