It’s just discouraging to realize that the first humans were evicted because they broke their lease/rental agreement. LOL
A pet theory of mine is that the biblical accounts of Eden and The Flood were accounts of the end of the last Ice Age: During the Age, what is now the Persian Gulf may have been a lush valley…before being innundated with meltwater.
Meltwater…may…do a number on weather patterns, such as increased rainfall…like The Deluge.
When you’re talking about fictional stories, written by people nobody knows, based on places that may never have existed, it doesn’t make sense to ask where the fictional writers thought the fictional places that never existed were.
If at the time Genisis was written people had actually gone out to find the remnants of Eden where the writers said it was they wouldn’t have found it, because the “Garden of Eden” is a mythical place, so what does it matter where they thought it might be? I can make up non-existent rivers that lead to fields of gold that don’t exist. Does it matter where I pretended the places were?
It may not matter to you but it’s not all about you. The OP is curious if the ancient writers had an opinion of where it would have been.
Fine, then this is the factual answer. This is where the authors thought Eden was. The fact that two of the rivers may have never existed is irrelevant. We don’t know who the authors were, and obviously can’t ask them for any more details.
But … I mean, I do know where Hogwarts is. It’s in the Scottish Highlands. HP fans could probably locate it much more precisely than that. I know where the Lonely Mountain and Ankh-Morpork are, too, though I can’t point to them on any earthly map. We know where Sherlock Holmes lived down to the street address, I could take you there in Google Street View right now. It’s perfectly possible to talk sensibly about the location of something that you don’t believe really exists. So what, exactly, is the point of this objection, other than to demonstrate that you’re too clever to believe in a literal Garden of Eden, which nobody in this thread has said that they do?
What has Sherlock Holmes got to do with Harry Potter, Rowling or Tolkien? And the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit is in Middle Earth, a fictional geographic area, not Scotland. And don’t get me started on Cair Paravel, the capitol of Narnia.
Why not? I don’t think your objection holds water. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask where, for example, Yoknapatawpha County is. (And it would still be reasonable to ask this if we still had the stories but somehow forgot they were written by William Faulkner.)
It seems to me that part of the OP’s question is whether the writers of Genesis thought of the Garden of Eden as having a real geographical location (like, to take @c_carol’s example, Hogwarts being located in the real Scottish Highlands), or whether they thought it was part of another, perhaps completely imaginary, world, like Narnia or Middle Earth.
It’s important to realize, too, that Genesis wasn’t “written” by particular people at a particular time and place, but consists of stories that had existed for centuries in oral tradition.
My uninformed opinion has always been that the Biblical directions were intentionally too vague to allow anyone to actually go and look for it. Obviously, if the directions were clear it would be obvious that the angel with the flaming sword wasn’t actually there.
I think the analogy of “Scottish Highlands” is pretty good; they had a general idea of what part of the world it was supposed to be located in, but not a precise one.
I don’t think you grasp what biblical or any other writers of the era were actually doing. Fiction is a relatively recent distinction. Let’s move away from the Bible and look at Shakespeare. We recognize Richard III as fiction - did the audience around the turn of the 16th century do that as well?
Probably, but not making the distinction we put on it: Made up from whole cloth. They probably went to the Globe and saw the play the same way we see a movie “Based on a true story,” knowing that Will had taken some liberties to get a good story rolling, but essentially thinking that the play in fact had a connection to real royals and their lives.
Back to the Bible: the author(s) that put it all in writing around 500 BCE, knew that they were not writing “history” with the connotation we give it. They were telling an important story and in doing so, taking some/quite a few liberties with the “truth”. The same goes for the Exodus, which certainly didn’t happen, Kings and Judges were “written by the victors” a long time later to paint the victors (really survivors of the late bronze age collapse) in a better light.
Herodotus is considered by quite a few scholars to be the Father of Historiography. Yet his writing also contains items that are best described as fantasy.
Yes, the question of writers thought they were placing the garden depends highly upon whether they were deliberately writing myth or not. Genesis is full of mythic events and people. Were any of them ever intended to be accounts of true history and true geography?
Eden is the name of the country that the garden is set in, just as Ararat is the name of the country that the mountain Noah landed on is contained in, classic cases of synecdoche. The writers were deliberately vague about the exact locations, although they surrounded that vagueness with references that sometimes can be associated with historic names.
Their were saying, “think of a land known for its greenness and fertility. Now beyond there is a land you do not know, that is even more fecund, a paradise upon earth.” Placing sacred spots “just beyond” or “the other side” or “over the waters” is also classic, a powerful device that shows up in mythologies all over the world.
If this is deliberate mythmaking, all the questions about specifics are answered. There are no specifics, there were never intended to be specifics. The hearers’, later readers’, minds were to fill in their own specifics, as later was true of heaven and hell.
Interpreting the intent this way takes the argument out of religion and into traits of storytelling, which is unacceptable for some. What it does accomplish is resolve why there is no factual answer for either where was the Garden of Eden or where did the writers think the Garden of Eden was. Somewhere, nowhere, everywhere are more precise answers than Mesopotamia.
I can tell you where Jerusalem is. I can tell you where Babylon was. I can tell you where to find Alexandria, Damascus, Athens, and Rome. In the context of this specific question, I can show you both the Tigris and the Euphrates, which are both mentioned in relation to Eden. This wikipedia page has a couple hundred more examples of real places named in the Bible. So, lots of real, verifiable, locatable places mentioned in the Bible. Doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask, “Was Eden one of them?”
It’s also, of course, incorrect to say that the people who compiled the Bible were “writing fiction.” They were writing history, as they understood the meaning and purpose of the concept.
This is slightly off topic, but Middle Earth is meant to be pre-historic Europe. While Tolkien didn’t attempt to map everything in ME one-to-one with 20th century Europe, there’s a reasonably strong argument that the Lonely Mountain is basically the Matterhorn, which Tolkien is known to have visited in his youth.
They didn’t call it fiction, to be sure. They absolutely knew what storytelling was, though. They almost certainly had a stronger sense of storytelling than what we call nonfiction history, which was a concept they lacked in equal proportion to fiction.
I’m not sure I grasp the distinction you’re aiming for, here.
So the authors of Genesis didn’t think that someone could actually stumble upon the Garden? Or did they?
They weren’t making it up from scratch. They were documenting stories that had been told probably originally as children.
I was taught it was in Missouri. And there may be millions of people who believe it was there.
Okay, the source isn’t Genesis.
Serious question, not an attempt to make a point: are the Biblical Tigris and Euphrates the same as the modern rivers? Have they bourne the same names for the past 3,000 years?