The Tree of Life

Peter Thacher Lanfer

in Remembering Eden

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199926749
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950591 | DOI:
The Tree of Life

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This chapter examines one of the central motifs of the expulsion narrative in the history of interpretation: namely the Tree of Life. In addition to discussing the Ancient Near Eastern background, iconography, and function of the Tree of Life, this chapter concludes that the Tree of Life is an ideological insertion into the Eden narrative. This chapter proceeds through an analysis of translation texts of Gen 3:22–24 as well as allusions to the Tree of Life including the concepts of the Cosmic/World tree and the “eternal planting,” in which the metaphors of life and blessing provided by the Tree of Life are transferred to the people as a holy community. This analysis of the motif of the Tree of Life in early Jewish and Christian literature affirms the ubiquity of the image, and the importance of the Tree of Life as a representation of God’s presence and promise of blessing.

Keywords: Tree of Life; immortality; temple; King; Cherubim; Eden; Cosmic Tree; translation texts; eschatological renewal; divine warrior; Asherah; sacred trees; royal garden; Septuagint; Peshitta

Chapter.  14861 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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