What Did Adam and Eve Really Eat?


I love the History channel.  They have a great way to look at Christian and Jewish beliefs in a way that takes a lot of the religion out of it.  Several times you can see a slant, but it is still good to watch if you want to get a new perspective on these religions.  I wish they would start doing episodes on other religions, such as Islam, but they are probably afraid of the fatwa that would follow.  Oh well.

The last program I watched was over the Garden of Eden.  Rather interesting place, as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all feel like human life began there when God created Adam.  Several really interesting tidbits I would like to get into later, but what caught my imagination was the discussion on what fruit Adam and Eve ate that caused the fall.  We know the disobedience caused the fall and not the fruit, but wouldn’t it be interesting to know what it was that they ate.

It was not the apple.  I never thought it would be an apple, but the program was good to inform me where that concept originated from.  When the Bible was translated in to Latin, the ford malus caused quite the stir.  It seems the word is used for both apple and evil.  From there, the symbol of the apple began to represent the forbidden fruit.  Kind of a bum wrap for the apple, but I guess advertisers have sold them as sinfully good for awhile now so no reason to complain right.

So the theory that historians have is that it was probably the fig.  Figs are the oldest know fruit and it was the fig leaf that Adam and Eve used to conceal their sin or nakedness, however you want to look at it.  Interesting note, a professor taught that the fig leaf will turn clear once it has been plucked from the tree.  Could see the meaning as sin can not truly be covered, but I have not been able to find proof of that so might just be an interesting story.

So Adam and Eve probably ate a fig.  Have you ever noticed that it was the tree that determined what was bad and not the fruit?  God said do not eat the fruit from that tree instead of do not eat this fruit.  I just noticed that.  Anyways to get back to my point, when I heard that it was most likely the fig, something was triggered.

The woman stared at the fruit. It looked beautiful and tasty. She wanted the wisdom that it would give her, and she ate some of the fruit. Her husband was there with her, so she gave some to him, and he ate it too. (Gen 3:6)

and along the way he saw a fig tree. But when he came to it, he found only leaves and no figs. So he told the tree, “You will never again grow any fruit!” Right then the fig tree dried up. (Mat 21:19)

From a distance Jesus saw a fig tree covered with leaves, and he went to see if there were any figs on the tree. But there were not any, because it wasn’t the season for figs. So Jesus said to the tree, “Never again will anyone eat fruit from this tree!” The disciples heard him say this. (Mar 11:13-14)

I will be the first to admit I might be reaching here, but I never understood why Jesus cursed the fig tree.  If it was to prove an issue with faith, anything could have been used.  I have heard that the tree representedIsraelbut I do not think God would break His covenant.  I have heard that it represented the old system and that if one does not produce fruit they would be considered dead spiritually.

What if Jesus was condemning the tree of good and evil that provided the stumbling block for Adam and Eve?  The fig tree could represent that the knowledge of good and evil does not produce any fruit but only leads to death.  That faith in God is the only fruit that would nourish someone one.  As I said I could be reaching, but the symbolism the Bible uses always fascinates me.

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24 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christianity, Misc, Religion

24 responses to “What Did Adam and Eve Really Eat?

  1. You do realize there was no literal Adam and Eve, don’t you?

  2. One of the theories is that the story is referring to the time when mankind transitioned to hunter-gathers to an agricultural based lifestyle and then when the ice age came to an end the rising water levels/flood, forced the people out of the land. Interesting even though I do not really hold to it.

    Personally, I hold that they were real people.

    • Your holding aside, there is very strong physical evidence against this. We do not descend from a single couple.

      • I had heard that “Mitocondrial Eve” said we, in fact, did. But that being said, I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in any “strong” physical evidence until assumptions are known.

      • Mitochondrial Eve is our oldest common female ancestor who lived some 50-70 thousand years earlier than our oldest male ancestor. The smallest human bottleneck was a population of about 1200.

        Unless the science of genetics is all wrong, of course….

  3. rey

    Seems to me the story can represent when monkeys become men. Adam and Eve had no consciousness of good and evil…like animals. Then they eat this fruit…and now they are homo sapiens. No longer just apes, but now apes with a moral sense and knowledge of good and evil. Apes aren’t ashamed of being naked. But after they eat this fruit, they are. This makes so much more sense that the silly original sin nonsense that tyrannical religious groups love so much.

    • rey, we don’t descend from monkeys. We share a common ancestor. You seem to find this much harder to accept loaded as it is with overwhelming evidence than some supernatural gardener waving a wand and poofing some monkeys into homo sapiens.

