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The Tree of Life in Genesis


Mudcat

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Gen 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

.......

Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

......

Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Gen 3:23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Gen 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

This is seems to be most of the relevant Biblical passages on the tree of life.

From vs. 22 it seems that if Adam had eaten of the tree of life after the fall, then he would live forever.

I am curious to know what LDS think. If he had managed to eat of that tree, then what state of being would Adam have been in. I mean would eating of that tree have any redemptive quality to it, or do you think he would be eternally separated from God or maybe something else?

Also, Do you think it likely that Adam had eaten of the tree of life before he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

The reason I ask, is that from what I remember LDS seem to believe as other Christians, that Adam and Eve would have remained in an eternal state of innocence had the fall not occurred. If they were in an eternal state, then there would have been no benefit from the tree of life... in that they were already "conditionally" immortal.

It seems that the tree of life would grant immortality unconditionally though, since Adam would have become immortal again had he eaten of it.

What do you think was the purpose of the tree of life?

Regards,

Mudcat

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This is seems to be most of the relevant Biblical passages on the tree of life.

From vs. 22 it seems that if Adam had eaten of the tree of life after the fall, then he would live forever.

I am curious to know what LDS think. If he had managed to eat of that tree, then what state of being would Adam have been in. I mean would eating of that tree have any redemptive quality to it, or do you think he would be eternally separated from God or maybe something else?

Also, Do you think it likely that Adam had eaten of the tree of life before he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

The reason I ask, is that from what I remember LDS seem to believe as other Christians, that Adam and Eve would have remained in an eternal state of innocence had the fall not occurred. If they were in an eternal state, then there would have been no benefit from the tree of life... in that they were already "conditionally" immortal.

It seems that the tree of life would grant immortality unconditionally though, since Adam would have become immortal again had he eaten of it.

What do you think was the purpose of the tree of life?

Regards,

Mudcat

In the modern LDS context, I understand the Tree of Life as having a reference to dwelling in the presence of God, with each individual (or 'adam') as a natural, but immature, branch of the divine Family. With sin, the branch is cut off. It is only through the Atonement that allows for the branch to grow stronger, be grafted back in, and to bear fruit of its own, in essence becoming its own Tree.

Thus in the framework of the story, Adam would still have been able to remain as part of the tree, but never bear fruit, or come into his own.

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I always assumed that partaking of the fruit of the tree of life would have somehow made the probationary time spent on earth impossible. He would have gone right to the judgement. Thus, he could never have repented of his sins, never had children, there would have been no Savior and God's purposes concerning adam, the earth, and the rest of us would have been thwarted.

So, God made sure that Adam could not do such.

:P

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This is seems to be most of the relevant Biblical passages on the tree of life.

From vs. 22 it seems that if Adam had eaten of the tree of life after the fall, then he would live forever.

I am curious to know what LDS think. If he had managed to eat of that tree, then what state of being would Adam have been in. I mean would eating of that tree have any redemptive quality to it, or do you think he would be eternally separated from God or maybe something else?

Also, Do you think it likely that Adam had eaten of the tree of life before he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

The reason I ask, is that from what I remember LDS seem to believe as other Christians, that Adam and Eve would have remained in an eternal state of innocence had the fall not occurred. If they were in an eternal state, then there would have been no benefit from the tree of life... in that they were already "conditionally" immortal.

It seems that the tree of life would grant immortality unconditionally though, since Adam would have become immortal again had he eaten of it.

What do you think was the purpose of the tree of life?

Regards,

Mudcat

From the Book of Mormon, 2 Ne. 2: 15: "And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter." I think the tree of knowledge was sweet to the senses but bitter spiritually as it brought suffering as payment for learning; and that the tree of life was bitter to the senses (it may have become annoying to the taste over time) as payment for the perpetuation of a painless immortality. So between their tastes and outcomes, the trees afforded a lesson in opposition within themselves as well as between themselves.

The purpose of the tree of life seems to be to sustain sweet immortality at the price of a bitter taste (as long as knowledge is limited), just as the purpose of the tree of knowledge is to provide a momentary pleasure at the price of a shocking kick-start (as long as paradise is limited). However, though they are in opposition, the role of the tree of life will prevail forever under the terms of Christ's Redemption, and the role of the tree of knowledge is only momentary, as the faith we exert in order to gain knowledge is up to us, and faith and knowledge constantly replace each other in a progressive way until we become one with God. And it turns out that the more we know, the sweeter the taste of the fruit of the tree of life becomes, in both sensory and spiritual ways.

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Someone in the Book of Mormon had a similar question as you (Alma 12:20-26):

But there was one Antionah, who was a chief ruler among them, came forth and said unto him: What is this that thou hast said, that man should rise from the dead and be changed from this mortal to an immortal state, that the soul can never die? What does the scripture mean, which saith that God placed cherubim and a flaming sword on the east of the garden of Eden, lest our first parents should enter and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever? And thus we see that there was no possible chance that they should live forever. Now Alma said unto him: This is the thing which I was about to explain. Now we see that Adam did fall by the partaking of the forbidden fruit, according to the word of God; and thus we see, that by his fall, all mankind became a lost and fallen people. And now behold, I say unto you that if it had been possible for Adam to have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death, and the word would have been void, making God a liar, for he said: If thou eat thou shalt surely die. And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead. Now, if it had not been for the plan of redemption, which was laid from the foundation of the world, there could have been no resurrection of the dead; but there was a plan of redemption laid, which shall bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, of which has been spoken. And now behold, if it were possible that our first parents could have gone forth and partaken of the tree of life they would have been forever miserable, having no preparatory state; and thus the plan of redemption would have been frustrated, and the word of God would have been void, taking none effect.

I guess that the universe would become a paradox or would implode or something if Adam had eaten the fruit of the tree of life after the fall. Lehi's dream makes it clear that the fruit of the tree of life is eternal life. While in the garden, God said that Adam and Eve could eat from any tree but the one of the knowledge of good and evil. That means that they could eat from the tree of life. I think that if they did eat from the tree of life it makes sense that they would live forever in God's presence. But after they had sinned, it would be disastorous if they gained eternal life when justice decreed them eternal punishment.

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This is seems to be most of the relevant Biblical passages on the tree of life.

From vs. 22 it seems that if Adam had eaten of the tree of life after the fall, then he would live forever.

I am curious to know what LDS think. If he had managed to eat of that tree, then what state of being would Adam have been in. I mean would eating of that tree have any redemptive quality to it, or do you think he would be eternally separated from God or maybe something else?

Also, Do you think it likely that Adam had eaten of the tree of life before he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

The reason I ask, is that from what I remember LDS seem to believe as other Christians, that Adam and Eve would have remained in an eternal state of innocence had the fall not occurred. If they were in an eternal state, then there would have been no benefit from the tree of life... in that they were already "conditionally" immortal.

It seems that the tree of life would grant immortality unconditionally though, since Adam would have become immortal again had he eaten of it.

What do you think was the purpose of the tree of life?

Regards,

Mudcat

Mudcat,

Alma 42 discusses this point specifically along with the Alma 12 quoted above. I have some thoughts on it, but first it would be good to read it directly yourself.

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I am not sure exactly how it works but the "tree of life" is the tree which grants immortality. Seen as a reward, immortality is the last enemy to be conqured by Christ. Access to the tree of life should only be granted to those who show obedience to law and faithfully convert. This of course leads to the question of if the very wicked in resurrection will be granted immortal life. The scriptures on one hand state that all will rise in immortality and yet on the other it states that only the righteous will have access to the tree of life. If we surmise that the same tree in the garden is the same tree in the paradise of heaven after resurrection, then it's fruit does the same thing- granting literal "eternal" physical and spiritual life. Thus, those who are resurrected but are wicked have no access to the tree of life and in time they wither away both physically and spiritually into nothing. The question becomes-

Is the fruit on the tree of life a type of sustaining power/ anti-aging power for physical life? And, if one is raised in resurrection but has no access to this sustaining power, will he have any true immortal ability? From what I understand, even an immortal body needs a power of sustainment.

