Wednesday, April 29, 2015
'The First Vision' harmonizes accounts of Joseph Smith's theophany
Matthew B. Christensen's first book, “The First Vision: A Harmonization of 10 Accounts from the Sacred Grove,” brings together historical accounts of the initial appearance of God and Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith, prophet and founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Using Joseph's account of the First Vision found in the Pearl of Great Price as a base, Christensen inserts additional words or sentences from nine other accounts of the experience recorded before the prophet’s death on June 27, 1844. Inserted words are color coded according to their source, and a key to the code is provided at the bottom of each page.
Of the 10 accounts, five were written or dictated by Joseph Smith; the other five were written by contemporaries who heard the account from him: Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, Levi Richards, David White and Alexander Neibaur.
Christensen hopes to share the original accounts of the First Vision in a way that provides fresh insights and builds faith.
The book is a valuable resource and a fine introduction for those wanting to learn more about this foundational event in the history of the LDS Church. For those wanting to do more in-depth study, sources for the complete texts of the 10 accounts are included in the seven pages of endnotes.
Beautiful illustrations include a cover painting by Walter Rane and other full-color depictions of the Sacred Grove and the First Vision.
As an adjunct instructor, Christensen has taught Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants classes at Brigham Young University, and was a contributing researcher and writer for the last 11 books of the late Joseph Fielding McConkie. He works as a donor liaison at LDS Philanthropies and lives in Provo.