Doctrine and Covenants

Week 2: Joseph Smith’s childhood, the First Vision, Moroni₂, and the gold plates

Joseph Smith—History

10 September 2020

(canceled because of COVID-19 meeting restrictions)


Additional reading and links

  • First Vision Accounts,” Gospel Topics Essays, November 2013. An excellent summary on the Church’s website of Joseph Smith’s various accounts of the First Vision, along with a response to criticisms that he misremembered or embellished his accounts over time.

  • Dean C. Jessee, “The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” BYU Studies 9, no. 3 (Spring 1969): 275–94. (The entire issue is devoted to the historical setting of the First Vision.) This article was updated and expanded as the opening chapter of John W. Welch and Erick b. Carlson, eds., Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820–1844 (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press and Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 1–33.

  • Dean C. Jessee, “The Reliability of Joseph Smith’s History,” Journal of Mormon History 3, no. 1 (1976): 23–46. Jessee explores how the official history of the Church was compiled between 1838 and 1856, the historiographical methods the clerks used, and the limitations of the record.


Joseph Smith’s First Vision: Seeking the Accounts,” YouTube video playlist (7 parts), 1:05:48. This documentary features the finest scholars of Joseph Smith's First Vision and explores with them the circumstances and history of the various accounts of the visitation of God the Father and Jesus Christ to the boy Joseph Smith.