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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
is but an Anglicized form of the Greek word παράδεισος, which is identical with the Sanscrit paradesa, Persian pardes, and appears also in the Hebrew pardes, פִּרְדֵּס, and the Arabic firdarus. In all these languages it has essentially the same meaning, a park. It does not occur in the Old Testament, in the English version, but is used in the Sept. to translate the Hebrew gâ n, גָּן, a garden (Genesis 2:8 sq.), and thence found its way into the New Testament, where it is applied figuratively to the celestial dwelling of the righteous, in allusion to the Garden of Eden (2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7). It has thus come into familiar use to denote both that garden and the heaven of the just. (See EDEN).
I. Literal Application of the Name (Scriptural and profane). — Of this word (παράδεισος ) the earliest instance that we have is in the Cyropaedia and other writings of Xenophon, nearly 400 years before Christ; but his use of it has that appearance of ease and familiarity which leads us to suppose that it was current among his countrymen. A wide, open park, enclosed against injury, yet with its natural beauty unspoiled, with stately forest-trees, many of them bearing fruit, watered by clear streams, on whose banks roved large herds of antelopes or sheep — this was the scenery which connected itself in the mind of the Greek traveler with the word: παράδεισος, and for which his own language supplied no precise equivalent (comp. Anab. 1:2, § 7; 4, § 9; 2:4, § 14; Hellen. 4:1, § 15; Cyrop. 1:3, § 14; (Econom. 4, § 13). We find it also used by Plutarch, who lived in the 1James, 2 d century of our aera. It was by these authors evidently employed to signify an extensive plot of ground, enclosed with a strong fence or wall, abounding in trees, shrubs, plants, and garden culture, and in which choice animals were kept in different ways of restraint or freedom, according as they were ferocious or peaceable; thus answering very closely to the English word park, with the addition of gardens, a menagerie, and an aviary. The circumstance which has given this term its extensive and popular use is its having been taken by the Greek translators of the Pentateuch, in the 3d century B.C., and, following them, in the ancient Syriac version, and by Jerome in the Latin Vulgate, as the translation of the garden (גָּן, gan) which the benignant providence of the Creator prepared for the abode of innocent and happy man.
The translators also use it, not only in the twelve places of Genesis 2, 3, but in eight others, and two in which the feminine form (גִּנָּה ) occurs; whereas, in other instances of those two words, they employ κῆπος, the usual Greek word for a garden or an enclosure of fruit-trees. But there are three places in which the Hebrew text itself has the very word, giving it the form פִּרְדֵּס, pardes. These are, "the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber" (Nehemiah 2:8); orchards (Ecclesiastes 2:5); "an orchard of pomegranates" (Song of Solomon 4:13). Through the writings of Xenophon, and through the general admixture of Orientalisms in the later Greek after the conquests of Alexander, the word gained a recognized place, and the Sept. writers chose it for a new use, which gave it a higher worth and secured for it a more perennial life. The Garden of Eden became ὁ παράδεισος τῆς τρυφῆς (Genesis 2:15; Genesis 2:23; Joel 2:3). They used the same word whenever there was any allusion, however remote, to the fair region which had been the first blissful home of man. The valley of the Jordan, in their version, is the paradise of God (Genesis 13:10). There is no tree in the paradise of God equal to that which in the prophet's vision symbolizes the glory of Assyria (Ezekiel 31:1-9). The imagery of this chapter furnishes a more vivid picture of the scenery of a παράδεισος than we find elsewhere. The prophet to whom "the word of the Lord came" by the river of Chebar may well have seen what he describes so clearly. Elsewhere, however, as in the translation of the three passages in which pardes occurs in the Hebrew it is used in a more general sense (comp. Isaiah 1:30; Numbers 24:6; Jeremiah 29:5). In the apocryphal book of Susanna (a moral tale or little novel, possibly founded on some genuine tradition) the word paradise is constantly used for the garden. It occurs also in three passages of the Son of Sirach, the first of which is in the description of Wisdom: "I came forth as a canal dug from a river, and as a water-pipe into a paradise" (24:30). In the other two it is the objective term of comparisons: "Kindness is as a paradise in blessings, and mercifulness abideth forever — the fear of the Lord is as a paradise of blessing, and it adorns above all pomp" (40:17, 27). Josephus calls the gardens of Solomon, in the plural number, "paradises" (Ant. 8:7, 3). Berosus (B.C. cent. 4), quoted by Josephus (c. Apion, 1:20), says that the lofty garden-platforms erected at Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar were called the Suspended Paradise.
The word itself, though it appears in the above form in the Song of Solomon 4:13; Ecclesiastes 2:5; Nehemiah 2:8, may be classed, with hardly a doubt, as of Aryan rather than of Shemitic origin. It first appears in Greek as coming straight from Persia (Xenoph. ut sup.). Greek lexicographers classify it as a Persian word (Julius Pollux. Onomast. 9:3). Modern philologists accept the same conclusion with hardly a dissentient voice (Renan, Langues Semitiques, 2:1, p. 153). "The word is regarded by most learned men as Persian, of the same signification as the Hebrew gan. Certainly it was used by the Persians in this sense, corresponding to their darchen; but that it is an Armenian word is shown both from its constant use in that language and from its formation, it being compounded of two Armenian simple words, part and ses, meaning necessary grains or edible herbs. The Armenians apply this word, pardes, to denote a garden adjoining the dwelling, and replenished with the different sorts of grain, herbs, and flowers for use and ornament" (Schroederi Thesaur. Ling. Armen. Dissert. p. 56 Amsterd. 1711). With this E. F. C. Rosenmü ller accords (Bibl. Alterthumsk. vol. i, pt. i, p. 174): "It corresponds to the Greek παράδεισος, a word appropriated to the pleasure-gardens and parks with wild animals around the palace of the Persian monarchs. The origin of the word, however, is to be sought with neither the Greeks nor the Hebrews, but in the languages of Eastern Asia. We find it in Sanscrit paradesha, a region of surpassing beauty; and the Armenian pardes, a park or garden adjoining the house, planted with trees for use and ornament." "A paradise, i.e. an orchard, an arboretum, particularly of pomegranates, a park, a fruit-garden; a name common to several Oriental languages, and especially current among the Persians, as we learn from Xenophon and Julius Pollux: Sanscrit, pardesha; Armenian, pardezo; Arabic, firdaus; Syriac, fardaiso; Chaldee of the Targums, pardesa" (First, Concord. V. T. p. 920, Leipsic, 1840). Gesenius (s.v.) traces it a step farther, and connects it with the Sanscrit paradanae, high, well-tilled land, as applied to an ornamental garden attached to a house. Other Sanscrit scholars, however, assert that the meaning of pardefa in classical Sanscrit is "foreign- country;" and although they admit that it may also mean "the best or most excellent country," they look on this as an instance of casual coincidence rather than derivation. Other etymologies, more fanciful and far-fetched, have been suggested: (1) from παρά and δεύω, giving as a meaning the "well-watered ground" (Suidas, s.v.); (2) from παρά and δεῖσα, a barbarous word, supposed to signify a plant, or collection of plants (Joann. Damasc. in Suidas, l.c.); (3) from פרה דשא, to bring forth herbs; (4) פרה הרס, to bring forth myrrh (Ludwig, De raptu Pauli in Parad. in Menthei's Thesaur. Theolog. 1702).
On the assumption that the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes were written in the time of Solomon, the occurrence of the foreign word may be accounted for either (1) on the hypothesis of later forms having crept into the text in the process of transcription, or (2) on that of the word having found its way into the language of Israel at the time when its civilization took a new flight under the son of David, and the king borrowed from the customs of Central Asia that which made the royal park or garden part of the glory of the kingdom. In Nehemiah 2:8, as might be expected, the word is used in a connection which points it out as distinctly Persian. The account given of the hanging gardens of Babylon, in like manner, indicates Media as the original seat both of the word and of the thing. Nebuchadnnezzar constructed them terrace upon terrace, that he might reproduce in the plains of Mesopotamia the scenery with which the Median princess he had married had been familiar in her native country; and this was the origin of the κρεμαστὸς παράδεισος (Berosus, in Josephus, c. Revelation, 1, 9).
II. The Terrestrial Paradise (chiefly condensed from Winer). —
1. Biblical Description. — The name was originally applied to "the garden of Eden" (Genesis 2:8; Genesis 4:16,; comp. 2:8), from the name of the region in which it lay; an Eastern country, the first dwelling-place of the human race. It was watered by a river which passed out from the garden, in four arms or branches (Hebr. רָאשַׁים, heads, i.e. streams, not springs), of which one, Pison, surrounded the land of Havilah, which was rich in gold, bellium, and the stone shoham — (See ONYX); the second, Gihon, surrounded the land of Cush — (See ETHIOPIA). The third, Hiddekel, flowed to the east of Assyria; and the fourth was the Euphrates; the last, being generally known, was not described (see Genesis 2:10 sq.). Yet this account has been variously understood, Rosenmü ller understanding by heads (רָאשַׁים, v. 10), head-streams; and Gesenius, the beginnings of distinct rivers.
These apparently exact topographical data have excited the zeal of historians and theologians, who have vied with each other in efforts to point out the precise geographical site of the garden. It is unnecessary. here to adduce all the views proposed. Most of them are collected in Morini Diss. de Paradiso Terrestri (in the Leyden edition of Bochart, Opp. 2:9 sq., and in Ugolino, Thesaur. vii); in the Allgenmeine Welthistor. 1:117 sq.; in Hottinger, Enneas Dissert. p. 64 sq.; in Eichhorn's Urgesch. by Gabler, II, 1:76 sq.; in Bellerman's Handb. 1:143 sq.; and in Schulthess, Das Paradies, das irdische u. Uberirdische, historische, mythische, u. nystische (Zur. 1816). Comp. also Rosenmü ller, Alterth. 1, 1:172 sq.; Marck, Hist. Paradis. Illustrat. (Amsterd. 1705). It was most natural, in order to have a fixed starting-point, to begin with the sufficiently known position of the rivers Euphrates (פְּרָת ) and Tigris (הַדֶּקֶּל ). All hypotheses which do not do this are manifestly groundless, and we may omit their consideration (for example, that set forth by Latreille, in his Memoires sur divers sujets Deuteronomy 1 -hist. nat. des insect, de Geogr. ancienne; etc. [Paris, 1819]; that of Kannegiesser, Grundriss der Alterthumswissensch. [Halle, 1815]; and likewise that of Hasse, Preussens Anspruiche ans Bernsteinland [Konigsberg, 1709], who supposes Eden to have been on the coast of Prussia!). But a difficulty arises in attempting to find two other rivers, which, with the Tigris and Euphrates, could once have come from one source. This but few have endeavored with care to solve; as Calvin (Comment. in Genesim), Huetius (De situ paradisi, in Ugolino, Thesaur. vii), Bochart (Opera, 2:29 sq., and in Ugolino, Thesaur. vii), Morinus, J. Vorst (in Ugolino as above).
All these have understood the tenth verse to mean that the river in question parted, as it passed from the garden, into four rivers, two flowing northward and two southward. According to this view, we are to understand by the Pishon and Gihon, the two chief mouths of the Shat el-Arab, the united Tigris and Euphrates; Huetius and Bochart specifying Pishon as the western and Gihon as the eastern, on etymological grounds; Calvin, Grotius, and Hottinger, on the contrary, make Pishon the Pasitigris, while they differ in identifying the others. The land of Cush was supposed by these interpreters to be the Chusistan of the Persians; or the name was found in the Cissii (Κίσσιοι ), as Strabo calls the people of Susiana (15:728. See Grotius on Genesis 2:10). Havilah would then be the adjacent parts of Arabia, where Strabo places the Chaulotaioi (16:767), and Eden must be sought in the neighborhood of Korna (310O' 28" N. lat., 470 29' 18" E. long. from Greenwich), where the Euphrates and Tigris unite. But much my be urged against this view: 1, The word Cush, which often occurs in the Old Testament in the sense of Ethiopia (as Nahum 3:9; Psalms 68:31. Comp. Gesen. Thesaur. s.v. כּוּשׁ ), is here applied to an entirely different and remote land; 2, the two chief mouths of the Shat el-Arab seem to have been scarcely known to the ancients, and were not important enough at best to be named with the Tigris and Euphrates; 3, nor is this the most natural interpretation of the tenth verse, as it not only fails to explain the term heads (יָאשַׁים ) properly, but makes the manner of expression in general very awkward. Still more could be said against the view of J. Hopkinson (Descriptio Paradisi [Leyd. 1598]; also in Ugolinmos Thesaur. 7). He places the site of Paradise around Babylon, and, by the four streams proceeding from one, understands the two channels of the Euphrates, Nahar Malca and Maarsares (comp. Mannert, V, 2:342 sq.); the former of which runs towards the east; being Pishon; while the latter turns westward, the Gihon. On this scheme Susiana must be considered as Havilah, and Arabia is the land of Cush. Thus this author affords a more natural interpretation of Genesis 2:10 than those before quoted; but his view seems open to fatal objections:
(1.) It is very improbable that the tradition, of Paradise should connect in its topography two artificial canals with the Euphrates and Tigris, for even if they were supposed to be natural streams, yet they could not be prominent features of a country which abounds in canals and sluices.
