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The History of an Idea: The Scene on Stela 5 from Izapa, Mexico, as a Representation of Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life
TitleThe History of an Idea: The Scene on Stela 5 from Izapa, Mexico, as a Representation of Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsBrewer, Stewart W.
JournalJournal of Book of Mormon Studies
Volume8
Issue1
Pagination12-18, 20-21, 77
KeywordsCreation Myth; Izapa; Izapa Stela 5; Mesoamerica; Stela 5; Tree of Life
Abstract

Stela 5, a large stone monument discovered in 1941 in Izapa, Mexico, was identified a decade later by M. Wells Jakeman as a bas-relief of Lehi’s vision of the tree of life. Scholars and laymen alike have both accepted and scoffed at this theory. This article provides a historical sketch of reactions to this claim and discusses some of the implications of accepting or rejecting Jakeman’s theory. Jakeman was the first to publish an LDS interpretation of Stela 5; later V. Garth Norman proposed a different interpretation based on a series of high-quality photographs of the monument. Suzanne Miles, a non-Mormon, postulated that Izapa Stela 5 presented a “fantastic visual myth,” and Gareth W. Lowe proposed that Stela 5 presents an original creation myth. Further criticisms and responses ensued over the years.

URLhttps://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/jbms/vol8/iss1/4

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