Lecture 10 to 11 Fruits of the Bibles

Lecture 10 to 11 Fruits of the Bibles - Fruits of the...

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Fruits of the Bibles Jules Janick Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, 625 Agriculture Mall Drive, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010 Additional index words. almond, date, fig, grape, olive, pomegranate Abstract . The sacred writings of three religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are contained in the Hebrew Bible (referred to by Christians as the Old Testament), the Christian Bible (New Testament), and the Qur’an (Koran). These writings encompass events occurring over a period of more than two millennia and taken together represent a broad picture of mideastern peoples, describing their interactions with the sweep of events of that era. The writings include the sacred and profane, prose and poetry, history and myth, legend and fable, love songs and proverbs, parables and revelations. The basic agricultural roots of desert people are infused in the texts. Plants, plant products, and agricultural technology are referred to in hundreds of verses. References to fruits are abundant so that these bibles can be read almost as a pomological text in addition to the religious and sacred meanings that still inspire billions of people. The plants of the bibles have long been of historic interest despite the many translation problems. The Hebrew bible was written in Hebrew and Aramaic, translated into Greek in the second century BCE , and then constantly translated into all the languages of the world, but the precise species originally referred to is unknown in a number of cases. In 1556, the plants of the bible were specifically dealt with in a book by Levinus Lemmes, and sub- sequently treated in a number of other works. In 1952, the indefatigable husband and wife team of Harold N. and Alma L. Moldenke compiled a treatise entitled Plants of the Bible (Fig. 1A) that includes key mentions of plants by chapter and verse, and assigned binomials, from 53 books of the Hebrew Bible and 27 of the Christian Bible (Autho- rized Version). This is a valuable source book for any study of biblical horticultural. The Moldenkes (Moldenke and Moldenke, 1952) refer to 230 species from Acacia nilotica to Zostera marina . They also provide chapter and verse for general references for which no particular plant can be identified, such as fruit (most common), herb, thicket, tree, grass, and forest. The Moldenkes cite ‘‘only the most important or interesting verses’’ (Moldenke and Moldenke, 1952), but nevertheless, the number of chapters cited gives some idea of the prominence of each fruit (Table 1); grape is clearly the most significant fruit of the bible. One of the best sources of information on biblical fruits is the impressive work of Asaph Goor and Max Nurock (1968) entitled The Fruits of the Holy Land (Fig. 1B). This work not only covers the canonical texts of the Hebrew and Christian bibles, but also includes postbiblical Jewish commentaries including the Mishna (ca. 300 CE ) and Talmud (ca. 600 CE ). Fruits covered include grape, olive, fig, date, pomegranate, almond (the chief biblical fruits); citron (not specifically mentioned except in the noncanonical
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