(2.) The fact that the Nahar Malca, whose course, indeed, is not clearly laid down, empties into the Tigris, which forms for a great distance the boundary of Susiana, is not a sufficient explanation of the phrase "compasseth the whole land of Havilab."
(3.) There is no ether reason for identifying Susiana with Havilah than because the Nahar Malca is assumed to be Pishon.
(4.) The expression "from thence" (מַשָּׁם, Genesis 2:10) refers more naturally to the garden (הִגָּן ) than to the land of Eden (עֵדֶן ). Erasmus Rask also places Paradise at Babylon (in Illgen's Zeitschrift, VI, 2:94 sq.). He makes the Shat el-Arab the original river of Eden (Genesis 2:10); the Pishon is the Karun, the Pasitigris of the ancients; and the Gihon he finds in the Karasu, the ancient Gyndes. The last two empty. into the Shat el-Arab south of Korna. Cush is in his view Chusistan; Havilah is the coast beyond the mouth of the Shat el-Arab. Paradise would then stand on the western side of the latter stream, between Korna and Basra, some distance from the sea. It is plain that too much is assumed in this scheme, and that it is opposed by what we have remarked above as to the meaning of Cush.
In order to escape the difficulties presented in this account, attempts have been made to force upon the text various strange interpretations. Thus Verbrugge (Orat. de sit. Paradis. p. 11) understands the river (נָהָר ) to mean merely a great abundance of springs,; and hence one need only seek a well-watered district of Asia to find Eden at once (comp. Jahn's Archaeol. I, 1:28). This certainly gives wide room for selection! But it is surpassed in this respect by the view, often urged, that the position of the rivers has changed in the course of ages (see Clericus, Ad. Genesis 2:8; Reland; Baumgarten, Comment. I, 1:40). Calvin opposes this view (see Com. on Genesis 2:10). This idea has been elaborated by Raumer (in the Hertha, 1829, 13:340 sq.), who adopts the idea that at one time the Black and Caspian seas were one; and, gathering together the Irtish, the Petchora, the Dwina, and the Volga, forms a Ural island, which he calls Havilab,,and shows that gold is really found in that region. But this view, and in particular the beauty and pleasant climate of this region, are mere assumption (comp. with this theory that of Ephraem Syrus on Genesis 2, in his Opera, 1:23). Clericus understood by Pishon the Chrysorrhoas, which rises near Damascus, and appears by its very name to flow through a gold region (comp. Kohlreif, Das wegen Erschaf. d. Mensch. denk, wurd. Damask. Lubeck, 1737). Lakemacher (Observ. Philol. v. 195 sq.) also places Paradise in Syria, but makes the Jordan the Pishon. Harduin, again (De situ Paradis. Ter. [excursus to Pliny's Hist. Nat. vi] 1:359 sq.), finds it in Galilee, and takes the Jordan for the original river. But his explanation of Genesis 2:10 is too wild and trivial for refutation. Thus Gihon is the Dead Sea, and Pishon the river Achena in Arabia (mentioned by Pliny, 6:32). But Clericus explains the details plausibly. For Havilah he refers to 1 Samuel 15:7, where it is mentioned as a place near Palestine. He makes Cush the same with Cassiotis in Syria. (Strabo mentions a mount Casius in Seleucia, 16:750.) Gihon is then the Orontes (see Strabo, 16:750 sq.; Ammian. Marcel. xiv, 8, p. 29), and Eden also lies in Syria.
According to Reland (Dissert. Miscell. 1:1 sq.) and Calmet, Pishon is the Phasis, which rises in Mount Caucasus, and stands connected with the anciently famous gold land Colchis (Pliny, 6:4; Strabo, 11 498); and Gihon is the Araxes (modern Aras), which also arises in Armenia and flows into the Caspian. Cush is the land of the Cossseans (who are placed by the ancient geographers in the neighborhood of Media and the Caspian. Strabo, 11:522; 16:744; Diod. Sic. 17:111; comp. Mannert, V, 2:493 sq.). Thus all the four rivers arise in one region — in the Armenian mountains — and Armenia is Eden. Verbrugge agrees with this view for the most part, but would make Gihon the river Gyndes (see Herod. 1:189), which formed part of the boundary between Armenia and Matiana. J. D. Michaelis, who, however, is doubtful in respect to some of the rivers, was inclined to find the Gihon in the Oxus of the ancients, which is still by the Arabs and Persians called Jehfn; and compares the name Cush with the city Chath, which stood on the site of the present Balch, on the Oxus; Havilah wih the Chwalisher or Chwalisser (comp. Muller in Busching's Magazin, 16:287 sq.), the people from whom the Caspian Sea is called by the Russians the Chwalinskoje. Consistently with this view, Pishon might be the Aras (Araxes), although Michaelis does not suggest it (comp. Schlotzer, in Michaelis's Liter. Briefwechsel, i. 212 sq.). Jahn agrees in general with Michaelis (Archaol. I, 1:27 sq.), but makes Pishon the Phasis. This scheme of identification, in some form, certainly has the greatest countenance in the sacred text.
