Did Adam eat an apple or a pomegranate

Recently I met one of those bible zealots who spewed scripture passages one after the another but I had to stop her when she said that Adam & Eve didn’t eat an apple but a pomegranate I grew-up being taught that it was an apple so whats the story. Apple or Pomegranate.
Ed Jay

There’s lot’s of different versions:

I like the Fig myself. Makes sense, since they used fig leaves to cover their “sudden” nakedness.

The Bible never says it’s an apple or a pomegranate. It could be a fig. Or something else. I like to believe it’s metaphorical. Some poor soul at some point grabbed the “forbidden fruit” of disobedience, whatever that might be, and fouled things up for everyone. God damned it all, and now it’s all broken. That is, if you believe in God. If you don’t, I suppose the answer is “The Bible doesn’t actually say what the fruit was.”

Welcome to the SDMB, I’ve suggested a forum change to the mods, as About This Message Board probably won’t get you the answers you seek.

Moderator Action

Welcome to the SDMB, Ed Jay.

The About This Message Board forum is for questions about the message board itself, like questions about rules or procedures here. Please take the time to read the forum descriptions and choose your forum appropriately.

Since what is in the Bible has already been posted, I will move this to our IMHO forum so that others can speculate and give their opinions.

Moving thread from ATMB to IMHO.

If a person reads a metaphor literally, that person is subverting the true meaning of the text. If the Bible said “And lo, it rained cats and dogs for the entire afternoon”, a faithful or true reader would not believe that actual cats and actual dogs fell from the clouds. The reader who insists on literal meanings is not making any kind of valid choice, just an idiotic mistake. Like coming home from seeing a stand-up comedy show and saying “At the beginning of the show, he said he was hanging out in a bar the other night, but later on, he said he was watching roller derby the other night. I don’t trust this guy anymore - which one is the truth?”

The kicker is that THE ENTIRE THING, the whole Bible, is a metaphor. Finding the literal truth of a metaphor is a meaningless waste of time.

If an apple or a pomegranate or a fig or a durian improves the artistic or dramatic quality of the metaphor by enriching its literary associations or sharpening the metaphor, fine. But the real answer is “It makes no actual difference, and if you care about this question other than as a slightly fascinating digression, you’re missing the only point of studying the Bible, which is to ‘get it’, not to analyze truth claims.”

I disagree. The whole Eden tale is basically a “just so” story, designed to answer a number of questions of paramount importance to the ancient Israelites:

  1. Why do we wear clothing?

  2. Why do we grow old and die?

  3. How are we able to tell good from bad?

  4. Why does the world kind of suck?

  5. Why is childbirth so painful?

  6. What’s up with snakes? Seriously. Why don’t they have legs?

These were very important questions, and the writers of Genesis were making a sincere, non-metaphorical attempt at answering them.

Metaphors came much later.

It was very doubtful that an apple was intended, because the story is very old, and probably older than the introduction of apples to the Middle East. I would also doubt it was a etrog (citron), because they have a very tough skin, and from what I understand, are not especially palatable. Imagine an underripe lemon with a skin twice as tough as a grapefruit, if you have never seen one.

If your choice is between a fig and a pomegranate, I prefer fig. Pomegranates have a tough skin, and you basically suck the fruit off the seeds and spit the seeds out. It’s a really inconvenient fruit, even if delicious. Figs, you just bite right into. Plus, covering themselves with the leaves of tree that caused their shame is too good to pass on as a part of the story.

There’s another thing. It’s hard to harvest pomegranates and apples without a ladder (or tree climbing skills), because those trees grow pretty tall, but fig trees do not get as tall, and they bear fruit as young (small) trees, which pomegranate and apple trees do not tend to do. Now, I realize that the story of the Garden of Eden is not realistic in that every tree seems to be bearing fruit immediately, and no one seems to have to make any ladders, not to mention, no one has been told they will have to work for food yet. Still, I personally find it easier to imagine the small and wide-spreading fig tree with easy pickings as the forbidden one, while the more difficult trees are the ones that are OK to eat from. That is the kind of thing that seems to happen in the bible.

So I say neither apple nor pomegranate. I vote for fig.

But yes, the word in Hebrew is a generic word for fruit. It is pretty much the exact equivalent of the English word “fruit.” It can mean fruit of a tree, or a vine, or even fruit of the earth. It can be used metaphorically the way we talk about fruits of labor, etc. And it meant that even back when the story was composed. There is no way to know what fruit was intended from the word alone, and it is even possible that when the story was passing around as an oral story, different fruits were mentioned at different times and places, and among different families, so when it was committed to writing the first time, by the biblical writer who probably was composing the first beginnings of the Torah for the purpose of uniting the people behind a common history, he (or she, but it was probably a he, so I’ll say he) deliberately was vague. That way, when people read the story, someone whose tradition was pomegranate would not say “Hey! that’s wrong!” which would happen had he chosen the word “fig.” Instead, everyone reading or hearing it read would just keep imagining whatever fruit was the one of their own tradition. Made for better harmony and union among the people.

