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The Lord of the vinyard

Discussion in 'Latter-day Saints DIR' started by john63, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. john63

    john63 titmouse

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    I was just reading Jacob's telling of the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees. Although I found it a bit long and redundant in places, it is a beautiful metaphor for Christ's Love for us.;)

    How did this story touch you when you read it?
     
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  2. jonny

    jonny Well-Known Member

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    I also find it long and redundant and it is the hardest part of the Book of Mormon for me to get through, but probably because it is one that requires a lot of concentration and thinking. I enjoy studying it - even if the chapter is really long - but it takes me a lot of time to get through it (stupid short attention span). I actually skipped this chapter in my last reading of the Book of Mormon, but you've inspired me to go and give it another look. :D

    Perhaps we could discuss it bit by bit. There's a lot of stuff in there to handle in one post. This allegory is usually divided into five parts (verses 4-5, 6-14, 15-28, 29-73, and 73-77), so I'll start with the first part.

    You mention that this is metaphor for Christ's love for us. In this verse "the master" (who is Christ) went into his vineyard (which represents the world) and noticed that his olive-tree (the house of Israel) had begun to decay. He immediatly went to work digging and pruning the tree to help it bring forth good branches.

    I believe that this verse shows the attention that Christ gives those who follow him. He watches over the world and will help us.

    I was searching for some information on this chapter in the Book of Mormon and came accross and interesting article at http://www.ldsliving.com/bom13.asp. The author Ted Gibbons gave some interesting insight into the terms "pruning" and "digging" that I'd never thought of before:

    He says it better than I ever could. We really learn through our struggles. I don't know if I agree with the idea that Christ gives us these problems directly - they are a product of the world we live in - but he allows his followers to have trials, which in the end will strengthen the entire group.

    Jacob 5:5 - And it came to pass that he pruned it, and digged about it, and nourished it according to his word.
     
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  3. Aqualung

    Aqualung Tasty

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    I found it more than just a bit long and redundant! :D As for me, I don't think it's the best allegory you could find, but it suits its purpose.
     
  4. john63

    john63 titmouse

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    Your probably right Aqualung but it's the first allegory I've studied so far. I'm sure I'll find many more.;)
     
  5. Nehustan

    Nehustan Well-Known Member

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    Hope you guys don't mind me butting in, but I once had a book of mormom that I flicked through. I'm interested in what the text you are discussing concerns. How may I come by a copy of the Book? Is there a place to get one on the web??? I guess I should do a google, so if you answer and I've already found one apologies. Seeing such a large section of the RF community are LDS I guess I should give the book a proper read....
     
  6. john63

    john63 titmouse

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    The LDS Church will send you a copy for free. Just request one form their website.
     
  7. Nehustan

    Nehustan Well-Known Member

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  8. jonny

    jonny Well-Known Member

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    There is a link to have one sent for free at www.mormon.org, but it looks like the site is down right now until tomorrow morning. They are probably updating it or something right now. You can also call 1-888-537-7111 (I hope that number still works) and ask to have one mailed or delivered to you. They will ask you if you want LDS missionaries to deliver it or if you want to receive it in the mail.

    Another option would be to just go into any LDS meetinghouse on Sunday morning and ask for one. They have lots of them to give out.

    If you want, I can mail you a copy also. Just send me a PM.
     
  9. Nehustan

    Nehustan Well-Known Member

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    I had a brief read...I notice that it seems, in part, to deal with monogamy...I thought that originally the LDS followed polygymous practices??? I am wrong in this information, and if not how was this possible in relation to this 'book' of Jacob?
     