Hammer (in the Wiener Jahrbuch d. Lit. 1820, 9:21 sq.; comp. Mahn in Bertholdt's Journ. 11:327 sq.) finds the Mosaic Paradise in the elevated plain of Bactria. Pishon, in his view, is the river Sihon, or Jaxartes, which arises near the city Cha, and flows around the land Ilah, where lay the gold- mine of Turkistan, and where jewels and bdellium were also found. Havilah is then Chowaresm; Gihon the Oxus, the river nearest the Jaxartes, which arises in the land of Hindû-Cush, or the Indian Caucasus. Link (Urwelt, 1:307, 1st ed.) understands Cush of the land around the Caucasus; Pishon of the Phasis; Gihon is the Kur (the Cyrus), and, as the sources of the streams are not far apart, he finds Paradise in the highland of Armenia and Grusinia, the original home of many kinds of fruit-trees and of grain.
All the hypotheses of this class, though differing so widely among themselves, have this in common, that they understand the Mosaic account to indicate a particular region of Asia; and comparing the names Havilah, Cush, etc., with names of similar sound which now occur in Syria, Armenia, and the vicinity of the Caspian Sea, combine the results with the position of the Tigris and Euphrates. In opposition, however, to this method of inquiry, it may be urged
(1) that Cush (Ethiopia) has a fixed geographical meaning, though of wide extent, and that hence every effort to give it an entirely new and special significance in this place, as is done by Clericus, Reland, Michaelis, and others, is exceedingly forced.
(2) That Havilah (1 Samuel 15:7) is certainly in Arabia, and cannot have bordered on the Chrysorrhoas.
(3) The fact that the Phasis of the ancients did not arise in Armenia, but in the Caucasus range, militates against Redmond's theory.
(4) To explain Havilah by a name which cannot be proved to be ancient at all (as Michaelis does) is pointless. (Beke's view [in Origines Bibl. 1:311 sq.] is worthless.)
2. Rationalistic Interpretations. — Turning from such doubtful inquiries, later German. interpreters have mostly agreed to consider Genesis 2:10 sq. as a mythical description of the lost Paradise, to be compared with the Grecian accounts of the gardens of the Hesperides. They assume, as its possible foundation, an old tradition placing the original seat of the human race in Eastern Asia, which, however, like the Grecian myth referred to, grew by the free accretion of partial and fragmentary geographical notions, until the garden of Eden came to have a place as definite on the map of the world, in men's eyes, as the Gardens of the Hesperides, the Islands of the Blessed, or the Indian mountain Meru, from which four rivers pour forth to water the whole earth (comp. Bohlen, Indien, 2:210). Credner, however, who adopts this view in the main, thinks that the account itself indicates a western position for Eden, and compares the "Islands of the Blessed," which he identifies with the Canaries! — The authors of the Universal History receive the account in Genesis as giving Moses's geographical view, in the then imperfect state of knowledge (Allgemeine Welthistorie, 1:124); and it is plausibly urged that in early times the scientific method of statement, giving fragments of knowledge as such, apart. from all subjective notions, was unknown. Yet this view does not shut out the inquiry what particular lands and rivers were meant by the writer; and this question has been examined especially by Sickler, Buttmann, and Hartmann.
Sickler (in Augusti's Theol. Monatsschrift, 1, 1:1 sq., 75 sq.) supposes that the author of the account meant by the river (נָהָר ) the Caspian Sea, viewing it as an enormous stream from the East. The first river named is Pishon, which surrounds the whole earth, from the east out to the Nile. The second is the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Black seas, including also the Phasis. This, in the writer's view, surrounded the whole earth on the west, as far as the Nile. The third and fourth rivers, Tigris and Euphrates, are merely inland streams, dividing one region from another, but making the circuit of none. Eden is then in the vicinity of the Caspian, where there are very fruitful and pleasant tracts of country. According to Buttmann, however (Alteste Erdkunde des Morgenl. Berlin, 1803; also in his Mythologus, 1:63 sq.), this account was brought from Southern into Western Asia. The original writer conceives of the four chief streams of the world as if they proceeded from one region and were arms of a single river. In the central part of Southern Asia he was acquainted with the Indus and Ganges; while the Shat el-Arab, the united Tigris and Euphrates (called Euphrates when the story reaches Western Asia, because this river is there best known) towards the west, and the Irabatti in Ava and Pegu towards the east, were to him the limits of the known world. Pishon is compared with Besynga (βήσυγγα ), called by Ptolemy (7:2) the most considerable stream of India east of the Ganges; Havilah with Ava, a very ancient Indian kingdom (known to the Greeks as χρυσῆ χρώα, land of gold), and with the name Eviltse, or Evilei, given in connection with the Chinese by an unknown author (Hudson, Expos. tot. Miundi, 3:2). Cush, like the Ethiopia of the Greeks, will then mean simply the extreme South. Gihon is the Ganges, and Hiddekel the Indus (called Hind, Hidd), the name Hiddekel being really the two names Hid, Chid, the Indus, and Dekel, the Tigris, which have been through carelessness or ignorance written together. Finally, the narrator by Assur, Assyria (v. 14), probably understood the same region which later writers refer to the Medes or Persians. Hartmann (Aufkldrung fuber Asien, 1:249 sq.) attributes the whole geographical account in Genesis 2 to the Babylonian or Persian period, and places Paradise in Northern India, in the famous valley of Cashmere (see Herod. 3:17). As this valley is shut in by a chain of impassable mountains, covered with snow, from which on the north spring the tributaries of the Oxus, and on the south those of the Indus; and as the Behut (Hydaspes, modern Ihylum) flows through the valley, it is easy to suppose that a very old tradition might substitute one stream instead of one mountain chain as the source of several rivers. Now the Hebrew writer gave those names to these four streams of Paradise which seemed greatest to him; thus Gihon is the Oxus, Pishon the Phasis, Havilah is Colchis, Cush is Bactria, or Balk. Just such a fanciful conception as this tradition presents lies at the basis of the exposition of Josephus (Antiq. 1:1, 3), extending, however, only to the Pishon and the Gihon, which he makes to be the Ganges and the Nile respectively (comp. Epiphan. Opera, 2:60; Hottinger, Enneas Dissertat. p. 67 sq.). The fact that Havilah is mentioned as abounding in gold might be adduced to support this view of the Pishon. But although India was known as a gold country, yet Africa, and, in Western Asia, Arabia, were far more famous in this respect; and the reference of Havilah to a special district on this ground is mere waywardness. The reference of Gihon to the Nile by Josephus is adopted by most of the fathers (see esp. Theophil. Antol. 2:24; Philostorg. in Niceph. Hist. Eccles. 9:19), and in this view the Ethiopian Nile, with its branches, may be understood (see Gesen. Thesaur. 1:282). Even the Greeks connected the Nile with the Indus (Pishon comp. Arrian, Alex. 6:1, 3; Pausan. 2:5, 2). On the other hand (see Philostorg. l.c.) some have supposed Pishon to be the Indian river Hypasis.
