Book of Mormon Lesson #13: “The Allegory of the Olive Trees,” Jacob 5-7 (Gospel Doctrine)

As I mentioned in last post, I’ll be tackling all of Jacob 4-7 in this post. I noted last time that chapters 1-3 form a unit, while chapters 4-6 form a distinct unit, and chapter 7 forms a unit all its own. So I’ll be addressing chapter 4 in connection with chapters 5-6. And I’ll add some notes about chapter 7 as well.

I’ll be frank at the start that I don’t much like writing or talking about the allegory of the olive tree. Largely that’s because I find that it’s one of few places in the Book of Mormon where Latter-day Saints have done seriously dedicated work to understand the text. (If only we collectively used the same sort of care in reading Isaiah!) I’m mostly happy to let people work on those already productive readings. It’s also, though, because I find the dominant interpretation a bit overpowering. I suspect there are other, quite important things going on in the allegory than a kind of basic map of covenantal history, but I have a hard time finding my way out of the dominant approach.

But my task remains my task. We’ll see what can’t be learned by coming to it again. I’ll take up chapters 4 and 6 first, setting up the introduction to and conclusions drawn from the quotation of Zenos’s allegory. I’ll then turn directly to chapter 5, the allegory itself. Finally, I’ll add a few words about chapter 7.

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