Where did the authors of Genesis think the Garden of Eden was located?

Been a while since I looked closely at Genesis, but as I recall the multiple authors put it somewhere in Mesopotamia, and dropped little hints about four rivers, two of which we can identify today (as the Tigris and the Euphrates, I think) and two of which we can’t. So did they think it was in Iran? Iraq? Did they have no clear idea where they thought it to be? Are there any other clues as to its location?

From Wikipedia:

(See also the “proposed locations” section of that article.)

Since the authors of Genesis, whoever they were, didn’t write down where they thought Eden was there is no factual answer to the question. There is no way t to know what they were thinking at the time.

Maybe not. But we can know something about their thinking, can’t we? For example, do we know where they were located geographically when they wrote Genesis? Was it in a place far distant from the Tigris and Euphrates, so that they would have been referring to rivers that they had only heard about? I have no idea, but if that’s the case then we can narrow the answers down only to a rather large bit of Mesopotamia. I’m trying to get at the specificity of biblical scholarship here, and whether there’s been any work done to narrow the answer down any further.

It’s speculation at best. There is still no factual answer to the question. This belongs in IMHO.

They did. They were quite clear in fact: 10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

So it was down near the Gulf, near where the Tigris and Euphrates came together in ancient times.

Sadly, we do not know where (or what) rivers the Pishon or Gihon were. Note that in ancient days the Gulf extended some 175 miles northwest of where it is now. So, the Garden may be lost. But the Writers were quite clear… to people living back then.

Oddly that area is where many think Civilization first came to be.

Any idea where the land of Cush was? Does it appear in any other writings of that era?

How do we know for a fact that the Pishon and Gihon rivers ever existed? Have historians confirmed they did, or is it solely based on biblical writings?

If there were a factual answer to this question, wouldn’t it have been already answered sometime in the past 3000 or so years?

Two theories:

The more or less modern land of Cush which is another name for Ethiopia. This is doubtful.

The other is that it is the local People called elsewhere Kassites, who controled that region around 1600-1200 BC. That is more likely.

We don’t and no they have not. But if one reads between the lines we have four rivers, in ascending order of how well known they are- The Euphrates needing no explanation. That area has had great changes over the millenniums since then, there is no reason to think that those were just lesser rivers that are gone today or have radically changed their names.

We are also dealing with the Time of Legends, but it does seem like the Writers were trying to make that area at least somewhat recognizable to the well traveled from that period. The last two rivers are well known today, in any case.

No, I think we have to take the OPs question at face value. It is not “where was the fabled Garden really located?” That is and will ever be unknown. The OP asked “where did the authors of Genesis think the Garden of Eden was located?” (emphasis mine), and we can answer that- Down near where the Tigris and Euphrates merge, near the Gulf. That isn’t exact as we don’t know where those other two rivers were back then, they are likely long gone. But we know approximately.

The OP’s question does not need for there to be a real Garden, just where the Writers considered it to be. Just like we know quite a bit about Tom Sawyer, due to the writings of Mark Twain, even though that character is mostly fictional. Genesis says where they THOUGHT the Garden was.

But Genesis says the river split into the headwaters of the four rivers. The Tigris and Euphrates flow for a long ways before they reached the Gulf, so that wasn’t where their headwaters are.

ETA: Also, back then, they didn’t merge. They flowed into the Gulf separately. Or at least they did during the Sumerian era. Sometime between then and now, they filled in the Gulf and merged. It could have been before or after Genesis was compiled.

And as a interesting side note about Genesis, people who read the Bible care full will know that the idiots looking for Noahs Ark on Mount Ararat are, well idiots. Because the Bibles doesn’t say that. It says And *the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat . Ararat is one of the ancient names fro the region/nation called Urartu aka Armenia. Mount Ararat was named that fairly recently, as these things go Maybe a thousand years ago, or so). In other words, even if there was a giant Ark (and this is getting out of Legend into Myth) it could be anywhere on any of the many mountains of that area. Sure it is the highest but the Bible does not specify that, either.

You are thinking in modern terms. That translation is not what it seems to be , the wording is more like 10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

The Tigris and Euphrates didn’t actually merge back then, that was imprecise wording on my part. But they did “come together” they got within about 25 miles of each other. Now they merge, of course.

OK, I see what you’re saying. Four different rivers flowed together to make the Edenic river.

In Sumerian times, the Rivers flowed separately into the Gulf. But that was about 5000 years ago. Genesis was compiled about half that long ago, either during or just after the Babylonian Captivity. As you said upthread, about 175 miles of Gulf have been filled by silt from ancient times to modern times. But it’s not like those 175 miles were filled in all at once; it took that 5000 years to do that. So the rivers may or may not have flowed together during the Capitivity.

Maybe someone’s reconstructed a history of the rivers and pinpointed when they merged. I looked online but couldn’t find one.

An issue with the authors believing it was a real place is that the text describes it as continuing to exist, with some sort of barrier (described as a “flaming sword”) being used to prevent people from entering again. Yet they still remember the names of the rivers and exact location. So it would be easy to see if it was there.

One solution may be that they assumed it was then destroyed in the Flood.

Since the biblical writers were writing fiction, not history, if you can tell me where the Mountains of Mirkwood are, or where the River Running flows out of the Lonely Mountain, or where Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is located, I can tell you where Eden was.

Unlikely. Genesis is a compilation of a number of different stories*. All of which were pretty much standalone and mostly didn’t reference any of the others. People later on may have come to that conclusion, but the story of the Flood is totally independent of the Garden of Eden.

This kind of thing is standard in mythologies. The various Greek myths are similarly independent of each other, for example. And what happens in one myth may contradict or be inconsistent with what happens in another. Ditto for the Norse myths.

*Well, two versions of each story, which is why it contradicts itself in some places.

Biblical scholarship makes advances all the time.

Is it just me or is this really had to parse? “A river went OUT of Eden to water the garden” Wouldn’t the river come IN to Eden to water the garden?

Read to me like a misunderstanding of “headwaters”.