Of the three hypotheses which we have last stated, that given by Hartmann is the most simple. Sickler's supposes a conception on the part of the ancient writer which is entirely too inconsistent with itself. That of Buttmann rests upon too many separate suppositions, improbable enough in themselves; and assumes, besides, the existence of southern Asiatic traditions among the Hebrews before the Captivity; a view that finds no support but in the hypothesis itself, which places Paradise in India. But Hartmann's view also is sufficiently met by the fact, which, however, has only recently become known, that the vale of Cashmere is, in climate and productions, very far from resembling a paradise (see Ritter, Erdklunde, 2:1083 sq.; 7:70 sq.). Thus, even if we should adopt this mythical view, there would be just as much difficulty in determining the regions which the author of Genesis intended, as more literal interpreters have found in placing them, on the supposition that the description is truly geographical. There appears no proof in this view that the writer thought at all of South Asia (although Pishon may be the Oxus); at least, it is going too far to extend his views to India, and identify Pishon with the Indus or the Ganges. Ewald (Isr. Gesch. 1:331) thinks that the names were changed in the passage of the tradition to the Hebrews; that they substituted the better known names of the Euphrates and Tigris for those of the unknown Indus and Ganges. Tuch (Gen. p. 72 sq.) would look only at the easily intelligible part of the account, the fellow-streams Euphrates and Tigris and would look for Paradise among the heights of Armenia, which would accord well with Noah's history (see Genesis 8). But it is objected that it is uncritical to cut off half of the description given, and destroy the conception, in order to join certain historical features. It is no part of our purpose here to examine the results of historical investigation, apart from the Mosaic records, respecting the first seat of the human race.
All that is related in Genesis as having occurred from the creation of man, and his location in the garden of Eden, up to the time of his guilt and expulsion, has in like manner been viewed as a philosophical speculation, set forth in a historical form, on the origin of physical and moral evil, and the destruction of that golden age which the fancy of all nations has seen in remote antiquity (see especially Ammon, in the Neues theol. Jour. 3:1 sq.; Bibl. Theol. 2:300 sq.; Bauer, Hebr. Mythol. 1:85 sq.; Buttmann. in the Berl. Monatsschrift.  261 sq., and Mythol. 1:122 sq.; Vater, Comment. uib. Pentat. 1:14 sq.; Gesenius, in the Hall. Encykl. i, ‘358 sq.; Eichhoni, Urgeschich.; Hartmann, Heb. Pentat. p. 373 sq.; Colln, Bibl. Theol. 1:224 sq.). But more literal and historical interpreters of the passage have also appeared (as Hengstenberg, Christol. I, 1:26 sq.; Tiele and Baumgarten, Comment.). Others are but half literal in their exposition, and seek to distinguish the essential facts from the mere dress of ornament (e.g. Less, Cramer, Luderwald, Eifert, Werner in his Geschichtl. Auffas. der 3 ersten Cap. d. Gen. [Ttibing. 1829]). Von Gerstenberg defends the allegorical exposition, Rosenmü ller and Gamborg the hieroglyphical view, that the account is but a translation into words of old hieroglyphic sketches (see Tuch, Gen. p. 56 sq.; and comp. Bellerman, Handb. 1:37 sq.; Beck, Comment. Rel. Chr. Hist. p. 393 sq.). It seems scarcely necessary to refer to the views of Hiillman, in his Theogonie, and of Ballenstedt, in Die neue u.jetzige Welt, p. 222 sq., as they do not rest on the Mosaic history. The anonymous work, Ursprungl. Entwickelungsgang der relig. u. sittl. Bildung (Greifsw. 1829), is simply childish.
3. Parallel Traditions. — The idea of a terrestrial paradise, the abode of purity and happiness, has thus formed an element in the religious beliefs of all nations. The image of "Eden, the garden of God," retained its hold upon the minds of the poets and prophets of Israel as a thing of beauty whose joys had departed (Ezekiel 28:13; Joel 2:3), and before whose gate the cherubim still stood to guard it from the guilty. For interesting parallels from the philosophical speculations of other nations, see Bruns, in Gabler's Jour. f. auserl. theol. Lit. v. 50 sq.; Bauer, Mythol. 1:96 sq.; Pustkuchen, Urgesch. der Menschh. 1:186 sq.
(1.) Classical. — Descriptions of the early golden age with which man's existence on earth began, in general, are given by Hesiod, Works and Days, p. 95 sq.; Dicsearchus, in Porphyr. Abs tinen. 4:2; Virgil, Georg. 1:128 sq.; Ovid, Met. 1:89; Lucretius, v. 923 sq.; Plato, Polit. p. 271. Comp. Lactant. Instit. v. 5; S. G. Friderici Diss. de Aurea cetat. quam p oetce finxerunt (Leips. 1736); Tiedemann, in the Berl. Monatsschr. (Dec. 1796), p. 505 sq.; Carus, Werke, 6:157 sq.
(2.) Oriental. — Arab legends tell of a garden in the East, on the summit of a mountain of jacinth, inaccessible to man; a garden of rich soil and equable temperature, well watered, and abounding with trees and flowers of rare colors and fragrance. So among the Hindû s, in the center of Jambudwipa, the middle of the seven continents of the Puranas, is the golden mountain Meru, which stands like the seed-cup of the lotus of the earth. On its summit is the vast city of Brahma, renowned in heaven, and encircled by the Ganges, which, issuing from the foot of Vishnui, washes the lunar orb, and, falling thither from theskies, is divided into four streams, that flow to the four corners of the earth. These rivers are the Bhadra, or Oby of Siberia; the Sita, or Hoang He, the great river of China; the Alakananda, a main branch of the Ganges; and the Chakshu, or Oxus. In this, abode of divinity is the Nandana, or grove of Indra; there too is the Jambu tree, from whose fruit are fed the waters of the Jambu river, which give life and immortality to all who drink thereof (Vishnu Purana, trans. Wilson, p. 166-171). The enchanted gardens of the Chinese are placed in the midst of the summits of Houanlun, a high chain of mountains farther north than the Himalaya, and farther east than Hindû-Cush. The fountain of immortality which waters these gardens is divided into four streams the fountains of the supreme spirit, Tychin. Among the Medo-Persians the gods' mountain Alborj is the dwelling of Ormuzd, and the good spirits, and is called "the navel of the waters." The Zend books mention a region, called Heden, and the place of Zoroaster's birth is called Hedenesh, or, according to another passage, Airjana Vidjo (Knobel, Genesis).
