Paradise Found, by William F. Warren, , at sacred-texts.com
Some have placed it in the third heaven, some in the fourth, in the heaven of the moon, in the moon itself, on a mountain near the lunar heaven, in the middle region of the air, out of the earth, upon the earth, beneath the earth, in a place that is hidden and separated from man. It has been placed under the northern pole, in Tartary, or in the place now occupied by the Caspian Sea. Others placed it in the extreme south, in the land of fire; others in the Levant, or on the shores of the Ganges, or in the island of Ceylon. It has been placed in China, or in an inaccessible region beyond the Black Sea; by others in America, in Africa, etc.Bishop Huet.
An ein Resultat, das auch nur einigermassen befriedigte, ist nicht zu denken.Wetzer und Welte, Kirchen-Lexicon.
Theologians, Christian and Jewish, have in all ages differed, and irreconcilably differed, as to the location of the cradle of the human race. The evidences of this are so well known, or so easily accessible to every intelligent reader, that they need not be adduced in this place. 1
The fathers and theologians of the Early Church and of the Middle Ages held many curious and conflicting opinions upon the subject. Some, following the allegorizing method of Philo, interpreted the whole narrative in Genesis as a parable setting forth spiritual things. Eden was not a place, but a state of spiritual blessedness. The four rivers were not rivers, but the four cardinal virtues, etc. The majority, however, held to the historic character of the narrative, and to the strictly geographical reality
of Eden. To the question of its location, numberless were the answers. Often it was in the far East, beyond all lands inhabited by men. Sometimes it was thought of as perhaps within, or under, the earth, in the regions of the dead. Sometimes it was neither on nor below the earth, but high above it, in the third heaven, or some way associated with the lunar orbit. Again, it would be stated that there are two paradises, a celestial and a terrestrial one,the one in heaven, the other on the earth. Tertullian, conceiving of the torrid zone as the flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life (Gen. iii. 24), placed Eden beyond it, in the southern hemisphere. Now it was at the bottom of the sea; 1 or again it held a position midway between earth and heaven. Anon, it was on the summit of a miraculous mountain, which rose to the height of the moon. Of this mountain only the base was washed, when by the waters of the Deluge all other mountains were covered. It was conceived of as rising in three gigantic stages to its stupendous height. All kinds of marvelous plants and precious metals and gems adorned it, but its supreme adornment was a divine river, which, starting from the throne of God in the highest heaven, descended to the holy garden on the mountain's head, and thence parting into four, after watering and beautifying the whole mountain in its descent, gradually lost more and more of its celestial taste and vivifying virtues, and became the water system of the habitable globe. Sometimes the location of
this mountain was described as in some distant portion of the earth, "where the sea, or earth, and the sky meet."
Impatient of such contradictions, Luther, in his own brusque way, rejected all attempts to locate the primeval garden, declaring that the Deluge had so changed the face of the earth and the course of its original rivers that all search was fruitless.
Calvin, on the contrary, confidently affirmed that the writer of the Genesis narrative must be understood as locating the Garden of Eden near the mouths of the Euphrates. Soon this original diversity of Protestant teaching upon the subject became aggravated by new theories, some of them suggested by orthodox ingenuity, some introduced by rationalistic conceptions of the semi-mythical character of the Bible, until at the present time the state of theological teaching respecting Eden is, if possible, a worse Babel than in any preceding age.
For a partial illustration of the confusion one has only to turn to the most recent and authoritative biblical, theological, and religious encyclopædias. In McClintock and Strong's, the writer on Eden inclines to locate it in Armenia. In Smith's "Bible Dictionary" the problem is abandoned as probably insoluble. In the great German encyclopædia of Herzog it is declared necessary to deny to the story of Eden a strictly historical character; it is "a bit of mythical geography." In the supplement, however, Pressel makes an elaborate argument of many pages in favor of the location at the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates. Dilimann, in Schenkel's "Bibel-Lexicon," places it in the Himalayas, north of India. In the chief Roman Catholic cyclopædia, Wetzel
and Welte's "Kirchen-Lexicon," the writer vacillates between Eastern Asia, taken in a vague and undefined sense, and an equally undefined North. In Lichtenberg's just completed "Encyclopédie des Sciences Religieuses" the whole story in Genesis ii. is declared a "philosophic myth." Professor Brown, of New York, in the new work edited by Dr. Schaff, on the basis of Herzog, enumerates a variety of opinions advocated by others, but refrains from expressing any opinion of his own. Such is all the light which contemporary theology seems able to throw upon our problem.
