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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
(Gr. 7rapci& uros), the name of a supernatural locality reserved for God and for chosen men, which occurs in the Greek Bible, both for the earthly "garden" of Eden (see Eden), and for the heavenly "garden," where true Israelites after death see the face of God (4 Esdras viii. 52; Luke xxiii. 43; 2 Cor. xii. 4; Rev. ii. 7). The Hebrew pardes (r), to which 7rapetSEC60s corresponds, occurs thrice in the Old Testament in late books, in the general sense of "park, grove"; it is derived somewhat hazardously from the Zend pairidaeza, an enclosure (once only in the Avesta), though another word (Vara) is used in the account of the mythical enclosure of Yima (see Deluge). But what interests us most is not the name, but the conception and its imaginative vehicle.
The conception is the original godlikeness of human nature, and the necessity of expecting a closer union between God and man in the future than is possible at present. The imaginative form which this conception takes is that before the present condition arose man dwelt near to God in God's own mountain home, and that when the mischief wrought by "the serpent" has been undone, man - or more strictly the true Israel - shall once more be admitted to his old privilege. According to the fullest Old Testament account (Ezek. xxviii. 12-19; see Adam), the holy mountain was in a definite earthly region, and certainly it was appropriate for worshippers of Yahweh that it should be so (1 Kings xx. 23, 28).
But there are traces in that account itself as well as in Gen. ii. that an earlier belief placed the divine and home in heaven. Similarly the Zoroastrians speak of their Paradise-mountain Alburz both as heavenly and as earthly (Bundahish, xx. 1, with West's note). It appears that originally the Hebrew Paradise-mountain was placed in heaven, but that afterwards it was transferred to earth. It was of stupendous size; indeed, properly it was the earth itself.' Later on each Semitic people may have chosen its own mountain, recognizing, however, perhaps, that in primeval times it was of vaster dimensions than at present, just as the Jews believed that in the next age the "mountain of Yahweh's house" would become far larger (Isa. ii. 2= Mic. iv. 1; Ezek. xl. 2; Zech. xiv. 10; Rev. xxi. Io); compare the idealization of the earthly Alburz of the Iranians "in revelation" (Bund. v. 3, viii. 2, xii. 1-8).
We now return to the accounts in Ezek. xxviii. and Gen. ii. The references in the former to the precious stones and to the "stones of fire" may be grouped with the references in Enoch (xviii. 6-8, xxiv.) to seven supernatural mountains each composed of a different beautiful stone, and with the throne of God on the seventh. These mountains are to be connected with the seven planets, each. of which was symbolized by a different metal, or at least colour.' Ezekiel's mountain therefore has come to earth from heaven. And a similar result follows if we group the four rivers of Paradise in Gen. ii. with the phrase so often applied to Canaan, "flowing with milk and honey" (Exod. iii. 8; Num. xiii. 27, &c.).
For this descriptive phrase is evidently mythical,' and refers to the belief in the four rivers of the heavenly Paradise which "poured honey and milk, oil and wine" (Slavonic Enoch, viii. 5; cf. Vision of Paul, xxiii.). In fact, the four rivers originally flowed in heavenly soil, and only when the mountain of Elohim was transferred to this lower earth could mythological geographers think of determining their earthly course, and whether Havilah, or Cush, or Canaan, or Babylonia, was irrigated by one or another of them. But what happened to Paradise when the affrighted human pair left it ? One view (see Eth. Enoch, xxxii. 2, 3, lx. 8, lxxvii. 3, 4, &c.) was that its site was in some nameless, inaccessible region, still guarded by "the serpents and the cherubim" (Eth. Enoch, xx. 7), and that in the next age its gates would be opened, and the threatening sword (Gen. iii. 24) put away by the Messianic priest-king (Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Levi, 18).
This agrees with the story in Gen. ii., iii., except that the original narrator knew the site of the garden. It is a sufficiently reasonable view, for if Paradise lay in some definite earthly region, and if no one knows "the paths of Paradise" (4 Esdras iv. 7), it would seem that it must have ceased to exist visibly. This idea appears to be implied by those Jewish writers, who, especially after the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), dwelt so much on the hope of the heavenly Paradise, reviving, partly under emotional pressure and partly as the result of a fresh influx of mythology, the old myth of a celestial garden of God.
To notice only a few leading passages. In Apoc. Bar. iv. 3 it appears to be stated that when Adam transgressed, the vision of the city of God and the possession of Paradise were removed from him, and similarly the stress laid in 4 Esdras iv. 7, vi. 2, vii. (36), 53, viii. 52, on the heavenly Paradise seems to show that no earthly one was supposed to exist. 4 Beautiful, indeed, is the use made of that form of belief in these passages, with which we may group Rev. xxi. 1, xxii. 5, where, as in 4 Esdras viii. 52, Paradise and the city of God are combined.
Some strange disclosures on this subject are made by the Slavonic Enoch (c. viii.; cf. xlii. 3), according to which there are two Paradises. The former is in the third heaven, which explains the well-known saying of St Paul in 2 Cor. xii. 2, 4; 1 It was the Babylonian "mountain of the lands," which meant not only mother earth, but the earth imagined to exist within the heaven; cf. Jeremias, Atao, pp. II, 12, 28, and Jastrow, Religion of Bab. and Ass., p. 558.
See Zimmern, K.A.T. (3), pp. 616 sqq.
See also I Esdras ii. 19. This explains Joel iv. 18; Isa. lv. 1 (wine and milk). See also Yasna, xlix. 5 (Zendavesta); and cf. Cheyne, Ency. Bib., col. 2104, and especially Usener, Rheinisches Museum, lvii. 177-192.
4 The statement in Gen. iii. 24 comes from a form of the story in which the "garden" was riot geographically localized.
the latter is conventionally called the Paradise of Eden. In fact, the belief in an earthly Paradise never wholly died. Medieval writers loved it. The mountain of Purgatory in Dante's poem is "crowned by the delicious shades of the terrestrial Paradise." See further The Apocalypse of Baruch and The Ethiopic and the Slavonic Enoch, both edited by R. H. Charles; also Kautzsch's Apocrypha, and Volz, Jiidische Eschatologie (1903), pp. 3748, whose full references are most useful. On the Biblical references, cf. Gunkel, Genesis (2), pp. 21-35; Cheyne, Ency. Bib., " Paradise"; and on Babylonian views, Jeremias, "Holle and Paradies" (in Der alte Orient).
The Mahommedan's Paradise is a sensuous transformation of the Jewish; see especially Koran, Sura lv., and note the phrase "gardens of Firdaus," Koran, xviii. 107. For the Koran and the Zoroastrian books see the Sacred Books of the East (Oxford Series). The doorkeeper of the mountain-Paradise of the Parsees is the Amshaspand Vohu-mano (Vendidad, xix. 31). (T. K. C.)
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Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Paradise'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/p/paradise.html. 1910.