These last-named traditions even proceed to detail the steps by which this fair abode was forfeited. According to the Zendavesta, men were so blinded by a wicked demon that they viewed the whole creation and their own happiness, as the work of Ahriman. After thirty days they went hunting, with black clothing on; shot a white goat, and drank its milk, finding it pleasant. The evil spirits now brought them fruit, which they ate, and straightway lost all their excellence. After fifty years they first began sexual intercourse. (See Rhode, Heil. Sage des Zendvolks, p. 391 sq.; and comp. Ballenstedt, in Schroter u. Klein Oppositionsschr. v. 3 sq., who connects the account of the fall of man with the conflict between Ormuzd, the principle of good, and Ahriman, that of evil; and the victory of the latter, Genesis 3:15.) But nearest of all, the fable of the Dalai Lama (see Vater, Archivf. KirchenGesch. 1:15 sq.) approaches the Mosaic narrative. A plant of sweet taste appeared on the earth: first one greedy man ate of it, then all followed his example, and immediately all spirituality and all happiness were gone. The length of life decreased, and with it human stature. At last the plant disappeared, and men were left to subsist, first on a kind of reddish butter, then on reed-grass, and finally on what their own hard labor could cause the earth to produce. Virtues had fled from earth; deeds of violence, murder, and adultery had taken their place. Compare further, Rosenmü ller, Alterthum. I, 1:180; Tuch, Genes. p. 50 sq. On Grecian myths, see Volker, Mythol. d. Japhet. Geschlechts, oder d. Siindenfall des Menschen, nach Griech. Mythen (Giesen. 1824).
All these and similar traditions are but mere mocking echoes of the old Hebrew story, jarred and broken notes of the same strain; but, with all their exaggerations, "they intimate how in the background of man's visions lay a paradise of holy joy — a paradise secured from every kind of profanation, and: made inaccessible to the guilty; a paradise full of objects that were calculated to delight the senses and to elevate the mind; a paradise that granted to its tenant rich and rare immunities, and that fed with its perennial streams the tree of life and immortality" (Hardwick, Christ and other Masters, pt. 2, p. 133).
III. Figurative Application of "Paradise" to the Heavenly World (chiefly from Smith's Dict. of the Bible). — The term, having by a natural process become a metaphor for the abstract idea of exquisite delight, was transferred still higher to denote the happiness of the righteous in the future state. The origin of this application must be assigned to the Jews of the middle period between the Old and the New Testament. In the Chaldee Targums, "the garden of Eden" is put as the exposition of heavenly blessedness (Psalms 90:17, and other places). The Talmudical writings, cited by the elder Buxtorf (Lex. Chald. et Talm. p. 1802) and John James Wetstein (N.T. Gr. 1:819), contain frequent references to Paradise as the immortal heaven, to which the spirits of the just are admitted immediately upon their liberation from the body. The book. Sohar speaks of an earthly and a heavenly Paradise, of which the latter excels the former "as much as darkness does light" (Schottgen, Hor. Hebr. 1:1096).
Hence we see that it was in the acceptation of the current Jewish phraseology that the expression was used by our Lord and the apostles: "To-day thou shalt be with me in Paradise;" "He was caught up into Paradise;" "The tree of life, which is in the Paradise of my God" (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7).
It was natural that this higher meaning should at length become the exclusive one, and be associated with new thoughts. Paradise, with no other word to qualify it, was the bright region which man had lost, which was guarded by the flaming sword. Soon a new hope sprang up. Over and above- all questions as to where the primeval garden had been, there came the belief that it did not belong entirely to the past. There was a paradise still into which man might hope to enter. It is a matter of some interest to ascertain with what associations the word was connected in the minds of the Jews of Palestine and other countries at the time of our Lord's teaching, what sense therefore we may attach to it in the writings of the N.T.
In this as in other instances we may distinguish several modes of thought, each with marked characteristics, yet often, blended together in different proportions, and melting one into the other by hardly perceptible degrees. Each has its counterpart in the teaching of Christian theologians. The language of the N.T. stands apart from and above all. Traces of this way of looking at it had appeared previously in the teaching of the Son of Sirach. The four rivers of Eden are figures of the wide streams of Wisdom, and she is as the brook which becomes a river and waters the paradise of God (Sirach 24:25-30). This, however, was compatible with the recognition of Genesis 2, as speaking of a fact. But in later times the figurative or celestial reference became more and more distinct. It would be a hopeless task to attempt to recite the opinions of all the commentators upon this question: their name is legion. All that we can attempt is a chronological outline of the main course of thought on the subject.
1. To the idealistic school of Alexandria, of which Philo the Jew is the representative, paradise was nothing more than a symbol and an allegory. That writer (De Mundi Opif. §. 54) is the first who ventured upon an allegorical interpretation. To him the thought of the narrative as one of fact was unendurable. The primeval history spoke of no garden such as men plant and water. Spiritual perfection (ἀρετή ) was the only paradise. The trees that grew in it were the thoughts of the spiritual man. The fruits which they bore were life and knowledge and immortality. The four rivers flowing from one source are the four virtues of the later Platonists, each derived from the same source of goodness (Philo, De Alleg. i). Philo conceived that by paradise is darkly shadowed forth the governing faculty of the soul; that the tree of life signifies religion, whereby the soul is immortalized; and by the faculty of knowing good and evil the middle sense, by which are discerned things contrary to nature. In another passage (De Plantat. § 9) he explains Eden, which signifies "pleasure," as a symbol of the soul, that sees what is right, exults in virtue, and prefers one enjoyment, the worship of the only wise, to myriads of men's chief delights. Again (Legis Allegor. i, § 14) he says, "Now virtue is tropically called paradise, and the site of paradise is Eden, that is, pleasure." The four rivers he explains (§ 19) of the several virtues of prudence, temperance, courage, and justice; while the main stream, of which they are branches is the generic virtue, goodness, which goeth forth from Eden, the wisdom of God. It is obvious that a system of interpretation such as this was not likely to become popular. It was confined to a single school, possibly to a single teacher. It has little or nothing corresponding to it in the N.T. The opinions of Philo, therefore, would not be so much worthy of consideration, were it not that (as we shall see) he has been followed by many of the Christian fathers.
