Joseph Smith—History (1838)

About the Account “This Is My Beloved Son”

Joseph Smith published two accounts of the First Vision during his lifetime. The first of these, known today as Joseph Smith—History, was canonized in the Pearl of Great Price and thus became the most well-known account. While the 1832 account emphasizes the more personal story of Joseph as a young man seeking forgiveness, the Pearl of Great Price account focuses on the vision as the beginning of “the rise and progress of [the] Church” (Joseph Smith—History 1:1). Like the 1835 account, the central question of the narrative is “Which church is right?”

This account was drafted in 1838 and first published in 1842 in the Times and Seasons, the Church’s newspaper in Nauvoo, Illinois. It was part of a longer history dictated by Joseph. In 1851 Franklin D. Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles compiled this account with other writings, translations, and revelations into a pamphlet titled the Pearl of Great Price. The volume was later canonized by unanimous vote at the October 1880 general conference.

The fourth written account of the First Vision was written in response to Chicago Democrat editor John Wentworth’s request for information about the Latter-day Saints and was printed in the Times and Seasons in 1842. Commonly known as the “Wentworth Letter,” this account is concise and straightforward and is the source for the Articles of Faith. As with earlier accounts, Joseph noted the confusion he experienced and the appearance of two personages in answer to his prayer.