How the Forbidden Fruit Became an Apple: A Quick Dive into Myth and History

how the forbidden fruit became an apple

The portrayal of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden has been a subject of much debate and speculation.

While many today automatically picture an apple, the Book of Genesis does not specify what type of fruit Adam and Eve consumed.

Various fruits, including figs, grapes, pomegranates, and citrons have all been proposed by early Jewish and Christian commentators.

Biblical Text and Interpretations

In the Bible, the forbidden fruit’s identity remains undisclosed. This ambiguity led to extensive conjecture among early scholars.

Each proposed fruit had its own symbolic implications. Figs were often associated with knowledge and privacy, possibly linked to the story where Adam and Eve cover themselves with fig leaves.

Grapes could symbolize fertility and abundance. Meanwhile, the pomegranate was linked with notions of paradise and beauty, and the citron symbolized purity.

The Latin Connection

The idea that the forbidden fruit was an apple emerged from a peculiar coincidence in the Latin language.

The word for apple, “malum,” also means “evil.” This linguistic twist seemed fitting—given that the fruit led to the fall of man, it could be described as both an apple and a source of evil.

However, in-depth research into medieval Latin texts reveals that this association wasn’t commonly made by scholars at that time, challenging the widely accepted theory.

Evolution Through Art and Language

The apple’s association with the forbidden fruit started to gain traction in 12th-century France. This shift appears to be rooted in changes in the meaning of the Old French word “pom” (modern French “pomme”), which initially referred to any type of fruit.

Over time, “pom” came to specifically mean “apple.”

Artists of the period contributed to this transformation by depicting the fall of man with apples, effectively cementing the fruit’s role in the narrative.

These artistic renditions spread from France to other regions, influencing popular and theological interpretations.

Cultural Impact

The change in the perceived identity of the forbidden fruit reflects broader cultural and linguistic shifts rather than a specific theological agenda.

The apple became entrenched in Christian symbolism due to the intersection of language evolution and artistry. This transformation showcases how language can shape and redefine religious narratives over time.


Below is a concise comparison of different proposed forbidden fruits:

FruitSymbolismReasons for Proposal
FigKnowledge, privacyAdam and Eve used fig leaves for clothing.
GrapeFertility, abundanceRepresents prosperity and life.
PomegranateBeauty, paradiseLinked with divine beauty and paradise.
CitronPuritySymbolizes innocence and purity.
AppleEvil (via Latin pun “malum”), temptationArt and language evolution; popularized in medieval France.

Modern Perception

Today, the apple remains a potent symbol of temptation and sin, frequently depicted in literature, art, and popular culture.

Its adoption as the forbidden fruit exemplifies how language and cultural trends can significantly impact religious stories and their interpretations.

As the term “pom” evolved in Old French to mean “apple,” it redefined the way the story of Adam and Eve was perceived and narrated.

Conclusion Without a Conclusion

The narrative transition of the forbidden fruit shows the dynamic nature of language and its ability to influence religious and cultural icons.

Understanding this shift allows for a deeper appreciation of how historical linguistics and artistic interpretations contribute to shaping societal beliefs and legends.

Posted by Samuel Brown

Samuel Brown is the founder of, a Christian blog intertwining gardening with spiritual growth. Through, Samuel explores the biblical symbolism of gardens, offering practical gardening tips infused with spiritual insights. Inspired by Jeremiah 17:8, he emphasizes the parallels between nurturing plants and cultivating faith. Join Samuel on a journey where gardening becomes a metaphor for resilience, spiritual fruitfulness, and a deeper connection with God's creation.