From the book: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith
by Michael R. Ash
What young adult in Jacksonian America would make a connection between a sacred tree and the Virgin Mary? In Nephi and Lehi’s day, however, the connection would have been obvious (and obviously colored by their cultural background). Mary was a perfect mortal typification of Asherah –she was a virgin, fair, and the mother of the most joyous subject in the world. While Mary is not Asherah, to Nephi the symbolism would have made sense and would have taught him not only of the coming of the Christ, but also would have helped him understand the meaning of the sacred tree. It’s easy to see how Nephi’s culture would have prepared him to understand such an interpretation in his vision as recorded in the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 11). But how did Joseph Smith know this in 1830?
Michael R. Ash is the author of: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting The Prophet Joseph Smith. He is the owner and operator of MormonFortress.com and is on the management team for FairMormon. He has been published in Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the Maxwell Institute’s FARMS Review, and is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt. He and his wife live in Ogden, Utah, and have three daughters.
Julianne Dehlin Hatton is a broadcast journalist living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Radio and Television Host, and Airborne Traffic Reporter. She graduated with an MSSc from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2008. Julianne and her husband Thomas are the parents of four children.
Music for Faith and Reason is provided by Arthur Hatton.