Zenos, Nephite prophecy, dating Zenos, Isaiah, allegory of the olive tree


The allegory of the olive tree attributed to the ancient prophet Zenos and copied from the plates of brass into the small plates by Jacob was a source used by several Book of Mormon prophets. Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, and Alma seemed to be relying on the allegory at several points in the elaboration of their own visions, prophecies, and teachings. This paper provides a systematic documentation of this phenomenon, including passages that have not previously been linked to Zenos. It also demonstrates how the interpretations of the allegory by the earliest Nephite prophets advanced distinctive concepts and language that also influenced the later prophets. Important in these interpretations is the realization that the Nephite prophets simultaneously drew on the allegory, which focuses on Israel as a nation, and other writings attributable to Zenos, which deal explicitly with the relation of the individual to God and the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Original Publication Citation

"Nephite Uses and Interpretations of Zenos," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree: The Olive, the Bible, and Jacob 5, Stephen D. Ricks and John W. Welch (eds.), FARMS and Deseret Book, 1994, 21-49.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


FARMS and Deseret Book




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Political Science

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor