Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

In the Book of Genesis, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (and occasionally translated as the Tree of Conscience, ). A serpent later tempted Eve, who was aware of the prohibition, to eat the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge ().

Interpretations of the tree itself

Translation Issues

Gordon and Rendsburgcite book|authorlink=Cyrus H. Gordon|last=Gordon|first=Cyrus H.|coauthors=Rendsburg, Gary A.|title=The Bible and the Ancient Near East|edition=4th ed.|year=1997|publisher=W.W. Norton & Co.|location=New York|isbn=0-393-03942-0|oclc=35785632] have suggested that the phrase _he. טוֹב וָרָע, translated "good and evil", is a

In Judaism

According to the Jewish tradition God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree that was to give free choice and allow them to earn, as opposed to receive, absolute perfection and intimate communion with God at a higher level than the one on which they were created. According to this tradition, Adam and Eve would have attained absolute perfection and retained immortality had they succeeded in withstanding the temptation to eat from the Tree. After failing at this task, they were condemned to a period of toil to rectify the fallen universe. Jewish tradition views the serpent, and sometimes the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil itself, as representatives of evil and man's evil inclination.

Judaism generally recognizes no "evil" other than the evil actions of human beings. Eve's only transgression was that she disobeyed God's order. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden and had to live ordinary, human lives.

Rabbi David Fohrman of the Hoffberger Foundation for Torah Studies, citing Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed, states that "the tree did not give us moral awareness when we had none before. Rather, it "transformed" this awareness from one kind into another." After eating from the Tree, humanity's innate sense of moral awareness was transformed from concepts of true and false to concepts of good and evil. Genesis describes the tree as desirable (3:6), and our concepts of good and evil, unlike our concepts of true and false, also have an implicit measure of desire. [http://www.aish.com/literacy/exploring/A_World_of_Broccoli_and_Pizza_Serpents_of_Desire3_Part_7.asp]

In Christianity

In Christian theology, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is connected to the doctrine of original sin. Augustine of Hippo believed that humanity inherited sin itself and the guilt for Adam and Eve's sin. [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120113.htm The City of God (Book XIII), Chapter 14.] By eating of the fruit of the Tree, Adam and Eve sought to be like God. For a debate about the Western doctrine of original sin and the Eastern doctrine of ancestral sin, see cite web|url=http://www.stmaryorthodoxchurch.org/orthodoxy/articles/2004-hughes-sin.php|title=Ancestral Versus Original Sin: An Overview with Implications for Psychotherapy|accessdate=2006-05-11|last=Hughes|first=Antony|publisher=St. Mary Orthodox Church|location=Cambridge, Mass.] . There is a minority of Christians that affirm the doctrine of Pelagianism, which believes every individual faces the same choice between sin and salvation that Adam and Eve faced.

Trees in other religions

Similar trees appear in other religions. In the closest, most relevant comparison, the iconic image of the tree guarded by the Serpent appears on Sumerian seals; it is the central feature of the Garden of the Hesperides in Greek mythology, where the guardian serpent receives the name Ladon. In Buddhism, the Buddha became enlightened under the Bodhi tree. While the biblical tree is usually interpreted as representing sensual pleasure, the Bodhi tree gave pure transcendent knowledge.Fact|date=February 2007 In Vedic Hinduism, the Tree of Jiva and Atman is usually interpreted as a metaphor concerning the soul, mind, and body. In the Norse sagas, the ash tree Yggdrasil draws from the magic springwater of knowledge. To many who believe the Bible is filled with parables, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is actually a library or some other form of educational writings.

Freudian (psychological) interpretation

A rather Freudian interpretation is that knowledge of good and evil, or simply good and bad, refers to the recollection of a memory with an implied judgment. This is a natural process for neurological systems (humans and animals) to make to avoid pain or gain pleasure. However, human consciousness includes extensive recollection and teaching such as by the use of books, which could be called a fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. It is clearly distinguishable from the simple awareness of other animals. This allows human beings to make deliberate choices that they consider beneficial even if they include an element of pain. Fact|date=February 2007

The process of maturation occurring in the incidents around the tree describes, in an abstract way, the splitting of the human consciousness into the limited context of conscious thought and the underlying all-aware subconscious.