      For some strange reason, I find your choice suspect.

  4. @rey

    That is an interesting allegory and I can see how it could it fit with the story layout. Do you think the authors of the stories knew that they used to be monkeys? What do you see as the cause for these former animals to develop a moral code that is so against their nature?

    Thanks for the comment.

  5. I haven’t seen this evidence then.

    I am still waiting to see the massive number of fossils that track the evolutionary change from one species to another. Or the population that had to exist to create the numbers needed for us to evolve as a society instead of the one set of parents.

  6. Anonymous

    Have you ever thought that it may be an olive? Olives and olive trees are mentioned all through the bible.

  7. Paul

    Read the book of Romans. Fig tree represents Israel. And Adam and Eve were real. Apocrypha books confirm this as well as parallels in the New Testament. Don’t believe the hidden meaning of this specific subject in regards to mistranslations, it kind of undermines the Holy Spirit. There are words that could be better understood in our culture had they been translated now (ie pharmakia is translated into sorcery when a better word would be drugs). But in the case of Adam and Eve, they existed and the “mankind” story just doesn’t seem probable considering the various other sources.

    • Read the book of Romans. Fig tree represents Israel. And Adam and Eve were real.

      So with the fig tree, you say this is representative. But with Adam and Eve, you say this is true. By what method do you come to know which is which?

      Well, with population genetics we know (if the science is true) that Adam and Eve could not have been a founding couple, that our oldest male and female ancestors are separated by some 50-70 thousand years and that the smallest human bottleneck was in the vicinity of about 10 thousand individuals. Yet here you are stating as if you know (based on…?) that they were historical figures. I suspect you don’t know this at all but arbitrarily differentiate these tales only by means of what you believe is true. And that’s a guaranteed method to fool yourself.

      • Genesis Chapter 1 verse 29: And God said: Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food.
        The serpent came along and asked Eve if she could eat of every tree in the garden. Eve told the serpent that she could eat of the FRUIT of the trees of the garden, but not of fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden.
        If the fruit they ate was a fig, this could explain why Eve was fooled by the serpent. One look at the inside of a fig and one would think that they were eating the food that God said they could eat. However figs are not from a fruit of a tree that yields seeds. Fig trees are pollinated by WASPS. Yes….wasps! The inside of a fig APPEARS to contain fruit yielding seed, but instead it’s a bunch of dried out egg shells from baby wasps!
        To learn more about the fig tree google HOWTHINGSWORK Are figs full of baby wasps?

  8. first of all, it’s not literal. it’s myth. google dictionary says a myth is ‘a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.’

    a myth is often an allegory. it ‘can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning’. the hidden meaning of the forbidden fruit seems likely to be revealed by the fact that most fruit trees are named after their fruit: apple tree, orange tree, peach tree, plum tree, etc. so perhaps a knowledge-of-good-n-bad tree gets its name from a fruit called knowledge of good n bad, which when eaten becomes inner knowledge of good n bad, which is the definition of conscience.

    so i suspect the forbidden fruit story was an attempt to explain the origin of conscience — one of the main traits that distinguishes us from other animals.

    • Myths are wonderful teachers… if we can learn how to read them. Supernatural agencies in these stories represent something. That something is not historical; it is symbolic, figurative, representative of human themes. The trick is to assign meaning to these symbols so that the story makes sense as it relates to humanity. It requires the dullest of minds to assume these symbols are literal. It’s as ludicrous to think the Green Knight really could put his head back on after its severance as it is to think a snake could talk. The story makes no sense as it stands unless we assign meaning to these symbols. Why do Christians find it reasonable to assign meaning to the characters and elements and then turn right around and make the ridiculous claim that they are actually historical? It’s not just ludicrous, it’s irrational. Infusing this sleight-of-hand interpretation with piety doesn’t make it any more rational; it makes those who still hold fast to these as serious ‘historical’ claims worthy of ridicule and contempt for their willing abandonment of intellectual integrity.

      The ‘origin’ of conscience will never be answered by religious belief (except for those people who think an agency of Oogity Boogity exercising POOF!ism is a pretty good model of how reality operates). Those people aside – and we should put what these folk think is reasonable aside if we care about finding anything out about what’s true in reality – it’s the wrong subject. The right subject is biology. And it is from the study of animals that we soon discover that our claims about uniqueness are unfounded. Many animals do, in fact, exhibit moral behaviour. But we wouldn’t have found that out by studying the Bible any more than we will find out anything about our origins from it.

