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The Hebrew Bible* begins as a paradise creation myth which quickly dissolves into loss and ruin. Adam and Eve are shunned from the garden due to their defiance of God’s rules and are thrown into a world with knowledge of good and evil, with life and with death. The original sin of the garden proceeds to grow as the population expands and the temptation to stray from God increases. As the story is portrayed within the New Testament, Jesus Christ is born unto Earth as the savior of mankind through his bearing and redemption of man’s sin. Though an overly simplistic review of the chronicle that is the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, this main idea can lead us in one manner of dealing with the immense compilation. We will use the fig tree as a symbolic representation portraying the change wrought in humanity by the original sin. If we track the image of the fig tree from start to finish, beginning with Genesis and continuing through the ministry of Jesus, the changes which accompany the symbolism of the recurring fig tree provide one lens for viewing the varied pieces of literature within the Bible as a patchwork whole.
The first time the reader is presented with the image of the fig tree occurs directly after Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. Genesis reads, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons” (Genesis 3:7). Thus, the first act that Adam and Eve take after defying the word of God is to cover their bodies with the leaves of a fig tree. The leaves immediately take on the symbolic weight of the sin that Adam and Eve have committed. They are worn as a type of badge confessing the new knowledge of their nakedness, equating the leaf of the fig tree with the sin, and the sign of ruined paradise with the leaf. When God questions the silence of Adam, Adam replies, “ ‘I heard the sou...
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