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Dating Problems in First Vision (Part 3 of 9 John Pratt)

Critics of the Joseph Smith claim that there are anachronisms in the First Vision. I asked the late Dr. John Pratt about how he handles these problems with anachronisms.  Subscribe at https://GospelTangents.com or https://Patreon.com/GospelTangents

GT:  So, the next question is, we kind of have a little dispute between Dan Vogel, who’s not a believer, and then Steven Harper, who is a believer, as to whether there was actually heavenly visitation. So, Dan would say it was just more like a born again, experience. There was no real vision in 1820, whereas Harper would say, yes, there was. That’s were God and Jesus appeared.

John:  You need to tell Dan, that he can pray about this and get his own testimony.

GT:  (Chuckling)  Okay. Well, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

GT:  But, the issue is, and this is where Dan and Steve would disagree. It appears that Lucy probably joined the Presbyterian Church, and then Joseph said, “I had a vision, and Presbyterianism that is not true.” But, that didn’t happen until 1823.

John:  Let’s talk about history. See, now let’s talk about science and religion, which is history. It’s not as good as science, but it does its best with records. For instance, weather records. Now, we’ve got science and history combined with weather records. You’re taking scientific methods, records on a day. You can combine astronomy with history and say there was an eclipse of the sun in ancient Assyria on such and such a date. We can go back and calculate that.  Then, you can compare that to the records of many Bible events. But, historians that’s lucky when they have science to work with. Usually all they have is records of diaries and stuff, which is good. But there’s something better. I’m so glad I don’t have to depend on just so and so said this, about that, and this guy was preaching it, and it’s probably this and more likely–you read those papers carefully, and they’re going to be filled with likelys and perhapses, and ways where they say, “Well, I never said that was the day. I just said evidence is leading that direction.”

John:  I’m saying the date of the First Vision was Sunday, the 26th of March, 1820, and it’s written in the stars, if you will.  It’s in the Book of Enoch. Enoch gives a 10-week prophecy…

What are your thoughts about the date of the First Vision?  Did Joseph simply conflate some events, or did the vision even happen?  Check out our conversation….

I asked John Pratt to weigh in on Dan Vogel’s case for First Vision anachronisms.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with John!

588:  Dating Problems with First Vision

587:  Dating First Vision

586:  Dating Christ’s Birth

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Dating the First Vision (Part 2 of 9 John Pratt)

When did the First Vision take place? The late Dr. John Pratt says it was March 26, 1820. That calculation is based on the Enoch Calendar. We’re going to take a deep dive into calendar systems and find out how John came up with that date.

John:  So, in the grand years of 364, he’s born in the year–it should be called zero for astronomers. They call it 1 BC, but they had no zero. So, he’s born in the Year Zero, and then the years 364 and 728, you go up five of those, and it’s the year 1820. So, that’s why it’s such a massive big year and big day because it is it’s all the way from Christ and Christ is more than one of these years, too.  So, there you go.

GT:  Okay, so this is a really interesting.  So, you’re tying the birth of Christ into…

John:  Into the First Vision, exactly.

GT:  So, you think you’ve nailed the date as March 26, 1820?

John:  Well, it was all proposed until– and I can say it in a sentence, John Lefgren rides up on a white horse. [He’s] an independent researcher who finds two confirming things.  One, he finds weather reports that shows that March 26 was the best warm day of spring up in New England, when it was snowing on April 6. A lot of people have thought [that] well, he was probably born on April 6. [I mean] the First Vision, they thought might be on April 6.  It turned out it was very cold and not good weather that day. But, on March 26th, it’s the one day that had perfect, sunny weather. That’s why Joseph Smith would remember that. He said, “I don’t know what the day was, but it was a warm, clear spring day.” Well, yeah, and because it snowed the whole month after that, so he’s going to remember that. So, he has the weather reports and the first weather reports ever made, in the world, as far as he can figure out, was in the United States in that year 1820.

GT:  (Chuckling) If it had been 1819, we’d have been out of luck.

John:  You’re out of luck.  So, it’s 1820 and we’ve got the weather.

GT:  The army started tracking the weather, for awhile now.

John:  The weather [tracking] started with the army. The Surgeon General of the United States Army saying, “If we knew the weather, we could keep our soldiers healthier.” So, he took 14–now I’m going to try to do short answers. But, in 14 military stations around, he had people take the weather, and notice the wind and the rain and the temperature three times a day, 14 all around.

