Question: By what name did Joseph Smith refer to the First Vision?

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Question: By what name did Joseph Smith refer to the First Vision?

Joseph referred to his 1820 theophany as the "first visitation of Angels" or the "first communication"

Joseph Smith never actually referred to what we now call the "First Vision" by that name. Instead, he referred to it as the "first visitation of angels" or the "first communication." Joseph also referred to Moroni's visit as "another vision of angels."

  • One critic of Mormonism states that "Who appears to [Joseph] – a spirit, an angel, two angels, Jesus, many angels, the Father and the Son – are all over the place." [1]
Joseph Smith's 9 November 1835 journal entry, which was written by his scribe, describes a visit of two personages. The scribe then goes back and inserts the phrase "and I saw many angels in this vision" between the lines. Image from "Journal, 1835–1836," Joseph Smith Papers off-site

The account that Joseph entered in his journal on 9 November 1835 was a detailed account which clearly describes two personages, as well as "many angels." The account that Joseph wrote just five days later in his journal on 14 November 1835 was a one line summary of the event, which he described as "the first visitation of Angels." Critics of the Church seem to believe that Joseph completely changed his story from "two personages" to "Angels" over the course of only five days. The truth is that Joseph referred to all of the personages that appeared to him as "angels."

The terms "personages" and "angels" were interchangeable

This confusion regarding "angels" versus "personages" is illustrated in a critical "Mormoninfographic".[2] We have illustrated the error by comparing Joseph's journal entries on both days.



  1. Jeremy Runnells, "Letter to a CES Director" (2013)
  2. Image from "".