A Covenant Plan of Salvation
Jacob 5 Zenos:
Insight into the life and message of Zenos has been discussed very nicely in a F.A.R.M.S. publication entitled The Allegory of the Olive Tree. According to a well-documented article in that book by David Seely and John Welch, although the evidence does not allow a firm conclusion about the dating of the prophet Zenos, we do find that the writers of several Old Testament texts seem to assume that their audiences were familiar with an extended allegory containing both the positive and negative images of olive symbolism. Because of this it seems reasonable to conclude that the full development of this complex plant symbolism for Israel emerged about the time of the unification of Israel under Saul and David (about 1000 B.C.). From that time forth, Israel was settled and planted in one place to "move no more" (2 Samuel 7:10). Thus, the prophet Zenos might have written his allegory during these times. [David Rolph Seely and John W. Welch, "Zenos and the Texts of the Old Testament," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, p. 327]
An additional viewpoint on the dating of Zenos comes from a well-documented article by Noel Reynolds. According to gospel writings in the Book of Mormon itself it seems that while Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob rely directly on Zenos for support and illumination of their own revelations; they only seem to bring in Isaiah as an additional witness, but not for primary explanation. Therefore, we might reasonably conclude that Zenos preceded and influenced Isaiah, and that the Nephite prophets saw it that way. [Noel B. Reynolds, "Nephite Uses and Interpretations of Zenos," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, pp. 33-34]
Thus, the prophet Zenos probably lived before the time of Isaiah, and the allegory of Zenos might have been written as early as 1000 B.C. Whatever the case, the message of Zenos' allegory, along with that of his other writings, seems to have been rejected by a good share of the people of Israel. Alma 33:10 says that Zenos was beleaguered and unpopular, and in Helaman 8:19 it says that because Zenos did testify boldly, he was slain.
According to Hugh Nibley, Zenos was an old prophet whose works were lost, but around 1906 the works of Zenos were discovered in the Pseudo Philo. Zenos apparently lived way back between Moses and Elijah. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 398] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 19:10]
Jacob 5 The Prophet Zenos:
The Book of Mormon mentions Old World prophets such as Lehi, Zenos, and Zenock who are not included in the Bible. (See 1 Nephi 1:5, 19:10, 12).
Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that Dr. Hugh Nibley writes: "In 1893 M. R. James published Greek and Latin versions of an ancient text entitled 'The Vision of Zenez the Father of Gothoniel.' Since the father of Othniel in the Bible is Kennaz and not Zenez, James translates the title 'The Vision of Kenaz,' though the name which appears in some manuscripts is Zenez, and James confesses himself at a loss to explain how C or K could have been 'corrupted into Z'--but there it is." (cited in Nibley, Since Cumorah, pp. 277-278, 286)200 [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 19] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 19:10]
Jacob 5 Zenos (Allegory of the Olive Tree):
According to Monte Nyman, in Jacob 5, the prophet Zenos tells a story in which he likens the House of Israel to a tame Olive Tree which was planted, grew mature, and started to decay. The Master of the Vineyard (Jesus Christ) and his servants (the prophets) saw it, pruned it, and nourished it. Some natural branches were cast off and wild ones grafted in. When that didn't work, the Master left the location of the tame Olive Tree roots (the blood of Israel among the Gentiles) and took some tender young natural branches to the nethermost part of the vineyard and grafted them in to wild olive trees (the Gentiles). This story goes on to span the history of the House of Israel until the end of the earth. The illustration below outlines the ideas discussed in the book. [Monte S. Nyman, An Ensign to All People, pp. 35, 36]
Jacob 5 Zenos (Allegory of the Olive Tree) [Illustration]: The Seven Time Periods of The Allegory of the Olive Tree.
The Seven Time Periods of The Allegory
1. Jacob - Prophets-------- (1800 B.C. - 400 B.C.) [vv. 3-14]
2. Prophets - Christ------ (400 B.C. - A.D. 30) [v. 15]
3. Jesus Christ-------------- (A.D. 30 - A.D. 34) [vv. 16-28]
4. Apostasy - Restoration----- (? - A.D. 1820) [v. 29]
5. Restoration---------- (A.D. 1820 - Millennium) [vv. 30-75]
6. Millennium---------- (1000 yrs) [v. 76]
7. End of Earth [v. 77]
[Monte S. Nyman, An Ensign to All People, pp. 35,36]
Jacob 5 Zenos (Allegory of the Olive Tree):
According to John Tvedtnes, critics of the Book of Mormon have attributed Zenos's parable of the olive tree in Jacob 5 to the idea that Joseph Smith borrowed its essence from various New Testament passages. Indeed, the grafting of the branches appears to be related to Paul's comments in Romans 11:17-24, while some of the wording of Jacob 5 is very much like that found in Luke 13:6-8 and Isaiah 5:1-5.
