Garden of Eden to become Iraqi National Park

Garden of Eden to become Iraqi National Park.” That’s the headline in New Scientist. The article is about the preservation of a part of the southern marshlands of Iraq, the region where the Ma’dan Marsh Arabs have historically lived, and a traditional homeland of the Mandaeans. Local lore also claims it was the site of the Garden of Eden.

There is a movie Gwendolen Cates is working on, “Mourning in the Garden of Eden,” which looks at religious minorities in that region, including Mandaeans and Christians.

When an article in a science magazine I read intersects with my interest in both the Bible and the Mandaeans, it deserves a mention.

  • beau_quilter

    Cool! … but I thought the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County Missouri …

  • Keyra

    The Garden of Eden was obliterated in the Flood, which means it should be in the seafloors

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      That makes no sense. Even if one posited a literal flood, why should this place remain at the bottom of the sea more than any other? Its description as being at the source of major rivers which do not originate in the same place, but which exist in the world as we know it today, likewise seems problematic on your approach.

      • dj

        If one posits a literal flood as described in Gen. 7 then one would need to posit a literal rearrangement of the earths crust to a depth of several thousand feet. I believe this is what the geology indicates. The names of rivers , cities , or multiple other geographic references are repeated used today as in antiquity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          If one posits a literal global flood, one is positing something that may have made sense before people knew they lived on a globe or that the Earth had a crust and there were no primordial waters below, but which quickly turns into nonsense when you try to combine it with our modern scientific understanding of the world as planet, which again is something that ancient people did not know they were living on at this point in history.

          • dj

            Of coarse one must assume the ancients were ignorant of their environment and had no cognitive abilities, and the religious writings contained in Job26;7-10,Proverbs 8;27,28, Isaiah 40;22, and Psalms 57;5 are just conjured folk lore. All the above speak of the earth as circular, some even mention the fountains of the deep. If you discount a global flood you would necessarily make God a liar or very foolish, since He told Noah to build this boat, why didn’t He just tell Noah to round up a few animals and move. You might come up with a story to explain away the large wooden object embedded in the glacier on Ararat. Really Dr. McGrath if you profess Christianity there must be something in the Bible you believe to be literal truth. I would really like to know what. If not why bother with this belief system?

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              Being a Christian has never been about believing the Bible. Indeed, it is those who insisted that the Bible must always be right who found Jesus’ statement about Moses and divorce, and Paul’s setting aside of the requirement of circumcision, unacceptable.

              So you think that we live on a flat circle with a dome above it and enough waters to cover the entire Earth either beneath the circle or held up by the dome? If not, then what is the relevant of quoting texts that reflect that view of the world?

              • dj

                If you don’t base your belief system on the Bible, then what? The other world mysticism of the Hindus, the insane ramblings of Mohammed, or does God address you audibly?
                I’m sure you are familiar with despensational theology as it relates to God’s progressive revelation of Himself.. The New Testament introduced the Messiah to the Jews only. The Jews steeped in their legalistic religious practices of course rejected His message of faith and grace for their tradition / law based religion.
                Paul, being the Apostle to the Gentiles, presented the saved by grace through grace doctrine the Church is built on.

                The material condition of the cosmos at the time of creation, is virtually unknown to us except through ancient writings and of course modern science. Sort of a strawman if you ask me.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  What a strange comment. Why can religion only be based on some text that someone else produced? Where did you get the idea that texts are what religion is supposed to be about? You seem to still be assuming that someone, somewhere, must have inerrant truth to offer, one way or another. But why make that assumption?

                  The depiction of ancient Judaism as on the whole legalistic owes more to Martin Luther’s interpretation of Paul in light of 16th century Catholicism, than anything to do with the Bible or other evidence about Judaism. E. P. Sanders’ work has demonstrated that particularly well. And dispensationalism is not compatible with progressive revelation. It says that there were different rules for different times, not that there was a steady flow of things becoming clearer and clearer.

                  • dj

                    Why would religious education be excluded from any other pursuit of knowledge?Did you obtain your level of knowledge without the use of texts? With the exception of personal instruction, (Christian discipleship), if you will, how would one learn the intricacies of the faith?

                    The fact is that objective truth does exist.This is self evident and can not be refuted without making an objective truth statement. The declarations and claims made by Jesus Christ are either true or untrue and the metaphysical nature of His ministry as recorded in the New Testament either literally occurred or it is a falsehood.

                    Progressive revelation goes hand in hand with dispensational theology since the fullness of Gods salvation plan was unknown before the 1st advent.” The Revelation of Jesus Christ” written by the Apostle John closed the scriptural cannon, and we need no additional, special revelation from God.

