Tree of Life - Early Church Father Quotes


I’ve heard from many places that the “Church Fathers” refer to Jesus’ Cross as the “Tree of Life” (mentioned in both Genesis and Revelation). I couldn’t find actual quotations though.

Does anyone have a list of Church Father commentary on the Tree of Life?


There’s a lot of different ways to find such quotes. One is to look up Commentaries on Genesis, sermons on Genesis, questions about Genesis, etc.

One is to look up verses in the Index Patrorum or Clavis Patrorum, or whatever it’s called, which is a partial index of Scripture quotes in the Fathers.

One is to have a subscription to one of the big Church Fathers services, and just search on the verse or phrase you want. If you are at a university, they may subscribe to stuff like that.

Similarly, you can search Google Books for the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, etc. for the phrase you want. For example, “lignum vitae” or other declensions of lignum, or “arbor vitae” and other declensions of arbor, and so on. If you want the Greek for a passage, either look it up on a Septuagint webpage, or go to Biblehub and click on the Greek for one of the Revelation passages, and then the Hebrew for one of the Genesis passages. (There are Syriac and Aramaic Bibles online, too.)

And there are also books that provide quotes and links, like the Ancient Christian Commentaries on Scripture series. (Intervarsity Press does that one, and it’s supposed to be more a bunch of good leads than a complete examination of everything the author says about a verse. More of a Protestant slant than a Catholic one.)

Bibles like the Navarre Bible have Fathers footnotes, too.

Anyway… you will want to look up references to all the Genesis verses mentioning the tree of life, as well as the Proverbs and Revelation verses.


‘In the midst of the street thereof, and on both sides of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruits every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.’ Rev 22:2


In his Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 86, written about the year 155, St Justin Martyr seems to say that the wood of the cross was symbolized by, among other things, the tree of life in paradise.


St. Ephraim 306-373 AD, “The Pearl”, Hymn 4

  1. The thief gained the faith which gained him, and brought him up and placed him in paradise. He saw in the Cross a tree of life; that was the fruit, he was the eater in Adam’s stead.

St. John Damascene, b. 676 AD, “Exposition of the Faith”, Book IV, Chapter 11 (6th paragraph)
“The tree of life which was planted by God in Paradise pre-figured this precious Cross. For since death was by a tree, it was fitting that life and resurrection should be bestowed by a tree.”


St. Louis de Monfort calls Mary a tree of life with Jesus as the fruit in The Secret of Mary.


off topic, but…the conventional Jewish understanding of the tree of life is the Torah, Etz Hayim to drop a name (tree of life) – IOW, we feed on the word of God unto eternal life.

The tree of life is also represented symbolically in some Jewish publications as the burning bush, which bore the voice of God to Moses. The Temple Menorrah of solid gold was the representation of the living word of God, with its burning lamps to recall the burning bush, constantly illuminating the holy room, just in front of the Holy of Holies.


I have the ACCS but I don’t think it has a general index–no it diesn’t

This may be a job for somebody with the full expensive version of Verbum with all the early church fathers, Perhaps that software permits an exhaustive search


This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit