Q156 : Was Eating the Forbidden Fruit Symbolic or Literal?

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Q156 : Was Eating the Forbidden Fruit Symbolic or Literal?

Greetings from Europe.

I have been viewing your Powerpoint presentation on The Fall of Mana.

It is quite interesting.

You are talking about 2 literal trees: the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. And also about a literal fruit and a literal serpent.

What is your opinion on the view that the Tree of life is a symbol representing Adam, the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil a symbol representing Eve, and the forbidden Fruit a symbol of the still immature Love of Eve? The Serpent would then be a symbol of Lucifer.

In Jewish traditional understanding, to eat a fruit means to have an experience of sexual love. Knowledge is in the same tradition understood to have a sexual relationship with someone. Example: Then Adam knew his wife and she gave birth to Cain.

It seems to me that more and more believers in the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian communities are becoming more convinced that the human fall was an act of sexual misconduct. Adam and Eve did not cover their mouth but their sexual parts after the fall.

A156 : by Andy Woods

Thank you for your question.

Should one read Genesis 1:1–3 as an historical narrative, which portrays real events, or something symbolic?

I prefer historical narrative. Why?

First of all, it is the plain reading of the text. Generally, when the text wants you to take something symbolically or allegorically it provides a textual clue alerting the reader to do so (Gal 4:24; Rev 11:8). We have no such clues in Gen 1-3. Furthermore, all of the inspired Old and New Testament writers applied a literal interpretation when referring back to early Genesis (Ex: Matt 19:3-6).

Second, it is the reading that comes from the text, not from external considerations. The text is the starting point of interpretation. The text is the standard, to which the conclusions drawn from empirical evidence must conform. The danger of the allegorical approach (using the text's literal language as merely a vehicle for incorporating a higher spiritual meaning) is that you are bringing to the text what is not there. There are no hermeneutical controls on an overactive imagination using such an approach. There remains no way to test the conclusions of the allegorist. The end product is eisegesis (bringing to the text what is not there) rather than exegesis (drawing naturally from the text what is there). Moreover, allegorical interpretations may differ. One allegorist says the Tree of Life really means one thing and another allegorist says the same Tree of Life really means something different. Which allegorist is correct?

Third, Genesis 1:1–2:3 is linked thematically and lexically to the rest of Genesis and by extension to the rest of the grand narrative recounted in Exodus 1:1–2 Kings 25:30 (which I understand to be an historical narrative).

I would invite you to consider the work of Stephen W. Boyd whose work is quite compelling: A Statistical Determination of Genre in Biblical Hebrew: Evidence for an Historical Reading of Genesis 1:1–2:3a.

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