But many New Testament scholars have conceded that Paul's olive branch analogy was inspired by the Old Testament, specifically by Exodus 15:17. It is Tvedtnes' opinion that Paul was more likely inspired by the writings of Zenos. Here are some of his reasons for this belief:
A. Some 28 percent of the verses in Romans 11 are known quotes from the Old Testament. In the two previous chapters (9-10), the percentage is even higher. Clearly, Paul relied heavily on the writings of earlier prophets to provide evidence for the points he was making.
B. There are also ties between Jacob's introduction to the parable of Zenos in Jacob 4 and some of Paul's statements in Romans 11, leading one to believe that they may have had a common source. Note, for example, the close similarity in the wording of Romans 11:34-36 (cf. Romans 11:22), which Paul borrowed from Isaiah 40:13, 28 (cf. Psalms 145:3), and Jacob 4:8-10. Paul wrote of the killing of Israel's prophets (Romans 11:3), citing 1 Kings 19:14; Jacob did likewise (Jacob 4:13-15), though he did not draw on the same passage. Paul wrote that Israel had been partly blinded or calloused (Romans 11:7, 25); Jacob wrote of the blindness of the Jews (Jacob 4:14). Both Paul (Romans 11:15-16) and Jacob (Jacob 4:11-12) wrote of the firstfruits (Christ) in terms of the resurrection.
C. The fact that a number of Old Testament and other pre-Pauline passages refer to olive and other branches in terms similar to those used by both Paul and Zenos suggests that there may be a common tradition for all of these passages.
D. The Zenos parable is self-contained and represents a logical flow, despite the fact that parts of it resemble various Bible passages attributed to different authors. This suggests (1) that the Zenos parable found in Jacob 5 is the original, and (2) that other writers (including Paul) borrowed elements of the Zenos parable and adapted them to suit their own purposes.
Critics of the Book of Mormon will undoubtedly continue to maintain that Joseph Smith invented the Zenos parable by borrowing elements from the Bible. Three facts make Tvedtnes think otherwise. The most obvious is the vast array of biblical texts from which he would have had to derive these elements. After more than forty years of studying the Bible, Tvedtnes needed the help of a computer to find some of the passages. He doubts that Joseph Smith could have had very many of these passages at his command.
The second point is the fact that different Bible passages have combinations of elements found in Jacob 5. The variety of these combinations is so complex that he suspects that no two of the texts share all elements with any of the others except with the Zenos parable.
Finally, we have the fact that a number of pseudepigraphic works, like the various biblical passages, contain elements found in Zenos's olive tree parable, with the same variety of combinations seen in the Bible. Indeed, some of them have elements of Jacob 5 that are not found in any of the Bible passages. Since Joseph Smith did not have access to these pseudepigraphic books, we conclude that the authors of those works had direct or indirect access to the Zenos parable. [John A. Tvedtnes, "Borrowings from the Parable of Zenos," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 373-374, 416] [See Vol. 6, Appendix C]
Jacob 5: (The Allegory of Zenos):
According to Brant Gardner, anti-Mormon claim that the Allegory of Zenos was derived from Paul's writings in Romans. What is significant to understand, however, is that Paul was a man of the city, and therefore would be unlikely to understand the intricacies of oleiculture201 Paul then, would not have been able to create the allegory, but simply to repeat an image that was known from alternate sources, sources that either trace to Zenos, or which preceded even Zenos as part of an oral understanding and imagery.
