Tree of Knowledge

So I know the church teaches that you may either take the book of Genesis literally or metaphorically but I recently was reading around and many people seem to view the Tree of Knowledge as a literal tree with “magic fruit”. I personally see it as a metaphor for Adam and Eve accepting forbidin knowledge from Satan and accepting his false promise that they will be like God if they turn away from him.

Is this a acceptable interpretation? Why or why not? How do you personally view it?

God bless

I believe that the tree of life is God dwelling in our souls.

I believe that the tree of knowledge is our human knowledge.

I believe that the tree of life should order and subdue our tree of knowledge.

That is my understanding.

That makes sense. Basically saying Adam & eves choose a disordered life. Instead of the one that God intended?

Even if it literally happened exactly as described in Genesis, it is still also a metaphor. God gives us freedom in all things, but the one thing we cannot do is define for ourselves what is good and evil (recall, it is the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”). Adam and Eve distrusted God and thought they could define those things on their own. That’s the root of all sin.

Wow, there’s so much here I hardly know where to start!

First off, I don’t know where you got the idea that Catholics can take the entire book of Genesis as literal or metaphorical. Did you read that in a Church document, such as the Catechism or a papal encyclical? Did you hear this from someone, such as on the radio, from the pulpit, from a friend/teacher? I just have never heard this and find it questionable.

As for your comments about the tree of knowledge, your use of the phrase “magic fruit” (especially with the scare quotes) comes across as arrogant and mocking or those of us – myself included – who do take the passage literally. The use of this phrase with scare quotes seems to have as its purpose to get people to align with your belief or risk being called ignorant or childish or some other less-smart-than-you label. Just saying :shrug:

Personally, I have always taken the tree and the fruit as literal. But unlike you, I never considered the fruit to be magic or some other silly term. The action of suddenly becoming aware of good and evil was not because the fruit itself granted this knowledge – it was the action of Adam and Eve’s sin that caused them to know evil. When they defied God, they chose evil and immediately knew it.

That’s my take on it, and if the Church says otherwise, then She is correct and I am wrong.

God bless you!


I me to no offense at all. I apologize if it came off that way and I completely understand how it did. I do know people who think it was some kind of knowledge gaining fruit I’m not saying everyone does. From my understanding from listening to several apologists, Priests, EWTN, Catholic Answers and the fourms many times I hear that Genessis is written in a non literal way. I have not problem with someone taking it literally. My question was that exactly to help me understand if I am correct or not. That is why I asked!! If I was in error I wanted to be corrected. Apparently nobody even in our own church seems to agree on it because some take it as a literal tree others take it as a metaphor for turning away from God and some take it as both so obviously the Church does not have a definitive teaching either that or people just arnt aware of it. Please excuse my ignorance on things iv only recently begun to come back to the faith in the last few months so I’m not fully knowledgeable of everything and am still learning. Plus I’m still attempting to be as kind as I can be but sometimes fail at it without meaning to. So I am sorry if I offended you I’m still learning.

God Bless

You will find that the Church tends not to have singular interpretations of every passage of Scripture that exclude all other possible interpretations. Contrary to popular perception, the Church doesn’t usually micromanage these things. :wink:

Genesis 1-3 is very deep. There is so much present in these chapters that really set the stage for everything that follows. The Church will sometimes bring to our attention things that the passage teaches us that all Catholics must believe. For example, Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis tells us that it is a matter of faith that all human beings descended from one set of first parents (as it was becoming fashionable at the time for some to propose that we descended from a group of first parents rather than one man and one woman). There are plenty of other implications of the passage that are part of the deposit of faith we all believe: God created everything out of nothing, what He created was good, He created human beings in His image and likeness, our first parents sinned and this Original Sin impacted the human nature that is passed on to each of us, etc.

But other questions such as, “Was the world created in six 24 hour days?” or “Was the first sin really them eating literal fruit from a literal tree?” are more or less open questions about which Catholics in good standing are free to arrive at different conclusions.

May I recommend A Catholic Guide to the Bible occurred through Catholic Home Study Services? It’s a good primer for literary forms found in the Bible.

Side note: literal is not equal to physical!

God is love, absolute beauty, truth, goodness, being, one and so forth.

Fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace and so forth.

Talk about ‘coming across as arrogant or mocking’! Pot, meet kettle…! :wink:

I think I would say that, whereas the Church doesn’t say “Genesis is completely literal” or “Genesis is 100% metaphorical”, there are those who point to parts of Genesis and make these claims. The parts that get the most heat, as these debates go, are the events prior to Abraham.

However, if Logan had said, “So I know the church teaches that you may either take parts of the book of Genesis literally or metaphorically,” then I’m guessing you wouldn’t have bitten his head off. You might have disagreed with him, perhaps, but not gone on full attack mode, I’m guessing… :shrug:

Thank you I’ll check it out

I personally view the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the same manner as Catholic teachings which also include doctrines on human nature, human origin, Original Sin, and ultimate purpose of humans.

(Information Source: CCC, 396; CCC, 355-421; CCC, 1730-32 and cross references in margins.)

Links to Catholic teachings

Thank you for the references.

God bless

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