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Joseph Smith: Timeline

The First Vision

Image: "Joseph Smith's First Vision," 1913, maker unknown, Museum of Church History and Art

Spring 1820

According to the testimony of Joseph Smith's younger brother William, Joseph, at age 14, had heard Rev. George Lane preach a sermon on "what church shall I join" and quoted from the New Testament James 1:5,
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Joseph ponders the scripture and decides to retire to a nearby grove, where he prays vocally for the first time. He feels the presence of Satan, continues to pray, and has the visitation of the Father and the Son, and is told to join none of the churches.

The first known written record of the "First Vision" was not made until 1831 or 1832. Joseph Smith penned the most detailed account in 1839. The "First Vision" was not taught publicly by the early missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was not published until 1840 by Orson Pratt in England in his missionary tract, "Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records."

Source: J. Christopher Conkling, A Joseph Smith Chronology, Deseret Book Company, 1979.

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