The Fall and Expulsion
The fresco is a diptych, meaning that it is a singular art piece consisting of two adjoining panels.
The left part shows Adam and Eve preparing to take a bite from the forbidden fruit.
Luring them is the Serpent, with its half-human body coiled around the forbidden tree.
On the right, we see the an angel banishing Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
A curious detail is that at the moment of Expulsion, the two are painted as visibly aged, which is an indication of the lost innocence, immortality, and eternal youthfulness
as part of their punishment.
Interesting is also the choice of fruit, which is a fig rather than the apple typical for Western Christian art.
The Talmud offers the views of Jewish sages that God, when presenting people with a difficulty, creates an opportunity for its resolution within the problem itself.
After he becomes aware of his nudity, Adam covers himself with fig leaves, ergo the Tree of Knowledge must have been a fig tree.
God tells Adam that he is forbidden from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Afterwards, Adam mistakenly passes God's warning on to Eve,
and tells her that she should not eat from the tree that is amidst (i.e. in the middle of) Eden. However, in the middle of the Garden grows the Tree of Life, not
the Tree of Knowledge. Therefore, Adam's mistake leaves Eve vulnerable to the Serpent's lies. This is a representation of the idea of shared guilt in Judaism,
which differs from the position in Christianity. Under the influence of the Jewish tradition, Michelangelo paints an interpretation of the Original Sin radically different from that
of his western contemproraries. Instead of Eve giving Adam the forbidden fruit, he is depicted as reaching to pick it from the tree himself, thereby taking his share of the responsibility
for the Original Sin.
Image source: Michelangelo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons