Garden of Eden?

 What can you tell me about the Garden of Eden? Where is it supposed to be located?

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Garden is highly symbolic . . .


There is serious scholarship addressing the question of the place of the garden of Eden.  I suggest, however, that the Garden is highly symbolic and no longer to be found.  The driving out of Adam and Eve from the garden and the guarding of it from any reentry (Gen. 3.23-24) indicates it is no longer accessible nor to be found.  It is the ideal preexisting paradise before the fall.  The only access now is the ideal waiting for those who trust in Jesus in the paradise beyond death.  Being symbolic doesn't mean that it is not true.  We must take the account of our creation and fall very seriously in order to properly understand God's intent for us and the reality of the fall.


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Author: Stephen Charles Mott
Eden is a myth . . .

Eden is mythic and related to mythic traditions of Sumer and Mesopotamian--in Sumerian, 'edin' is the name of the boundary zone where desert meets cultivated land, and hence, nomads encounter farmers.  When their respective deities fall in love, it makes peace.

In Sumer, the blessed fields are called Dilmun, and may be somewhere around Bahrain, or perhaps an island at the mouth of the two rivers feeding into each other in Shiite territory of Iraq and exiting into the Persian gulf, probably swamped by changes in water level by now.

The description of the four rivers that flow out of Eden places it in Mesopotamia: the Rivers are Tigris Euphrates, and scholars vary on the others but broadest view is Indus and Nile (which clearly do NOT flow out of Mesopotamia, so go figure.  But between the Tigris and the Euphrates seems pretty solid.

It's a myth; looking for the geography of a myth is.....highly problematic!
Carole Fontaine

The story does not want us to know

The Garden of Eden is impossible to locate. Let's concentrate on its rivers, two of which, the Gihon (near Jerusalem) and the Tigris (in Mesopotamia), are hundreds of miles apart. So the easy answer to this question is that the story itself does not want us to know where the Garden is located.

But just for fun, let's ask a different question. When people in biblical times heard these stories, where did they imagine them taking place? My guess? The alpine cedar forests of Lebanon. That is the kind of place they imagined as God's special garden.

Author: Gregory Mobley
Eden metaphorical, not geographical

Scholars commonly take the Genesis reference to the "Garden of Eden" (more accurately, "a garden in Eden," Gen 2:8) as part of the larger creation-story, and we take that as a distinctively biblical version of a type of ancient theological discourse in which one gives an account of the origin of the world and/or humanity as a means of setting out a given view of the world, the gods, people, etc.

There are examples of creation-accounts from other ancient near-eastern cultures, and these show both a roughly similar literary type (or "genre") and also the varying theological emphases of those who produced them.  You can peruse these in English translation in:  James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969).

In Genesis, it appears that we have two such accounts now linked, one in Gen 1 (focused more broadly on the creation of the world) and the other in Gen 2-3 (focused on the creation of humans, the emergence/nature of the sexes, and the primal disobedience that accounts for how things are now).

The motif of a primeval garden is not unique, but in the Gen 2 account is likely intended to represent the initial perfection, order, and goodness of the world as it came from the biblical God.  This initial garden contrasts with the cursed earth of Gen 3:17-19 (one of the results of the human disobedience).  So, the garden isn't to be taken as an ordinary garden located somewhere (and never was intended to be taken this way).  It's one of the features of the Gen 2-3 story, which like the others form part of what is primarily intended to convey some religious ideas/meaning, not to teach geography, geology, or earth-history.

Author: Larry W. Hurtado
East of Canaan

In Genesis, in traditional interpretation, the Garden of Eden is imagined to be in the East, meaning east of Canaan.  The broad region that we call Mesopotamia is east of Canaan.  It is the land that is currently occupied by the modern nation state of Iraq.    Howard Wallace in his article on Eden in the Anchor Bible Dictionary presents the interesting thesis that the reference to Eden in Genesis was not to a place but to a time (as in the “olden days”).  Eden is used metaphorically to refer to a place of fertility, beauty and abundance elsewhere in the Bible (Ezekiel 28:3, 31:8, 9, 16, 18, 36:35; Joel 3; Isaiah 51:3). 

Author: Wilma Bailey

 The Garden of Eden is located in childhood, which is how we know we are always leaving and are always trying to go back.

Author: Roger S. Gottlieb




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