What is the tree of life in Genisis 3?


#1

I think of it as God’s redemption. But that is maybe too general and obvious…Maybe the hidden wisdom of God too?
Any specific interpretations? And is is literally something to eat? That would be Christ, as in the Eucharist. Just a difficult passage to be specific on, to me.


#2

[quote="rcwitness, post:1, topic:312307"]
I think of it as God's redemption. But that is maybe too general and obvious...Maybe the hidden wisdom of God too?
Any specific interpretations? And is is literally something to eat? That would be Christ, as in the Eucharist. Just a difficult passage to be specific on, to me.

[/quote]

No, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil imparted no wisdom, only death.
It was the lie of Satan to say that it brought wisdom, it did not. As a matter of
fact, it is possible the Tree was created by Satan himself, who had already
fallen to the Earth, but had not possessed the serpent yet. Eating of it
was going against the Will of God. God gave the Angels (including Satan)
and us free will. Eve was deceived by Satan. Adam was deceived by both
Eve and Satan. Was it a literal tree ? perhaps it was. Scripture says it was,
but it really doesn't matter if the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Tree
of Life, and the other Trees which were in Creation Before Time were trees,
they were not trees as we think of them, because they existed in a pre-corruption
state which made them unlike any trees we see today (in time).


#3

The tree of life is the Cross. The fruit of the Cross is eternal life for all who believe.

The tree of life is also Mary.

**What came to be through him was life* (John 1:3-4)*

**I am the bread of life.* (John 6:48)*

Life came to us through Jesus and Jesus came to us through Mary. The fruit of Mary's womb is Jesus. God stationed a Cherubim and firey sword to protect Mary from all impurity until she should bear fruit - Jesus - who gives us life.

-Tim-


#4

I don't know that there's only one answer to that question. Many passages in the Old Testament have significance on multiple levels. That is the traditional four senses of Scripture at work.

For example, look at the Temple in Jerusalem.
[LIST]
]The *literal sense is the physical building the Jewish people built in Jerusalem.
]The *allegorical sense is the Temple of Christ's Body -- the Temple that will be destroyed and raised up in 3 days (John 2:19-21).
]The *moral/tropological sense refers to our own bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19)
]The *anagogical sense is heaven (Revelation 21:22)
[/LIST]

I would say the allegorical sense of the Tree of Life is the Cross.


#5

It has a literal and allegorical meaning

Here is the commentary from the Aquinas Study Bible on Genesis 2:9

2:9 The tree of life is a material tree, and so called because its fruit was endowed with a life-preserving power. Yet it had a spiritual signification; as the rock in the desert was of a material nature, and yet signified Christ. In like manner the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a material tree, so called in view of future events; because, after eating of it, man was to learn, by experience of the consequent punishment, the difference between the good of obedience and the evil of rebellion. It may also be said to signify spiritually the free-will. (St. Thomas Aquinas Sum Theo 1.102.4)

Here is the footnote to the Aquinas Study Bible on Revelation 2:7

to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of my God: This tree of life is Christ himself: 'He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me: and I in him (Jn 6:57).' (St. Thomas Aquinas) Or the Tree of Life is Sacred Scripture. (Hugh of St. Cher) Or the phrase is figurative, for by the tree of life he means the blessed and eternal life, which the saints will enjoy in the kingdom of God, which he has called Paradise. (Oecumenius) Or the Church is to be regarded as paradise, and the tree of life is the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Church and in the spiritual paradise which gives the faithful food of life and the Sacrament of the celestial bread. (Tyconius)


#6

It makes sense to be the cross and the fruit is Jesus. The fiery sword is the pain Jesus endured.

Maybe not the pain he endured wouldnt be from an angel i guess

If this tree is allegory, is the tree of knowledge too? Or just an earthly regular tree, and God used it to symbolize His tree of life?

Or perhaps the cheribum did protect Mary...and jesus until His time
But the statement is as if someone could steal it and eat, thus receiving life eternal. Who would eat Jesus thinking this?

Thanks guys,
Michael


#7

[quote="rcwitness, post:6, topic:312307"]
It makes sense to be the cross and the fruit is Jesus. The fiery sword is the pain Jesus endured.

