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April 12-14, 2019 — Steve Harper

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Miller Eccles Study Group Texas is thrilled to welcome Steven C. Harper as our April 2019 speaker.

The accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision have been controversial from the beginning.  In the years immediately following his theophany, Joseph Smith told his story to multiple audiences on multiple occasions, and he published two accounts of the First Vision while he was still alive.  Several other documents and first-hand descriptions related to the First Vision have also been published.

The many accounts of the First Vision have created fertile ground for historical investigation, especially by critics who have been unwilling to accept the faith claims inherent in the Prophet Joseph’s story.  The criticisms have been so persistent that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decided in 2013 to publish an essay explaining how variances among the accounts can be reconciled.

Steven C. Harper is the leading historian of the First Vision, having published numerous articles on the topic, as well as two books: Joseph Smith’s First Vision (Deseret Book, 2012), and the forthcoming First Vision: Memory and Mormon Origins (Oxford University Press, 2019).  His study group presentations on April 12 and 13 will include some of the research findings contained in his forthcoming book.

Steve was also the editor, managing historian, and one of the authors of, Saints, volume 1.  He will offer six reasons why Latter-day Saints need Saints at a devotional fireside in Arlington on April 14.

Please join us for these informative presentations.


Friday, April 12, 7 pm (McKinney)
Playful Corp.
300 E. Davis Street
McKinney, Texas 75069

Saturday, April 13, 7 pm (Arlington)
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016


Sunday, April 14, 6 pm
Arlington Stake Center
3809 Curt Drive
Arlington, Texas 76016


“How Joseph Smith Remembered His First Vision: A Theory Based on the Accounts and the Psychology of Memory”

To a nerdy historian like Steve Harper, the best thing about the Harry Potter stories is the pensieve, the magical bowl of memories in which an observer can sift through another person’s past. Steve’s talk will be the closest thing to looking in the pensieve at Joseph Smith’s memories of his first vision.  It has become common to account for variety in Joseph’s first vision accounts by saying he intended them for different audiences. However true that may be, it’s not the best explanation. Steve will provide a better one based on intimate knowledge of all the vision accounts in light of what we now know about the way memories form and get recalled.



















“Why Latter-day Saints need Saints

Are you one of the 340,000 people who has a print copy of Saints in one of fourteen languages? Are you one of the 834,000 people who have installed Saints in your Gospel Library app and read or listened to a combined 80 million chapters so far this year? Would you like to learn more about where Saints came from and hear six reasons why Latter-day Saints need Saints? Steve Harper was a general editor, the managing historian, and one of the writers. He’ll speak to us about what he learned along the way and what it feels like to lose your memory.



















Steven C. Harper is a professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University.  In 2012 Steve was appointed as the managing historian and a general editor of Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days.  He was named editor in chief of BYU Studies Quarterly in September 2018. He earned an MA in American history from Utah State University and a PhD in early American history from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  He began teaching courses in religion and history at BYU Hawaii in 2000 and joined the Religious Education faculty at BYU in 2002.  That year he also became a volume editor of The Joseph Smith Papers and the document editor for BYU Studies. He taught at the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies in 2011–2012.  His first book was Promised Land (Lehigh University Press, 2006), a study of Lenape or Delaware Indians’ responses to a fraudulent 1737 land deal in colonial Pennsylvania.  He also authored Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants (Deseret Book, 2008), Joseph Smith’s First Vision (Deseret Book, 2012), and First Vision: Memory and Mormon Origins (Oxford University Press, 2019), along with dozens of articles.