New Podcast Series Looks in Depth at Joseph Smith’s First Vision of Deity

Joseph Smith

The First Vision: A Joseph Smith Papers Podcast is a new six-episode miniseries from the editors of The Joseph Smith Papers Project. These podcasts explore and analyze the history and legacy of Joseph Smith’s encounter with Deity: known by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the First Vision. Series host Spencer W. McBride interviews historians and other scholars in a documentary-style podcast about this pivotal event in the history of the Restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Accepting the Prophet’s Invitation to Learn More about the Restoration

Released in the bicentennial year of Joseph Smith’s vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ, the podcast recreates the world in which Joseph Smith was seeking answers to the pressing questions of his soul. Listeners will be invited to understand the First Vision from the perspective of historians. During the 2020 bicentennial year, these podcasts can help members increase their knowledge of the Restoration and their personal connections with the revelatory love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith’s historic First Vision occurred 200 years ago this spring.

Russell M. Nelson

At the October 2019 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson designated the year 2020 as a “bicentennial year,” and he extended the following invitation: “In the next six months, I hope that every member and every family will prepare for a unique conference that will commemorate the very foundations of the restored gospel. … Immerse yourself in the glorious light of the Restoration. As you do, general conference next April will not only be memorable; it will be unforgettable” (“Closing Remarks,” Ensign, Nov. 2019, 122).

Looking at the First Vision through the Eyes of Historians

Each episode features insights from Church historians and scholars and is designed to help Latter-day Saints and others see this theophany in a new way.

“Have you ever looked at the event through the eyes of historians?” narrator Spencer McBride, a historian of early America and documentary editor of The Joseph Smith Papers, says in episode 1. “Now, I’m not talking about historical trivia consisting of a long list of dates or an assortment of fun facts. I’m talking about historians who have spent years immersed in Joseph Smith’s surviving documents. Scholars, men and women who have walked the fields of history, who can tell you what occurred thereon, and why those events occurred the way that they did. You see, something special happens when you view the First Vision through the eyes of historians. You find a story that is simultaneously familiar and new.”

Listen and Learn about Joseph Smith’s First Vision

The episodes are available on Latter-day Saints ChanneliTunesGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher and RSS feed. Each episode is summarized below. The titles are phrases from the 1838 account of the First Vision.

Prologue: Introducing the First Vision” (2 minutes): Listeners will hear a story that is simultaneously familiar and new as they learn little-known details of the story of Joseph Smith’s First Vision—details that illuminate the event and its relevance today.

Episode 1: “An Unusual Excitement” (18 minutes): Social, cultural and economic changes created an environment in which Americans of Joseph Smith’s time were actively engaged in conversations about the state of religion.

Episode 2: “What Is to Be Done?” (23 minutes): In 1820, Joseph Smith was seeking answers to the pressing questions of his soul. He wanted to know which church was the church of Jesus Christ, but that was not his only question. He was first deeply concerned about his own soul and salvation.

Episode 3: “I Retired to the Woods” (15 minutes): This episode examines the sensory experience of the environment in which Joseph Smith prayed. What did the place that came to be called the Sacred Grove look like when Joseph Smith entered it in the early spring of 1820? What did it sound like? What did it smell like?

Episode 4: “A Pillar of Light” (9 minutes): The story of the First Vision is told using all nine surviving accounts of the event. Four accounts were recorded by Joseph or under his direction; the other five come from contemporaries who heard him speak about the vision.

Episode 5: “It Caused Me Serious Reflection” (44 minutes): This episode explores the immediate aftermath of the First Vision and Joseph Smith’s recounting of the event throughout his life.

Episode 6: “I Had Seen a Vision” (29 minutes): Why does the story of Joseph Smith’s First Vision — about a teenage boy in western New York during the early 19th century — resonate with people around the world today?