The Allegory of the Olive Tree

The Olive, the Bible, and Jacob 5

Stephen D. Ricks

In the Book of Mormon, the allegory of the olive tree—written by a prophet named Zenos and later quoted by the prophet Jacob to his people—stands out as a unique literary creation worthy of close analysis and greater appreciation. Besides its exceptional length and exquisite detail, this text conveys important teachings, deep emotion, and wisdom related to God’s tender devotion and aspirations for the house of Israel on earth.

In The Allegory of the Olive Tree, 20 scholars shed light on the meaning, themes, and rhetorical aspects of the allegory, as well as on its historical, cultural, and religious backgrounds. In so doing, they offer answers to questions about the significance of olive tree symbolism in the ancient Near East, who Zenos was, the meaning of the allegory, what it teaches about the relationship between God and his people, how it might relate to other ancient texts, the accuracy of the horticultural and botanical details in the text, and much more.

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About the Editor

Stephen D. Ricks

Stephen D. Ricks (Ph.D. in Near Eastern Religions, University of California, Berkeley, and Graduate Theological Union) is Professor of Hebrew and Cognate Learning in the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young University. He served as president of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies and as chairman of the board, as the founding editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, and as Associate Dean of General Education and Honors at Brigham Young University.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • The Olive Press: A Symbol of Christ
  • Jacob's Allegory: The Mystery of Christ
  • Nephite Uses and Interpretations of Zenos
  • Jacob 5 in the Nineteenth Century
  • The Allegory of the Olive Tree in Jacob
  • Jacob 4–6: Substantive Textual Variants between Manuscripts and Editions
  • Language Themes in Jacob 5: "The Vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel" (Isaiah 5:7)
  • Words and Phrases in Jacob 5
  • Graft and Corruption: On Olives and Olive Culture in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean
  • The Olive in Greco-Roman Religion
  • Ritual Anointing with Olive Oil in Ancient Israelite Religion
  • The Allegory of the Olive Tree and the Use of Related Figurative Language in the Ancient Near East and the Old Testament
  • The Last Words of Cenez and the Book of Mormon
  • Zenos and the Texts of the Old Testament
  • The Olive Tree and the Work of God: Jacob 5 and Romans 11
  • Romans 11:17–24: A Bibliography of Commentaries
  • Borrowings from the Parable of Zenos
  • Olive Oil: Symbol of the Holy Ghost
  • Olive Culture in the Second Temple Era and Early Rabbinic Period
  • Vineyard or Olive Orchard?
  • Botanical Aspects of Olive Culture Relevant to Jacob 5
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Publication Information

  • Publication Date: 1994
  • ISBN 13: 978-0875797679
  • Page Count: 640
  • Illustration(s): 0
  • Binding: hardcover
  • Price: $ 0
  • Imprint: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

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The views expressed here and in Maxwell Institute publications are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Maxwell Institute, Brigham Young University, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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