Ask a group of kids (or adults for that matter) what kind of fruit was growing on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden and most people will quickly say “the apple.” The problem with that answer is that the Bible does not say what kind of fruit it was. Somewhere along the history of retelling that story, we picked up the apple as the scapegoat fruit and it stuck. I think it’s time to throw a different kind of fruit under the bus: the banana.
Why? Because kids love bananas – and they love hearing the Bible story of the fall of Adam and Eve with a different twist (though still theologically correct) such as using a forbidden banana instead of an apple. It’s also fun juggling a banana rather than simply apples.
So was the original fruit in Eden a banana? The fact is, we don’t know. The Bible simply tells us this:
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:16-17, NIV).
I’ve heard it suggested that it may have been a pomegranate fruit due to the location – probably modern day Iraq (see the mention of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Genesis 2:14). Or it could have been any number of possible fruits that grow well in that region – or some altogether unexpected and exotic fruit because Eden is such a unique place that has not been replicated since we as humans were banished from it (Genesis 3:23-24).
Why is this important to discuss? I believe it is important to talk about these kinds of things because it challenges our pre-conceived assumptions about what the Bible really says. And that is very important. We all have many assumptions of what we think the Bible says because we’ve always heard it that way or we think the Bible should say certain things for certain reasons. We should never assume we know what the Bible says. We need to read it, study it, and teach it properly. I always tell kids now that we don’t know exactly what fruit Adam and Eve ate but that I think it could have been the banana!
Think about some of the other assumptions we wrongly read into the Bible, such as “good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell” or “money is the root of all evil” or “God helps those who help themselves” or any other number of misguided catch phrases. Bible illiteracy is one of the major challenges we need to tackle in this generation – both in the Church and outside of it.