2. The rabbinical schools of Palestine presented a phase of thought the very opposite of that of the Alexandrian writer. They had their descriptions, definite and detailed, a complete topography of the unseen world. Paradise, the garden of Eden, existed still, and they discussed the question of its locality. The answers were not always consistent with each other. It was far off in the distant East, farther than the foot of man had trod. It was a region of the world of the dead, of Sheol, in the heart of the earth. Gehenna was on one side, with its flames and torments. Paradise on the other, the intermediate home of the blessed. (Comp. Wetstein, Grotius, and Schottgen, In Luke 23.) The patriarchs were there, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, ready to receive their faithful descendants into their bosoms (Joseph. De Macc. c. 13). The highest place of honor at the feast of the blessed souls was Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:23), on which the new heir of immortality reclined as the favored and honored guest. Or, again, paradise was neither on the earth nor within it, but above it, in the third heaven, or in some higher orb. (See HEAVEN). Or there were two paradises, the upper and the lower — one in heaven, for those who had attained the heights of holiness — one in earth, for those who had lived but decently (Schottgen, Hor. Heb. in Revelation 2:7), and the heavenly paradise was sixty times as large as the whole lower earth (Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenth. 2:297). Each had seven palaces, and in each palace were its appropriate dwellers (ibid. p. 302). As the righteous dead entered paradise, angels stripped them of their grave clothes, arrayed them in new robes of glory, and placed on their heads diadems of gold and pearls (ibid. p. 310). There was no night there. Its pavement was of precious stones. Plants of healing power and wondrous fragrance grew on the banks of its streams (ibid. p. 313). From this lower paradise the souls of the dead rose on sabbaths and on feast-days to the higher (ibid. p. 318), where every day there was the presence of Jehovah: holding council with his saints (ibid. p. 320). (Comp. also Schottgen, Hor. Heb. in Luke 23.) Among the Hebrew traditions enumerated by Jerome (Trad. Hebr. in Gen.) is one that paradise was created before the world was formed, and is therefore beyond its limits. Moses bar-Cepha (De Parad.) assigns it a middle place between the earth and the firmament. Some affirm that paradise was on a mountain, which reached nearly to the moon; while others, struck by the manifest absurdity of such an opinion, held that it was situated in the third region of the air, and was higher than all the mountains of the earth by twenty cubits, so that the waters of the flood could not reach it. Others again have thought that paradise was twofold, one corporeal and the other incorporeal; others that it was formerly on earth, but had been taken away by the judgment of God (Hopkinson, Descr. Parad. in Ugolino, Thesaur. vol. 7).
3. Out of the discussions and theories of the rabbins there grew a broad popular belief, fixed in the hearts of men, accepted without discussion, blending with their best hopes. Their prayer for the dying or the dead was that his soul might rest in paradise, in the garden of Eden (Maimonides, Porta Mosis, quoted by Wetstein, In Luke 23; Taylor, Funeral Sermon on Sir G. Dalston). The belief of the Essenes, as reported by Josephus (War. 2:8, 11), may be accepted as a fair representation of the thoughts of those who, like them were not trained in the rabbinical schools, living in a simple and more childlike faith. To them accordingly paradise was a far-off land, a region where there was no scorching heat, no consuming cold, where the soft west wind from the ocean blew forevermore. The visions of the second book of Esdras, though not without an admixture of Christian thoughts and phrases, may be looked upon as representing this phase of feeling. There also we have the picture of a fair garden, streams of milk and honey, twelve trees laden with divers fruits, mighty mountains whereon grow lilies and roses (2:19) — a place into which the wicked shall not enter.
It is with this, popular belief, rather than with that of either school of Jewish thought, that the language of the N.T. connects itself. In this as in other instances it is made the starting-point for an education which leads men to rise from it to higher thoughts. The. old word is kept, and is raised to a new dignity or power. It is significant, indeed, that the word "paradise" nowhere occurs in the public teaching of our Lord, or in his intercourse with his own disciples. Connected as it had been with the thoughts of a sensuous happiness, it was not the fittest or the best word for those whom he was training to rise out of sensuous thoughts to the higher regions of the spiritual life. For them, accordingly, the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, are the words most dwelt on. The blessedness of the pure in heart is that they shall see God. If language borrowed from their common speech is used at other times, if they hear of the marriage-supper and the new wine, it is not till they have been taught to understand parables and to separate the figure from the reality. With the thief dying on the cross the case was different. We can assume nothing in the robber-outlaw but the most rudimentary forms of popular belief. We may well believe that the word used here, and here only, in the whole course of the Gospel history, had a special fitness for him. His reverence, sympathy, repentance, hope, uttered themselves in the prayer, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom!" What were the thoughts of the sufferer as to that kingdom we do not know. Unless they were supernaturally raised above the level which the disciples had reached by slow and painful steps, they must have been mingled with visions of an earthly glory, of pomp and victory and triumph. The answer to his prayer gave him what he needed most, the assurance of immediate rest and peace. The word paradise spoke to him, as to other Jews, of repose, shelter, joy — the greatest contrast possible to the thirst and agony and shame of the hours upon the cross. Rudimentary as his previous thoughts of it might be, this was the word fittest for the education of his spirit.
There is a like significance in the general absence of the word from the language of the Epistles. Here also it is found nowhere in the direct teaching. It occurs only in passages that are apocalyptic, and therefore almost of necessity symbolic. Paul speaks of one, apparently of himself, as having been "caught up into paradise," as having there heard things that might not be uttered (2 Corinthians 12:3). In the message to the first of the Seven Churches of Asia. "the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God," appears as the reward of him that overcometh, the symbol of an eternal blessedness (comp. Dean Trench, Comm. on the Epistles to the Seven Churches, ad loc.). The thing, though not the word, appears in the closing visions of Revelation 22.
4. The eager curiosity which prompts men to press on into the things behind the veil has led them to construct hypotheses more or less definite as to the intermediate state, and these have affected the thoughts which Christian writers have connected with the word paradise. Patristic and later interpreters follow, as has been noticed, in the footsteps of the Jewish schools. To Origen, and others of a like spiritual insight, paradise is but a synonym for a region of life and immortality one and the same with the third heaven (Jerome, Ep. ad Joh. Hieros. in Wordsworth on 2 Corinthians 12). So far as it is a place, it is as a school in which the souls of men are trained and learn to judge rightly of the things they have done and seen on earth (Origen, De Princ. 2:12). Origen, according to Luther (Comm. in Gen.), imagined paradise to be heaven, the trees angels, and the rivers wisdom. Papias, Irenaeus, Pantaenus, and Clemens Alexandrinus have all favored the mystical interpretation (Huet. Origeniana, 2, 167). Ambrosius followed the example of Origen, and placed the terrestrial paradise in the third heaven, in consequence of the expression of Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2; 2 Corinthians 12:4); but elsewhere he distinguishes between the terrestrial paradise and that to which the apostle was caught up (De Parad. c. 3). In another passage (Ep. ad Sabirnum) all this is explained as allegory. The sermon of Basil, De Paradiso, gives an eloquent representation of the common belief of Christians who were neither mystical nor speculative. Minds at once logical and sensuous ask questions as to the locality, and the answers are wildly conjectural.
It is not in Hades, and is therefore different from Abraham's bosom (Tertull. De Idol. c. 13). It is above and beyond the world, separated from it by a wall of fire (id. Apol. c. 47). It is the "refrigerium" for all faithful souls, where they have the vision of saints and angels: and of Christ himself (Just. Mart. Respons. ad Orthodox. — 75 and 85), or for those only who are entitled, as martyrs, fresh from the baptism of blood, to a special reward above their fellows (Tertull. De Anim. c. 55). It is in the fourth heaven (Clem. Alex. Fragm. § 51). — It is in some unknown region of the earth, where the seas and skies meet, higher than any earthly mountain (Joann. Damasc. De Orthod. Fid. 2:11), and had thus escaped the waters of the flood (P. Lombard. Sentent. 2:17, E.). It has been identified with the φυλακή of 1 Peter 3:19, and the spirits in it are those of the antediluvian races who repented before the great destruction overtook them (Bishop Horsley, Sermons, 20). (Comp. an elaborate note in Thilo, Codex Apocryph. N.T. p. 754.) The word enters largely, as might be expected, into the apocryphal literature of the early Church. Where the true Gospels are most reticent, the mythical are most exuberant. The Gospel of Nicodemus, in narrating Christ's victory over Hades (the "harrowing of hell" of our early English mysteries), tells how, till then, Enoch and Elijah had been its sole inhabitants — how the penitent robber was there with his cross on the night of the crucifixion — how the souls of the patriarchs were led thither by Christ, and were received by the archangel Michael, as he kept watch with the flaming swords at the gate. In the apocryphal Acta Philippi (Tischendorf, Act. Apocr. p. 89), the apostle is sentenced to remain for forty days outside the circle of paradise, because he had given way to anger and cursed the people of Hierapolis for their unbelief. Among the opinions enumerated by Morinus (Diss. de Parad. Terrest. in Ugolino, Thesaur. vol. vii) is one that, before the fall, the whole earth was a paradise, and was really situated in Eden, in the midst of all kinds of delights. Ephraem Syrus (Comm. in Gen.) expresses himself doubtfully upon this point. Whether the trees of paradise, being spiritual, drank of spiritual water, he does not undertake to decide; but he seems to be of opinion that the four rivers have lost their original virtue in consequence of the curse pronounced upon the earth for Adam's transgression.
5. The later history of the word presents some facts of interest. Accepting, in this as in other instances the mythical elements of Eastern Christianity, the creed of Islam presented to its followers the hope of a sensuous paradise, and the Persian word was transplanted through it into the languages spoken by them. In the West it passes through some strange transformations, and descends to baser uses. The thought that men on entering the Church of Christ returned to the blessedness which Adam had forfeited was symbolized in the church architecture of the 4th century. The narthex, or atrium, in which were assembled those who, not being fideles in full communion, were not admitted into the interior of the building, was known as the "Paradise" of the church (Alt, Cultus, p. 591). Athanasius, it has been said, speaks scornfully of Arianism as creeping into this paradise, implying that it addressed itself to the ignorant and untaught. In the West we trace a change of form, and one singular change of application. Paradiso becomes in some Italian dialects Paraviso, and this passes into the French parvis, denoting the western porch of a church, or the open space in front of it (Ducange, s.v. Parvisus; Diez. Etymolog. Worterb. p. 703). In the church this space was occupied, as we have seen, by the lower classes of the people. The word was transferred from the place of worship to the place of amusement, and, though the position was entirely different, was applied to the highest and cheapest gallery of a French theater (Alt, Cultus, l.c.). By some, however, this use of the word is connected only with the extreme height of the gallery, just as "Chemin de Paradis" is a proverbial phrase for any specially arduous undertaking (Bescherelles, Dictionnaire Francais).
IV. Literature. — In addition to the many works cited above, see the bibliography of the subject in Danz, Worterbuch, s.v. Paradies; Darling, Cyclop. Bibl. col. 1038; Alger, Future Life, Index; the copious article in Herzog's Real-Encyklopadie, 20:332-377; and Malcom, Theological Index, s.v. Eden. Comp. also Gould, Myths of the Ancient World, p. 242 sq.; Brinton, Myths of the New World, p. 868 sq. The following are among the pertinent monographs: Engelmann, De Paradiso terrest. (Jena, 1669); Eppelin, De Parad. igne delet. (Alt. Nori. 1735); Heinson, De Paradiso (Helmst. 1698); Huet, De situ Parad. (Amst. 1698); Neumann, Das Paradies (Wittenb. 1741); and especially Schulthess, Das' Paradies, d. irdische u. uberird., hist., myth. u. mystische (Zur. 1816; Leips. 1821). (See EDEN); (See HEAVEN). Copyright Statement
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