“All the Precious Trees of the Earth”: Trees in Restoration Scripture

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In Hebrew scripture and the New Testament, trees play a prominent role, most obviously in the first chapters of Genesis and the last chapter of Revelations. Trees also serve as messianic heralds, as life-giving resources, as aesthetic standards of beauty, as exemplars of strength and fame, and as markers and instruments of salvation. Like the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Mormon and other Latter-day Saint scriptures feature prominent references to forests, trees, branches, roots, and seeds. What is unique about the spiritual and cultural landscape invoked by Latter-day Saint scripture? More specifically, what is said about trees and their accoutrements in restoration scripture? While numerous studies have focused on the major thematic tree scenes in the Book of Mormon, the tree of life in the visions of Lehi and Nephi, Zenos’ allegory of the olive tree, and Alma’s discourse on the seed of faith and the tree of righteousness, this paper aims at a broader look at trees in Latter-day Saint scripture. Taking cues from Robert Pogue Harrison’s Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, this paper takes a wide-ranging look at how trees in restoration scripture can help us rhetorically address the ecological dilemmas of our time. When the Gods built us a home, they did so with trees, and when God called on Their people to build a house, God told them to “bring the box tree, and the fir tree, and the pine tree, together with all the precious trees of the earth” to build it (see Abraham 4:11–12 and D&C 124:26–27). Another revelation declares bluntly: “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees” (D&C 77:9). As eaters of sunshine and exhalers of oxygen, trees have much to teach us about how to live, and trees in restoration scripture specifically contribute to a broader vision of ecological living.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1035
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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© 2021 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Ecological rhetoric
  • Gifts
  • Latter-day Saint scripture
  • Trees


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