In the Hebrew Bible, as it was originally written in Hebrew, it just says that Adam and Eve ate a fruit – not specifically an apple. But when the Roman Christian Jerome was translating the Bible from Hebrew into Latin, he wanted a more specific word, and he knew just the right one. His word is just incredibly appropriate.
In Latin, the word for apple is “malum” and the word for bad is also “malum“, and so Jerome thought it was cool to say “apple,” because the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was evil. It’s a kind of pun that Latin writers liked. They didn’t think they were being funny. They just liked to use words that seemed to make their point extra well.
Bibliography and further reading about apples:
Food, by Fiona MacDonald and others (2001). For kids, facts about food from all over the world. A little preachy.
Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples, by Don and Patricia Brothwell (1998). Pretty specialized, but the book tells you where foods came from, and how they got to other places, and what people ate in antiquity. Not just Europe, either!
Food: A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present, by Jean Louis Flandrin, Massimo Montanari, Albert Sonnenfeld. (1996). Hard going because it is translated from French, but Flandrin was one of the world’s great food historians.