                    I read the bio of E.P. Sanders, and discovered he is a liberal theologian who,s interpretive methods are similar to yours. I see no reason to assign more credulity to his opinions than those of the 1st century Sadducee s in spite of his impressive academic career ,

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Perhaps if you read academic scholarship – even that written by conservatives – you would learn important things, such as that we do not have the writings of first-century Sadduccees.

                    • dj

                      I did not claim that the Sadducees produced writings, I spoke of their opinions as a comparison of today’s liberal theologians. They (the Sadducees) were seen as the aristocracy priestly line, upper class, politically connected, who should have been the knowledgeable spiritual leaders.
                      Jesus rebuked them repeatedly for their apostasy..

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I see what you were trying to say now. The problem with rejecting people who are knowledgeable simply because they disagree with you is that you assuming that you have got everything right, and closing off every opportunity to learn from those who may know more about a subject than you do. That seems a very unwise course of action to pursue.

                    • dj

                      The psalmist writes, Ps.111;10 fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I have read enough liberal theology, including some work by Rob Bell. When one re-interprets the Bible, that tells me they don’t really fear the Lord, it follows that they lack true wisdom.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Rob Bell is not “liberal theology” unless that term is meaningless, or simply means “theology I disagree with.” Why not read Paul Tillich’s Dynamics of Faith, a classic of liberal theology in the strict sense?

                    • dj

                      I apologize for associating Rob Bell with liberal,theology. I attempted to read “Emergent Church” after 4 or5 chapters I became disgusted and jettisoned this book. His writings seemed pretty liberal to me. I’ll admit, I read very little liberal theology, I read about liberal theologians, and critiques of their work. I have had membership in liberal churches, gotten to know liberal pastors. Most reject Christian orthodoxy, Biblical inerrancy, inspiration, and supernaturalism. I don’t, just for the record, I don’t read science fiction, or novels either. I’m a down to earth guy & do not see any place in Christianity for subjectivism, relativism, or pragmatism. If objective truth exists, (I believe it does) it is true for everyone everywhere all the time, under the same circumstances in the same sense. Jesus was not a pragmatist His claim “I am the way, the truth and the life” Jn. 14 illustrates this .

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Liberalism, unlike postmodernism, believes in absolute truth. It is just open to challenges to traditional assertions and claims to knowledge of that truth. That is why it is a natural outgrowth of the Protestant Reformation’s challenge to church authority.

                      If someone read only critiques of conservative Evangelicalism, do you think they would get an accurate understanding of it? I think the Golden Rule applies here.

                      You ought to read something about the Gospel of John by a scholar. The material is so different in style and terminology, that there is no way to treat the words attributed to Jesus there as though they were the precise words of the historical Jesus.

                    • dj

                      First I have done some research pertaining to your academic achievements and the position you hold at Butler University, and I know of your dissertation on the Gospel of John so how foolish would it be for me to engage in this sort of debate.I did do some reading (reviews, essays, and one dissertation narrative) of Tillich’s works including “Dynamics of Faith” & “Systematic Theology”. I really have little interest in Tillich’s existentialism, or the philosophy of von Schelling. It appears to relegate the God of the Bible to a new age, pantheistic concept that has nothing to do with His personage.
                      I agree that John’s gospel is definitely different from the synoptics. It is the best evangelistic tool in the Bible. I always recommend it’s reading to a skeptic, or a new convert. The liberal commentaries seem to deny it’s authorship by placing it in the 3rd century in spite of the evidence to the contrary. It also appears to have been written to a wider audience than the Jewish Christians.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      You clearly have not read actual scholarship on the Gospel of John, or if you have, you did not understand what you read. No one suggests that the Gospel of John was written in the 3rd century.

                      But you at least seem to have understood that your attempt to debate scholarship while misrepresenting it is foolish. If only you could now learn to restrain your foolishness and, instead of debating things you have not learned about, go and study them until you do understand, then something wonderful would have been accomplished through our conversation.

                    • dj

                      I think your version of scholarship has more to do with personal preference and your perception of reality. The theologians you prefer are liberal. Would you dismiss out of hand my chosen scholars, John McAuthur, R.C. Sprool, Paul Ennis, William Barclay, Merrill Tenney,Norman Geisler, Chuck Misseler, Peter Kreeft, and Ravi Zacharias, and more, all international scholars, speakers, authors and theologians.
                      Reading some of the liberal theology I find so helplessly steeped in philosophical ramblings it makes my head explode. I would sooner read Buddhists Shruti, or the Quo’ran. The Bible is not complicated, it contains the simple message from God to His human creation.
                      I stand corrected F. C. Baur’s works 1847 placed John’s authorship late 2nd century.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Why you are reading up-to-date apologists and calling them scholars, and reading works that are nearly 200 years old and think that that is what liberal theology is, is beyond me. But only someone who has never read the Bible with attention to detail, and never read what the church fathers wrote about the Bible, could make as laughable a statement as “the Bible is not complicated.” It just illustrates the point that I and others have made more than once, that it is possible to have one’s eyes fall on the words of the text often, without really reading them or understanding them – or noticing that one has not managed to understand them.

