Temptation Transformed by Azzan Yadin-Israel

Temptation Transformed cover

In the realm of biblical mysteries, one question has intrigued scholars and enthusiasts alike: what was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden? While common consensus has long associated it with an apple, the true identity of the fruit remains a subject of debate. Azzan Yadin-Israel’s book, Temptation Transformed, takes readers on a captivating journey through art, religious history, and linguistics to uncover the origins and evolution of this symbolic fruit.

The Book of Genesis, the primary source for the story of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, does not explicitly mention the type of fruit that tempted the first couple. However, the apple has become the prevailing symbol of this forbidden fruit in popular culture. Yadin-Israel challenges this notion, revealing that the apple’s association with the forbidden fruit emerged much later in history, specifically in twelfth-century French art. This revelation prompts a deeper exploration into the factors that led to the apple’s dominance as the symbol of temptation, sin, and the Fall.

Temptation Transformed synopsis

How did the apple, unmentioned by the Bible, become the dominant symbol of temptation, sin, and the Fall? Temptation Transformed pursues this mystery across art and religious history, uncovering where, when, and why the forbidden fruit became an apple.

Azzan Yadin-Israel reveals that Eden’s fruit, once thought to be a fig or a grape, first appears as an apple in twelfth-century French art. He then traces this image back to its source in medieval storytelling. Though scholars often blame theologians for the apple, accounts of the Fall written in commonly spoken languages—French, German, and English—influenced a broader audience than cloistered Latin commentators. Azzan Yadin-Israel shows that, over time, the words for “fruit” in these languages narrowed until an apple in the Garden became self-evident. A wide-ranging study of early Christian thought, Renaissance art, and medieval languages, Temptation Transformed offers an eye-opening revisionist history of a central religious icon.

You can purchase Temptation Transformed on Amazon (US), Amazon (UK) or The University of Chicago Press

About the Author


Azzan Yadin-Israel

is professor of Jewish studies and classics at Rutgers University. He is the author of several books, including The Grace of God and the Grace of Man: The Theologies of Bruce Springsteen.



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