Sunday, December 22, 2013

The First Vision Series - The 1838 Account

The 1838 version is the the official, canonized version of the the First Vision.  This is the version I was taught as a child as well as the version I taught investigators of the Church for two years.

I won't discuss much about this version - this is the version by which I've compared the previous two versions.

The one thing I will comment on is the 'thick darkness' Joseph refers to in this version.  It was not mentioned in the 1832 or 1835 versions.  Although his tongue was bound in the 1835 version, he did not mention the darkness.  In this 1838 version, he talks of an "enemy" which "seized upon" him and "entirely overcame" him.  This influence has such a profound effect on him, that it binds his tongue.  Then "thick darkness gathered around" him and he feared that he would be destroyed.  His fear is so great he says, "I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction - not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being sent from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being."

Let me back up a bit.  I mentioned I was taught this version of the First Vision when I was a child.  But, for the most part, this bit about the "darkness" was usually left out or not discussed.  And if it was included in the lesson, it was quickly covered, so as not to dwell on the "enemy" so much.  Personally speaking, I was left with the impression that if we focused on this part too much, the same thing would happen to me.

Then, while as a missionary, whenever we taught the First Vision, we almost always left the "thick darkness" part out.  Or, if we did include it, we would not go into much detail about it - such as only mentioned his tongue was bound.

In Rough Stone Rolling, Bushman describes Joseph's "reluctance" in sharing the First Vision and that as he got more confident, he shared more details.

The 1838 version is very detailed and colorful when compared to the other versions.  I can see why this version would be the preferred version to include in the scriptures.