Concerning the image of oleiculture that Paul transmitted, it is interesting to note that for a number of years in the past, the horticultural interpretation given by Paul in Romans was considered incorrect. In the Interpreter's Bible we find the following on Romans:
At more than one point his [Paul's] ignorance of husbandry is disclosed: branches from a wild olive tree would not be grafted on a cultivated olive stock (if anything, the reverse would be done), and if they were, the grafted branches would not bear the fruit of the cultivated tree.202
However, in 1985, Baxter and Ziesler noted the work of Sir William Ramsey in finding a virtual contemporary of Paul discussing the very idea of grafting wild branches onto an olive tree.203 They further noted a similar practice in modern Israel and in the Mediterranean. [Brant Gardner, "Brant Gardner's Page," http://www.highfiber.com /~nahualli/LDStopics/Jacob/Jacob5.htm, pp. 5-7]
Jacob 5 The Parable of the Olive Tree:
According to John Tvedtnes, critics of the Book of Mormon typically trace the olive tree parable in Jacob 5 to Romans 11:16-25 and accuse Joseph Smith of plagiarism. That the two passages are related cannot be doubted. But is Romans 11 the source of Jacob 5, or did Jacob and Paul draw upon an earlier, common source?
A partial answer to this question lies in the fact that even in the Bible Paul's grafted branches have their precedents. Jesus, for example, likened himself to "the true vine" of which God is "the husbandman" and of which those obedient to Christ are "the branches," bringing forth "much fruit," while the disobedient are withered branches which are burned in the fire (John 15:1-6).
The Psalmist spoke of Israel as a vine taken out of Egypt and planted in its own land which, because of disobedience, was cut and burned (Psalm 80:8-16). Similarly, prophets such as Balaam (Numbers 24:6), Isaiah (Isaiah 60:21), and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 11:16-17) compared Israel with trees or branches planted by the Lord. Similar ideas were expressed by the prophet Hosea (Hosea 9:10; 14:5-8).
Hugh Nibley devotes at least ten pages to discussions of the accounts of Lehi's dream of the tree of life (1 Nephi 8,11,15) and Zenos's parable of the olive tree (Jacob 5) In a very real sense, the tree is the same in both stories. Joseph Smith identified the tree of life with the olive tree, when he designated D&C 88 (see preface) as an "olive leaf . . . plucked from the Tree of Paradise, the Lord's message of peace to us." In Jewish lore, the tree of life is sometimes considered to be an olive tree, around which is entwined the vine, often believed to be the tree of knowledge. In the Dura-Europos synagogue, as Nibley points out (Since Cumorah, pp. 189-91), the tree of life is both a tree and a vine. So the olive tree is not out-of-place in the vineyard.
In the Book of Mormon, the tree represents not only the love of God, which was manifest in the giving of his Only Begotten Son (1 Nephi 11:25), but also the people of Israel, who are God's means of blessing the whole earth. . . .
While Nephi spoke of his people being grafted into "the true olive tree," Alma compared the believing Nephites to "a branch . . . grafted into the true vine" (Alma 16:17), which is Jesus Christ. [John A. Tvedtnes, Book Review on Since Cumorah in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2, 1990, pp. 177-179]
Jacob 5 (The Allegory of the Olive Tree):
According to James E. Faulconer, though there are significant differences in the context in which Jacob (Jacob 5) and Paul (Romans 11) introduce their references to the olive tree, it is also true that they both do so in response to the same problem, namely, the apostasy of Israel. In Jacob 4:14, Jacob says that Israel "killed the prophets. . . . Wherefore, because of their blindness, . . . they must needs fall; . . . and because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble." The same accusations and claims introduce the metaphor of the olive tree in Romans 11, and in virtually the same order, although more widely separated: Paul specifically mentions killing the prophets (Romans 11:3), the blindness of Israel (11:7,8,10), and their stumbling (11:9,11), and he refers to the consequence as their fall (11:11). Paul attributes the agency of these events to God ("God hath given them the spirit of slumber," Romans 11:8), just as Jacob does ("God hath done it," that is," delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand," Jacob 4:14).
Nowhere but in the book of Jacob and the book of Romans do we find this close conjunction of the themes of killing the prophets, blindness, stumbling, and apostasy, as well as an element in both texts associating those events with the act of God. In both cases the conjunction of these themes is followed by the use of the olive tree metaphor.
