The Biblical Tree of Life in Modern Literature and Art




McReynolds, Lyndsay

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Ever since antiquity, trees have been used as symbols and literal embodiments of religious beliefs for mankind. One special symbolic tree shared by many cultures is the tree of life. This thesis will attempt to explicate the meaning of the tree of life from a few examples of modern literature and art in order to understand the purpose in its representation. One goal of this thesis is to recognize and trace elements of the Christian tradition and the themes of nature and grace through the modern tree of life symbol. The following chapters will explore historical interpretations of the tree of life, and where characteristics of the biblical tree of life appear in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Terrence Malick, and Bruce Herman. The overall argument of this thesis is that through the tree of life theme present in each of these works, there is a showing of man’s desire and propensity to engage in a relationship with divinity, oftentimes that being Christ.