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Is the fruit on the tree of life a type of sustaining power/ anti-aging power for physical life? And, if one is raised in resurrection but has no access to this sustaining power, will he have any true immortal ability? From what I understand, even an immortal body needs a power of sustainment.

The degrees of glory might give an indication of how the tree of life works, whether literally or as a principle or as a representation of Christ. Our ability to maximally assimilate its fruit results in celestial glory. Any lesser ability results in a lesser glory of immortality. Our ability to assimilate its fruit is described in the principles outlined in D&C sections 76 and 88. Perhaps the fruit need only be eaten once to ensure immortality or a degree of glory in an immortal body (John 6:35).

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Hi Mudcat,

I'm not sure there is a fixed answer to your question. As has been posted above, there are a number of scriptures in the LDS canon that discuss this, but they make assumptions that do not answer the speculation. The Alma 12 scripture tells us it could not have happened because it would make God a liar. Alma 42 tells us that the consequence of this action would be the plan of happiness being frustrated.

See verse 5 - "For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated."

Interestingly, though, verse 6 tells us that it was by being cut off from the tree of life that Adam first became fallen man. Philosophically, it leaves one to speculate - would Adam have "fallen" then, if he had been able to first partake of both fruit in the garden?

The rest of Alma 42 goes into how the consequence of sin is to be cut off from God and that this is due to justice, etc., etc.

I've postulated that there is a way to read this chapter that could lead one to believe that God could actually have sacrificed his "Godhood", perhaps by allowing Adam to partake of the fruit of the tree of life, that would have frustrated this BoM concept of justice that required the probationary state of mortality and will result in so many being cut-off from God.

Not that it is intended to be read that way. I find the chapters on mercy, justice, and the atonement in Alma interesting for this reason. They seem to represent a vestigial remnant of the pre-Nauvoo theology that more closely matches traditional christian views of God; much like Mosiah does though not as direct. Closing the loop on the internal logic of the various chapters can be interesting. On the whole, I think there are gaps in the logic that the reader is forced to fill in with their own views, and this one about the consequences of Adam partaking of the fruit of the tree of life is one.

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In the modern LDS context, I understand the Tree of Life as having a reference to dwelling in the presence of God, with each individual (or 'adam') as a natural, but immature, branch of the divine Family. With sin, the branch is cut off. It is only through the Atonement that allows for the branch to grow stronger, be grafted back in, and to bear fruit of its own, in essence becoming its own Tree.

Thus in the framework of the story, Adam would still have been able to remain as part of the tree, but never bear fruit, or come into his own.

Hey Nack,

Thanks for the response. I have been bitten by the stomach bug and have just now gotten back to reading through the replies...(garbage can close by though :P)

That is an interesting take, bold mine. I am curious to know a bit more about what you think his inability to bear fruit would have been. Do mean he would be impotent.. or sterile. Something like that or are speaking in a spiritual sense of fruit, in that he could accomplish no good?

Respectfully,

Mudcat

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Someone in the Book of Mormon had a similar question as you (Alma 12:20-26):

I guess that the universe would become a paradox or would implode or something if Adam had eaten the fruit of the tree of life after the fall. Lehi's dream makes it clear that the fruit of the tree of life is eternal life. While in the garden, God said that Adam and Eve could eat from any tree but the one of the knowledge of good and evil. That means that they could eat from the tree of life. I think that if they did eat from the tree of life it makes sense that they would live forever in God's presence. But after they had sinned, it would be disastorous if they gained eternal life when justice decreed them eternal punishment.

Hey Mapman,

Thanks for the Alma citation.

Though Gen 3 gives a fairly strong allusion to Adam not eating of the fruit from the tree of life prior to the fact. I wouldn't think if he did so, that in that case it would make a liar of God. But after the fact as stated in Alma, seems to be a fair point... in some respects.

I see death in two respects.. physical and spiritual. So I suppose, hypothetically speaking, had Adam eaten of the tree of life after the fact then, he could conceivably be physically immortal and spiritually dead and God wouldn't be made a liar of.

This seems to possibly be a contradiction from what is said in Alma 12... I dunno. But do you see where I might be going with that?

Regards,

Mudcat

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Hey Nack,

Thanks for the response. I have been bitten by the stomach bug and have just now gotten back to reading through the replies...(garbage can close by though :P)

That is an interesting take, bold mine. I am curious to know a bit more about what you think his inability to bear fruit would have been. Do mean he would be impotent.. or sterile. Something like that or are speaking in a spiritual sense of fruit, in that he could accomplish no good?

Respectfully,

Mudcat

Hope you feel better soon. According to the Book of Mormon, Adam and Eve couldn't have children while in the Garden of Eden:

And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
(2 Nephi 2:22-23)

The way I like to look at it (and I believe I am correct) is that Adam and Eve were basicly children (though they may have been in adult bodies). Just like children today they cannot have children, they are innocent, and could dwell in God's presence. However, they do not know good and evil as adults do and thus cannot have complete joy or live up to their full potential.

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Hey Mapman,

Thanks for the Alma citation.

Though Gen 3 gives a fairly strong allusion to Adam not eating of the fruit from the tree of life prior to the fact. I wouldn't think if he did so, that in that case it would make a liar of God. But after the fact as stated in Alma, seems to be a fair point... in some respects.

I see death in two respects.. physical and spiritual. So I suppose, hypothetically speaking, had Adam eaten of the tree of life after the fact then, he could conceivably be physically immortal and spiritually dead and God wouldn't be made a liar of.

This seems to possibly be a contradiction from what is said in Alma 12... I dunno. But do you see where I might be going with that?

Regards,

Mudcat

If I understand you, you are saying that if Adam had eaten of the tree of life after he fell, he would only overcome physical death. First of all, everywhere that the tree of life pops up like in Genesis and 1 Nephi, it seems to be connected with living with God again. The way I see it is that the tree represents eternal life, that is dwelling for eternity with God. If Adam had eaten the fruit, it would seem to mean that he would be able to live with God while he had become a sinner. That would make God a liar and thus not God.

If Adam did only gain physical immortality it would still mess up the plan because it requires death in it for it to work.

As for Adam eating from the Tree of Life before he left the Garden, it isn't a huge deal and there certaintly isn't any official Mormon doctrine about it. It just makes sense to me and I don't see anywhere that he didn't eat from it. In fact he was told he was allowed to eat from it. He lived in the presence of God and in immortality, the state the tree of life gives a person.

I think that the story of the Garden of Eden is fascinating as a myth (a true myth) as well as philisophically stimulating. It is here that fundamental powers of the universe come into conflict and profoundly effect us all. It is fascinating to me to see the principle of opposition, mercy v justice, Godhood, immortality and death, and the goodest person as well as the evilist person come into conflict yet all sort itself out through the fall and through the Atonement. It is hard for me to describe the amount of stuff you can think about in this story.

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I am not sure exactly how it works but the "tree of life" is the tree which grants immortality. Seen as a reward, immortality is the last enemy to be conqured by Christ. Access to the tree of life should only be granted to those who show obedience to law and faithfully convert. This of course leads to the question of if the very wicked in resurrection will be granted immortal life. The scriptures on one hand state that all will rise in immortality and yet on the other it states that only the righteous will have access to the tree of life. If we surmise that the same tree in the garden is the same tree in the paradise of heaven after resurrection, then it's fruit does the same thing- granting literal "eternal" physical and spiritual life. Thus, those who are resurrected but are wicked have no access to the tree of life and in time they wither away both physically and spiritually into nothing. The question becomes-

Is the fruit on the tree of life a type of sustaining power/ anti-aging power for physical life? And, if one is raised in resurrection but has no access to this sustaining power, will he have any true immortal ability? From what I understand, even an immortal body needs a power of sustainment.

The problem of this of course is it contradicts scripture.

Mark 9

43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Mark seems to be quoting Isaiah here...

Isa. 66: 24

24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

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... According to the Book of Mormon, Adam and Eve couldn't have children while in the Garden of Eden:

(2 Nephi 2:22-23)

...

It seems to me that the statement that "they would have had no children" is not necessarily saying that they could have had no children.

The old Gospel Principles manual says this:

They were not able to have children.

In the new edition, this has been changed to:

In this state, "they would have had no children" (2 Nephi 2:23).
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