S. Dilworth Young said this about the first vision in an April, 1957 Conference Report:
"I am concerned however with one item which has recently been called to my attention on this matter. There appears to be going about our communities some writing to the effect that the Prophet Joseph Smith EVOLVED HIS DOCTRINE from what might have been a vision, in which he is supposed to have said that he saw an angel, instead of the Father and Son. According to this theory, by the time he was inspired to write the occurrence in 1838, he had come to the conclusion that there were two Beings."
"This rather shocked me. I CAN SEE NO REASON why the Prophet, with his brilliant mind, would have FAILED TO REMEMBER IN SHARP RELIEF THE DETAILS of that eventful day. I can remember quite vividly that in 1915 I had a mere dream, and while the dream was prophetic in its nature, it was not startling. It has been long since fulfilled, but I can remember every detail of it as sharply and clearly as though it had happened yesterday. How then could any man conceive that the Prophet, receiving such a vision as he received, would not remember it and would fail to write it clearly, distinctly, and accurately?" (CAPS MINE)
In 1957 the only "version" of the first vision known to S. Dilworth Young was the 1838 official version.
Unknown to Young, in 1921 Joseph Fielding Smith, as the newly appointed CHURCH HISTORIAN, upon discovering the first account (1832) of the first vision in Joseph Smith's own writing in his journal ("Letterbook 1"), promptly tore the 3 pages out and hid them away in his personal safe!
He certainly recognized the damage the earlier account would do to the church, and purposely, with clear intent, withheld it from the record.
The Letterbook along with many other journals and volumes had been transported from Nauvoo to SLC and stuck in a vault. They remained apparently unexplored⁄ignored until the newly called Church Historian started going through them and made his startling discovery.
These damaging 3 pages remained safely stashed away in Church vaults for over 40 years, until in the 60's, when Sandra and Gerald Tanner published something in their newsletter indicating they had inside word that the pages were missing.
Realizing the possible scandal, Joseph Fielding Smith, now the President of the Quorum, replaced the torn-out pages in "Letterbook 1".
Then in 1965 the church allowed a BYU student, Paul Cheesman, to write a masters thesis on the topic of the 1832 version of the first vision---thus finally, safely (from the church's perspective---as opposed to the evil Tanners), the existence of the 1832 account could be published.
In 2010, the LDS church scanned the Letterbook and placed it online. From the picture below, taken from this scan, it can be seen that the missing pages have been glued in place.⁄h9PQBv6.jpg
A professional historian seeks to uncover the truth and will go where the historical evidence leads. In this case the church HISTORIAN sought to undermine true history and promoted a false history for many years -- one that other general authorities including S. Dilworth Young would stand up and "testify" about. If Joseph Fielding Smith had not told someone about pages and the information had not been leaked to independent observers, I highly doubt the original first vision account would have ever seen the light of day.
I was at Will Bagley's home last week since he and I are presenting together at the Sunstone event this weekend and we were giggling about "Essays" the church has released. Will remarked that he was looking forward to seeing his old buddy Rick Turley (Asst. Church Historian) again and looking him right in the eyes when he asks how, as a professionally trained historian, Rick can sleep at night.
Lawyers may be skeptical or not, but in any case are not paid for their skepticism but only for their advocacy. The case I cite above and the "essays" published by the church are pure lawyer-speak advocacy and outright deception if I have ever seen it.
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