Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

Why the Apple Falls Far From the Tree of Knowledge

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion
Portland Campus
Azzan Yadin-Israel
Free and open to the public. There will be a reception at 5 p.m. in Parker Pavilion

How did the apple, unmentioned by the Bible, become the dominant symbol of temptation, sin, and the Fall? In this talk, Azzan Yadin-Israel will pursue this mystery across art and religious history, uncovering where, when, and why the forbidden fruit became an apple. We will see that the forbidden fruit, once thought to be a fig or a grape, first appears as an apple in twelfth-century French art, a development rooted in changes to the French of the time. So, while scholars have sought religious or theological explanations for the appearance of the apple, in fact, the change was driven by non-religious, vernacular developments. Through analysis of early Christian thought, Renaissance art, and medieval languages, we arrive at an eye-opening revisionist history of this important religious icon.


Professor Yadin-Israel earned his B.A. from the Hebrew University and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a professor of Jewish Studies and Classics at Rutgers University. He has published dozens of articles, and several books, including Scripture as Logos: Rabbi Ishmael and the Origins of MidrashScripture and Tradition: Rabbi Akiva and the Triumph of Midrash, and The Grace of God and the Grace of Man: The Theologies of Bruce Springsteen.

Assigned Reading

Azzan Yadin-Israel, Temptation Transformed: The Story of How the Forbidden Fruit Became an Apple (The University of Chicago Press, 2022)


WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion
716 Stevens Avenue
Portland, ME 04103
United States

CGH Why the Apple Falls Far From the Tree of Knowledge Poster