Eden's Geography Erodes Flood Geology
by John C. Munday Jr.


The geography of the garden of Eden according to the Bible interpreted literally (or critically) under geographic actualism indicates its location was in southern Mesopotamia. Observational data combined with the paradigm known as Flood geology, also founded on Biblical literalism, yields the conclusion that Noah's Flood deposited over 9000 m of sediments in this region. Such deposits obviously would have obliterated the garden geography. Thus Eden's geography and Flood geology, both based on literalism, stand in contradiction. Some weakening of one or the other is the logically necessary outcome. Literalism is forced the least by holding to actualism in the garden geography, but then the negative impact on the Flood geology paradigm is severe.


Flood Geology

Is flood geology true? Geological observations of Mesopotamia show that the area has been buried by 5-6 miles of rock. Recognition of these facts have required young earth creationists to choose between the young earth paradigm and the clear teachings of Genesis 2. When forced to choose between the Bible and the young earth paradigm, young earth ministries reject biblical teaching in favor of their sacrosanct paradigm.

Rich Deem, editor

Flood geologists claim that all (or nearly all) geologic strata were deposited by Noah's Flood (of Genesis 6-9) within the past 10,000 years.2 The argument which leads them to this belief consists of the following:

  1. The Bible should be interpreted literally
  2. According to their literal interpretation, the Bible declares that
    1. the cosmos was created in 144 hours less than 10,000 years ago;3
    2. all major types of biota living or extinct co-existed at the end of the 6-day creation;
    3. all creature death was initiated by the Fall of man;4
    4. by elimination (the absence of other sufficient causes), Noah's Flood must have been the cause of the stratigraphic record, including its fossil content.

Conventional geologists have found no evidence for a universal flood depositing all strata in a short time within the past 10,000 years. They assert that there was relatively little geomorphological change over this period.

The debate over Flood geology in its modern form dates from the publication of The Genesis Flood by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris in 1961.5 They and other young-earth creationists have vigorously pursued an inquiry into possible details of Flood mechanisms and effects, and have sponsored an active creation science educational agenda.6 Creation science consists more of Flood study than of anything else. In response, conventionally-persuaded geologists, some Christian and others not, have variously criticized (and in some cases ridiculed) the Flood geology position.7

The opposing sides on Flood geology accuse each other of unfounded speculation built on a false paradigm.8 Flood geologist John Morris9 has stated that while geological data per se are accepted as fact on both sides, data interpretation varies according to the presuppositions employed. While he allows that the old-earth/evolutionary paradigm can be found to fit the data, he maintains that the young-earth/creationist paradigm fits better.10 Conventional geologists declare that the young-earth/Flood geology position rests directly on unquestioning acceptance of the Bible (in a particular literal interpretation) rather than being generated by scientific data, and hence is not science.

In the Flood geology debate, two exclusive paradigms confront each other.11 With two paradigms in conflict, geologic data can be investigated for consistency according to either one or both. Each side in the debate has in fact tried to show how various data cannot be harmonized with the other's paradigm.

There are other ways beside geological ones for exploring the Flood geology question. For Flood geologists, the literal interpretation of Scripture is of first-rank importance. However, many Bible commentators employ the literal approach differently than Flood geologists, and claim that a simple narrative interpretation must at points be sacrificed to some other hermeneutic, in order to avoid inconsistencies or outlandish conclusions. For them, the rich complexity of the Bible as literature, and its historical, cultural, geographical, and archaeological context, make the simple narrative hermeneutic grossly simplistic, failing to account for many other concerns of high relevance.

For Flood geologists, to be shown the relevance of other concerns is not sufficient grounds for rejecting their type of literalism. Such demonstration indicates for them only how to embellish their interpretation, not proving to undercut it or to require its alteration.

One can expect that while ongoing geological investigation will continue to be useful to both sides in the debate, neither side will be persuaded to abandon its current position by ordinary geological data per se. Also, one can expect that new hermeneutical insights will not persuade Flood geologists to alter their simple narrative approach. Therefore, this author for some time looked for a property of the Biblical record which would permit a test of the Flood geology question from within a literal position. A successful test must avoid dependence on either an old-earth or a young-earth geological paradigm, so as to avoid begging one question at hand, because as noted earlier Flood geology depends critically on the premise of a young earth. Also, progress in resolving the debate depends on emphasizing observation and avoiding speculation and theory. The latter are more prone to dependency on the chosen paradigm. Appropriate observational evidence must include all relevant data from the Bible and from archaeology, geography, and geology.

Toward satisfying the old-earth geologist, data must be used in a way free of a young-earth perspective. However, for the test per se a coarse temporal order of events implied by the Biblical record will be adopted. To be comprehensive, the study will include a brief look at the significance, for the Flood-geology debate and the test here, of interpretations of the Bible based on conventional archaeology and source-critical methods.

The issue of convenience is the geography of the garden of Eden. Literal Bible interpreters including creation scientists and many others hold to an actual garden no earlier than 10,000 years ago. Many other interpreters and most conventional scientists maintain that the garden is a component of a theological myth, whose story elements originated in pre-Biblical antiquity and were reworked by the Hebrews.

In the test here, it will be seen that taking the garden geography as literal leads to significant impact on the validity of Flood geology. In brief, a literal garden geography undermines Flood geology's principal claim of Flood-induced deposition of the Geologic Column, hence the term "erodes" in this article's title.

The geography of Eden has never been known precisely. For most adherents of the view that the garden is mythical, the garden's exact location has no meaning, and the geography indicates only the story's cultural origin. For those believing there was a garden in fact, the Bible provides tantalizing and specific geographic clues to its location. It is on these that the test of Flood geology depends, and to which we now turn. Put briefly, the test is this question: Is Flood geology consistent with the geography of the garden of Eden taken literally?


General Approach

The general approach is to examine evidence concerning Eden's geography obtained from the Bible, archaeology, historical and physical geography, and geology. No new data collection is involved; all the data have been taken from the published literature. The one framework distinctly in use is a literal hermeneutic for the Bible.

The General Question of Eden's Geography

The Bible contains the only record with even moderate detail of a garden in Eden. Other literature of Middle Eastern antiquity contains stories with some similarity to the Biblical garden story; relevant information from this other literature is considered. Various positions on the garden story and on its location have been published over the years; despite considerable volume, the literature generally contains disagreements concerning a garden location. A resume of positions based on principal sources is provided. From this and recent evidence, conclusions regarding the garden location are developed.

The Test Procedure

Geologic data for the most probable garden location are then considered opposite to the standard claims of Flood geology. The test is decided on the basis of consistency.

Biblical Hermeneutics and Exegesis

The literal method of Bible interpretation at the center of this study is one of several methods of interpretation. The literal method lies at the heart of the traditional view of the garden of Eden. A brief summary of a principal alternative method, the critical view, is provided for comparison. Most exegetical conclusions are drawn from published sources.


Archaeological investigation of the Middle East over the past century has unearthed a vast and rich body of evidence which illuminates and informs Biblical study. Biblical pointers to Eden's geography are discussed in the light of available archaeological information.


Geologic data are obtained from the literature and from a petroleum consulting firm. The petroleum data include well depths, which have been averaged for regions of interest.


Traditional View

Based on the Bible's own witness, Moses wrote Genesis 2 and the rest of the Pentateuch. A great number of verses in both Hebrew and Greek scriptures refer to the "book of Moses" (e.g., Ezra 6:18 and Mark 12:26), to his mandate to declare the law (e.g., 2 Chronicles 35:6), and to the law itself as delivered through him (e.g., Malachi 4:4). Jesus, the apostles, and other New Testament figures repeatedly attributed the law to Moses as God's spokesman (e.g., John 1:17). The Christian community over the ages has held to Moses' authorship of those Biblical books detailing man's history from creation through Israel's formation and Moses' receipt of the law somewhere between 1450 and 1290 BC.12 Moses may have relied on earlier historical records (both oral and written), and interpolations were probably made after him by copyists.13

Based on this view, it may be surmised that the obvious audience of Genesis 2 was the early Israelite community and any who followed later. The point of interest here is that Moses communicated to a post-Flood audience; hence, his description of the pre-Flood garden location was apparently intended to be meaningful in terms of a post-Flood landscape. It was plainly implied that the post-Flood landscape had real correspondence with the pre-Flood landscape, and that this correspondence was sufficiently close to permit the audience to generally understand the garden location. We shall see that the Flood geologist must reject this correspondence.

Critical View

A different view of the Pentateuch developed in the nineteenth century and burst forth in robust form in Wellhausen's thesis in 1878: the law is later than the prophets, being a document of Israel's post-exilic period.14 This thesis was explored first in terms of the Pentateuchal use of the divine names Yahweh (or Yehowah, its hybrid) and 'Elôhîym, leading to proposed multiple sources for the Pentaeuch. The method used by Wellhausen was primarily historiographical, not exegetical. Fully developed, the critical view has held for nearly a century that four principal documentary sources were redacted after the end in 536 BC of the Israelite exile in Babylonia, consisting of the Jahwist, Elohist, Priestly, and Deuteronomist, hence the acronym JEPD and the title documentary hypothesis. While still intact in most circles of higher criticism today, this "traditional" documentary view has in the last decade suffered considerable attack.15

Today, many exegetes outside the evangelical stream attribute Genesis 2-3 to source J, and Genesis 1 to P. However, even the unity of Genesis 2-3 is in contention.16 In particular, the geographical data in Genesis 2:10-14 concerning the site of the paradisiacal garden are considered by many to be a late insertion of stylistically distinct information into a narrative matrix.17

The result is a widespread opinion that not only was the author of the Eden story probably not Moses, but also that the geographical data were not intended to actually fix the garden site in the real world. Westermann, for example, viewed Genesis 2:10-14 as a parenthesis about the world's four (for completion) "life-arteries" which flow from the river of paradise, a conception drawn from a primeval tradition, which makes its use for geography untenable.18 Similarly, the four rivers have been viewed as the known world's great rivers, a subject of some ancient traditions: Tigris, Euphrates, Nile (Gihon), and Indus or Ganges (Pishon).19 Davidson concluded that "Eden" pointed to "a mythological and religious idea rather than a place on the map."20 In a lengthy study, Albright argued for an African location, holding that the geographical data were a syncretism of Egyptian and Mesopotamian elements, both mythical and topographic.21 James concluded that "All these efforts to interpret a mythical cosmography in terms of actual geography are doomed to failure in the absence of an accurate knowledge of the courses of the two principal rivers...." The vineyard-paradise is "a complex composite study defying topographical location...."22

Some have gone further and claimed the geographical allusion is to a fantasy. Cassuto said "The garden of Eden according to the Torah was not situated in our world.'23 Skinner said

it is obvious that a real locality answering to the description of Eden exists and has existed nowhere on the face of the earth....(T)he whole representation (is) outside the sphere of real geographical knowledge. In (Genesis 2) 10-14, in short, we have...a semi-mythical geography....24

Ryle held that "The account...is irreconcilable with scientific geography."25 Radday believed that Eden is nowhere because of its deliberately tongue-in-cheek fantastic geography.26 McKenzie asserted that "the geography of Eden is altogether unreal; it is a Never-never land...."27 Amit held the garden story to be literary utopianism, that the garden was "never-known," with no real location.28 A similar view is that the rivers were the entryway into the numinous world.29 An unusual mixture of views was maintained by Wallace, who held that the inclusion of the Tigris and Euphrates indicated an "earthly geographic situation," but saw the Eden narrative as constructed from a garden dwelling-of-God motif (with rivers nourishing the earth) combined with a creation motif, both drawing richly from those motifs as found in Ancient Near East mythological literature.30 The variety in these recent proposals is more than matched by the variety put forward during the Christian era prior to the middle of the 19th Century; W. Wright covered this history in detail in 1860.31

If actualism in Eden's geography is considered doubtful, then the story may be interpreted as a homiletic exposition built on a primeval residue,32 or as a late sociological commentary. It might be a "picture of paradisal beatitude," the idyllic goal of life in obedience to the Torah.33 One interpreter saw it as a faint recollection of the conflict involved in the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers.34 Another found from its Sumerian/Akkadian parallels an allusion to the royalty of gardener-kings: man is not a servant of the gods but has been made a king himself.35 Other interpreters found in it a political allegory dealing with conflict between the Judahite royal social and economic elite and the peasant class,36 or a sexual allegory,37 or a polemic against Canaanite religion,38 or a parable of the deposition and deportation of a king to Mesopotamia (hence the inclusion of 2:10-14).39 Differences from the Sumerian paradise myth and the Gilgamesh epic led Bledstein to perceive the Eden story as intended to reduce men "from heroic, godlike beings to earthlings," and to separate females from the extremes of goddesses or "slavish menials of men." In Genesis both "(m)an and woman are equally human..." and their creation lacks the usual Middle Eastern fertility cult overtones.40 The contrast of the Eden story with other Mesopotamian traditions (especially the Adapa story) was discussed by Shea. He noted, however, that all the stories originated in the place where civilization and writing began,41 which warrants the view that all the stories are related.


Critical scholarship has thus opened up an expanding set of interpretive possibilities, most of which disparage the geographical significance of Genesis 2:10-14. The consequence is to add to the doubts expressed by many traditional interpreters that the garden's location could ever be ascertained. However, no interpreters of either stripe have maintained that the geographical data are in fact non-geographical in character (even though the geography could be fantastic). To the contrary, inclusion of the data in the story, according to all commentators early and late, was intended to convey to the audience the notion of a distinct place; this locale was to be comprehended as real, or as imaginary and distant in either time (primeval) or place (far away).

It is entirely reasonable, then, no matter whether Eden's geography is real or imaginary, to seek its definition and fix the garden site as much as possible.42 Likewise, no matter whether the story is a post-exilic construction made out of various primeval pieces, or dated from Moses, the story's audience was intended to comprehend the garden's geography. Both proposed datings are post-Flood; therefore, a post-Flood audience was intended to understand a pre-Flood location. While the past century's literature exploring the garden location is extensive, ongoing research presents an opportunity for new exploration to be fruitful. On this basis we now turn to inquire what that pre-Flood garden location might have been.


The Garden's Environmental Setting

The Bible verses directly containing information about the garden of Eden and its location are found in Genesis 2:8-14, which says:

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; and from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.43

The information in this passage will be studied after a review of useful information elsewhere in Genesis 1-3.

Other Bible verses in Genesis 1-3 contain biogeographical data which indirectly aid in locating Eden and the garden. Genesis 1:28-30 says that God spoke to the first male and female human with a command to "Rule over the fish of the sea...." Adam and Eve therefore must have been close to a large body of water. (Or they were inland, the command was generic for all mankind, and only their descendants near water fully understood it.) It was either marine or fresh, for the Bible makes no distinction between marine and fresh waters in the unmodified use of the Hebrew yâm. This word is applied in the Bible to the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, and the basin placed in Solomon's temple. The garden environment also must have contained various seed plants and fruit trees, as Genesis 1:29-30 mentions a food grant of "every seed-bearing plant...and every tree that has fruit with seed in it," and a food grant to "all the beasts of the earth" of "every green plant...." Genesis 2:5 mentions "shrub of the field" (Hebrew sîyach, meaning bush, plant, or shrub) and "plant" or "herb"44 (Hebrew ‛eseb, meaning grass or herb), and Genesis 3:7 mentions fig leaves (Hebrew te'ênâh). Initially, according to Genesis 2:5, no shrub or plant "of the field" (i.e., natural uncultivated growth) had yet appeared in the garden region for lack of rain and cultivation. A variety of animals nevertheless lived in the region, as implied by Genesis 1:30 and 2:19-20, including living creatures in general (Hebrew chay) and cattle or large quadrupeds in particular (Hebrew behêmâh).

Climatic clues to Eden's environment can be drawn from further study of Genesis 2:5-6, which notes that rain had not yet fallen on the earth, and "streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground." The KJV in Genesis 2:6 says alternately "But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground." The NAS45 also says "mist." The translation "mist" or "dew" has been defended on grounds that the Hebrew 'êd has an Egyptian etymology.46 A common view especially among literalists is that this misty condition was global, and that no rain fell anywhere until the Flood, with a rainbow appearing for the first time after the Flood as a sign of the new Noahic covenant (Genesis 9:12-17.) Other translations have denoted 'êd as "spring," "streams," "fountain," "vapor," or "clouds."47 A much different view is permitted by the text even according to literalism, as discussed by Harris.48 The Hebrew 'êd is of unknown Hebrew etymology, but Speiser presented a strong case for its having been derived from the Akkadian word edû for "flood, waves, swell."49 Speiser also found a parallel in the Akkadian melu or "flow," which Harris claimed includes river overflow, according to Bezold's Babylonisch-Assyrisches Glossar,50 or inundation, according to the Assyrian Dictionary.51 Harris concluded that an adequate translation is "an inundation went up from the country and it watered all the face of the ground," and that the passage describes an arid country "watered by river overflow and irrigation."52 This conclusion agrees with that from another proposed etymology which relates 'êd to the Akkadian id, "river" or river god, from the Sumerian id, or "river."53

A few more clues about the garden's regional setting are available. Genesis 2:25 and 3:8 suggest a warm climate with cool evenings or mornings. The garden environs were dusty (Genesis 2:7 and 3:14) but agriculturally productive under cultivation (Genesis 3:17-19 and 4:2-3) despite thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:18), and suitable for flocks (Genesis 4:2-3). The territory adjacent to Eden on its east, Nod (Genesis 4:16),54 was conducive to livestock (Genesis 4:20) and yielded ores of iron, copper, and tin or zinc (Genesis 4:22).55

Distant in time, and possibly in locale, Noah in Genesis 6:14 before the Flood used gopher wood for the ark (Hebrew gôpher, possibly resinous wood) sealing it with pitch (or bitumen, Hebrew kôpher). The time interval between creation and the Flood56 renders this information barely useful in helping to determine Eden's location.

Without having analyzed yet the information in the long passage quoted earlier from Genesis 2:8-14, we may conclude that Eden contained rivers, touched a large water body, was a dusty arid land watered by inundation, and supported a variety of grasses, herbs, shrubs, and fruit trees, as well as various living creatures including large quadrupeds. The adjacent land of Nod east of Eden supported livestock and contained mineral ores.

Genesis 2:8-14 contains the geographic data subjected to most analysis over the years. Because several pieces of the data therein have allowed no determinative conclusion, some commentators have concluded that the garden's location is obscure and will remain so.57 This conclusion is accurate only with regard to a precise fix on the garden's location, because as will be seen the data certainly indicate the garden's probable regional location to within roughly 15,000 square miles, i.e., the southern Mesopotamian valley near the Persian-Arabian Gulf. This conclusion is the common one,58 and follows from the considerations presented below.

In the following data analysis, the word Eden is considered first, geographically and etymologically. Later, other place names (especially the rivers) and associated data are considered.

Eden as a Place Name

The garden was planted "in the east" (NIV), "eastward" (KJV), "toward the east" (NAS) "in Eden." While Wright59 allowed that "eastward" might refer to the eastern portion of Eden, and Lemaire pointed out that in Hebrew "eastward" can refer to the temporal past,60 others agree that Eden was eastward of the Hebrew audience. The author(s) of Genesis, whether Moses or later redactors, are held to have resided in Canaan, even if the outline and elements of the garden story owed their origin to Sumerian sources. Hence, it is concluded that Eden was east of Canaan. The latitude in Biblical compass directions allows eastward locations to include not only Babylonia but also Assyria (present-day Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran); in fact, any location from the "Trans-Jordan to the far side of Mesopotamia" is allowed.61

The word Eden is used with reference to specific territory in several other Scriptural passages besides those in Genesis 2-4. 2 Kings 19:12-13 and Isa 37:12-13, which are identical passages, report the taunt of the Rabshakeh of the Assyrian King Sennacherib to the Israelites under Hezekiah, King of Judah:

Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my forefathers deliver them -­the gods of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, or of Hena or Ivvah?

Hezekiah acknowledged that the Assyrian kings had indeed laid waste "these nations and their lands" (2 Kings 19:17). In a different context, Ezekiel lamented the destruction of Tyre: "Haran, CanNehemiah and Eden and merchants of Sheba, Asshur and Kilmad traded with you" (Ezekiel 27:23). Finally, Amos declared a judgment of Syria, mentioning Damascus, Hazael, Ben-Hadad, the Valley of Aven, Beth Eden, Aram, and Kir (Amos 1:3-5).

The cities and proper names linked with Eden in the above passages provide by association an indication of the location of Eden: Gozan, Haran, and Rezeph were cities of Assyria on or near the Euphrates River or its tributaries. Beth Eden (Bit-adini, near present Haran) signified the region of these cities.62 The city of Asshur sat in Assyria on the west bank of the Tigris River about 50 miles south of Nineveh. Kilmad (or Chilmad) is unknown.63 Kir denoted an Assyrian detention site for Syrian prisoners. Tel Assar (Telassar) was inhabited by children of Eden and succumbed to Sennacherib's forefathers; it may have been an enclave of Edenic foreigners within Assyria. Hena was in Assyria on the Euphrates River, 180 miles north of Babylon (half the distance to Beth Eden).64 Damascus, Hamath (today named Hama), Arpad, Sepharvaim, and Ivvah were cities of Syria.65

Hazael was a Syrian king who punished Israel (2 Kings 8); Ben-Hadad, a titular name, identified several Syrian kings. Aven identified a place of worship in Syria, perhaps Balbek. Aram was a common name for Syria.66 Canneh's location was uncertain but may have been identified as Calneh; CalNehemiah and Babel, Erech (or Uruk, now Warka in Iraq), and Akkad were founded by Nimrod in Babylonia.67 Sheba was located in the southernmost region of Arabia, near the Gulf of Aden.

The above proper names associated with Eden are with one exception found to signify locations in Syria, Assyria, and Babylonia. Sheba, the one exception, lay in southern Arabia. The pattern of associations together with the fact that Eden lay east of Canaan points to either Assyria or Babylonia as the location of Eden. Assyria is more likely the referent than Babylonia, from these data.

The Etymology of "Eden"

The Hebrew ‛êden is translated "Eden" 20 times in the Old Testament, referring twice to individual persons, four times to a people from a city or region by the name, and otherwise to the garden location or to its pleasant features. The word is also used in Psalm 36:8 for the Lord's river of "delights" (see also 2 Sam 1:24, Nehemiah 9:25, and Jeremiah 51:34) and in Genesis 18:12 by Sarah for the "pleasure" she anticipated in bearing the promised son Isaac despite her old age. Thus the focus of the word has often been taken to be "pleasure" or "delight."68 In the Greek Septuagint (and similarly in the Latin Vulgate), paradeisos was used as a synonym for the Hebrew gan ("garden") in Genesis 2:8, and for the Hebrew pardes, meaning "forest" or "orchard," which occurs in Nehemiah 2:8, Song 4:13, and Ecclesiastes 2:5. Through the association of pardes, paradeisos, and gan for the garden in Eden as both a place and a pleasure, Eden came to be thought of as paradise.69

However, a verb yielding the word ‛êden does not occur in the Old Testament, making its nuances difficult to determine. Therefore, other possibilities must be considered. The word may derive from the Akkadian root edinu (adinu) connoting "plain," "steppe," or "wilderness"70 (except for the guttural ‛ayin),71 or from the Akkadian bit adini,72 or from the Syrian Bêt ‛edaen.73 The word may have been used to refer to the plain of Mesopotamia south and west of Babylon,74 but this is disputed. Also, it is claimed that the stem in question ('adhan) corresponds to the Arabic (ghadana). In addition, the word may be related to edinu in Ugaratic literature, which denotes a fertile and well-watered place,75 or "delight."76 Similarly, because the Akkadian use of edinu was rare, despite its frequency (in the form ‛êden)77 in the earlier Sumerian writings, and for a steppe plain se-e-ru was preferred, both Lemaire and Millard proposed that "Eden" is a West-Semitic word built on the root ‛dn, meaning "pleasure" and "luxury." They noted that from the 9th Century BC Tell Fekheryeh in northern Syria, a statue of Had-yis‛i, King of Guzan (Gozan), has been retrieved with a bilingual inscription. The king is described as one "who makes all lands abound," with the Old Aramaic m‛dn mt kln parallel to the Assyrian mutahhidu kibrati.78

The etymological conclusion is that Eden may signify either a place, as in a steppe or a fertile plain, or pleasure. In believing it a steppe, Gray interpreted it as a sterile not fertile plain, and therefore, on that basis alone, located it in Armenia.79 However, if Ugaritic or West Semitic connotations hold, they argue against a sterile landscape. If Sumerian sources hold, then they and the mention of the four rivers (two of which are well-identified as Mesopotamian) also argue against a sterile plain, and indicate a fertile plain of the Mesopotamian valley, as in Assyria or Babylonia.80 From the word's uses and etymology, Lemaire argued that Eden's primitive connotation was a place, Bit Adini, and that the redactor for J later fused the royal garden motif to its place connotation.81 Thus, Eden could signify both a place and pleasure.