That means that there have probably been discussions and squabbles over what fruit was intended since the first time the story was read in public, BUT, everyone was on equal footing arguing for their own tradition; no one could say “Hah! it SAYS ‘fig,’ so I am right!” That was the point.

That was also the point when a later redactor* putting out an updated Torah (the one we know today) included two contrasting stories of creation side by side, with some attempt to reconcile them (but not enough), and left varying names of the deity intact, so whatever your tradition was, it would be reflected somewhere, and no one would be left out.
*Dr. Richard Elliott Friedman makes a very convincing argument in Who Wrote the Bible (1987) that this final redactor was the High Priest Ezra.

It’s a nondescript fruit, any fruit is a valid answer, but for all practical purposes in our culture it’s an apple. Almost every literary allusion to the Eden story or Original Sin in modern Anglophone culture involves an apple.

Like, you could use a fig or a pomegranate or whatever else, but since media is based on symbolic shorthands, you’d honestly either be deliberately obfuscating your imagery or being special to be special.

If you’re an American (or Canadian/English/Australian/NZ) sect of Christianity and you have strong opinions on what the exact species of fruit was, I’d be instantly suspicious of that sect because it’s clearly trying to claim some sort of “special knowledge” that makes their knowledge “better” or “more true” than every other sect, which is what the really scary more insular and culty sects tends to do.

Oh… you’re… uh… you’re supposed to spit the seeds? I just swallow them.

I’m pretty sure Scripture says “fruit” and that it is well possible it’s a fruit variety that doesn’t exist naturally in today’s world.

The fruit of the tree of good and evil could also be metaphoric as the ‘outcome’ of the (branching) tree of good and evil. Fruit used as the result, such as fruits of your labor.

I would agree that if a sect or denomination, or cult, or whatever, claims to have absolute knowledge of what fruit it was, and it wasn’t an apple (or it ABSOLUTELY was, because paintings, even), that is suspicious. However, a group that tells you (and you will hear this from Jews who have done any Torah study) that we simply don’t know what fruit it was, but the odds that the composer of the story intended it to be an apple are pretty slim, that is another thing altogether. That isn’t “special knowledge.” That is scholarship. It isn’t even particularly deep scholarship. Very basic introductions to the history of scripture make this point pretty quickly.

Telling people that anyone in the Western world who says it wasn’t an apple is a cultist is going a little far.

I agree that trying to assign a specific type of edible to the story of Adam and Eve is a fruitless task. :smiley:

With that being said, the most common non-apple fruit I’ve heard is that it was an apricot.

I’m guessing “The Bible is an Allegory” was not held in wide opinion until sometime after the advent of the Scientific Method in the 17th century.

I say it was a durian, and then God cursed it with a really bad smell. Only God told Moses to leave that part out when He dictated Genesis, because He was really embarrassed about doing that.

Bad guess. Galatians 4:24 actually describes the Abraham story as allegory with literally that word.

Origen (one of the great early church theologians, writing primarily in the early 3rd century) in First Principles basically called people idiots who believed in a literal Genesis Creation story. More importantly, it seemed that he was taking it as a given that no one actually did believe in a literal 6-days creation.

Augustine seems to imply strongly in City of God that he believes in an allegorical creation story.

I won’t say that there is consensus, but there is a strong leaning that a literal Torah is a relatively recent invention which began during the Protestant Reformation. Part of scrapping the tradition of the church meant that they were relying completely upon scripture, so they elevated its importance and with that elevation came a more literal exegetical method. With Jewish thought, it’s hard to ever see a real thread of literalism. Maimonides certainly didn’t appeal to a literal creation story when debating the ‘four creation types.’ Literalism is in some ways more of a reaction against science rather than allegory being some sort of softening of stance toward it.

As a related question, I’ve always wondered why “apple” got attached to this story. My guess is that modern Anglophiles were familiar with apple trees, so there you go. But I wonder if there is some specific significance that caused that specific fruit to become inextricably connected to the story.

The apple is in all of Western Europe and a good guess (though we’ll never know for sure) is that it’s due to a Latin pun. Malus (short A) is the word for evil or misfortune. Malus(long A) is latin for apple. I would guess that early Latin speakers were aware of the pun and probably used it liberally and it just eventually entered public thought.

The bible used by the entire Roman Catholic Church from the 4th century to practically the present was a Latin bible. All of Europe the the Middle Ages and the Renaissance used a Latin bible. It wasn’t until the Protestant Reformation that people started writing popular translation of the bible in the vernacular.

Even in England, which was a country that tended not to venerate Latin as much as some of the other European countries, and where Protestantism came very early, there were English versions of the bible, but none were published for the populace in great volume. Even while the Church of England was conducting masses in English, church leaders were still studying scripture in Latin.

So that pun isn’t a minor thing. It would have been huge in people’s minds. Practically cliche by the Middle Ages.

It is all explained in a lost verse:

If I were forced to give an answer based on the bible, that’s what I’d chose. It would be a fruit on a tree sitting in the garden of Eden, being watched by an angel with a flaming sword who’s making sure none of us get back in to answer the question. Part of our punishment is never knowing.

On his deathbed, Adam said, “I don’t know. It was one of the two things I didn’t get to name. Tasted kind of like chicken.”