Lehi's dream in 1 Nephi 8 and Nephi's related vision in 1 Nephi 11–14 contain many features related to the biblical garden of Eden, including most prominently the tree of life. A close reading of the features of Lehi's dream in light of the earliest Book of Mormon text shows further similarities to the biblical garden, suggesting that the setting of Lehi's dream is actually the garden of Eden. But the differences are also informative. These include both substantive features absent from the biblical Eden and differences in the language used to describe the features. Many of the variant features are also found in other ancient creation accounts. In view of these observations, it is likely the Book of Mormon presupposes a variant account of the garden of Eden. This variant account forms the backdrop for Lehi's dream and for other references to the garden in the Book of Mormon.
About the Author
David Calabro is Lead Cataloger of Eastern Christain and Islamic Manuscripts at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University. He holds a doctoral degree in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago. His research deals with the languages and cultural history of the Near East. He lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, with his wife Ruth and six children.