Art Credit: Anthony Sweat

Joseph Smith's First Vision | Episode 1

"The Hermeneutic of Trust" and Joseph's 1832 Account

65 min

Joseph Smith’s First Vision is foundational to our narrative of the Restoration today, but it was not always so from the Church’s beginning. So how did the First Vision go from what began as a very personal experience of Joseph’s, to growing in institutional significance for the whole Church as it has today? Also, given that there are unique differences in Joseph Smith’s 4 separate accounts of his First Vision, what role does our personal “hermeneutic” play in how we make sense of these? And what might a letter Joseph wrote from Indiana to his wife Emma tell us about the context of his 1832 account of his vision?

(Embed Episode Here with Embed Code)

Show Notes


  • Joseph Smith’s four accounts of his First Vision were written or dictated under four very unique and distinct circumstances which influence how he recounted his vision and what details he provided or omitted as he did so. When viewed through the “hermeneutic of trust,” the differences in these accounts nuance and enhance rather than cast suspicion upon the reality of Joseph’s vision.
  • Joseph’s 1832 account was rediscovered and made publicly available in the 2nd half of the 20th century. It is unclear why he wrote it and who his intended audience may have been, but Matthew Godfrey’s 2018 article offers a solid hypothesis which Casey and Scott weigh in on. 
  • His 1832 account is the most intimate of Joseph’s four recitals of his First Vision. It discloses his inner world far more than the other accounts, and it also contains more words from the Savior than any other account.


Show produced by Zander Sturgill and Scott Woodward, edited by Nick Galieti and Scott Woodward, with show notes by Gabe Davis. 

Church History Matters is a Podcast of Scripture Central. For more resources to enhance your gospel study go to where everything is available for free because of the generous donations of people like you.