But here some plain reader of the Bible opens at the second chapter of Genesis, and reads, "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed." And the plain reader asks how a believer in the Bible can doubt that this passage fixes the location of the garden somewhere to the East of Palestine. But, looking a little more critically, our inquirer himself quickly sees that the verse does not necessarily affirm anything as to the direction of the garden from the writer. It may naturally mean that the garden was planted in the eastern part of the land of Eden, wherever that was; and turning to the most careful and orthodox commentators, he finds that not a few take this view of it. Moreover, Miqqedem, here translated "eastward," may be otherwise translated, as it is in King James's Version, in the passages Ps. lxxiv. 12, lxxvii. 6, and elsewhere. In fact, in the Vulgate it is here translated, a principio, "in or from the beginning." Among the early Greek translators, Symmachus, Theodotion, and Aquila understand the term in the same way.
[paragraph continues] Hence, nearly two hundred years ago, the learned Thomas Burnet wrote as follows: "Some have thought that the word Miqqedem, Gen. ii. 8, was to be rendered in the East, or Eastward, as we read it, and therefore determined the site of Paradise; but tis only the Septuagint translate it so; all the other Greek versions, and St. Jerome, the Vulgate, the Chaldee Paraphrase, and the Syriak, render it from the beginning, or in the beginning, or to that effect. And we that do not believe the Septuagint to have been infallible or inspired have no reason to prefer their single authority above all the rest." 1
The same writer says again, "We may safely say that none of the Christian Fathers, Latin or Greek, ever placed Paradise in Mesopotamia; that is a conceit and innovation of some modern authors, which hath been much encouraged of late, because it gave more ease and rest as to further inquiries in an argument they could not well manage." 2
As to the new source of evidence opened up by the decipherment of the Cuneiform inscriptions, Lenormant says, that in none of these, so far as yet deciphered, has anything been found indicating that the Chaldæo-Babylonians believed that their country was the cradle of the human race. 3
"But the four rivers," says our inquirer, and he reads verses 10-14: "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison. . . . And the name of the second river is Gihon. . . . And the name of the third river
is Hiddekel, . . . and the fourth river is Euphrates." "Surely here in the fourth river we have one undeniable landmark. However impossible it may be satisfactorily to identify all four of the primitive rivers of Eden, the mention of the Euphrates at least restricts the location of the garden to some part of the region drained by that river."
Consulting the theologians, however, our investigator finds a great variety of serious objections urged against this short and easy method of settling the controversy.
First, he is told that some Biblical critics have expressed doubt as to the genuineness of the verses, and that as earnest a defender of the Bible as Mr. Granville Penn considered the whole passage an interpolation.
Secondly, he learns that Perath or Phrath, the Hebrew name of the river, is from the older form Buratti or Purattu, a word believed to signify "the broad," or "the deep." 1 Of course such a descriptive term may well have been the name of more than one ancient river, just as "Broad Brook" is the name of many an American stream. Indeed, in his learned work, "Le Berceau de lEspèce Humaine," Obry shows that in ancient times Phrat, or Euphrates, was the name of one, or possibly two, of the rivers of Persia. 2 One of these in Pliny's time still bore the name in the hardly changed form Ophradus. Lenormant says he does not hesitate to consider the Phrath of the Khorda-Avesta identical with the Persian
river Helmend. 1 Africa also had its sacred Euphrates. 2 If therefore the passage in Genesis is genuine, and Moses wrote of the Phrath, it is not absolutely certain what "broad" or "abounding" river he had in mind. Moreover, in any case, the Euphrates of Mesopotamia is not one of four equal offshoots into which the one "river" proceeding "out of Eden" divided itself according to the statement of the text. Its source is not from another river at all, but from ordinary mountain springs.
Thirdly, it must not be forgotten, our friend is told, that all peoples coming into a new country love to name their new rivers and towns after the loved and sacred ones they have left in the elder home. The Thames of New England perpetuates the memory of the Thames of Old England. "It is very seldom indeed," says a late writer, "that a river has no namesakes." 3 Very possibly, therefore, the Phrath of Mesopotamia may have been named for some elder river of the antediluvian world, wherever that may have been. That it was so is the firm belief of various learned writers. 4
Fourthly, continue the theologians, the language of Ezekiel xxviii. 13-19, and of Proverbs iii. 18; xi. 30, etc., shows that poetic and symbolical applications of the name and images of Eden were common.
