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First Vision – Memory and Mormon Origins - Oxford Scholarship Online
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First Vision: Memory and Mormon Origins

Steven Harper


Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, remembered that his first audible prayer, uttered in spring 1820, resulted in a vision of heavenly beings who forgave him and told him Christianity had gone astray. “The Mormon narrative,” according to a 2012 blog post, “seems to always start with a young boy who asked God a question one spring morning in 1820.” That is true if one qualifies the always, for it has not always been so. When and why and how did Joseph Smith’s “first vision,” as Latter-day Saints or “Mormons” know the event, become their seminal story? W ... More

Keywords: Joseph Smith, first vision, memory, Mormonism, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780199329472
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199329472.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Steven Harper, author
Professor of Church History and Doctorine, Brigham Young University