Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Changing Lucy Mack Smith's history

In the first version of her dictated history, Lucy Mack Smith did not mention the First Vision. Instead, she explains that Joseph's search for truth let do Moroni's first visit.

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1844-1845/40

One evening we were sitting till quite late conversing upon the subject of the diversity of churches that had risen up in the world and the many thousand opinions in existence as to the truths contained in scripture Joseph who never said many words upon any subject but always seemed to reflect more deeply than common persons of his age upon everything of a religious nature This After we ceased conversation he went to bed <​and was pondering in his mind which of the churches were the true one.​> an but he had not laid there long till <​he saw​> a bright <​light​> entered the room where he lay he looked up and saw an angel of the Lord stood <​standing​> by him The angel spoke I perceive that you are enquiring in your mind which is the true church there is not a true church on Earth No not one Nor <​and​> has not been since Peter took the Keys <​of the Melchesidec priesthood after the order of God​> into the Kingdom of Heaven the churches that are now upon the Earth are all man made churches....

There is a record for you and Joseph when you have learned to keep the commandments of God but you cannot get it untill you learn to keep the commandments of God <​For it is not to get gain.​> For But it is to bring forth that light and intelligence which has been long lost in the Earth Now Joseph <​or​> beware <​or​> when you go to get the plates your mind will be filld with darkness and all man[n]er of evil will rush into your mind. To keep <​prevent​> you from keeping the commandments of God <​that you migh may not suceced in doing his work​> and you must tell your father of this for he will believe every word you say the record is on a side hill on the Hill of Cumorah 3 miles from this place remove the Grass and moss and you will find a large flat stone pry that up and you will find the record under it laying on 4 pillars <​of cement​>— then the angel left him

Notice that it was during this first visit that Moroni identified the "Hill of Cumorah" as the location of the plates.

Lucy's account is consistent with Joseph's later explanation that he didn't tell people about the First Vision, apart from the minister who disbelieved him.

In the second version of her history, the First Vision account from the Times and Seasons (now JS-History in the Pearl of Great Price) was simply copied into her history verbatim, with this introduction:

While these things were going forward, Joseph’s mind became considerably troubled excited upon the subject of religion; and the following extract from his history (Times & Seasons) will show, more clearly than I can express, the state of his feelings and the result of his reflections on this occasion:

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1845/80

This sequence suggests that Lucy had no independent recollection of Joseph's First Vision because he never told her about it when it happened, and may not have told her about it later. 

The account of Moroni's visit was also inserted into the second version of her history:

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1845/86

While some may cite these discrepancies as evidence that Joseph invented the First Vision long after the fact, others may conclude that Joseph simply didn't tell his mother about his experience at the time it happened, which is consistent with what he later reported.

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