Lehi’s Dream as a Template for Understanding Each Act of Nephi’s Vision


Lehi's dream, Nephi's Vision, Book of Mormon studies


Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, in his work Christ and the New Covenant, suggests an important way to study the scriptures when he writes, “The Spirit made explicit that the Tree of Life and its precious fruit are symbols of Christ’s redemption.”[1] Because neither the Spirit nor Nephi ever vocalize this connection between the tree and Christ (Nephi gives two direct interpretations of the tree and its fruit: to the angel he identifies it as “the love of God” [1 Nephi 11:22], and to his brethren he identifies it as “a representation of the tree of life” [1 Nephi 15:22]), Elder Holland teaches us through his reading how to uncover doctrine and messages within the scriptures that are not explicitly stated. He explains how the Spirit first links the tree to Christ when he tells Nephi he will show him the tree and then the Son of God descending out of heaven. After this occurs and Nephi asks to know the interpretation of the tree, the Spirit immediately shows him Christ’s nativity—the virgin Mary with an infant in her arms. Then the angel, who replaces the Spirit of the Lord and becomes Nephi’s guide for the duration of the vision, concludes this image by declaring, “Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” To ensure Nephi understands the connection, the angel follows the image and the declaration with a question for Nephi, “Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?” (1 Nephi 11:21).[2] Elder Holland reaches his conclusion by looking closely at how the Spirit frames the images, the sequence in which Nephi’s guides show him the images, and the dialogue or interactions between Nephi and his guides.

Original Publication Citation

“Lehi’s Dream as a Template for Understanding Each Act of Nephi’s Vision.” The Things Which My Father Saw: Approaches to Lehi’s Dream and Nephi’s Vision. Eds. Dan Belnap, Gaye Strathearn, and Stanley A. Johnson. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, 2011. 179-98

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



Religious Studies Center




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor