There are many opinions as to the identity of the fruit of the Biblical Tree of Knowledge. Ancient Jewish sources say it may have been the fruit of the fig tree – the leaves of which Adam and Eve subsequently used to cover their nakedness.

I have also heard it suggested that the fruit was a hallucinatory mushroom, the “flesh of the gods.” And in a flight of fantasy I’ve wondered if perhaps it was the tomato, or as it was called in Nahuatl, tomatl – the “swelling fruit,” a berry that was viewed with suspicion in much of Europe for hundreds of years.

Whatever the fruit actually was, we are told that with its ingestion, Adam and Eve became aware of good and evil. Perhaps this narrative is saying that at some point in time human minds became capable of judgement. We gained conceptual discernment and self-reflection – and therefore became capable of evaluating and categorising things, behaviours and ourselves as good or bad, sinful or virtuous, worthy or shameful.

What is the nature of our grasping and aversion and what is its result? Is a spider more evil than a rose? Is death a result of sin? Is it even bad? Perhaps the moral of the Biblical story is that ultimately sin is the very impulse to judge.

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