Eden's Rivers and Associated Data

Heads and tributaries. Eden's rivers are introduced in Genesis 2:10, which says "A river watering the garden flowed (yâtsâ ) from Eden; and from there it was separated into four headwaters." The verse's first half states that the river did not originate in the garden. But did it originate elsewhere inside Eden, or beyond?82 The second half states that it separated into four ra shîm, or heads. Aside from Bush, who maintained that the divisional sense was temporal ("from thence" meaning "from that time"),83 the usual contention is whether this division was located upstream or downstream of the garden. For Wright, the downstream view rests on the use of ra shîm in Job 1:17, where it refers to military detachments, suggesting river branches, not heads, to be found toward the Persian-Arabian Gulf from the garden. Then the Persian-Arabian Gulf is taken as the river (nâhâr), with support from the Babylonian term for the Gulf of nar marratum, "the bitter river."84 Aalders agreed with the downstream view, claiming "from there" modifies "garden" not "Eden," but then inconsistently acknowledged two of the rivers as the Tigris and Euphrates, which are obviously divided upstream of the envisioned location of the garden.85 The downstream view must be rejected for this and for the reason that the salty Gulf water (if it were the river accomplishing the garden's watering) would never be suitable for a terrestrial garden. The upstream view was held by Speiser because, in Hebrew, river mouths are called ends not heads (see Josh 15:5 and 18:19),86 hence the four heads must be the upstream sources or tributaries.87 He also argued that the river sequence is east to west, opposite of that expected by a Hebrew perspective, hence verse 10 is a Babylonian residue and the view is from eastward, or "from the Persian Gulf inland."88

Pishon. The first river identified by name is the Pishon (or Pison or Pihon), from the Hebrew Pîyshôwn. Apparently no one can offer a persuasive opinion about it. Generally, the claim is that the name is absent from known ancient literature except for a passing reference in Ben Sirach (Ecclesiasticus 24:25-27).89 The word itself may mean "the gusher"90 or "to cascade"91 or "dispersive" (from a root meaning "to spread").92 A new theory is that the name derives the name from the Egyptian root p -hnw, "the Canal." The sun god Re landed each day at this canal, adjacent to the Nile, establishing it in a context of paradise, and from thence it was associated with the garden of Eden.93

Meager help is provided by information that the Pishon had a winding course through Havilah, where there was good gold, bdellium or aromatic resin, and onyx. The first note of interest is that the Pishon "winds through" (NIV) or "flows around" (NAS) Havilah, from the Hebrew cabab, or "compass" (KJV; here and in many other instances in the Old Testament). The usual connotation is to surround or circuit an area. Therefore, Neiman concluded the Pishon must be the sea which surrounds Havilah, taken as the Arabian peninsula. He speculated that Pîyshôwn is cognate to pethen (adder), from serpent-life mythology. Neiman thus explained Pishon as a demythologized reference to a primeval "great stream" which gave life to the earth.94

His view requires a Hebrew disregard for any distinction between a sea (yâm) and a river (nâhâr). Such a view has no Biblical precedent, and appears impossible given the Genesis 2:10-14 enumeration of four rivers, two of which are obviously not seas. Speiser rejected the connotation "encompass" because of 2 Kings 3:9, where the kings must have "wandered" rather than "circled."95 The compromise "flows around" (NAS) is appropriate.

The mention of Havilah, nevertheless, does point to the Arabian peninsula. As a place name, Havilah is used in Genesis 25:18 and 1 Samuel 15:7. In the first, Ishmael's descendants settled the area "from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt...." In the second, "Saul attacked the Amelekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt." The Desert of Shur, in size at least 3 days journey, lay just east of the Red Sea during the Exodus (Exodus 15:22). Havilah must have lain at the other end, to the east, of the Amalekite range of habitation.

Amalek was a grandson of Jacob's (Israel's) brother Esau; the territory of the Amalekites was associated in Genesis 14:7 with Kadesh of the Sinai peninsula. Exodus 17:8 says that "The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim." Later, when the Israelites camped at Kadesh, their spies returned from Canaan and reported that Amalekites lived in the Negev desert (Numbers 13:29). Responding to the Israelites' refusal to enter Canaan, the LORD rebuked them, and commanded them, because "the Amalekites...are living in the valleys, (to) turn back...toward the desert...to the Red Sea" (Numbers 14:25). Subsequently, an Israelite raiding party was repulsed by Amalekites living in the hill country (of Canaan?) (Numbers 14:45). Judges 12:15 also mentions Amalekites living in the hills.

In Judges 3:12-14, the Amalekites joined in a military alliance with Moabites from the eastern side of the Dead Sea. While the earlier references indicated the Amalekites occupied areas south and southwest of Canaan, this and following references show the Amalekites also inhabited an area southeast of Canaan. Judges 6:3, 6:33 and 7:12 mention raids by Midianites, Amalekites and other "eastern" peoples from across the Jordan. At the time of David, the recorder said that "From ancient times (the Amalekites) had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt" (1 Samuel 27:8). 1 Samuel 30:1-18 indicates the Amalekites in their raiding ranged over all of southern Judah, including Ziklag and Gaza. The sum of the Biblical data on the Amalekites indicates they ranged over the entire southern flank of Judah, from east of the Dead Sea westward to the area south of Gaza. Their center seems to have been the Negev.96

This conclusion, however, offers only indirect evidence on the location of Havilah: 1 Samuel 15:7 quoted earlier indicates that Havilah was the eastern extremity of the Amalekite range; thus, Havilah is to be located in Arabia east of Edom.97 This is consistent with the accepted derivation of the word Havilah from a West Semitic root meaning "sand" and hence "land of sand."98

Havilah was also a personal name--applied to one son of Cush (Genesis 10:7 and 1 Chronicles 1:9), and to a son of Joktan (Genesis 10:29 and 1 Chronicles 1:23) who lived in the region "stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country" (Genesis 10:30). This region apparently encompasses southern Arabia to Moab.99 While meager, this information suggests once again that Havilah was in Arabia east of Edom and Moab.

To help his audience in fixing Havilah's location, the recorder provided ancillary data on Havilah's natural resources. Unfortunately, none of them yield information very helpful in fixing Havilah's location. Gold was produced from various locations in Arabia and its environs. Bdellium,

or aromatic resin, possibly amber, is only one possible translation of bedôlach;100 another is "pearl." Numbers 11:7 uses its appearance in a color comparison with manna, but to no advantage here. Bdellium is a traditional product of Arabia but this offers no suggestion on how to narrow possible locations of Havilah within Arabia.

"Onyx" as a product of Havilah offers tantalizing but again non-specific clues. In Exodus 25:7, onyx stones and setting stones are required by the LORD for the priest's ephod and breastpiece. In Exodus 28:9-11 two onyx stones are to be engraved for the ephod, with six names on each stone, "as a jeweler engraves a signet," to be set "in filigree settings of gold."101 The breastpiece was to have four rows of three stones each. For some reason, the description separates onyx from the rest, by using the formula "onyx stones and setting stones" (Exodus 25:7)102 as if onyx had properties different from the rest (see also Exodus 35:9, and 1 Chronicles 29:2). The identification of the stones from the Hebrew is not altogether certain (comparing the KJV, NIV, and NAS versions). The NAS list includes two oxides, seven silicates, one phosphate, diamond (pure carbon), and onyx, which is presumably calcium carbonate, i.e., calcite.103 An alternative is that it was lapis lazuli (lazurite, the "sapphire" of the ancients) from Afghanistan; this mineral in Sumerian "was regularly hyphenated with the word stone."104 Lazurite is a sodium-aluminum-sulphur silicate. Many areas of Arabia would have yielded calcite; however, lazurite would only have come from Afghanistan, and it was shipped via the Kerkha River east of the Gulf head. (The Assyrian name of the Kerkha was "the Blue River.")105 Lazurite samples large enough for six engraved names would have been extremely rare: appropriately-sized calcite in comparison would have been relatively available. Also, the Hebrew shôham translated onyx means "to blanch," applicable to white or clear calcite but not to the blue, violet-blue, or greenish-blue colors of lazurite.106 Onyx as calcite large enough for engraved names and for mounting on the shoulder pieces of the ephod is the preferred alternative. But these intriguing details are hardly of any use in locating Havilah other than corroborating a possible location within northeastern Arabia (or possibly eastward of the Tigris) generally. For narrowing Havilah's possible location further, the association of gold, bdellium, and onyx must be found to have a distinct significance geographically. None is known at present.

Friedrich Delitzsch suggested that the river Pishon was the great canal Pallakopas flowing west and south of the Euphrates through a gold-producing region near the city of Babylon.107 Others have suggested that the Pishon was one of the transverse canals which connected the Euphrates and the Tigris near Babylon.108 This suggestion is ruled out by the association of the Pishon with Havilah.

An intriguing possibility for the Pishon has been highlighted in Landsat imagery. The now-dry Wadi Batin,109 which forms the present-day northwestern boundary of Kuwait, is clearly delineated by Landsat across more than 400 km of Arabian desert. This region fits the possible location for Havilah. Zarins believes that the Wadi Batin was the Pishon, and that the Karun River from the Zagros Mountains was the Gihon. Consequently, Zarins believes the garden was close to the present Gulf head.110

In conclusion regarding Pishon, its association with Havilah is consistent with a location somewhere in Arabia, most likely its northern half somewhere eastward of Edom and Moab. The probability is that the Pishon coursed through the eastern half of northern Arabia, adjacent to the Mesopotamian valley, a region traditionally proposed as the garden site. The Pishon may have been the Wadi Batin. This opinion is certainly at variance with that of James who said "The ‛land of Havilah' is equally an enigma in spite of repeated attempts to locate it in various parts of Arabia and the Nubian desert."111

Gihon. This river is identified only as winding through or around all of Cush.112 The Hebrew Gîychôwn derives from a root meaning "to bubble"; such a name could hardly apply to a placid river on a plain, unless its head were in hill country.113 Nor could the name apply to the "Circumfluent Ocean" around the inhabited world, as claimed by Neiman,114 without ignoring the word's root, confusing the terms for river and sea, and regarding Cush as a pointer to all distant lands instead of to a distinct region.

