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Originally published in Creation 6, no 4 (May 1984): 21.
Despite the large number of cartoons and the almost universally accepted tradition, Eve did not eat an apple. Why then is it so popular to believe that she did?
Genesis most definitely records that she did eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. So why do people think of an apple? One reason is that the Latin for evil is malum and the Latin word for apple is also malum. In the fourth century A.D., the word malum appeared in the Latin Vulgate translation of Genesis in the phrase ‘the tree of knowledge of good and evil’. From that time on people began to associate the apple with the fruit which Eve ate. But Eve did not eat the fruit of the apple tree—she ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Because Eve, and consequently Adam, disobeyed God’s word we are still suffering the consequences. As the apostle Paul stated in the letter he wrote in A.D.55 to the Church at Rome: ‘By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned’ (Romans 5:12).