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How did Joseph Smith receive the First Vision?

According to LDS scripture, when Joseph Smith was 15 years old, he was confused as to which church was true. He claimed this confusion was sparked by an 1820 religious revival in his neighborhood. His heart was powerfully impressed one night when he read James 1:5, and subsequently he went into the woods near his house to pray that God would tell him which of all the Christian sects was right. As he began to pray, he claimed that he was nearly overcome by "some power" of "astonishing influence" that prevented him from speaking. As he called out to God, he was miraculously delivered by two beings who identified themselves as Jesus Christ and God the Father. Joseph Smith claimed that he was told the following: "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" (Joseph Smith – History 1:19).
There have been nearly NINE VERSIONS of that story with ever changing information about what happened.
  • Joseph's age has changed from 14, 15, 16, 17
  • In some accounts he claimed he was overcome by an evil spirit, in otheres there is no mention of dark powers or called it a power of influence.
  • In some accounts he went to the woods to pray specifically about the Methodists, in others about all Christian sects.  In other accounts he went to the woods to pray if there was a God and if his sins could be forgiven.
  • In some accounts he was visited by 1) God the Father and Jesus Christ, 2) Jesus Christ, 3) Many angels, 4) One angel.  Brigham Young confirmed it was only an angel.
  • In some accounts the incident happened during a revival in 1823.  In others 1820.  Records from that time period show that a revival occurred in 1824.
How could an event that happened less than 200 years ago experience so many variations?  We don't hear of that many contradictions with Washington Crossing the Delaware River in 1776. 

If the event was so powerful and so life-changing, wouldn't it be clear once and for all time?