GT:  Like 7am, noon and then…

John:  Right, and so we have the weather reports. Number one, there’s confirmation that that was a warm, spring sunny day. This John Lefgren guy happens to be up in New England and he has a maple syrup business, where he makes maple syrup. He knows the process. It turns out by looking– Lucy Mack was the one that knew how to make maple sugar and maple syrup. It turns out that that weather pattern is exactly the day, the time when they would have been working hard doing maple syrup. The story is that Joseph had left his axe in the tree, and he goes to the grove to pray. He couldn’t have prayed on the Friday or the Saturday. But, then on Sunday, it’s the day of rest, and there’s no maple sugar running. You do that when it runs.  It has to do with temperature changes. So, he had two different, separate witnesses that the day was correct. So, that’s what made me think…

GT:  So, it has to do with the maple sugar runs, and that was a perfect day.

John:  It was a perfect day to be after the maple sugar runs were over, to have a day of rest, and it was clear and sunny. Those were confirming. If all it was my Enoch date, nobody would have cared, because they’d say, “Oh yeah, Dr. Pratt and his woo woo calendars. He thinks he knows the date.” But, when you have, “Wait a minute, there’s weather reports. If it’s not that date, what day was it?”  They’d say, “Oh, yeah, it snowed all through April, and this is New England.”

GT:  So, the idea is if you’re making maple syrup, you need a lot of changes in temperature for the sap to run.

John:  Changes, it’s got to go from cold to hot, and then the pressure change. Then you get about two days of that. But, the Sunday was the third day and it was from hot to hot, and there’s no change. So, nothing was running on Sunday, and incidentally you’re supposed to rest anyway, and a perfect day for him to go pray.

What do you think of John’s calculations and these weather reports.  Are they convincing?  Check out our conversation….

Dr. John Pratt calculates that the First Vision took plance on March 26, 1820.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with John!

586:  Dating Christ’s Birth

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*Staker Weighs in on First Vision (Part 5 of 5)

In a previous conversation with historian Dan Vogel, he indicated visions of Jesus were common among Methodists in Joseph Smith’s day and questioned why a Methodist minister would object to Joseph’s account of a vision.  I asked Dr. Mark Staker to weigh in on that issue, and Mark tells why he thinks a minister may have been upset.  BUt to hear this conversation, you need to be signed up for our newsletter at https://GospelTangents.com .

Mark:  Joseph goes to the woods and he begins to pray. What happens? Power falls on him. He says, “an unseen power comes to me that binds my tongue so I can’t speak.”  [This is] exactly what the ministers are telling him is going to happen, happens. And what does he do? He prays that God will release him from this power, and no sooner does he pray asking God to release him from this power, that he sees a light. Then he sees the Father. The Father introduces the Son to him, and tells him, “This is my beloved Son, hear him.” Well, the difference between Joseph and all those Methodists who had exactly that same experience was Joseph recognized that power was not what he wanted. It was not of God, and no sooner did he recognize that and asked to be delivered from that, that he has an experience, unlike any experience that anybody else has had. That’s what makes him different than everybody else.

Mark:  Imagine when he goes back and tells a Methodist minister, “I went out, began to pray, and you know that power you told me was going to fall on me, that’s the devil.” Is that Methodist minister going to like that? No, naturally he’s going to condemn that, because that’s critical of everything he’s been teaching people and telling him to go out and experience. Imagine that he then says, “And then God, the Father, and Jesus Christ came and appeared to me.”  That’s going to contradict all these others who’ve been saying that we don’t have visions like that these days. So, both of those extremes, Joseph’s experience counters, and contradicts, and that everybody is not going to like him, when he begins telling about those details, which is why he waits for so many years to do so because the initial experience was so negative.

GT:  So, you would agree with Steven Harper that it was a Methodist minister that condemned him?

Mark:  That’s the minister that he would know. That’s the one that he would go to, and we know some of those ministers that were in the area that spring in 1820 that he could possibly have gone to.

What do you think of this scenario?  Check out our conversation….

Was the First VIsion in 1820, 1823, or some other year?

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Mark!

36: Lucy’s Dreams, Joseph’s Rational Religion

535: Smith Farmers Were Spiritual, Not Religious

534: When Joseph Met Lucy

533: Smith Family Farm in Vermont