Old Testament Essays
On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919
VAN DYK, Peet J.. In search of Eden: A cosmological interpretation of Genesis 2-3. Old testam. essays [online]. 2014, vol.27, n.2, pp.651-665. ISSN 2312-3621.
Past suggestions for the locality of the biblical Eden mostly fell into the trap of either assuming a real historical setting, or supposing that the garden in Eden had a fictional or fantastical setting. Even in those cases where scholars did assume a mythical setting for the garden, they were more interested in locating the possible historical garden on which this mythical garden may have been modelled than trying to identify the exact imagined position for the garden within the mythical cosmography of the ANE. It is concluded that it is futile to assume a locality for Eden within the boundaries of our natural human world, because it was perceived as being located outside our known world in the mythical in-between space of the eastern horizon. The Garden in Eden retained most features of the ANE mythical garden of the gods. These include: its sense of abundance, waterrichness, the eastern horizon as the source of cosmic rivers like the Euphrates and Tigris, its association with mythical monsters, guards and spells (cherubs and a flaming sword), wondrous (magical) trees, the allusion to a garden of gems and its association with life and immortality.