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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 or

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