      • i’m intrigued by ur claim that ‘Many animals do, in fact, exhibit moral behaviour.’ i think it would be more accurate to say some animals have been observed acting in ways that some humans have interpreted as moral behavior. here’s an article u may like: http://www1.umn.edu/ships/evolutionofmorality/text.htm

      • Indeed, I do like the article as a very generalized approach introducing many authors and their work I have read. I am only disappointed that Marco Iacoboni’s work with mirror neurons does not play a larger role. Every indication is that critters that share this neural feature with us share the resulting behaviours they produce, namely, the neural root and processes involved with reciprocity… including neural responses we call empathy and sympathy that inform our sense of fairness (and when it is breached).

        There is simply no biological ground on which to stand to suggest that a nervous system of one mammal demonstrated to be identical in function and process and physical layout to another mammal’s nervous system – that when activated yields equivalent behaviour in both – should be distrusted. Yet this is what you are suggesting with your assertion in the name of being ‘more accurate’. When we observe changes in behavior in critter stimulated by what we consider acts of ‘unfairness’, and note the same kinds of behaviour are very similar to our own reaction to acts of unfairness, then it is actually unreasonable to suggest there is a significant and meaningful difference based on speciation alone… without committing an unjustified discrimination that privileges our own to be different by fiat. This is what I think you’ve done suggesting that humans somehow and magically posses a moral sense unavailable to other critters. All the biological evidence indicates much more pronounced similarities with more closely related species and not any fundamental differences we should expect to find if humans really were POOF!ed into existence by a moral awakening caused by an external agency.

      • last sentence irrelevant. i’m no supernaturalist. ironic u say ‘critter’, which implies theistic origin.

        yes, some beasties exhibit some components of moral behavior, but that’s not evidence of ability to conceptualize right vs wrong, any more than a zebra stallion’s ability to know at a glance that one of his mares is missing is evidence that he can count.

        u seem to suggest i’m biased against other species or have some sort of human supremacy ideology. not at all. but communication btwn them n us is so limited that inferring what goes on in their heads risks fallacious reasoning. u likely know rules of evidence better than i do, n i’m sure u know difference btwn conjecture n fact. i hope u do ur best to bear them in mind.

      • How does using the term ‘critter’ imply theistic origin? I used it to suggest that diverse species (the independent groups of organisms and not just those related to people capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring) also possess mirror neurons and demonstrate the same behaviours when stimulated by the same conditions we correlate with responses to fairness and unfairness. In other words, shared behaviours go well beyond the species boundary.

        The term ‘moral’ is very fuzzy, yet the assumption that seems quite popular is that only humans (and perhaps our closest mammalian relatives) exhibit awareness of ‘it’. When one digs down to define what the term actually means in a biological sense, we find the term means an awareness of ‘fairness’ which best describes the causal factor involved in differentiating kinds of response behaviours isolating the fairness variable of the stimulation.

        What I’m saying is that because the brain neurology is equivalent in physiology, we shouldn’t be surprised that the behavioural responses to its fairness stimulation are similar… and I think it’s reasonable to assume that the ‘awareness’ attributed only to people (and perhaps our closest relatives) is not based on any supportive evidence and remains in spite of this kind of (contrary) yet compelling evidence. After all, when the fairness variable is isolated and seems to cause predictive behavioural responses similar to our own, as well as activate similar neurology in response to similar stimulation, then it falls to those who wish to maintain the human-centric bias (and perhaps allow some sharing with our closest mammalian relatives), to create an explanatory model that allows for the same behaviours from the same stimulation using the same neurology not just qualitatively but quantifiably different for the human-centric model to remain reasonable. Failing this, I think the bias is no longer reasonable. The assertion that morality belongs only to people (and perhaps our closest mammalian relatives) is not equivalently supported as is the compelling evidence that we share this awareness of fairness with many other critters.

      • pretty sure u know ‘critter’ is a colloquial form of ‘creature’, so using it implies a creator.

        rest of what u say is very interesting, but it’s recent knowledge unknown to ancient storytellers. their scientific ignorance is irrelevant. to them, only humans knew good from bad. the story’s language supports the view.that the forbidden fruit tale is an attempt to explain how humans gained that ability.

  9. Dawn

    I think the “fruit” they ate came from a tree, plant, or bush from what is now used to make drugs today. Example, the coca plant makes cocaine, the poppy seed makes heroin and…etc. They ate some fruit or seed in it’s raw natural form and they began to get high….which open their eyes to good and evil. The term “getting high” is symbolic for being as high as God or elevating ones self to a higher spiritual level. Drug use is satanic and demonic ad it has been destroying us since Adam and Eve started using drugs.

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