Adam and Eve...literal or allegorical?

I understand both are acceptable in the Church. Which way do you interpret it? Also, how did the apple become synonymous with the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

I assume a large majority of people don’t take the story literally.

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I think allegory is not quite the right word. It’s not just a story that reveals a hidden meaning. It’s a version of a real historical fact, God created everything, there were two people who actually existed and are the ancestors of all of us, they committed the first sin, resulting in the Fall if mankind. Abraham really existed and became the father of the people if Israel. Etc, etc.
But it is obviously not literally true. Indeed, there are two stories of creation given, and the order of creation can’t be right, nor is the universe as it is described. Indeed, even the most fundamentaliist Protestants who believe in the young earth theory likely don’t take it all literally.

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The Church teaches that they were two real historical figures who were the first true man and woman, and they both really historically sinned. It allows us to understand a lot of the details in the story as symbols, though.

As for the fruit, I think the more traditional type its portrayed as is the fig. I think the apple is a western thing.


Adam and Eve and the whole universe were made in a week.


6 days right? Rested on the 7th?

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Exodus 20:11 I think.

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Correct. Do you see God as existing outside of our concept of time? I don’t doubt God created everything, I’m just not sure if a day meant the same thing then.

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Whenever the Hebrew word for “day” (yom) is used with “evening and morning” and/or with a number (like first day, second day) in the OT it ALWAYS means a literal 24 hour period. Moses, who wrote both Genesis and Exodus, affirmed in Exodus that the creation week was a literal 24 hour day, 7 day week. Plus, Jesus said “from the beginning” God made them male and female, referring to Adam and Eve, quoting Genesis Ch.1. In the Septuagint, the Greek word for “in the beginning” in Genesis 1:1 which states when God created the heavens and the earth, is the same Greek word Jesus used to describe Adam and Eve were made “in the beginning.” So, a “day” in Genesis 1 is a literal 24 hour day, not figurative or allegorical.


Thank you for the information. People’s ages through me off when I’m reading the OT. I don’t understand how some people lived to be several hundred years old.

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I could say a little about 24 hour time periods and how or not the Ancients kept the time but thats secondary to the grammatical use of day that you are referencing here

As a Biblical Hebrew student I would like to see a reference to that. There are quite a few words for morning, night, evening. Could you also reference the grammar we are using for some of that.


One theory is that prior to the Fall, there was no genetic degeneration. Theoretically, mankind could have lived forever. Once the Fall happened, it affected our genetics too. So, while people still lived for hundreds of years, these long life spans began to drop, especially after the Flood, which they dropped dramatically. One reason is the “Canopy Theory” That protected mankind from the sun’s deadly radiation and rays, which was gone after the Flood. It is hard to fathom living hundreds of years because that is not possible now, especially after thousands of years of genetic degeneration. But it would be equally unfathomable in the Dark Ages to fathom people living into their 100s today. What happens in one period of history does not necessarily mirror what happens in another. If the Bibke says they lived hundreds of years, then they did. Plus, a literal view tells us exactly when Methuselah died, which was the year of the Flood.

Here is a good starting point:

Evening and morning

Day - yom

Here is a link that supports a literal 24 hour day in Genesis from Exodus:

God creating in literal 24 hour days

Can you explain in your own words rather then giving links. I have two issues, firstly the noun ‘day’ denotes a day, a specific point , however it doesn’t denote specifically a 24 hour period, meaning from sunup to sunup.

Secondly the context of any noun is dependent on the words around it, as are the verbs and the phrases.

Well I have three actually, the translation from Hebrew to the LXX and then to vernaculars is prone to missing the wordplays and nuances of the text.

To say it literally means, a literal translation means, (which is rarely done) a specific 24 hour period that will equal 6 of our modern time divided days, is an unsubstantiated conclusion

God is not subject to time in any way.

That’s why I mentioned Exodus 20:11 because there doesn’t seem to me to be any possible ambiguity in that text, as opposed to Genesis.


“…as once you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, …”

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In medieval Europe (in some countries even to this day) was the word for apple used to describe many fruits and not just apples. The word apple could have been used synonymous with the word fruit. I think that’s why it’s depicted as an apple in western art.

Hang on a second – the Church doesn’t permit the teaching that Adam and Eve are mere “allegories.”

I’m with @tafan2 on this one. This isn’t “allegory” in the sense that there were never two initial true humans. The Church teaches that this is a literally true fact.

On the other hand, the Church teaches that the story of Genesis 3 (the fall of man) is figurative. So, it’s important to not get hung up on ‘apples’, ‘talking serpents’, and ‘sewn fig leaves’. The take-away from Genesis 3 is what tafan2 mentions: our first fully human ancestors (i.e., human in the sense of a “body / soul composite”, made in the image and likeness of God) did sin, resulting in the world which we have inherited.

You can ask questions like “were the names of these two people really ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’?” After all, in the Greek Septuagint version of the Bible, the first mentions of Eve call her ‘Zoe’ (i.e., “(mother) of all the living”) and then only later change over to ‘Eve’. So, I think it’s fair to ponder over what names they might have had.

But, the Church definitely teaches that there really were two literal first truly human persons.



It is a story that reveals the meaning of our lives to us, not mere history. If you take the names Adam and Eve as proper nouns, you miss their explicit use as figurative symbols of Earth and Life. They are not mere names, they explain who we are.

There are limits to using this story as “history.” Snakes do not talk. Angels with flaming swords do not guard Paradise. etc. The exact line is not clear, and different people will draw the line between history and allegory differently.

As an allegory, this story has no limits. People have taken the story to heights and depths we cannot imagine. More has been written about this story than any other, because it is a story that says something to us.

It is not mere history, something that happened many years ago in a place far far away. It is something that has happened to each of us, here and now, in some real, figurative, allegorical manner.

I was told recently by a priest that the real miracle of the Loaves & Fishes was that people shared their food not that Jesus multiplied what they had. Personally I call BS in that.

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