The Hebrew Kûwsh is found in many Hebrew scriptures and is identified as either Cush or classical Ethiopia (i.e., modern Sudan).115 The identification Ethiopia is certain in many instances, such as Numbers 12:1, Esther 1:1, and Jeremiah 13:23. But an African location is not at all indicated in Genesis 2:13, unless Eden's geography is regarded as fantasy.

Cush as a personal name was a son of Ham; while the name Ham was applied to Egypt,116 Cush's sons were the namesakes or founders of various centers in Arabia, Babylonia, and Assyria.117 Judges 3:7-11 records the oppression of Israel by Cushan-Rishathaim, king of Aram Naharaim, and the Israelite deliverance by Othniel. These data indicate an Arabian-Mesopotamian context for Cush in Genesis 2:13.

Because Nuzi tablets contain the word Kussu for the Kassite people who inhabited the plains and hills east of Babylonia during the second millennium BC, Speiser identified the Cush of Genesis 2 as Kassite country.118 Therefore, the Gihon may be one of the rivers emanating from the Zagros mountains east of Babylonia.119 Two possibilities are the Kerkha and the Karun Rivers; both pass close by the city of Susa and presently join the Shatt el-Arab waterway, below the junction of the Euphrates and the Tigris. However, the Shatt el-Arab did not exist during the first millennium BC when the head of the Persian-Arabian Gulf was further north. The Gulf head's location at earlier times and its impact on Eden's geography will be considered in more detail later.

Wright mentioned the alternative that the Gihon was the canal Shatt al-Nil, which branches from the Euphrates near Babylon and flows to the Tigris.120 The difficulty with this view is that the canal's region is not regarded by others as Kassite country.

Another proposal was put forward by Hommel, that the rivers Pishon, Gihon, and Hiddekel (elsewhere rendered Tigris) were three wadies in northern Arabia, the Wadi Dawasir, the Wadi Rumma, and the Wadi Sirhan.121 The difficulties here are that all three wadies are presently dry; the Tigris, accepted by all others as one of the four rivers, is summarily replaced by a wadi; and the indication that the Gihon flowed in the region east (not west) of the Tigris in Kassite country is ignored.

In sum, the Gihon probably was a river flowing from Kassite country in the Zagros mountains into the Tigris-Euphrates system near the Gulf. The Gihon perhaps was the Karun River, or possibly the Kerkha River.

Tigris . While the Hebrew for the third river is Chiddeqel, or in English "Hiddekel," there is almost universal agreement at present that the river indicated is the Tigris. This name is a modern Greek equivalent of the Persian Tigras, Arabic Dijlat (or Diglat), from the Akkadian Idiglat and Sumerian (I)digna.122 The Hebrew Chiddeqel is used only in Genesis 2:14 and in Daniel 10:4, but the Daniel reference rules out any inconsequential wadi, for it says of the river that it is "the great river." The root meaning of Tigris is "arrow," as to "signify a dart, or swiftness."123

As a geographical clue, Genesis 2:14 says that the Tigris "runs along the east side of Asshur." The word 'Ashshûwr is used over 150 times in Scripture. In Scripture and elsewhere, the word Asshur is used to designate the city, the region and nation, and a deity. Without any doubt, the word here refers to the capital city of Assyria. Various kings of Assyria are named in Scripture, for example, Sennacherib in 2 Kings 19:20. The city of Asshur was briefly the capital of Assyria and an important commercial and religious center.124 It was first settled as early as 3000 BC. By 1430 BC, Assyria was an independent kingdom.125 Asshur was its chief city until the reign of Asshur-bel-kale, son of Tiglath-Pileser I, about 1090 BC.126

Geographically, Asshur is located on the west bank of the Tigris River, in perfect correspondence with Genesis 2:14.

Euphrates . The 19 instances of the Hebrew Perâth in Scripture have always been held to refer to the Euphrates. It is referred to thrice as "the great river," an apt description for a waterway over 1780 miles in length. Where it presently joins the Tigris at Korna, it forms a tidal channel one-half mile wide.127

The Garden Location

All the above considerations converge very strongly on the conclusion that the garden of Eden was located in Babylonia. Different views have certainly been advanced. Lemaire, for example, placed Eden at Bit Adini in Assyria, but in doing so discounted some of the data concerning the Pishon and the Gihon. His view that the Pishon was linked to Havilah in Arabia or Somalia, and the Gihon to the Nile (via the option that Cush was in Africa), is peculiar given his opinion that such data were a late gloss to benefit J's audience.128 Taking into account all the evidence points more harmoniously to Babylonia.

A more precise fixing of Eden's location leads all proposers into speculation. Two views are common. The first puts the garden above Babylon where the Tigris and Euphrates are within 20 miles of each other. Numerous streams here carry water from the Euphrates to the Tigris. Friedrich Delitzsch in particular proposed this location, with the Gihon being one of these streams, and the Pishon a canal to the west of the Euphrates. Delitzsch found a list of the names of the principal streams and canals. One was called Pisanu, another Guhanu, possible variant spellings for Pishon and Gihon.129

The second Babylonian location is toward the Persian-Arabian Gulf. Historical records to be discussed below indicate the shoreline of the delta was 100 miles upstream of its present location during the first millennium BC, near Korna at the present northern end of the Shatt el-Arab waterway. However, geologic data to be discussed below indicate submerged shorelines south of the present shoreline, hence the head of the Gulf may have earlier been further seaward. Despite the uncertainty of the Gulf head location, the garden location could be near Eridu and Ur. Cuneiform inscriptions indicate Eridu was near a garden, a "holy place" with a sacred palm tree.130 Eridu, now inland, was an early Babylonian seaport. A sacred tree was frequently put on seals of prominent persons of Babylon, and on alabaster reliefs in the royal palaces.131 One cylinder seal pictures a tree with fruit, two persons, and an upright serpent.132 Wright favored the Eridu location.133 Gosse in contrast placed the garden along the Shatt el-Arab, holding that its bifurcated branches further south were the Gihon and Pishon.134

Only one other proposed location takes the geographical data and archaeological data seriously, not as the product of a fanciful myth of accretion from various cultures, nor the result of misinformed and fantastic geography. Some of the data agree with a garden location in the mountains of Armenia. There the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates come within 1100 meters of one another. Large rivers which could serve as the Gihon and the Pishon are considerably further away; among these are the Araxes River emptying into the Caspian Sea, possibly the Gihon, and the Choruk River emptying into the Black Sea, possibly the Pishon. Havilah would be identified with gold-rich Colchis.135 However, this proposal offers no way to accommodate all the other evidence (biogeographic and climatic data, and the geography, archaeology, and etymology of "Eden") discussed above, and therefore appears stretched overly far.

With a Babylonian location for the garden providing the best harmony with all the Biblical data and ancillary geographical and archaeological data, we can now turn to geological data, with the aim of eventually confronting the implications for Flood geology.


Geomorphology and Holocene History

In the region of present-day Baghdad the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are both under 300 feet elevation. From there they meander in a southeastern direction toward the Persian-Arabian Gulf over 300 miles away, dropping by a gentle gradient of one foot per mile. River deposition in a flat arid mid-latitude region has established a hot alluvial steppe landscape, set in a larger coastal plain encompassing parts of Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other smaller countries.

The climate of the region from Baghdad to Basra is hot and dry. The average annual temperature is 87 degrees F; in August it is 105-110 degrees F. Precipitation in the wettest month is 1.1-1.4 inches; in the driest, it is less than 0.1 inch. Summer dust storms are severe, apparently due to quasi-permanent low pressure over the Gulf. Aeolian sediments brought by these storms contribute an unknown amount to the lowland delta and bottomlands of the Gulf headwater region.136

The delta formed by the rivers at the head of the Persian-Arabian Gulf has been growing for more than two millennia. According to nineteenth century sources, the delta was then growing over 25 yards per year, or a mile every 70 years.137 Classical evidence indicates the position of the delta in 326-325 BC: Nearchus, the captain of vessels which met land forces of Alexander the Great at Ahwaz, left records showing that the four rivers, the Karun, Karkeh, Tigris, and Euphrates, each entered the Gulf separately. The coastline compared to its present location was 120 miles northwest, according to a map drafted by de Morgan in 1900 from the available data.