New Age interpretation

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis may mean the beginning of dualistic thinking. The Garden of Eden is the previous spiritual world, before the flood, a world of enlightened Mankind, a world of Oneness. The Flood ended that world, and a new opposite world of "two-ness" began. A world of material development, science, relativity, plus and minus, separation, dualism. The Serpent is the constellation Draco. So the genesis story is saying that when the precession of the equinox reaches north pole = Draco, the world of Oneness (Spiritual development) will end, and a new world of dualism (Material development) will begin. For humanity The world of Oneness was a world of group identity. The world of material development is the world of individual identity. The world of the individual ego.

Fruit of the tree

The Book of Enoch 32:4, dating from the last few centuries before Christ and purporting to be by the antediluvian prophet Enoch, describes the Tree of Knowledge: "It was like a species of the Tamarind tree, bearing fruit which resembled grapes extremely fine; and its fragrance extended to a considerable distance. I exclaimed, How beautiful is this tree, and how delightful is its appearance!"

In the Talmud, Rabbi Meir says that the fruit was a grape. Berachos 40a; Sanhedrin 70a. CF [http://www.algemeiner.com/generic.asp?id=658] , accessed September 7, 2006.] Another Talmudic tradition suggests that Eve actually made and drank wine.Bereishis Rabah 15:7; 19:1; Zohar Bereishis 36a and Noach 73a. CF [http://www.algemeiner.com/generic.asp?id=658] , accessed September 7, 2006.] Rabbi Nechemia says that the fruit was a figwhile Rabbi Yehuda, is that the fruit was wheat.

In Western Christian art, the fruit is commonly depicted as an apple, (they originated in central Asia). The source of this apparently lay in a Latin pun: by eating the "malus" (apple), Eve contracted "malum" (evil).cite web|url=http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2682/was-the-forbidden-fruit-in-the-garden-of-eden-an-apple|title=The Straight Dope: Was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden an apple?|accessdate=2008-10-06|last=Adams|first=Cecil|authorlink=Cecil Adams|date=2006-11-24|work=The Straight Dope|publisher=Creative Loafing Media, Inc.]

Proponents of the theory that the Garden of Eden was located somewhere in what is known now as the Middle East suggest that the fruit was actually a pomegranate. This ties in with the Greek myth of Persephone, where her consumption of six pomegranate seeds leads to her having to spend time in Hades.

ee also

* Adam and Eve
* Enlightenment (concept)
* Fall of Man
* Forbidden fruit
* Knowledge
* Morality
* Original sin
* Pelagianism
* Tree of life
* Dream of the rood
* al-Qurnah

Notes


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • tree of knowledge of good and evil — tree′ of knowl′edge of good′ and e′vil n. bib the tree in the Garden of Eden bearing the forbidden fruit that was tasted by Adam and Eve. Gen. 2:17; 3:6–24. Also called tree′ of knowl′edge • Etymology: 1535 …   From formal English to slang

  • tree of knowledge of good and evil — the tree in the Garden of Eden bearing the forbidden fruit that was tasted by Adam and Eve. Gen. 2:17; 3:6 24. Also called tree of knowledge. [1525 35] * * * …   Universalium

  • tree of knowledge of good and evil — the tree in the Garden of Eden bearing the forbidden fruit that was tasted by Adam and Eve. Gen. 2:17; 3:6 24. Also called tree of knowledge. [1525 35] …   Useful english dictionary

  • Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil — tree in the Garden of Eden which from which Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat (Biblical) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Tree of the knowledge of good and evil —    Stood in the midst of the garden of Eden, beside the tree of life (Gen. 2, 3). Adam and Eve were forbidden to take of the fruit which grew upon it. But they disobeyed the divine injunction, and so sin and death by sin entered our world and… …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • tree of the knowledge of good and evil —  Древо познания добра и зла …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • of good and evil — the tree of knowledge (of good and evil) The tree in the Garden of Eden which bore the forbidden fruit eaten by Adam and Eve (Bible, Genesis 2.17) • • • Main Entry: ↑tree …   Useful english dictionary

  • Tree of Knowledge — may refer to: NOTOC Religion and mythology* Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, a tree in the Garden of Eden, mentioned in the Book of GenesisPublications* The Tree of Knowledge , a novel by Pío Baroja * Drvo Znanja , a Croatian magazine * Tree… …   Wikipedia

  • tree of knowledge — n. Bible the tree whose fruit Adam and Eve tasted in disobedience of God: Gen. 2, 3: in full tree of knowledge of good and evil * * * …   Universalium

  • tree of knowledge — n. Bible the tree whose fruit Adam and Eve tasted in disobedience of God: Gen. 2, 3: in full tree of knowledge of good and evil …   English World dictionary


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