The Lost Language of Symbolism: An Essential Guide for Recognizing and Interpreting Symbols of the Gospel

by Alonzo L. Gaskill

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Symbolism is a marvelously instructive and expressive language. . . . It partakes of the language of the heart and the language of the Spirit. . . . As Alonzo Gaskill deftly points out in this work, the language of symbolism embraces everything from the dust of the earth to the glories of the heavens. To miss what is being expressed or taught with symbols is like living in a world without sunsets or autumn leaves. — Joseph Fielding McConkie

"All things have their likeness," the Lord has said, "and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth" (Moses 6:63).

"Symbolism is the very language of scripture," writes author Alonzo Gaskill. As we more fully understand the symbolism in the scriptures and the temple, we are led to deeper, more profound insights and truths that previously eluded us. The result is that we can then more readily liken the scriptures unto ourselves for "our profit and learning" (1 Nephi 19:23).

This engaging and well-researched guide explores the symbolism of body parts, clothing, colors, numbers, directions, names, and animals in holy writ and in the temple. It also provides a series of charts comparing the lives of scriptural individuals and showing how they actually are types and symbols of Christ.

Filled with countless examples to help explain and support the author's discussion of symbols and their meanings, the text makes extensive references not only to recognized Latter-day Saint sources but also to lesser-known sources written by a variet1 of religious scholars both modern and ancient.

Symbolism is a language hidden in the margins, tucked between the lines, and suspended below the surface of the words. With study and effort, we can coax the symbolic meaning into the open and become fluent in reading the eternal truths it reveals. This book is an invaluable aid in that process.

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About the Author

Alonzo L. Gaskill

Alonzo L. Gaskill is a professor of Church history and doctrine. He holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy, a master's in theology, and a PhD in biblical studies. Brother Gaskill has taught at Brigham Young University since 2003. Prior to coming to BYU he served in a variety of assignments within the church Educational System-most recently as the director of the LDS Institute of Religion at Stanford University (1995-2003). He speaks regularly at Education Week.

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Average rating:

(based upon 7 reviews)

Deeply Insightful and easily understood
By , Submitted on 2019-03-12

I have taken classes by respectable church scholars who aren't as informed about symbolism as this book.

Rave Reviews
By , Submitted on 2018-09-30

I've only heard amazing things about Alonzo and I was pumped to finally start reading one of his books! Can't wait to grow in the gospel and learn all about the symbolism behind it. #lfthx

Keep this book open when reading the scriptures
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

The scriptures are full of symbols. Symbols enrich the messages and give us deeper meaning of what the prophets are communicating to us. This book unlocks the meaning of words and phrases of distant cultures and languages. Gaskill writes with clarity, has provided excellent research and documentation. Don't miss reading the footnotes for sources and additional insights. This is a great reference book. There are two books besides the scriptures that I carry to church, one is TPJS and the other is the Lost Language of Symbolism. Thank goodness it is now an e-book. That will lighten my load.

By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Gaskill did a fantastic job of presenting the information. I would highly recommend this book for any person interested in symbolism.

A Clarification
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

I just wanted to comment on Arle's review. Wow! What a misrepresentative review of a book. Arle says things like 'Gaskill...simply asserts things that are simple unknowable (e.g., the name Sherem in the Book of Mormon means 'pugnosed'...which raises the question of where Gaskill got his early Nephite dictionary)...' All the reviewer would have to do is look at the endnotes - which make up nearly a third of the book. Gaskill give references for nearly every claim he makes (including 'Felix')- and in many cases multiple references. Yes, Gaskill states that the name Sherem means 'pugnosed' or 'snubnosed.' But the reviewer misleads his readers into thinking this is something Gaskill made up. But the endnote (which the reviewer should have read) indicates that this is not Gaskill's theory; it is Hugh Nibley's - one of Mormonism's most prolific and respected scholars. The reviewer should be honest with his readers instead of implying that the author (Gaskill) is making things up. At least say that it is Nibley that made this claim, and then criticize Nibley. But to imply that this was just some unfounded and unsupported statement seems dishonest. What's the point of writing a review that misrepresents the facts? If you don't like a book, that's fine. But to misrepresent the book or its author seems to say more about you than it does about the book and its author.

Great Book!
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Ever since I have started reading this book, I cant help but read and look at everything in a new light. Its amazing the insights and knowledge that you can learn from just understanding little bits of symbolism. It sparks thoughts that you would have never thought of before. Truely, 'To miss what is being expressed or taught with symbols is like living in a world without sunsets or autumn leaves.' --Joseph Fielding McConkie

What a great book!!
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Your gospel library isn't complete unless you have this book! The author does a great job of explaining what different symbols in the scriptures mean. The author has also included some very nice tables in the back of the book that are a great quick reference to finding the meaning of different symbols. This is a muxt have for any teacher or student of the gospel!

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