Three centuries before Nearchus, from naval records of Sennacherib in 696 BC, the coastline was in roughly the same position.138

The history of the delta region at earlier times is much less well known, but the general outline of changes may be inferred from a combination of historical, archaeological, and geological data.139 During the late Würm glacial stage of the Pleistocene, the sea level dropped to -100 or -120 m (from the present datum). Kassler found an eroded submarine platform in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz at -120 m. For that sea level, the Persian-Arabian Gulf was a dry basin.140 A marine transgression followed which raised the sea level rapidly to near -10 m. Over the last 6000 years, the sea level has fluctuated around the present level. Marine terraces in the Bay of Kuwait at +6 to +16 m may be correlated with strandlines in Qatar at +1.5 to +2.5 m, and with other terraces between +1.5 m and +6 m along the Arabian coast southward to as far as Oman, in defining the highest sea level during this period. Carbon-14 dating of some of these features yields ages of roughly 4000 years BP, or 2000 BC.141

Detailed correlation of facies sequences at various sites south of Ahwaz in the Gulf head region has been attempted by some researchers in an effort to chronologically and geographically map the marine and alluvial changes; these efforts are considered indicative but premature until additional data are obtained.142 At present, the data indicate that various settlements in the delta region could have been inundated at various times over the period since 6000 years BP. Remnants of some settlements may lie buried beneath present waters of the Gulf. However, there is no reason to doubt the validity of historical data reviewed earlier which depict a seaward advance of the delta via alluvial deposits since the time of Sennacherib. This advance is consistent with 3rd millennium cuneiform data which connect the Southern Mesopotamian cities of Ur and Eridu with the sea. In the 3rd millennium, Ur may have been a port on the Gulf or on a connecting marsh-estuary.143 It and Eridu, the oldest city of southern Mesopotamia, may have been founded as early as 5000 BC by the Ubaidians, a pre-Sumerian culture which existed before the birth of writing.144 These details along with peculiar similarities between the Biblical garden story and elements of Sumerian literature make it tempting to conclude that the garden existed just above or below the present datum in the land of the Ubaidians.

Regional Geology

The lower Mesopotamian Valley lies in a region bounded by the Arabian Peninsula to the southwest and the Zagros Mountains of Iran to the northeast. Regionally, there are three principal geological components. A Massif Zone, consisting of pre-Cambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks known as the Arabian Shield, occupies west and central Arabia. A Shelf area lies north and northeast of the Shield, and contains a thick sequence of homoclinic continental and shallow-water sediments dipping gently (less than 3 degrees) toward the Mesopotamian basin. These sedimentary formations consist of Permian, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic limestones and sandstones exposed as erosional scarps; their cumulative thickness in central Arabia is more than 2000 m. Toward the east, in an interior platform, the strata dip more sharply. In Southeastern Arabia's Empty Quarter east of the homocline, the crystalline basement is estimated to lie 9000 m below the surface. A Geosynclinal Zone north and east of the Shelf includes the Taurus, Zagros and Oman mountains. The mountain ranges are tightly folded and faulted; the Zagros Mountains are interpreted as an active fold-thrust belt generated by collision of the Arabian and Eurasian geotectonic plates.145

Garden Site Stratigraphy

The lower Mesopotamian Valley and Gulf head lie in the middle of the Arabian-Iranian basin, the globe's richest petroleum province. The thickness of the stratigraphic sequence underlying the Valley and Gulf head is the focus of interest here.

Active and exploration wells provide data on the depth of oil-bearing horizons. For 19 Iranian onshore wells generally in the Khuzistan province of Iran, at the head of the Persian-Arabian Gulf, depths of 36 oil horizons were at an average of 2811 m (8433 ft) with a range of 1125 to 4165 m (3375 to 12,495 ft). Well surface elevations averaged 91 m (range 4 to 305 m) which shows that the wells were obviously on the valley plain and adjacent piedmont.146 In the United Arab Emirates, 18 exploration wells averaged 3374 m (11,070 ft) with a range of 2448 to 4249 m (8030 to 13,940 ft). A well in 1972 discovered oil at 5426 m (17,800 ft).147 In Qatar, 17 wells averaged 2223 m (7292 ft) with a range of 1505 to 3570 m (4939 to 11,713 ft).148

The majority of the Iranian wells described above tapped the Asmari reservoir, an Oligocene to lower Miocene limestone, at depths between 343 and 1135 m (1125 and 3725 ft). The Asmari is the major reservoir rock of the upper Cretaceous and Tertiary play of the Arabian-Iranian basin, and is concentrated in the Zagros fold belt of Iran and Iraq.

The Arabian-Iranian basin contains four other plays of significance whose locations vary and overlap--the lower and middle Cretaceous sandstone (II), the lower and middle Cretaceous limestone (III), the Jurassic sandstones (IV), and the Permian carbonates (V). Play II is located centrally in the basin. Kuwait, and the huge Burghan field it shares with Saudi Arabia in the Divided Neutral zone, are in the middle of this play.149 In the Permian play (V) centered over the Gulf adjacent to Qatar, the reservoir rock is the Khuff carbonate reaching to 3050 m (10,000 ft). In the Burghan field area, the Khuff formation plunges to 4880 m (16,000 ft), and on downward to 7300 m (24,000 ft) at Ahwaz, 160 km (100 miles) north of the Gulf head.150

The overall depth of the stratigraphic sequence, from surface to basement rock, at the Gulf head is considerably deeper. The extensive petroleum exploration has permitted construction of isopach maps of Permian and all younger deposits. While few pre-Permian control points exist, available data indicate a pre-Permian wedge 3000 m thick in the mountains of Iran and thinning to zero on the Arabian platform toward the southwest. The addition of pre-Permian, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Tertiary isopachs yields an isopach map of total Phanerozoic sediments in the region. The total depth of deposits at the present Gulf head reaches 9150 m (30,000 ft). Toward Baghdad to the northwest the sequence probably thins to 7600 m (25,000 ft).151

Thus, the depth of the rock record in the region containing the probable site of the garden of Eden is roughly 9000 m, or 5 to 6 miles.


Garden Site and Geology Summarized

Based on a literal hermeneutic, the Biblical data indicate a site for the garden of Eden in the lower Mesopotamian Valley, probably between the Babylon area and the present Persian-Arabian Gulf head. In this region, the rock record is 9000 m (5 to 6 miles) thick; it contains numerous oil horizons, some deeper than 4000 m (12,000 ft). The region is geologically well-known owing to the intense exploration and development associated with petroleum production.

Flood Geology, the Geologic Column, and Petroleum

The standard Flood geology position is that all the strata were deposited during Noah's Flood. While minor portions of the Geologic Column may occasionally be allowed by Flood geologists to have been deposited before or after the Flood in separated events, any claim that a major portion of the Column was deposited by events outside the Flood is sufficient grounds to deny the label Flood geology. For example, Whitcomb and Morris have allowed that portions of the Archaen and Proterozoic strata may be pre-Flood, yet they advance the Flood geology paradigm.152

Northrup, in contrast, denies the title Flood geology, even though he adheres to a young earth and a literal Bible hermeneutic. He holds that the Paleozoic was a Flood deposit, and that the lower Mesozoic resulted from post-Flood transients lasting several human generations. Further, because Genesis 10:25 after the Flood reports a division (Hebrew pâlag) of the earth (Hebrew 'erets: earth, nations, or world) in the time of the person named Peleg, he claims that Peleg lived during the division of the super-continent Pangea in the middle of the Mesozoic sequence. Northrup believes that the geologic and environmental catastrophes associated with this division and the subsequent ice age produced the upper Mesozoic and Cenozoic sequences.153

In either case (Flood geology, or its substantial modification), the young-earth paradigm finds the source of petroleum in catastrophic mass burial of flora (primarily) during Noah's Flood (and possibly during a few other events of lesser scale), followed by rapid, high temperature-induced, petroleum genesis. All the burials, according to young-earth adherents, whether they prefer Flood geology or not, are held to have occurred after the events of the garden story. This belief in post-Eden petroleum formation,154 combined with the three-dimensional contiguity of oil-bearing strata all over the oil-rich Middle East (encompassing formations of the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic), requires that the entire Geologic Column in the Gulf head region must superpose the garden site, if it existed in that region.

Implications for Flood Geology and the Garden Story

Consistent with the above, all modern Flood geologists and other young-earth adherents hold that the Flood cataclysmically destroyed the pre-Flood terrestrial landscape. In this conclusion, modern Flood geologists go much further than many Bible interpreters of the past who held to diluvialism. Calvin in 1554, for example, noted that a complete obliteration of the pre-Flood world was "a solution...by no means to be accepted.... Moses accommodated his geography to the capacity of the age."155 Candlish in 1868 said that the deluge "swept away all the ancient landmarks.... But,...(the) description...must be intended to point out, even since the flood, the place where Eden was."156 Murphy in 1873 allowed that the Flood changed the landscape, but only to the extent that four rivers no longer sprang from one. Two rivers remained; therefore the "deluge may not have greatly altered the general features of the countries."157 Smith in the 1880s maintained that the Flood caused alterations but for Eden's geography the "eastern district of Asia is (no doubt) meant."158

Even the geologic catastrophists of the past held to a diluvialism much more limited than that of Flood geologists today. The chief diluvialist of the 19th Century, William Buckland, for example, believed that the Flood deposited considerable superficial alluvium, but not the entire Geologic Column. He inferred that extinct species in the fossil assemblage of European cave deposits represented pre-diluvial interment. Later, he moved away from diluvial theory.159

The uncommonly extreme position taken by the modern Flood geologists has a correspondingly extreme implication. From the geological data, which as used here have consisted only of observational data free from any old-earth paradigmatic conceptions, it is seen that Flood geology buries any lower Mesopotamian Valley location for the garden of Eden under 5-6 miles of rock. However, the Bible's own geographical data indicate that the site was on a landscape not greatly different from the present, i.e., superposing the rock. Clearly, the two positions are in conflict. If actualism guides a conception of garden geography, then finding the site in the present lower Mesopotamian Valley precludes Flood geology, because the supposed consequence of the Flood was a deposit miles in thickness, and, inevitably, obliteration of all geographic clues.