  10. Nehustan

    Nehustan Well-Known Member

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    Cheers Jonny, I noticed that the main site was down, when its up I'll order a copy, no need for you to send one, but thanks for the offer :)
     
  11. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    I don't want to get too awfully far off-topic here, but we believe that God wants us to live the law of monogamy unless He specifically commands that polygamy be practiced for a period of time (as we believe was the case in the early days of the restored Church). I believe that Jacob states that He would occasionally authorize men to take more than one wife in order to raise up righteous seed to Him. (I could look it up, but I'm feeling kind of lazy right now. That's the jist of it, though.) The Church was founded in 1830, but the practice of polygamy did not come into being until several years later. Then, in 1890, it was abandoned. If you want to discuss polygamy further, there is already a thread on the subject somewhere here in the LDS forum.
     
  12. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Long and redundant or not, the allegory of the olive tree is an impressive bit of evidence as to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Here are some exerpts from an article at www.jefflindsay.com.

    Jacob chapter 5 offers a detailed description of practices regarding the cultivation of olive trees, taken from a Jewish text that was on the sacred writings available on the brass plates that Lehi brought with him from Jerusalem. These descriptions agree well with what is known of ancient olive cultivation in ways that were far beyond what Joseph Smith could have known. While Romans 11:13-26 refers to grafting of olive trees, this offers scant information compared to the extensive and detailed information in Jacob 5, the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon.

    For impressive details about the accuracy of Jacob 5 and its plausibility as an ancient text, see The Allegory of the Olive Tree, ed. Stephen D. Ricks and John W. Welch (Salt Lake City: FARMS and Deseret Book, 1994), particularly Chapter 21, "Botanical Aspects of Olive Culture Relevant to Jacob 5" by Wilford M. Hess, Daniel J. Fairbanks, John W. Welch, and Jonathan K. Driggs, pp. 484-562, and other chapters about ancient olive practices and symbolism. The details in Jacob 5 appear to be a masterful and accurate representation of ancient horticultural practices regarding olive trees, including the art of grafting branches from one tree to another, which is still common for those caring for olive trees.



    Below is an excerpt from John Gee and Daniel C. Peterson, "Graft and Corruption: On Olives and Olive Culture in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, pp. 186-247, taken from pages 223-224:
    [font=Geneva,Verdana,Arial,Helvetica][size=-1]It purports to be the work of an ancient northern Israelite author, living between 900-700 B.C., about olive growing. Almost every detail it supplies about olive culture can be confirmed in four classical authors whose authority on the subject can be traced back to Syro-Palestine. Zenos's parable fits into the pattern of ancient olive cultivation remarkably well. The placing of the villa above the vineyards [Columella, Rei Rusticae I, 5,7] means that, when the master gives instructions to his servants, they have to "go down" into the vineyard (Jacob 5:15, 29, 38). It was also customary for the master of the vineyard to have several servants (cf. Jacob 5:7,10-11,15-16, 20-21, 25-30, 33-35, 38, 41, 48-50, 57, 61-62,70-72,75). [Cato, De Agri Cultura 10; Varro, Rerum Rusticarum I, 18.] When only one servant is mentioned in Zenos's parable, the reference is most likely to the chief steward. Likewise, Zenos's mention of planting (Jacob 5:23-25, 52, 54), pruning (Jacob 5:11, 47, 76; 6:2), grafting (Jacob5:8,9-10,17-18, 30, 34, 52, 54-57, 60, 63-65, 67-68), digging (Jacob 5:4, 27, 63-64), nourishing (Jacob 5:4,12, 27, 28,58,71; 6:2), and dunging (Jacob 5:47, 64, 76), as well as the fact that dunging occurs less frequently in the parable than the nourishing, all mark it as an authentic ancient work. The unexpected change of wild olive branches to tame ones (Jacob 5:17-18) would have seemed a divine portent to our ancient authorities. [Theophrastus, Historia Plantarum II, 3,1.]

