Art Credit: Anthony Sweat

Joseph Smith's First Vision | Episode 3

How Did Orson Pratt Influence Joseph Smith's 1842 First Vision Narrative?

45 min

Did you know that the first time the story of Joseph Smith’s First Vision was ever printed was in a pamphlet written by apostle Orson Pratt and published in Scotland while Pratt was on a mission there in 1840? Intriguingly, Pratt’s language from this pamphlet was used by Joseph Smith himself two years later, in 1842, when writing the story of his First Vision for a non-Latter-day Saint newspaper editor named John Wentworth. Pratt’s pamphlet also heavily influenced another insightful telling of Joseph’s vision written by his fellow apostle Orson Hyde which was published in Germany in 1842. In today’s episode we dive into all three of these accounts.

Show Notes


  • Some of the language used in Joseph Smith’s 1842 account of his First Vision was drawn directly from or influenced by Elder Orson Pratt’s 1840 published pamphlet on the First Vision. Pratt was a brilliant and articulate apostle in Joseph Smith’s inner circle. Having learned the details of Joseph’s vision directly from him, Pratt put it into language which Joseph admired and utilized in his own retelling of his vision in 1842.
  • Joseph’s 1842 account was written because of a formal invitation by John Wentworth, a non-Latter-day Saint newspaper editor, to Joseph Smith to write about the rise and progress of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—which in 1842 was at the height of its popularity up to that point. This context accounts for the simple, straightforward, bold, missionary tone of the text. 
  • Orson Hyde’s 1842 account, originally published in German, was also directly influenced by Orson Pratt’s 1840 account. Yet Hyde’s account contains some unique material about Joseph’s inner world at the time of the vision not found in any other account. 


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

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