To avoid this conclusion, one might argue for a different location for the garden. But the geographic data do not harmoniously point anywhere else. Furthermore, the next best location, in Armenia, would likely produce a similar inconsistency between the Biblical geographic data and observational geologic data under the Flood geology interpretation.

The possible resolution of the problem is to weaken (or abandon) either (1) Flood geology or (2) actualism in the garden geography. Either alternative necessitates a change in the paradigm derived from the literal hermeneutic. This consequence is easy to understand concerning any weakening of actualism in garden geography, which primarily depends so clearly on a short and explicit portion of Genesis 2. However, the consequence from a weakened Flood geology may be somewhat obscure, because the latter is a construction (in the main its geological features are an inference) built on several literalistic premises (see the Introduction). If Flood geology is weakened, then by logic some weakening of its constructive premises is necessary. Where the weakening of premises might best be situated is not examined here. But the overall conclusion, put bluntly, is this: An altered paradigm is logically necessary because the various premises have led to a partial contradiction.


The creationist and conventional literature of the present era contains very little comment relevant to the inconsistency between Flood geology and garden geography under literalism. From an old-earth perspective, Hayward noted that Genesis portrays a landscape little changed by the Flood, particularly, that the Tigris and Euphrates "are still in existence today."160 Interestingly, the only relevant items located by this writer in the young-earth creationist literature were authored by Henry Morris, who has pioneered modern diluvialism. In The Genesis Flood, co-authored with Whitcomb, H. Morris provided a brief comment and a footnote which in effect involved a retreat from actualism. Holding strongly to Flood geology, he abandoned actualism on Eden's geography, implying that the relevant geographical place names are of no value in locating the garden site. He said: "antediluvian geography may well have been different from that of the present earth." The footnote commented on the possibility that Noah's Ark landed far away from its construction site, saying

The fact that Genesis 2:14 mentions the Tigris (Hiddekel) and the Euphrates rivers is certainly not conclusive evidence to the contrary, for these and other geographical names could have been perpetuated by Noah's family into "the new world" even as happens in modern times.161

H. Morris treated the problem in the same way but at greater length in a 1976 commentary on Genesis. There, he said the following about the geographical data of Genesis 2:10­14:

These latter identifications {of the Gihon and Pishon} seem impossible in view of the other geographical features described, however; and it is more likely that these were rivers of the antediluvian world which do not even exist in the present world.... In general, it is evident that the geography described in these verses does not exist in the present world, nor has it ever existed since the Flood....162

He did not explain how "it is evident." He also attributed the Eden account to Adam, perhaps to imply that the geographical data made sense to him but not to Moses:

The rivers and countries described were antediluvian geographical features, familiar to Adam, the original author of this part of the narrative.163

Morris then inconsistently explained the use by Moses (the traditional author of Genesis) of the presumably dysfunctional geographical clues by the following:

The names were remembered...and then given to people or places in the postdiluvian world.... (T)hese antediluvian rivers were completely obliterated by the Flood....164

No evidence supporting this explanation was provided.

This avenue of response has several interesting features. First, there is the easy retreat on geographical-historical actualism. No consideration is given in either source to this impact. Morris simply begs the question. But without strict actualism, Flood geology's foundation is eroded, which undermines the very source of the dilemma!

Second, while Flood geology and Eden's geography as held by Morris force a weakening of actualism, in practice Flood geology depends strongly on speculation. The Flood geology literature is full of speculation about the geophysical phenomena and causes of the Flood. One of the prime postulates, for example, is that the opening of "fountains of the great deep" involved cataclysmic geotectonic events.165 The present Flood geology research agenda is centered on detailed studies of possible geotectonic events and their specific geologic and hydrodynamic consequences, none of which are mentioned or even hinted at in Scripture. It is surprising that such speculations are treated with great acceptance, while specific geographical data in Scripture are set aside as dysfunctional.

Third, more than the geographical clues found directly in Genesis 2:10-14 are at stake. The analysis presented above shows that details elsewhere in Scripture are related to those in Genesis 2. Abandoning the straightforward acceptance of geographical clues in Genesis 2 has ramifications for the veracity, or at least the geographical significance, of other portions of Scripture. However, in this regard, archaeological research has strongly witnessed to the truth of historical and geographical evidence in Scripture. Therefore, the burden of proof rests on any who advocate its geographical unreliability.

Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding CreationFourth, if renaming has occurred in Genesis 2:10-14, it would be appropriate to look for specific evidence of geographical renaming elsewhere in Scripture. Naming is treated in Scripture as having great importance.166 Both God and His people gave names to places and people which referred to their theological significance.167 In that context, if geographical renaming occurred, it is reasonable to expect an explicit witness to it, and more than once. Now, it is true in the Bible that reuse of personal names is common.168 There is occasional renaming, as Abram became Abraham, and Jacob became Israel. There is also prophetic identification using historic names: Jesus called John the Baptist by the name Elijah, after the Hebrew Scripture prophet; Matthew 2:18 applied the Ramah of Jeremiah's prophecy (31:15) to Bethlehem. But there is no specific witness in Scripture to an instance of a geographical place name being applied to a new location because the earlier site had been lost, destroyed, or forgotten.

It is curious that, in the end, the usually actualist young-earth creationist retreats on geographic name significance, while the form-critics and source-critics attach great importance to names, both geographical and otherwise, in their pursuit of understanding the Bible's origin and composition.169 (It remains true that the critics are in fact not literalists in the same sense as the young-earth creationists.)


About the author

John C. Munday Jr. is Professor of Natural Science and mathematics at Regent University, He has a B.S. in physics from Cornell University, Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Illinois.

John C. Munday, Jr

Rich Deem, editor

Paradigm Review

The focus here has been on testing the foundation of the Flood geology paradigm. Its basis is weakened by the contradiction between Eden's geography under actualism and the geologic implications of Flood geology. Given that Eden's geography is explicit (even if the exact location and some details remain puzzling) and brief, while Flood geology is inferential to a great degree, the least damage to actualism involves holding to actualism in Eden's geography, and loosening somehow the premises of Flood geology.

In scientific matters, however, the converse is true. If Eden's geography is not targeted as a geographically impossible post-Flood reconstruction, then the Flood geologist must reinterpret the stratigraphic and fossil record, and probably abandon the extreme geotectonic claims of Flood geology. Such an outcome would involve immense damage to a major thrust of creation science as presently advocated by its adherents.

In neither case, surprisingly, is there a requirement for regarding the stories of Eden and Noah as myths lacking historical basis. Such regards are certainly well-known in the literature of Bible commentary, whenever traditional literalism has been thoroughly discarded. However, the result here is only a weakening of actualist geography or Flood geology, not a repudiation of traditional literalism. One could argue, furthermore, that literalism in the case of Biblical geography is sustained.

As the thrust here has been a consistency test of Flood geology within Biblical literalism, there is no direct impact on the old-earth paradigm of conventional geology. Its scientific position, however, is left stronger by the weakening of foundations underlying its chief rival.

The results should not be viewed as having any obvious and simple impact on the metaphysical superstructure of either paradigm. The Flood geology paradigm is unabashedly theistic, even Judeo-Christian, in the metaphysical sense. The old-earth conventional geology paradigm is for many adherents metaphysically neutral, with respect to theism or the Bible. For other adherents it is compatible with Judeo-Christian theism. For still others, however, it is embedded in strongly held atheistic naturalism. The metaphysical impact of results here can therefore be expected to vary considerably.


The geography of the garden of Eden according to the Bible interpreted literally (or critically) under geographic actualism indicates its location was in southern Mesopotamia. Observational data combined with the paradigm known as Flood geology, also founded on Biblical literalism, yields the conclusion that Noah's Flood deposited over 9000 m of sediments in this region. Such deposits obviously would have obliterated the garden geography. Thus Eden's geography and Flood geology, both based on literalism, stand in contradiction. Some weakening of geographic actualism or Flood geology is the logically necessary outcome. Holding to actualism in the garden geography seems the least-forced of the alternatives, but then the negative impact on the Flood geology paradigm is severe.

