The Tree of Life: From Eden to Eternity

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The Tree of Life: From Eden to Eternity
Editor John W. Welch Editor Donald W. Parry
Provo and SLC, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and Deseret Book, 2011

The Tree of Life: From Eden to Eternity

Reviewer Liza Olsen

One of humankind's most sacred and abiding symbols is the tree of life. From earliest recorded religious belief, that singular image encompassed the sense of our humanity, rooted deeply in this earthly life with branches stretching outward, heavenward, in hope of the divine. From the Garden of Eden to Lehi's dream, tree of life imagery is particularly evocative within Mormonism, and many contributors to this book are Latter-day Saints writing from scholarly and religious points of view. The tree likewise takes a central place in the development of various human belief systems. Scholars whose works appear in this collection explore the origins and significance of the tree as it is found in art, history, and religious tradition in cultures across the world.

I am not aware of any other scholarly book that has gathered together lore on the tree of life from so many traditions around the world; this work is a vital and distinctive contribution to the literature in cross-cultural and religious studies, as Richard Oman graphically demonstrates.