                    • dj

                      Because liberal theology has it’s roots 200yrs. ago during the “age of enlightenment” & the era of “Origin of the Species” it eventually “evolved” (pardon the pun) into what we experience today as post-modernism. You may not identify with post-modernism, but this is the world view that ultimately introduced liberalism into main stream Protestantism.So now we are inundated with heresy, that produces nothing but social Christians, superficial and unregenerate Church members who reject orthodoxy. I have no desire to undermine anyone’s academic achievements, the sacrifice and effort alone is noteworthy, but scholarship is a matter of ones discernment. The list of scholars I presented to you are as credible as any liberal scholar I’ve read. They are not all apologists, many are, since in today’s age of relativism, it is necessary to be somewhat of an apologist to be able to refute the heresy of non-doctrine, political correctness, and social gospel of the fringe, many of liberal persuasion.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      What I take away from your comment is that you don’t know the history of liberal Christianity, you don’t know the history of post-modernism, and you think that your own fundamentalist brand of Christianity has been around longer. I encourage you to add some books about church history and the history of theology to your reading list, to learn about these topics.

                      Your suggestion that being inundated with heresy is a recent phenomenon is comical, and a young-earth creationist heretic complaining about it is hysterical.

                    • dj

                      Fundamentalism is to evangelicalism as post modernism is to liberal theology. I’m not a fundamentalist.

                      I would like to know if liberal theology /Progressive Christianity has any doctrines that are universally agreed upon? Such as Bibiology,Theology Proper, Chrisology, Pneumatology, etc. as delineated in Systematic Theology or does every man simply practice what seems right in his own eyes?

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I think that you exaggerate the agreement among fundamentalists and among Evangelicals. You will find comparable amounts of agreement, and disagreement, as you move along the spectrum.

                    • dj

                      I would like to know how you effectively share the message of salvation with a skeptic or seeker? Do you tell him that Jesus is the only means to the forgiveness of sin and eternal life, that this holy book tells all you need to know to be saved? Then in the next statement tell him the same holy book is filled with untruths, myths, and faulty interpretations then cap off the presentation with a statement of unbelief?

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      If one tells people that their trust ought to be in a book, and then shows that book to be untrustworthy, then of course it will create problems. That is why so many people end up losing their faith when they were brought up as fundamentalists. But why would you tell people to put their trust in a book? What gave you the impression that that is the message Christians ought to be proclaiming?

                    • dj

                      I begin by referencing Acts 24;13 the familiar story on the road to Emmaus. Jesus clearly opened the disciples understanding of the scripture after rebuking their foolishness. Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning Himself. Jesus obviously gave scripture a place of authority.
                      The message we should proclaim is in Rm.3;23,Ep. 1;7 &2;8 &1Cor.15;3. The person who gave me this “impression” is Jesus, Acts 1;8 it’s known as the great commission in evangelical circles. Liberalism is a more formidable stumbling block to true Christian conversion than all the Bible thumping fundamentalists you ridicule so adamately.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Liberalism may be a stumbling block to “true” Christian conversion if what you are looking for is converts to conservativism rather than to Christianity. But a scholarly approach gets at depths of the text that you seem blind to – the Eucharistic symbolism of the Emmaus story, for instance, and the way that Acts 1:8 fits into the aim of Luke-Acts to shift Christians away from the apocalyptic expectations held in earlier times, and reflected in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew. You have probably never noticed how Luke reworks his sources.

                    • dj

                      I have noticed the apocalyptic teachings in Mat. &Mk, however those teachings were given by Jesus Himself, and were exclusively taught to a Jewish audience and preceded the historic destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans 70AD. As the religious Jews were slaughtered, or dispersed through out the empire (pretty apocalyptic) at least to the Jews. The gentile church didn’t emerge until later, you see I’m pretty despensational also . You might want to check out the despensational model for yourself.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I have. That’s why I do not hold to dispensationalism.

  • Michael Wilson

    I’m glad to hear this, I find these people fascinating . I’ve studied the Sumerians for a while and have developed an attachment to these people who carry on life so similarly to the people who built the worlds first cities. They didn’t think of Eden as being in the marsh since by its nature, Eden had to be where people are not. They thought it further to the east, in Dilmun. No doubt the people of Dilmun thought Eden even further out to sea.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X