These factors point to the possibility that the text of Zenos's parable or a variation of that text, such as perhaps the work of Kenas, is a direct connection between Romans 11 and Jacob 5. Indeed, the warnings to Israel in the Kenas text state that Israel has "destroyed its own fruit" and "sinned against" God, and ask, "Will the shepherd destroy his flock?" Like Romans 11:1--which begins with the question "Hath god cast away his people?"--Kenas also answers that God will spare Israel "according to the abundance of his mercy." Thus, according to Faulconer, the best explanation is that a third text or texts stood between Zenos and Paul. That text could have been a paraphrase or synopsis of Zenos's work, or perhaps a text on which Zenos's parable itself depended. . . . Whatever the case, there is reasonable evidence for more than a coincidental relationship between the texts of Romans 11 and Jacob 5. ["Jacob 5, Romans 11: A Common Textual Tradition, Insights: A Window on the Ancient world, FARMS, October 1999, pp. 1,3. Adapted from James E. Faulconer, "The Olive Tree and the Work of God: Jacob 5 and Romans 11," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree: The Olive, the Bible, and Jacob 5, ed. Stephen D. Ricks and John W. Welch , Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1994, pp. 347-366]
Jacob 5 Zenos (Allegory of the Olive Tree) [Illustration]: "I will like thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive-tree." [Stephen D. Ricks and John W. Welch eds. The Allegory of the Olive Tree, F.A.R.M.S., p. 75]
Jacob 5 (The Allegory of the Olive Tree) [Illustration]: Zenos's Allegory of the Tame and Wild Olive Trees, Jacob 5 [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121 and 122, p. 162]
Jacob 5 (Allegory of the Olive Tree) [Illustration]: Chart: The Allegory of the Olive Tree. [John W. Welch and Morgan A. Ashton, "Charting the Book of Mormon," Packet 1, F.A.R.M.S.]
Jacob 5 Zenos (Allegory of the Olive Tree):
At the conclusion of a lengthy article by Wilford Hess, Daniel Fairbanks, John Welch, and Jonathan Driggs, covering in detail the various horticulture practices described in Jacob 5 related to the cultivation of the olive tree, the following is said:
Based on the botanical and horticultural information present in the archaeological and historical record, and reflected in Jacob 5, we can conclude that the ancients were superb horticulturists and had a profound understanding of vital biological and plant cultural principles. Most of the botanical and horticultural principles in Jacob 5 are sound and are very important for olive culture. In addition, the one or two points, according to our interpretation, that represent unusual or anomalous circumstances are necessary enhancements to the message of the allegory.
In this single chapter of the Book of Mormon there are many detailed horticultural practices and procedures that were not likely known by an untrained person, and may not have been fully appreciated by professional botanists or horticulturalists at the time the Book of Mormon was translated. Even today, outside of olive-growing areas, professional horticulturalists may not fully appreciate some of the unique aspects of olive culture. Given the extensive detail about olive culture present in Jacob 5, we must give Zenos much credit for a high degree of horticultural knowledge, which many take for granted.
Examples of what the ancients and Zenos evidently knew were how to prune, dig about, dung, and nourish; how to graft tame to wild and wild to tame, and how to graft tame back into tame; how to balance tops and roots by pruning, and the reasons for doing this; how to save the roots of trees whose branches had decayed, and how to transplant branches to preserve the desired traits of good plants; how to preserve and store fruit and how to distinguish between good and bad fruit; how well plants grow on good and bad soil; how to care for trees to cause young and tender branches to shoot forth; that they could graft wild to tame to rejuvenate tame; that specific cultivars produced well in certain areas; how to remove the bitter glucosides from the fruit; that they could burn an orchard to reestablish a new one; that plants grown from seeds would not have desirable characteristics; the importance of elimination of old wood and debris by burning, and how to deal with pests and pathogens; how to prevent heavy bearing one year and no bearing the next by proper pruning; the necessity to plant more than one cultivar for pollination; and how to propagate scions with the desirable genetic material.
Interestingly, much of this sophisticated technology was probably lost in the Nephite civilization, for the olive is not mentioned again in the Book of Mormon after Jacob 5, an indication that the lands of the Book of Mormon may not have been suitable for growing olives. . . . The only regions on the American continents with Mediterranean climates where olive culture is economically feasible are the regions of California, Chile, and Argentina.
Joseph Smith probably knew how to prune, dig about, dung, and nourish local fruit trees; he probably knew a little about grafting, and he may have been familiar with some other horticultural principles, but not likely those peculiarly related to olive culture. [Wilford M. Hess, Daniel J. Fairbanks, John W. Welch, and Jonathan K. Driggs, "Botanical Aspects of Olive Culture Relevant to Jacob 5," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 552-554]
Jacob 5 Zenos (Allegory of the Olive Tree):
Wilford Hess, Daniel Fairbanks, John Welch, and Jonathan Driggs give further explanation of Jacob 5 in their article:
Nearly all of the allegory in Jacob 5 corresponds exceptionally well with both ancient and modern botanical principles and horticultural practices. . . . However, there appear to be three points in the allegory that may strike a modern botanist as unusual. While these anomalies or unusual circumstances are relatively minor from a scientific standpoint, they represent important metaphorical points of the allegory that were apparently necessary to portray Zenos's intended meaning. Such anomalies are often introduced in allegories, partly to remind the audience that the allegory represents a reality beyond its constituted parts and also to cause the audience to remember the extraordinary powers that impel the depicted events. As another example of a similar phenomenon, the parable of the Prodigal Son dramatically begins with the shocking circumstance of a son requesting the distribution of his inheritance while his father is still alive; the Jewish law of Jesus' day, in all likelihood, would not have permitted a son to accelerate his future interest in his father's estate.