    Even more striking, for Joseph Smith to have made up the parable from these classical authors, he would have had to read all four: Theophrastus is the only one to discuss the differences between wild and tame olives, the tendency for wild olives to predominate, and prophetic use of the olive tree as a sign. [Romans 11:16-24 does mention wild and tame and grafting, but nothing about the fruit or the purposes thereof. A casual reading of Paul leaves the impression that it is as easy to be one way as the other.] Varro and Columella are the only ones to acknowledge the Phoenician connections. Cato and Varro are the only ones who discuss the servants' roles. Cato and Columella alone note the placement of the villa above the groves; Varro is the only author to discuss the "main top" in association with the "young and tender branches" (cf. Jacob 5:6). Yet Joseph Smith probably did not have access to these works. And even if he had, he could not read Latin and Greek in 1829. Theophrastus's Historia Plantarum first published in English in 1916, [Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants, trans. Arthur Hort (London: Heinemann, 1916)] and no part of his De Causis Plantarum was available in English until 1927 [Robert E. Dengler, ... Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1927]. While English translations of Cato, Varro, and Columella were available to the British in 1803, 1800, and 1745 respectively [Thomas Owen, M. Porcius Cato concerning Agriculture (London: White, 1803), ...], it is hardly likely that they were widely circulated in rural New York and Pennsylvania. Joseph Smith could have known nothing about olives from personal experience, as they do not grow in Vermont and New York. Can it reasonably be supposed that Joseph simply guessed right on so many details? And even if he somehow managed to get the details from classical authors, how did he know to put it into the proper Hebrew narrative form? [The narrative of Zenos follows the Hebrew narrative pattern as laid down by Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1981).] Even if Joseph Smith had somehow gathered the details of ancient olive culture from someone who knew it intimately, he would still have had no plot. [Zenos's plot is much more complicated than Paul's, and if Joseph Smith is adding to the plot, it must be explained how he got the extra details ... and made them fit in with ancient olive lore.][/size][/font]


    For online verification of olive culture principles from non-LDS resources, consider "The Secrets of Olive Trees" from BienManger.com (also LeGourmetMarket.com). [Verified are] several concepts in Jacob 5, such as the ability of olive trees to grow in rich and poor soils, the importance of grafting, the ability to regenerate or rejuvenate a decaying olive tree, and the practice of applying dung.
     
  13. Nehustan

    Nehustan Well-Known Member

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    Sorry for sidetracking the issue :sarcastic . I'll just watch the debate and learn.
     
  14. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Hey, it's no biggie! I'm sorry if I came across as critical. I just thought that if you wanted to explore the topic further, you might want to look at what has already been posted on it. ;)
     
  15. Aqualung

    Aqualung Tasty

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    Did you start with Jacob? Because I was thinking I liked the stuff in like 1 Nephi better even.
     
  16. jonny

    jonny Well-Known Member

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    Ok. Now I'm going to give my thoughts on verse 6-14 in Jacob 5.

    First, the summary:
    The work of the Master on the olive tree resulted in good branches growing, but the main part of the tree began to die. In this section of the alegory, we are introduced to the servant, who could represent any missionary or prophet of the Lord. The Lord tells his servant to bring him branches from a wild olive tree (the gentiles). The Lord explains that they will remove the main branches of the tame olive tree and burn them. The branches from the wild olve tree will be grafted into the tame olive tree.

    Once the wild branches were grafted into the tame branches, the Lord continued with digging, pruning, and nourishing the olive tree. The Lord was "grieved" at the possibility of losing any part of the olive tree. He asked the servant to watch over the tame olive tree, and the Lord took the branches they had removed and planted the branches throughout the vineyard.

    Ok, now here is my interpretation:
    This section of the alegory is obviously refering to the scattering of Israel. The Lord scattered Israel throughout the world. Note that he knew where they were. The prophet was left to watch over the main part of the tree, while the Lord cared for the scattered branches.

    Again, in these verses we see the mercy of the Lord. He doesn't give up on his covenant people, not matter how often we fail him. While initially, he wanted to burn the branches, his mercy overcame and he took them and focused more care on them as a result of his judgment.

    In the link I referenced earlier, it describes grafting as the Lord changing people's envoirnment so that they will respond to the Gospel. The Lord will lead seekers of truth to Gospel opportunities and (as we will probably find out later in the alegory) everyone becomes stronger because of the additions.
     
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