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Changing First Vision Accounts - 1835 First Vision Account by Joseph Smith given to Erastus Holmes

1835 — Account given by Joseph Smith to Erastus Holmes on November 14, 1835, originally published in the Deseret News of Saturday May 29, 1852, later published in the History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 312. It parallels the previously cited account and lends support to the view that the dual personages in the 1835 diary account should be understood to be angels who affirm the Sonship of Jesus Christ rather than the Father and the Son.

Principle elements of the account:.

  • age 14 (1820)
  • had a vision of angels
  • later had revelations about the Book of Mormon
  • this account parallels the one given to Joshua

The Account


Deseret News, Saturday, May 29, 1852
History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 312

“This afternoon, Erastus Holmes, of Newbury, Ohio, called on me to inquire about the establishment of the church, and to be instructed in doctrine more perfectly. I gave him a brief relation of my experience while in my juvenile years, say from six years old up to the time I received the first visitation of angels, which was when I was about fourteen years old; also the revelations that I received afterwards concerning the Book of Mormon, and a short account of the rise and progress of the church up to this date.”


When this account was incorporated into the History of the Church, it was changed. It originally read “first visitation of angels” but was emended to read “first vision” (see scans above). Thus, by eliminating one account from the official church history (the one to Joshua) and altering the second, a clear contradiction is removed between Joseph’s earlier claim to see angels in the first vision, and his claim in a later version to see the Father and Son in the first vision.

Next account — 1838 Official Account

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