What is the meaning of the tree of life? The symbolism involved may furnish clues. Trees have several standard symbolic meanings. Green trees often represent the righteous, whereas dry trees can symbolize the wicked. 76 M. Catherine Thomas noted that "most often in scripture . . . the tree is an anthropomorphic symbol. A tree serves well as such a symbol because it has, after all, limbs, a circulatory system, the bearing of fruit, and so forth. Specifically, scriptural trees stand . . . for Christ and his attributes."77 Elsewhere we read, "In ancient times, sacred trees . . . were [representative of the] attributes of the gods." 78 Susan Easton Black wrote: "The tree of life is connected with the cross, the two having somewhat the same significance. Both relate to the resurrection, eternal life, the Lord, and the 'Love of God.' . . . Before the crucifixion of Christ, the tree of life symbol was used extensively. After the crucifixion the cross seems to have replaced it to a degree." 79 When Nephi wished to know the meaning of the tree that his father saw in his dream (1 Nephi 11:9–24), the angel showed him a vision of the birth of Christ. The angel then said to Nephi, "Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?" (1 Nephi 11:21). To this Nephi responded, "It is the love of God" (1 Nephi 11:22). Jesus is the "love of God" (John 3:16) and the "tree of life."
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