Themes: the natural world, keeping the rules, care for the environment, God’s generosity and goodness to humanity, human responsibility or ‘stewardship’.
Adam and Eve take the forbidden fruit
Eve and Adam looked around them at the beautiful world that God had created. God was right; it really was very good. There was just one thing they had to remember. God had told them that they could eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden of Eden except for the tree in the middle, which God called ‘the tree of knowledge of good and evil’. God had warned them that if they took fruit from that tree, it would make them very unhappy and they would have to leave the beautiful garden that God had created. At the time, Adam and Eve thought there were so many other wonderful fruits to eat, they would never need to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
One day, however, the crafty serpent came to visit Eve. He asked her what God had really said about which trees they could eat fruit from. When Eve told him that they were not allowed to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the serpent told her that God had said that because God didn’t want her to become as wise as God was. The serpent said that if she ate from that tree she would learn all about good and evil and become like God.
Eve had a look at the fruit on the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It certainly looked very tasty. She had sometimes wondered what it might taste like. She didn’t think it was fair that God was keeping things from her and Adam, so she reached out and picked one of the fruits. She had a bite, and gave some to Adam as well.
As soon as they had eaten the fruit, Adam and Eve realised what it meant to do something bad. They were embarrassed, and the next time God came to see them in the garden, they ran away and hid so God wouldn’t see them. God knew what was wrong, and asked them if they had eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil that they had been told not to eat from. Even though he had eaten some himself, Adam blamed Eve, who had given him the fruit to eat, then Eve blamed the deceitful serpent who had tempted her to take the forbidden fruit.
God told the serpent that because of what it had done in tempting Eve to eat the fruit, it would always be cursed, and would have to crawl along the ground, and be the lowest of all animals. God sadly told Adam and Eve that because of what they had done, they would have to leave the beautiful garden of Eden. God told Eve that women’s lives would be hard because they would find it painful to have children. God told Adam that men would always have to work very hard to feed themselves and their families and earn a living. God also told Adam and Eve that they would not live for ever, but would die when they got old, and would go back to the ground from which they were made.
God made Adam and Eve some clothes to wear, made of skin, and banished them, sent them out of the garden of Eden so they would not take anything else that they shouldn’t touch. They sadly left the garden, for they had learned what it means to be bad, and they had changed God’s world for ever.
Activities for Pupils
The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden starts at Genesis 2:4b. The story told here, often called ‘The Fall’, of their taking the forbidden fruit and being punished for their wrongdoing, is found in Genesis 3. A slightly different version of this story can be found in the Qur’an; see 20:116 onwards. Teachers need to notice that, despite popular tradition, the fruit in the story is never referred to as an ‘apple’. It is positively good for children to use the Biblical text, rather than a re-telling. There are many published video and picture book versions of the story, which can be useful to teachers of RE.
A starter activity.
Put an ordinary chair with a box of fruit on it in a prominent place in the school hall, or where pupils walk out of classes to the playground, with a big notice on it saying: ‘It is forbidden to touch this chair’. Station two pupils with a tick chart nearby, but not obviously involved with the chair, and get them to record how many pupils walking by notice the sign, and touch the chair. It provides an interesting starting point for the idea that ‘rules are made to be broken’ and that temptation feels strong when something is forbidden – the origin of the idea of ‘forbidden fruit’ is clearly in Genesis! The discussion point is that Adam and Eve had one rule, and broke it – but would anyone have done any differently?
Questions for discussion and writing:
Why do you think God made the one rule for Eve and Adam?
What did Eve do in the story that was wrong? Why was it wrong? How was the serpent involved? How was Adam involved?
What was the result of Eve’s action? What was the result of Adam’s action? What was the result of the serpent’s action? What suffering resulted from each of these peoples’ actions?
In what ways have you been tempted to do things you knew to be wrong? In what ways have you tempted others to do things you knew to be wrong?
Why did you do wrong?
When have you successfully resisted temptation to do wrong?
What have been the consequences of your wrongdoing? In what ways have you been punished?
Have you or others suffered as a consequence of your wrongdoing? In what ways?
Can you work out what the writer of the story believes about God?
What did you learn from this story?
Story making: pupils can use titles like ‘temptation’, ‘forbidden fruit’ or ‘one rule’ to write stories of their own, for the twenty first century. Discuss whether these stories will include a divine character ~ why, or why not?
Using Creative Arts: Look carefully at some of the great art works inspired by the Garden of Eden story. How do the artists show their ideas and beliefs about God? Why is it difficult to picture God?
Create a work of art about the Garden of Eden story yourself: how will you show your beliefs about G