[paragraph continues] And if the Hebrews named one of the water-courses at Jerusalem Gihon, in commemoration of one of the four Paradise rivers, 1 it is not irrational to suppose that the inhabitants of Mesopotamia may have called their-chief stream in honor of another of the four. Lenormant, Grill, Obry, and others support this view. They might have rendered the probability still stronger by calling attention to the fact that the oldest name of Babylon, Tin-tir-ki, was of the same commemorative or symbolical character, and signified "the place of the Tree of Life." 2
Finally, pursuing these curious investigations further, our plain reader finds mention in Pausanias, ii. 5, of a strange belief of the ancients, according to which the Euphrates, after disappearing in a marsh and flowing a long distance underground, rises again beyond Ethiopia, and flows through Egypt as the Nile. This reminds him of the language of Josephus, according to which the Ganges, the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Nile are all but parts of "one river which ran round about the whole earth,"the Okeanos-river of the Greeks. 3 And he wonders whether the old Shemitic term from which the modern Euphrates is derived was not originally a name of the general water system of the world,a name of that Ocean-river which Aristotle describes as rising in the upper heavens, descending in rain upon the earth, feeding, as Homer tells us, all fountains and rivers and every sea, flowing through all these water-courses
down into the great and "broad" equatorial ocean-current which girdles the world in its embrace, thence branching out from the further shore into the rivers of the Underworld, to be at last fire-purged and sublimated, and returned in purity to the upper heavens to recommence its round. 1 And just as he is wondering over the question, he finds that some of the Assyriologists, in their investigation of pre-Babylonian Akkadian mythology, have found reason to believe this surmise correct, and to say that in that mythology the term Euphrates was applied to "the rope of the world," "the encircling river of the snake god of the tree of life," "the heavenly river which surrounds the earth." 2 Furthermore, as he turns back to the pages of Hyginus, and Manilius, and Lucius Ampelius, and reads of the fall of the "world-egg" at the beginning "into the river Euphrates," he perceives that he is in a mythologic, and not a historic region. 3 And when he lights upon a mutilated fragment of an ancient Assyrian inscription, in which descriptions of the visible and invisible world are mixed up together, and in which the river "of the life of the world" is designated by the name "Euphrates," 4 he quickly concludes that it will not do to take the term Phrath, or Eu-frata, as always and everywhere referring to the historic river of Mesopotamia.
Hitherto, then, the "results" of the theologians as to the location of Eden are purely negative and mutually destructive. "It would be difficult," says one of their number, "to find any subject in the whole history of opinion which has so invited and at the same time so completely baffled conjecture as this. Theory after theory has been advanced, but none has been found which satisfies the required conditions. The site of Eden will ever rank, with the quadrature of the circle and the interpretation of unfulfilled prophecy, among those unsolved and perhaps insoluble problems which possess so strange a fascination." 1
23:1 See McClintock and Strong, Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Arts. "Eden" and "Paradise."
24:1 "In some legends Eden was submerged by the earliest deluge that covered the Mount. The happy garden was believed to be lying at the bottom of Lake Van, in Armenia."Gerald Massey, The Natural Genesis, vol. ii., p. 231.
27:1 Sacred Theory of the Earth. London, 2d ed., 1691: p. 252.
27:2 Ibid., p. 253.
27:3 Les Origins de lHistoire. Paris, 1882: tom. ii. I, p. 120.
28:1 Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies? p. 169. Grill, Die Erzväter der Menschheit, Bd. i., p. 230. In Old Persian it is Ufratu, "the fair flowing." F. Finzi, Antichità Assira, Turin, 1872: p. 112.
28:2 See pp. 95, 136, 140.
29:1 Origins de lHistoire, tom. ii. 1, p. 99.
29:2 "Also there is a very sacred river in Hwida called the Euphrates or Eufrates."Gerald Massey, The Natural Genesis. London, 1883: vol. ii., p. 165.
29:3 "There is no improbability in supposing that there may have been in Britain two rivers named Trisanton. On the contrary, it is very seldom indeed that a river has no namesakes."Henry Bradley, in The Academy, April 28, 1883, p. 296.
29:4 See Grill, Die Erzväter der Menschheit, Bd. i., pp. 239, 242.
30:1 Ewald, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, 2d ed., Bd. iii., pp. 321-328.
30:2 Lenormant, Origines de lHistoire, vol. i., p. 76. English version, p. 85. See also Rev. O. D. Miller, "The Symbolical Geography of the Ancients," in the American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal, Chicago, July, 1881.
30:3 Compare Rev. ix. 14.
31:1 See below Part V., chapter 5: "The Quadrifurcate River."
31:2 The Rev. A. H. Sayce in The Academy. London, Oct. 7, 1882: p. 263. "Professor Sayce, after recently observing that 'in early Akkadian mythology the mouth of the Euphrates was identified with the River of Death,' adds, 'The Okeanos of Homer had, I believe, its origin in this Akkadian river which coiled itself around the world.'"Robert Brown, Jun., F. R. S., The Myth of Kirké. London. 1883: p. 33.
31:3 Bryant, Analysis of Ancient Myths, vol. iii., pp. 160-162.
31:4 Records of the Past, x., p. 149.
32:1 William A. Wright, of Trinity College, Cambridge, in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, Art. "Eden."