Maybe not the pain he endured wouldnt be from an angel i guess

If this tree is allegory, is the tree of knowledge too? Or just an earthly regular tree, and God used it to symbolize His tree of life?

Or perhaps the cheribum did protect Mary...and jesus until His time
But the statement is as if someone could steal it and eat, thus receiving life eternal. Who would eat Jesus thinking this?

Thanks guys,
Michael

[/quote]

I like what the Catechism says about the tree of knowledge of good and evil:

CCC 396 God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. A spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission to God. The prohibition against eating "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" spells this out: "for in the day that you eat of it, you shall die."276 The "tree of the knowledge of good and evil"277 symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature, must freely recognize and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his Creator, and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that govern the use of freedom.

In other words, the one thing man could not do was to define for himself what is good and what is evil. That's what the Original Sin was. Man let trust for his Creator die in his heart and thought, "I can do better. I can be like God. I can determine what is good and evil for myself." That's pretty much what all sin boils down to in the end.


#8

[quote="Joe_5859, post:7, topic:312307"]
I like what the Catechism says about the tree of knowledge of good and evil:
CCC 396 God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. A spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission to God. The prohibition against eating "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" spells this out: "for in the day that you eat of it, you shall die."276 The "tree of the knowledge of good and evil"277 symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature, must freely recognize and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his Creator, and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that govern the use of freedom.
In other words, the one thing man could not do was to define for himself what is good and what is evil. That's what the Original Sin was. Man let trust for his Creator die in his heart and thought, "I can do better. I can be like God. I can determine what is good and evil for myself." That's pretty much what all sin boils down to in the end.

[/quote]

Thank you for providing CCC 396

Regarding this comment: "In other words, the one thing man could not do was to define for himself what is good and what is evil."

It is precisely the first two sentences in CCC 396 ...
"CCC 396 God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. A spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission to God."

...which establishes the fact or reality that Adam, before the Fall, knew exactly what is good and what is evil. These two sentences are actually the base for Original Sin.
Original Sin, freely committed by a knowledgeable Adam shattered humanity's friendship with divinity.


#9

Interesting discussion. rcwitness, are you asking more about the Tree of Life, or about the Tree of Knowledge, because they are distinct in Gn 2:9

"And the Lord God brought forth of the ground all manner of trees, fair to behold, and pleasant to eat of: the tree of life also in the midst of paradise: and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." (Douay-Rheims)

I checked several translations and the language of each indicates two separate trees - that of the CEV (ugh) is really specific, and I'm inclined to think that these are different. Note the contrast in Gn 3:22

"And he said: Behold Adam is become as one of us, knowing good and evil: now, therefore, lest perhaps he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever." (Douay-Rheims, emphasis mine)

Namely that Adam and Eve have partaken of the Tree of Knowledge and the Lord explicitly wishes them not to also take of the Tree of Life.

The phrase "Tree of Life" is used poetically in the Proverbs to describe wisdom (Pr 3:18), righteousness (Pr 11:30), patience (Pr 13:12), gentle speech (Pr 15:4). It then appears again in Revelation, to describe the rewards awaiting us in Heaven, specifically for those who are victorious (in the sense of repenting and returning to Christ, Rev 2:7), those who wash their robes in the Blood of the Lamb (Rev 22:14, alluding to Rev 7:14). The allusions are strongly towards the redemption of Israel (as is much of Revelation), since the Tree of Life bears 12 crops of fruit every month (Rev 22:2), and is fed by the River of Life which flows from the Throne of God. This Tree is healing and nourishing at the same time.

So I think we can find support in Scripture for much of what has been written here:
(1)

[quote="rcwitness, post:6, topic:312307"]
It makes sense to be the cross and the fruit is Jesus. The fiery sword is the pain Jesus endured.

[/quote]

(2)

[quote="Joe_5859, post:4, topic:312307"]

I would say the allegorical sense of the Tree of Life is the Cross.

[/quote]

(3)

[quote="TimothyH, post:3, topic:312307"]
Life came to us through Jesus and Jesus came to us through Mary. The fruit of Mary's womb is Jesus. God stationed a Cherubim and firey sword to protect Mary from all impurity until she should bear fruit - Jesus - who gives us life.