The anomalies are:
(1a) "Wild" branches do not naturally yield "tame" fruit.
If wild trees are carefully tended, the fruit becomes larger than normal, but it would still have the same genetic characteristics of the wild species. The manner in which the servant and the Lord of the vineyard speak of the olive tree in verses 16-18 implies that they were pleasantly surprised that the wild branches bore fruit "like unto the natural fruit": "Behold, look here; behold the tree." This result would not normally have been expected without divine assistance or extraordinary conditions.
(1b) Likewise, when the tame tree produced much fruit (Jacob 5:23).
While a domesticated tree does not become wild in the sense of changing species, the fruit set may become too light or too heavy, or pests or disease may damage the crop left unattended. With lack of care the fruit would be small and unusable like wild fruit, but it would still have the other desirable genetic characteristics for which it was originally selected and cloned. By asserting that the natural fruit became wild, the allegory emphasizes the serious and extensive nature of changes that result from corruption with the House of Israel.
(2) It would have been unusual for an olive grower to graft wild branches onto a tame tree.
Although doing this would have been an unconventional, perhaps even a desperate measure, the Lord will spare no effort to obtain again the desired fruit from his choice plant.
(3) It might seem odd that one of the trees planted in poor soil should produce good fruit. (Jacob 5:22-23)
Although olives sometimes do well in poor soils because of their long maturing period and ability to tolerate considerable salinity, boron, etc., it is only with much attention to cultural practices that productive trees will grow in poor soil. Accordingly, the unusual poorness of the soil in this part of the allegory draws attention to the extraordinary care and power of the Lord of the vineyard. [Wilford M. Hess, Daniel J. Fairbanks, John W. Welch, and Jonathan K. Driggs, "Botanical Aspects of Olive Culture Relevant to Jacob 5," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 505-508]
According to Daniel Peterson, in the ancient Mediterranean world, they were aware of the possibility that miraculously, a wild olive branch grafted into a tame olive tree could produce tame fruit. It doesn't happen naturally, but it can happen miraculously. And the prophetic figures of the ancient Mediterranean, specifically Greek thinkers and so on, saw this as a sign from God. It was a miraculous intervention from God, something that contravened the normal laws of olive cultivation and production.
Well, what does it stand for in that account of the Book of Mormon? It stands for the conversion of Gentiles into people of the house of Israel. It's a miraculous transformation, exactly what the Book of Mormon would have it to be. [Daniel C. Peterson, "A Scholar Looks at Evidences for the Book of Mormon," F.A.R.M.S., p. 27]
Jacob 5 Zenos (Allegory of the Olive Tree):
According to David Seely, when one compares Zenos's allegory with ancient Near Eastern and Old Testament literary traditions, it is immediately apparent that Jacob 5 is a unique and extraordinary narrative. There is no other allegory anywhere in the ancient world that is anything like it in terms of length, scope, detail, or span of history until the Hellenistic period. [David R. Seely, "The Allegory of the Olive Tree and the Use of Related Figurative Language in the Ancient Near East and the Old Testament," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, F.A.R.M.S., p. 294]
Jacob 5:3 I Will Liken Thee, O House of Israel, Like unto a Tame Olive-Tree:
According to Brant Gardner, there are three botanical species that figure into the symbolic representations in the Hebrew and early Christian scriptures, the grapevine, the olive tree, and the fig tree. Each of these is significant as a source of nourishment and economy in Israel, but even more importantly, each participates in a symbolic complex that associates the nation of Israel with those plants, so that the plant becomes the symbol for Israel as a nation. [Brant Gardner, "Brant Gardner's Page," http://www. highfiber.com /~nahualli/LDStopics/Jacob/Jacob5.htm, p. 2]
Jacob 5:3 I Will Liken Thee, O House of Israel, Like unto a Tame Olive-Tree:
The use of the olive tree as a symbol for the house of Israel is an excellent example of how God uses symbolism to teach his children gospel laws and principles. For centuries the olive tree has been associated with peace. War and its grim attendants of destruction---rape of the land, siege, and death---were hardly conducive to the cultivation of olive orchards, that require many years of careful husbandry to bring into full production. When the dove returned to the ark, it carried an olive leaf in its beak, as though to symbolize that God was again at peace with the earth (see Genesis 8:11). . . . There is further symbolic significance in the cultivation of an olive tree. If the green slip of an olive tree is merely planted and allowed to grow, it develops into the wild olive, a bush that grows without control into a tangle of limbs and branches producing only a small, worthless fruit (see Harold N. and Alma L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible, p. 159). To become the productive "tame" olive tree, the main stem of the wild tree must be cut back completely and a branch from a tame olive tree grafted into the stem of the wild one. With careful pruning and cultivating the tree will begin to produce its first fruit in about seven years, but it will not become fully productive for nearly fifteen years. In other words, the olive tree cannot become productive by itself; it requires grafting by the husbandman to bring it into production. Throughout its history Israel has demonstrated the remarkable aptness characterized by the symbol of the olive tree. When they gave themselves to their God for pruning and grafting the Israelites prospered and bore much fruit, but when they turned from Christ, the Master of the vineyard, and sought to become their own source of life and sustenance they became wild and unfruitful.
Two other characteristics of the olive tree further illustrate how it is an appropriate symbol for Israel. First, though requiring nearly fifteen years to come into full production, an olive tree may produce fruit for centuries. Some trees now growing in the Holy Land have been producing fruit abundantly for at least four hundred years. The second amazing quality of the tree is that as it finally grows old and begins to die, the roots send up a number of new green shoots that, if grafted and pruned, will mature into full-grown olive trees. The root of the tree will also send up shoots after the tree is cut down. Thus, while the tree itself may produce fruit for centuries, the root of the tree may go on producing fruit and new trees for millennia. It is believed that some of the ancient olive trees located in Israel today have come from trees that were ancient during Christ's mortal ministry. How can Israel be compared to an olive tree, which time and again seems to have been cut down, and destroyed, yet, each time a new tree springs forth from the roots?
Zenos was not the only prophet to use the olive tree as a symbol for the chosen people of God. Jeremiah, foreseeing the coming destruction of the Jews by Babylonia, compared the covenant people to a green olive tree consumed by fire (see Jeremiah 11:16). The apostle Paul used a brief allegory almost identical to that of Zenos's to warn the Roman Christians against pride as they compared their favored position to that of the Jews (see Romans 11:16-24). In modern revelation, the Lord uses the parable of a vineyard and olive trees to show his will concerning the redemption of Zion (see D&C 101:43-58). [Book of Mormon Student Manual Religion 121 and 122, pp. 47-48]
Jacob 5:3 Vineyard:
According to John Tvedtnes, readers of Zenos's parable in Jacob 5 have been perplexed by the use of the term "vineyard" to denote a parcel of ground in which olive trees are planted. Perhaps one should expect the word "orchard" instead.
Egyptian, which is related to the Semitic language family, has two basic forms for "vineyard." The older form has a final n . . . and is to be read k3nw. The use of both the tree and the vine determinative at the end of the word is evidence that it really means both "vineyard" and "orchard." . . . The Encyclopedia Miqra'it notes that "The Egyptian k3mn could be used for both a vineyard of vines and a plantation of mixed fruit trees. . . . The scribe Any counted twelve vines that he planted in his garden, and alongside them 100 fig trees, 170 date palms, and the like." [John A. Tvedtnes, "Vineyard or Olive Orchard?," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 477,479]
Jacob 5:3 Vineyard (Illustration): An olive grove, showing the trees well tended and the ground carefully cleared. Jacob's use of the term "vineyard" to depict a place where olive trees were cultivated is in keeping with ancient Near Eastern terminology and practices. [Stephen D. Ricks and John W. Welch eds., The Allegory of the Olive Tree, F.A.R.M.S., p. 480]
Jacob 5:3 Vineyard:
According to Hugh Nibley, the word kerem is the word for olive grove in its oldest occurrence when it appears in the book of Judges 15:5. But in the rest of the bible it means a vineyard. Palestine is the home of the vine, as well as the olive; they go together. There's the very famous poem by Ovid about the olive and the vine--how the vine clings to the olive and grows up around it, etc. The wedding of the olive and the vine is a classic theme. Thus here in chapter 5 of the book of Jacob, the word actually means either one. It means a vineyard or it means an olive grove, and they grew together. So when you see the word kerem in the Old Testament, you can translate it as either one. That's exactly what Jacob has done here.
The karst of the Dalmatian Coast is absolutely bare rock where the soil has been washed away. It was timbered once upon a time. Anciently, the timber was all cut down, and the soil was all washed away. That happens when you cut them down; you lose them forever. But the whole coast of Dalmatia is olive groves, and between the olive trees are the vines growing. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 398]
According to John Tanner, Jacob's style sets him apart from Nephi. Jacob simply sounds different: he employs a more intimate lexicon and assumes a more diffident posture toward his audience.
A key phrase in the allegory of the vineyard, "and it grieveth me that I should lose this tree," is repeated eight times. By means of such formal repetition, called by literary critics "anaphora," the allegory sounds a refrain that celebrates the Lord's long-suffering love. The very recurrence of the line underscores the quality of that divine love--unfailing, persistent, tenacious, resolute. This characterization of the Lord matters as much as, if not more than, the historical details of his plan to redeem Israel. . . . Tanner says, "I find this allegory one of the most eloquent scriptural testimonies of God's love anywhere. Surely Jacob did too." [John S. Tanner, "Literary Reflections on Jacob and His Descendants," in The Book of Mormon: Jacob through Words of Mormon, To Learn with Joy, pp. 262-263]
Jacob 5:9 Take Thou the Branches of the Wild Olive-Tree, and Graft Them In:
Richard Hopkins notes that according to the prophecies in the Old Testament (e.g., Isaiah 11:10), New Testament (e.g., Romans 11:25), and the Book of Mormon (e.g., Jacob 5:7-17), the Gentiles (Hellens) were to be drawn to Christ following His mortal ministry when Israel would reject Him (Isaiah 53). In the Allegory of Zenos, after the natural branches of the olive-tree fail to produce good fruit, we find that the Lord of the vineyard instructs his servant to "take thou the branches of the wild olive-tree and graft them in, in the stead thereof" (Jacob 5:9). Thus, according to Hopkins, the Gentiles [or branches of the wild olive-tree] were expected to take from the Jews [or the branches of the natural olive-tree] the mantle of the Gospel and be grafted into the tree [Christianity] until the last days when . . . the "times of the Gentiles" would be "fulfilled" (D&C 45:25).
At the time Isaiah announced this prediction [or at the time Zenos pronounced his allegory] reasonable men could have seen it as ludicrous. How could a pagan, polytheistic society of depraved idolaters be brought to a point where they would even be interested in the Gospel, let alone supplant the House of Israel as its chief proponent? What could possibly have predisposed the Gentiles to accept Christ in such numbers that Christianity would become the dominant religious system of the Gentile world in less than three hundred years after Christ's death? The answers to these questions are essential to an understanding of what happened to the early Church as it made the transition from Jewish exclusivity to Gentile dominance.
The foundation for the change started very shortly after the first prophecy of its occurrence was given. . . That was when a major shift in Gentile worship began through the medium of the classical Greek philosophers. . . . Although there are not enough resemblances between Greek theology and Judaism to conclude that the philosophers derived very many of their ideas from the Old Testament, there are several similarities. These similarities ultimately caused the Gentiles to be both attracted to the full truth and the Gospel and confused by the erroneous elements that remained in Hellenism. . . .
Hellenism, the philosophy and religion of the Greeks at the time of Christ, was founded primarily on the ideas of six Greek thinkers: Phythagoras, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, who were active from around 550 B.C. to about 350 B.C. It should be remembered that the ideas of these Greek philosophers were truly revolutionary. They contradicted the prevailing views of the pagan system, and the men who advanced them waged the same battle for religious liberty fought by reformers in every age. The movement even had its own martyrs, Heraclitus and Socrates being among the most noted. Over the centuries that followed, the distinctive ideas of these men grew into various schools of thought. The beliefs of those schools were gradually syncretized in the minds of the Greek public so that by the time of Christ, they were viewed by most of the Gentile world as a single monotheistic system of beliefs distinct from the polytheism and pantheism of the older, though still popular, pagan religions. . . .
Through its pervasive education system, Hellenism invaded Christianity with the same force Christianity invaded Hellenism. The result was a subtle transformation in the ideas of the Church. Among Bible scholars, prophesies of an apostasy from the teachings of Christ are well known. The issue for them is not whether it would occur, but when. Until recently, it would have been unnecessary to prove to Protestant theologians that prophesies of a great apostasy were fulfilled during the Dark Ages, when the Church was under Roman rule. Today, however, many Evangelical Christian scholars deny that any such apostasy occurred. Mormonism teaches that it has already occurred. It is Richard Hopkins' contention that the apostasy in regard to the central points of biblical theology was complete by the end of the second century A.D. He documents in a very detailed and organized manner how the Gentiles corrupted the Christian concept of God. However, what amazes him most is not that the apostasy occurred, but that it did not result in an even greater departure from the truth. Thus, we find in Jacob 5:15-17:
And it came to pass that a long time passed away, and the Lord of the vineyard said unto this servant: come, let us go down into the vineyard, that we may labor in the vineyard. . . . And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: Behold, look here; behold the tree. And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard looked and beheld the tree in the which the wild olive branches had been grafted; and it had sprung forth and begun to bear fruit. And he beheld that it was good; and the fruit thereof was like unto the natural fruit.
[Richard R. Hopkins, How Greek Philosophy Corrupted the Christian Concept of God, pp. 34-36, 79, 84-85
Jacob 5:11 That Perhaps I Might Preserve the Roots:
According to Brant Gardner, in Jacob 5:11 we find that the primary goal of the Lord of the Vineyard is to "preserve the roots thereof that they perish not, that I might preserve them unto myself." The Lord of the Vineyard is not taking care to preserve the tree, but the root. Zenos' allegory uses the root as the Abrahamic covenant itself; the original covenant between God and his people is what is being preserved. For the Lord, it is his covenantal relationship that is the important aspect of his relationship to man. It is not necessarily the amount of time it takes for the tree to bear good fruit, nor is it necessarily the particular make-up of the branches (the race of men who become attached to the collective designation as "tree," or "Israel." What is important is that the branches (or covenant people) are cultivated to match the roots (or covenant terms) which are continually preserved. [Brant Gardner, "Brant Gardner's Page, "http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Jacob/ Jacob5.htm, pp. 16-18] [See the commentary on Jacob 5:35]
Jacob 5:16 The Servant Went down into the Vineyard:
According to Angela Crowell, "Hebrew syntax calls for compound prepositions" rather than the single preposition common in English. This usage is traced back to the literal translation of the Hebrew text. Compound prepositions are used to indicate the locale and direction of the action as well as the action itself (Rosenau 1902:119-120). A good example of this is found in Jacob 5:16, "the servant went down into the vineyard." [Angela M. Crowell, "Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, p. 7]
Jacob 5:35 The Roots Thereof Profit Me Nothing So Long As It Shall Bring Forth Evil Fruit:
In Jacob 5:35 the Lord said unto his servant, "The tree profiteth me nothing, and the roots thereof profit me nothing so long as it shall bring forth evil fruit." According to Brant Gardner, this is the first time we have anything at all disparaging about the roots of the tree. Even in this case, it is not that the roots are not good (for the Lord explicitly says in the next verse, "I know that the roots are good") but simply that they "profit nothing."
The Abrahamic covenant is good, as it is the message of the gospel delivered to all of the ancient prophets. However, what is stressed here is the fact that in spiritual terms, the result of having the gospel among mankind is that it is not producing power to salvation and exaltation. The gospel might be technically "alive," however it is not producing good fruit, which is salvation and exaltation. Therefore it is producing "evil fruit."
The condition producing the evil fruit is that the wild branches "have overrun the roots" (Jacob 5:37). Remembering that the roots represent Israel's covenant relationship with the Lord, the overrunning of the roots is apparently some force that will make that covenant relationship of lesser effect such that good fruit is not produced. This may be a very apt description of the way the apostasy occurred. The mixing in of worldly ideas and philosophies (associated with the "wild branches") would become the pervasive mode of answering issues, rather than the appeal to revelation from the Lord. The weight of the intellectual world would overrun the purity of the roots representing man's ability to communicate with his Heavenly Father by covenant. The logic of the world would be subtly brought into the realm of gospel teaching. [Brant Gardner, "Brant Gardner's Page, "http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/ LDStopics/Jacob/Jacob5.htm, pp. 28-31] [See the commentary on Jacob 5:11]