Asked in Adam and Eve
How do you understand the metaphor to eat for example in the story of Adam and Eve without the religious interpretation?
June 13, 2007 8:21PM
Well, it's difficult to speak about that story in entirely
secular terms, but I suppose if you can at least accept a moral
interpretation in place of a dogmatic religious one than you might
be able to get somewhere. I think if you look at eating the fruit
as the moment that Adam and Eve develop a conscience (which
ironically corresponds with with the original sin) you have to
realize the importance of this act as the moment that the physical
self separates from the emotional (or in religious terms,
spiritual) self. In other words, prior to this one's emotional
reaction to something would be directly related to the physical
act--there would be no pleasurable physical act that caused a
disturbance in one's emotional state (such as sex, etc.). The
importance of eating the fruit, I believe, is that it is the one
physical act that Adam and Eve could perform that would change this
emotional state, and so it is fitting that this act should involve
the act of bringing something inside the body, since the change is
emotional (or spiritual) that we generally associate with the
internal body (popularly the heart).
Answer As a metaphor, eating can mean a lot of things... we have the phrase "I could just eat you up" which means mostly... love. Wanting to consume something usually is a metaphor for love. In the story of Adam and Eve, eating of the tree of knowledge has significance because it meant that the people loved knowledge in a symbolic way, right? The metaphor of knowledge and love doesn't always hold true though... sometimes eating is viewed as a horrible thing... think of Hansel and Gretel, or Little Red Riding Hood. "The better to eat you with." When we express a desire to eat, it is usually something we love or value highly... but as a community, we are also afraid of being eaten... and symbolically, that could mean that we want to absorb things into our identities/comfort zones, but that we are frightened of being absorbed ourselves. In the story of Adam and Eve I think that the serpent and the tree/fruit are actually more powerful symbols than the act of eating... but maybe the fact that Adam accepted the fruit when Eve offered it, and ate it, in a way, for her, is significant as well, and related to the act of eating.