Snippets from ‘The Mormon Delusion’.
Extract from TMD Vol. 2:143-144; 147-148. Origin of the story of ‘The Tree of Life’.
In the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi Chapter 8, Joseph Smith has the character Nephi declare that his father had a dream or a vision. These are the details Nephi records concerning what Lehi apparently saw in his dream, between 600 & 592 BCE:
A dark and dreary wilderness.
A man in a white robe stands before Lehi and asks Lehi to follow him.
Lehi follows the man and finds himself in a “dark and dreary waste”.
Travelling many hours in darkness, Lehi prays to the Lord for mercy.
Having prayed, Lehi sees a large and spacious field.
He sees a tree, the fruit of which will make people happy.
He eats the fruit, which is pure white; it is sweet and makes him happy.
He is full of joy.
He wants his family to taste the fruit as it is so desirable.
Looking around for his family, Lehi sees a river of water near the tree.
He sees his wife Sariah and sons Sam and Nephi.
They do not know where to go.
Lehi calls to them, beckons them to him to eat the fruit. This they do.
He looks for and sees his sons, Laman and Lemuel.
They will not go and eat the fruit.
A rod of iron extends along the bank of the river, and leads to the tree.
A strait, narrow path, runs by the rod of iron, to the tree.
It also runs, at the head of the “fountain” to a spacious field.
It is as if the field was a “world”.
Numerous people are there, many trying to get on the path to the tree.
Some people get on the path but then lose their way.
They get lost in a mist of darkness.
More people get on the path and hold on to the rod of iron.
They get to the tree and eat.
After eating they are ashamed.
Across the river is a “great and spacious building” high in the air.
The building is full of people.
The people, in fine clothes, are mocking those who have eaten the fruit.
Due to the mocking, those who ate, fall away, lost in “forbidden paths”.
More people come, holding to the rod of iron.
They arrive, fall down and eat the fruit.
Others “feel” their way to the great and spacious building.
Many drown in the river or are lost, wandering in strange roads.
One of Joseph Smith Senior’s recorded dreams contained the following elements which Joseph Jnr., would have regularly heard told during evenings around the family fire, from when he was about age six.
Smith Snr. dreamed he was again travelling in an open barren field.
He stopped and thought he should reflect on what he was doing before going further.
The same guide that was with him before, says it is the desolate world and to travel on.
The road is broad and barren so he thinks to himself:
“Broad is the road, and wide is the gate that leads to death, and many there be that walk therein; but narrow is the way, and straight is the gate that leads to everlasting life, and few there be that go in thereat.”
Travelling a short distance on, he comes to a narrow path.
Walking along the narrow path he sees a beautiful stream.
The stream runs east to west.
There is a rope running along the bank.
The rope is placed such that one would have to reach up to grasp it.
He could not see the beginning or the end of the stream or the rope.
Beyond him is a low, pleasant valley in which stands a beautiful tree.
The tree bore fruit, like a chestnut bur, white as snow or even whiter.
The burs open, revealing dazzling white fruit. He eats, it is delicious.
He feels he must bring his wife and children to eat the fruit.
He goes to get them.
He, wife and seven children eat fruit and praise God for this blessing.
They are exceedingly happy, such that their joy cannot be expressed.
He sees, opposite the valley, a spacious building which reaches the sky.
It is full of doors and windows, with people who are finely dressed.
The people see him and his family, point their fingers and scorn them.
Asks guide the meaning of the fruit and is told it is pure love of God.
He is told to bring the rest of his children. Explains he has no more.
He is told to look, as he has two more.
He looks and sees two more small children.
He goes to them, brings them to the tree and they eat the fruit.
They all rejoice together.
The more they eat, the more they want.
They get on their knees, eating by double handfuls.
He asks the guide the meaning of the spacious building.
He is told that it is Babylon and it must fall.
People in it are inhabitants who scorn and despise the Saints of God.
Then he soon awoke, clapping his hands together with joy.
(Smith, Lucy, 1853:58-59; Anderson. L, 2001:296-298).
Is this enough for the basis of an idea from which Joseph Jnr. could have concocted Lehi’s dream? No, it is not the basis of an idea. It is entirely Lehi’s dream. Apart from making the rope into a rod and the stream filthy instead of clean, this is the very same story in almost every detail. Smith Jnr’s fertile imagination needed no stretching on this occasion; he simply used his own father’s story, pretending it was Lehi’s dream.
Church members, unless they are of a mind to research, which few ever do, would have no idea that not just the basis, but in effect, the very same story that Smith attributes to Lehi in 600 BCE, was nothing more than a plagiarised dream his own father related to him many times as a child.
The more time we spend deceiving others,
the more we deceive ourselves.
~ Jim Whitefield