More Vintage Runtu: 1 Nephi and the First Vision

In Gospel Doctrine, someone pointed out that Nephi’s account of his father’s vision was similar to Joseph Smith’s First Vision, something I had never considered. There are many points of divergence, but here are some points of convergence, as I see it. What do you think?

1. Joseph and Nephi are both born of “goodly parents” and are instructed in the ways of God.

1 Nephi 1:1: I, Nephi, having been born of goodly cparents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

1832 account: I was born in the town of Charon in the [state] Of Vermont North America on the twenty third day of December A D 1805 of goodly Parents who spared no pains to instructing me in [the] christian religion

2. The vision is preceded by religious “excitement” or controversy.

1 Nephi 1:4: For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.

JS-H 5: Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist.

3. Both pray fervently.

1 Nephi 1:5: Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.

JS-H 15: After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God.

1835 account: I kneeled again, my mouth was opened and my tongue loosed; I called on the Lord in mighty prayer.

4. A pillar of fire or light appears.

1 Nephi 1:6: And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him;

1832 account: I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and {to} obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in [the] attitude of calling upon the Lord [in the 16th year of my age] a pillar of {fire} light above the brightness of the Sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me.

1835 account: A pillar of fire appeared above my head; which presently rested down upon me, and filled me with un-speakable joy.

JS-H 16: I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

5. Both are carried away in a vision and see heavenly beings, including angels.

1 Nephi 1:8: And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.

Wentworth Letter account: I retired to a secret place in a grove and began to call upon the Lord, while fervently engaged in supplication my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision.

1832 account: I was filld with the Spirit of God and the [Lord] opened the heavens upon me and I Saw the Lord

1835 account: A personage appeared in the midst of this pillar of flame, which was spread all around and yet nothing consumed. Another personage soon appeared like unto the first: he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee. He testified also unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God. I saw many angels in this vision.

6. Both see the Savior.

1 Nephi 1:9: And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.

1832 account: and he Spake unto me Saying Joseph [my son] thy Sins are forgiven thee. go thy [way] walk in my Statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life

JS-H 17: When the light rested upon me I bsaw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

7. Both are told of the wickedness of the people and coming judgment and destruction.

1 Nephi 1:13: And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem—that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.

JS-H 19: I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

1832 account: [Behold] the world lieth in sin {and} at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the Gospel and keep not [my] commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to this ungodliness and to bring to pass that which [hath] been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Apostles

8. The vision fills both with joy.

1 Nephi 1:15: And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him.

1832 account: my Soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great joy and the Lord was with me

1835 account: … and filled me with un-speakable joy

9. Both are persecuted for their testimony.

1 Nephi 1:19: And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.

And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away.

1832 account: the Lord was with me but could find none that would believe the hevenly vision.

JS-H 22: I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.

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