[/quote]

(4)

[quote="COPLAND_3, post:5, topic:312307"]
This tree of life is Christ himself: 'He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me: and I in him (Jn 6:57).' (St. Thomas Aquinas) Or the Tree of Life is Sacred Scripture. (Hugh of St. Cher) Or the phrase is figurative, for by the tree of life he means the blessed and eternal life, which the saints will enjoy in the kingdom of God, which he has called Paradise. (Oecumenius)

[/quote]

As was pointed out, Scripture can have multiple meanings, and I wish to add that the meaning given to those for whom this was first written was likely distinct from the meaning given us who receive the fulfillment of Scripture, but no less true. To them, clearly, we began in friendship (as Copland and Joe pointed out), fell from that friendship and a barrier remains in place. Yet that didn't prevent the Lord God from reaching out to Israel and Israel reaching back for God - note again the author of proverbs talking of the ways in which God sustains us (through love, a calm spirit, an obedient heart). Christian revelation restores us fully to God. While Israel was required to make material sacrifice for sins, the Church has received her final sacrifice and is redeemed, even while she continues to redeem.

So I would take the meaning of the Tree of Life to signify the Grace that both prepares us for Heaven, and the promised reward of Heaven, and therefore this Grace manifests itself in multiple ways. In Christ (Jn 1:14, and others), as well as in His martyrs (Ac 6:8), His prophets (Lk 1:15), Mary (Lk 1:28), conversion (Ac 18:27, and others), the Church (Rom 1:5, among others).

Christ, I think, is the first in this order rightly because He is the source (Rom 5:2) of access to the Lord, of victory over Satan (Rom 16:20), and the reason for God to find favor in us (Eph 2:4-7, and others). This Grace is the source from which all other Grace flows in the service that all, from Mary to Paul to Benedict to Fr. Gary to each of us on these boards, are able to render the Lord (Eph 3:2,7, 4:2, 2 Th 1:12, 2 Ti 1:9, and others). So if we are to give any meaning to the Tree of Life, we must start with Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, Doctor and Protector.


#10

You think the tree would more apropriately be Isreal, and Mary a fulfilled part of Isreal? Don’t think im bashing Mary:)

Definately makes sense. Like Revelations…these prophecies incompass so much.

This is our struggle to overcome, isnt it?

I was asking about the tree of life. But all this ties together meaning. So…great!

One curious thing you quote is, "Adam has become like one of us, knowing good and evil."
I assume He means trinity, but also that He knows good and evil through wisdom as opposed to man knowing through experience…?

And all these suggestions culminated in the Grace of God with Jesus being first and foremost in all ways regarding man is definately good reasoning. Just wonder what the “protection lest he reach out and takes” means. Mysterious how that could happen.

Thanks all,
Michael


#11

The tree of life being kept from us brings to mind the disciples on the road to emmaus. Their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. He broke the bread, blessed it, gave to them and their eyes were opened! Sounds like a pretty direct connection...?


#12

the focus of scripture is Christ (Pope Benedict XVI).


#13

What would have happened if Adam and Eve had refused Satan's temptation and had later gone and ate of the Tree of Life?

Would they and all their offspring live forever or only them?

Did God want Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Life if they had refused Satan?


#14

[quote="Jerry-Jet, post:13, topic:312307"]
What would have happened if Adam and Eve had refused Satan's temptation and had later gone and ate of the Tree of Life?

Would they and all their offspring live forever or only them?

Did God want Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Life if they had refused Satan?

[/quote]

Genesis 2 makes it clear that they were allowed fo eat freely from the tree of life while they lived in the garden. With all due respect, and I mean this in a spirit of charity, all you have to do is read that part of the Bible and that is clear.

**And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil*. (Genesis 2:9)

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." (Genesis 2:16-17)*

God said that they may freely eat anthing in the garden with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of knowledge of good and evil was the only tree that they were forbidden to eat from. The prohibition against eating from the tree of life began when they were cast out of the garden.

**Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever" -- therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24)

Before they were cast out, they at freely of the tree of life. Death entered the world when they sinned and were cast out.

-Tim


#15

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