Tree of Life

Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden
Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the story of Genesis 2:9 the Tree of Life is a sacred tree planted in the Garden of Eden, representing eternal life. Also called the tree of knowledge, Adam and Eve are forbidden by God to eat its fruit, lest they learn the difference between good and evil.

Adam and Eve disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. As a result they’re cast out of the Garden of Eden, becoming mortal. For traditional Christians, only through the redemption of Jesus Christ does mankind regain everlasting life.

The tree of life was a popular symbol in the ancient world, appearing on seals, reliefs, pottery and literature. It represents an important prelude for aspirants in the mystical tradition of the Kabbala. Hindu mythology ascribes different magical properties to different trees. And the Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment under a bodhi tree.

Some Christian theologians say that the mere presence of non-Christian parallels to Biblical stories does not mean all stories are myths are of equal value (an idea we often hear forwarded by Joseph Campbell and sometimes by C. G. Jung)

Instead, traditional Christian theologians say that non-Christian symbols act as a kind of rough blueprint for the perfect manifestation of God’s true revelation—the Christian Bible, the Word Made Flesh, and so on.

This kind of reasoning has been critiqued and debated from various angles.

¹ To say that all myths are the same and take us to the same place is facile. It’s like saying all cities are the same, all countries are the same, all planets are the same, simply because they exhibit some similar features. This assertion overlooks the very real differences among different religious traditions. Wikipedia outlines many different myths and stories with tree symbolism.


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