The Bible,        A Unification Perspective


Literal or Symbolic? 

  The Fall of Man is perhaps one of the best illustrations of the use of symbolic language that can be found in the Bible.  The Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, the Tree of Life, the Serpent and the Fruit, are objects in the Genesis story that have meaning beyond what is expressed literally. When we can decipher their inner meaning, we will begin to see the makings of a quite different story.

  The Trees of the Garden 

  The Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil was only mentioned once in the Bible,  however the Tree of Life, which stood next to it in the midst of the Garden is mentioned numerous times, and in a context that can only have symbolic meaning.

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Rev. 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

     After the fall, Adam & Eve were driven from the Garden, and the Tree of Life was guarded to prevent them from reaching it. (Gen 3:24)  Since then, attaining the Tree of Life has been the hope and desire of fallen man.  So it clearly cannot be referring to a literal tree. There are other verses in the Bible that liken a tree to a man of righteousness.

Psalms 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season.

Psalms 52:8 But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.

Isaiah 61:5 They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

   And Jesus said;  "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:1 

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will  bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5





  In the ultimate sense, a man of righteousness is a sinless man, a sinless Adam, like Jesus.  The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was symbolic of sinless perfected Adam.
  The Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, which stood next to the Tree of Life, we can then conclude was symbolic of Eve.  Therefore, the two trees in the midst of the Garden were none other than Adam & Eve who stood at the center of God's ideal of creation. 

  The Fruit 
   Jesus said,
"Hear and understand: "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." Matt 15:10-11

     Fruit is meant for food to sustain life, and in a literal sense what we eat is passed on through the body and doesn't directly effect our succeeding generations.  And as mentioned earlier it is inconsistent for a loving God to place a dangerous and tempting fruit in the presence of His children, not to mention a fruit that can cause death.

  Since literal fruit can't grow on a symbolic tree we can likewise conclude that the fruit that was eaten by Adam & Eve was not a literal fruit, but has a symbolic meaning. The meaning of the fruit can become more clear as we understand the identity and crime of the serpent.

  The Serpent 
  It states in Gen 3 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.  Indeed the serpent was able to converse with Eve, had know- ledge of God's commandment and deceived her.  These are not the traits and capabilities of a literal snake.  There are other verses that identify  the fallen angel Lucifer as the serpent who tempted Eve and was then cast out of heaven.
Rev 12:9 The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels with him.

Isaiah 14:12  How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into the heaven, I will exalt my throne above the Stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the pit.

  So the serpent who tempted Eve was actually the Angel, Lucifer, who through his sin and disobedience became Satan.