We all remember the story of how Eve gave Adam the apple and they ate the forbidden fruit. Wait a minute; how did the apple get into the picture? It certainly did not come from the Bible. So where did it come from?
Recently I have been reviewing some of the children's bibles around our church. Each of which contain some type of image showing Adam and Eve under an apple tree. Some showing red apples while others show some green and yellow or golden apples in the tree. Where does this come from? Correct me if I am wrong, but my bible does not mention the word apple or apple tree.
But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
Gen 2:16-17 (NLT)
So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.
Gen 3:6 (NLT)
Sorry the word apple is not in the above scriptures. So why are all the illustrations of the event set under an apple tree? The scriptures say fruit. It could have been any kind of fruit. So why is the apple so prevalent in our understanding of this critical event in human history?
The technical answer: Etymologists, one who studies the origin and historical development of linguistic forms, would say that the word apple is a generic word for the word fruit. If true, you could say that each time you see the word fruit you could replace it with the word apple and be correct. OK, nice but I am not buying it. Take the potato for example. It is also known as the apple of the earth. The French name for it is pomme de terre. The word pomme is from the Latin word pomum which means fruit and/or apple. If the apple is the symbol of the fall of man then we should see references to that effect throughout the bible? Just the opposite it is true. Examples can be found in Proverbs 7:2, 25:11, Psalm 17:8 and others.
So where did the story of the apple tree come from?
Scary version: In Greek mythology The god, Zeus is to marry Hera. Mother Nature, also known as Gaia gives the new married couple a gift. A tree of golden apples in a garden which is guarded by a serpent. A serpent who never sleeps.
What kind of fruit was it then?
My personal theory: Let us jump forward into the New Testament.
In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.
Matt 21:18-19 (NLT)
Here we find the only destructive miracle performed by Jesus. Many commentaries will state that this is a lesson for the people of Israel. They were growing but not bearing any spiritual fruit. Therefore they would be cursed. Sure I agree with the lesson. Why was a fig tree chosen? If the symbol of the fall of man is an apple then why not an apple tree to be cursed? It would have made more sense and emphasized the symbol of the fall. Now let us jump back to the Old Testament.
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
Gen 3:7 (NLT)
The scriptures tell us they sewed fig leaves together not apple leaves. Another question I have in this particular verse are the words “eyes were opened.” Opened to what? Well that is another article to write about. Back to the subject at hand.
The word apple first appears in Deuteronomy 32:10 in the King James version of the Bible. The verse does not contain a negative connotation of the apple or an apple tree.
Sorry in my opinion, the forbidden fruit was not an apple nor an apple tree. I guess that would mess up good old American marketing about give the teacher an apple. I am sure Apple Computer has no desire to change its logo to a juicy gooey fig. In fact how many teachers would like to receive from their students a bowl of figs?
When we study the Bible we need to also study what is not in the scriptures to better defend the faith.