Eden remains a mystery — at a number of levels.
Chief among these, of course, is that “apple.”
Once bitten, Eve and Adam were expelled from paradise, an act of disobedience because, at least according to the serpent, “in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
No question, exalting man as godhead or anything on a par with Him is subject to judgment. It’s the overwhelming lesson of Genesis 2.
But that verb “knowing” might be more interesting than often contemplated.
In the biblical sense, knowing can mean a number of things, from knowledge and intelligence to sexual relations (“knowing” a man or a woman; the Virgin Mary herself used this term in her discussion with Gabriel, in some translations, such as the King James, of the New Testament).
But the “knowledge of good and evil” could also infer something occult — knowing things through means that God does not allow, that He forbids.
Might it imply the occult: magic, psychic phenomena, and in the extreme, witchcraft?
The occult means “hidden.” Certain knowledge is not for us to know. To “know” the occult is to partake of it at some level.
So: was occultism the original sin? Did Adam and Eve perceive what they should not have or in a way they should not have when they partook of the forbidden fruit?
Or might it also be applied to technology?
The “tree of life” is an essence of Heaven. Is it meddled with — “bitten” — when we attempt (through things like genetic engineering) to alter it?
There is no question that the overriding feeling one comes away from the Garden account is that it pertains to something sexual, evoking as it does the image of shame and nakedness. Was it even really an apple? (No specific fruit is actually mentioned.)
Notes a Bible website, “Some religious scholars say the apple’s association with the forbidden fruit might have started when the Bible was translated from Hebrew into Latin. The Latin words for ‘evil’ and ‘apple’ are both versions of the word malus. More specifically, the Latin word for ‘apple’ is mālum, while the Latin word for ‘evil’ is mălum.”
Very subtle difference (in accent marks only).
We can see where confusion might set in.
But no matter that the fruit from the tree is never named (the idea of an apple was made famous by John Milton in Paradise Lost). The main point is wrong action or curiosity or knowledge: focusing on what one should not focus upon and crossing into forbidden territory.
The “knowledge of good and evil” can be wisdom, omniscience, sexual knowledge, moral discrimination, maturity, and other qualities.
As the encyclopedia informs us, Augustine of Hippo underlined that the fruits of that tree were not evil by themselves, because everything that God created “was good” (Genesis 1:12). It was the disobedience of Adam and Eve, who had been told by God not to eat off the tree (Genesis 2:17), that caused disorder in the Creation.
Disobedience is a big deal.
So is conversing — and listening to — the serpent.
Temptation is one of the most difficult aspects of life.
That too is a chief lesson — how difficult it is, yet also how important to avoid.
What are the “apples” in our own time (besides the symbols on Macs and iPhones)?
This much, we can rest assured: obedience is a key lesson, and whatever the sin (and certainly sexual sin, as well as playing God, are key), it leaves us naked and spiritually exposed.
[resources: Spirit Daily pilgrimage to the holy sites of Italy]