Reprinted with permission of the Westminster Theological Journal: John C. Munday Jr., "Eden's Geography Erodes Flood Geology," Westminster Theological Journal 58 (1996) 123-154.

Other Resources Top of page

A Matter of Days by Hugh RossA Matter of Days by Hugh Ross

Dr. Ross looks the creation date controversy from a biblical, historical, and scientific perspective. Most of the book deals with what the Bible has to say about the days of creation. Ross concludes that biblical models of creation should be tested through the whole of scripture and the revelations of nature.

Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth by Mark S. Whorton, Ph.D.

This book, written for Christians, examines creation paradigms on the basis of what scripture says. Many Christians assume that the young earth "perfect paradise" paradigm is based upon what the Bible says. In reality, the "perfect paradise" paradigm fails in its lack of biblical support and also in its underlying assumptions that it forces upon a "Christian" worldview. Under the "perfect paradise" paradigm, God is relegated to the position of a poor designer, whose plans for the perfect creation are ruined by the disobedience of Adam and Eve. God is forced to come up with "plan B," in which He vindictively creates weeds, disease, carnivorous animals, and death to get back at humanity for their sin. Young earth creationists inadvertently buy into the atheistic worldview that suffering could not have been the original intent of God, stating that the earth was created "for our pleasure." However, the Bible says that God created carnivores, and that the death of animals and plants was part of God's original design for the earth.

A New Look at an Old EarthA New Look at an Old Earth by Don Stoner

Don Stoner looks at the age of the earth from a scientific and biblical perspective. He presents much more evidence that is not presented in Creation and Time.

The older version of A New Look at an Old Earth is available online

References Top of page

  1. I thank Joseph N. Kickasola and John Major for helpful criticisms, Adrienne Jarvis, Kathleen Gordon, and Michael Chrasta for research assistance, and Barbara Bilyk for secretarial support.
  2. John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, The Genesis Flood (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publ., 1961).
  3. Their literal framework sees the six yom in Genesis 1-2:4 as 24-hour days, and the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 as allowing only a few thousand years between creation and the time of Abraham in Genesis 12.
  4. For a Biblical argument against this position, see John C. Munday Jr., "Creature Mortality: From Creation or the Fall?" (JETS 35/1, March 1992) 51-68.
  5. Whitcomb and Morris.
  6. A representative sampling of pro-Flood scientific literature may be found as articles in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, 1964-present, and Proceedings of the First and Second International Conferences on Creationism (Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 1986 and 1990).
  7. J. A. Van de Fliert, Fundamentalism and Fundamentals of Geology (International Reformed Bulletin 32, Jan.-Apr., 1968) 5-27; J. Laurence Kulp, "Deluge Geology" (Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 2 (1, 1950)) 1-15; David M. Raup, The Geological and Paleontological Arguments of Creationism, in Laurie R. Godfrey, ed., Scientists Confront Creationism (New York: W. W. Norton, 1983), 147-162; Patrick L. Abbott, "The Stratigraphic Record and Creationism," in Frank Aubrey and William Thwaites, eds., Proc. 63rd Ann. Mtg., Pacific Div. Amer. Assoc. Adv. Science (vol. 1, part 3, San Francisco, CA: Pac. Div. AAAS, 1984) 164-188.
  8. See W. M. Overn, Foreword, in Proc. of the 1983 National Creation Conf., Science at the Crossroads: Observation or Speculation? (Minneapolis, MN: Bible-Science Assoc.) iii.
  9. Son of Henry M. Morris.
  10. It is of interest to note that Robert H. Brown, a young-earth creationist, has stated that inductive reasoning with radioisotope data would not lead by itself (i.e., without the Bible) to the concept of a young earth or to a universal deluge in historical time (John Morris, lecture, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, June 30, 1990); see R. H. Brown, "Radiometric Dating From the Perspective of Biblical Chronology," in Robert E. Walsh, Christopher L. Brooks, and Richard S. Crowell, eds., Proc. of the First International Conference on Creationism (Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, August 4-9, 1986) 31-53.
  11. These opposing paradigms should not be considered identical to the creationist and evolutionist paradigms, each of which encompasses alternatives as subunits. Flood geology is only one subunit under the creationist paradigm.
  12. Zimmerli notes that in the common New Testament formula "the law and the prophets," the "law" refers to the collection of scriptures identified with Moses, hence "All that is ‛Moses' is ‛the law'" (Walther Zimmerli, The Law and the Prophets, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1965) 5­7.
  13. For a statement of the traditional view, see John J. Davis, Paradise to Prison: Studies in Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1975) 24-26.
  14. See Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels (Berlin, 1883); English translation Prolegomena to the History of Israel (transl. J. Sutherland Black and Allan Menzies, Edinburgh: Adam & Charles Black, 1885). See Zimmerli, 23.
  15. For example, see Albert Outler, "Toward a Postliberal Hermeneutics," TToday 42 (1985) 281-291; Gerhard Larsson, "The Documentary Hypothesis and the Chronological Structure of the Old Testament," Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 97 (3, 1985) 316-333; R. J. Coggins, "Recent Continental Old Testament Literature", ExpTim 97 (1986) 298­301; R. N. Whybray, The Making of the Pentateuch: A Methodological Study, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Suppl. 53 (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1987); Alan J. Hauser, "Linguistic and Thematic Links Between Gen. 4:1-16 and Gen. 2-3," JETS 23 (4, 1980) 297-305; Stephen L. Portnoy and David L. Petersen, "‛Genesis, Wellhausen and the Computer': A Response," Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 96 (1984) 421-425; Yehuda T. Radday and Haim Shore, "Genesis: An Authorship Study in Computer-Assisted Statistical Linguistics," Analecta Biblica 103 (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1985).
  16. A review of the analysis of Genesis 2-3 by methods of literary-criticism, form-criticism, oral tradition history, and structural exegesis is provided by Howard N. Wallace, The Eden Narrative (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1985) 1.1-28. Wallace notes arguments for a mid-tenth century BC date for J; see 46-47.
  17. For a discussion of these issues, and a list of literature, see Claus Westermann, Genesis 1-11: A Commentary (transl. John J. Scullion, Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1984 (orig. 1974)) 178-278, esp. 190-194, 215; see also Nicolas Wyatt, "Interpreting the Creation and Fall-story in Genesis 2-3," Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 93 (1, 1981) 10-21. Contrary to others, Isaac M. Kikawada argues from word plays, lexical and syntactic structure, and thematic unity, that the river data are "an integral part" of the garden story ("The Irrigation of the Garden of Eden," in Georges Vajda, Études Hébraiques (Paris: L'Asiathéque, 1975) 29-33).
  18. Ibid., 194, 216, 217. He nevertheless believes that Genesis 2:8 is a geographical description, but intended to "push the scene...into the far, unknown distance..."; 210-211.
  19. George Bush, Notes on Genesis (vol I, Minneapolis, MN: Klock & Klock, 1852, repr. 1981) 57; Henry Alford, The Book of Genesis (Minneapolis, MN: Klock & Klock, 1872 (repr. 1979)), 12-13; U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (Part I, Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1978) 116-117.
  20. Robert Davidson, Genesis 1-11 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973) 33.
  21. W. F. Albright, "The Location of the Garden of Eden," AJSLL 39 (1, 1922) 15-31.
  22. E. O. James, The Tree of Life: An Archaeological Study (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1966) 74.
  23. Cassuto, 118.
  24. John Skinner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis (New York: Scribners, 1910) 62.
  25. Herbert E. Ryle, The Book of Genesis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1921)
  26. Yehuda T. Radday, "The Four Rivers of Paradise," Hebrew Studies 23 (1982) 23-31.
  27. J. L. McKenzie, "The Literary Characteristics of Genesis 2-3," TS 15 (1954) 555.
  28. Yairah Amit, "Biblical Utopianism: A Mapmaker's Guide to Eden," USQR 44 (1/2, 1990) 11-17.
  29. Daniel E. Burns, "Dream Form in Genesis 2.4b-3.24: Asleep in the Garden," JSOT 37 (1987) 3-14.
  30. Wallace (chapt. III) 65-99, esp. 74.
  31. See William A. Wright, "Eden," in William Smith, ed., A Dictionary of the Bible: Comprising its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History (Boston: Little Brown, 1860) 480-487. Wright concluded that the difficulty of resolving Eden's geography ranked with "quadrature of the circle"; see 486. See also Radday, 25-29.
  32. See D. R. G. Beattie, "Peshat and Derash in the Garden of Eden," Irish Biblical Studies 7 (1985) 62-75. See also Radday, 26-30.
  33. Radday, 30.
  34. See Dora J. Hamblin, "Has the Garden of Eden Been Located at Last?," Smithsonian (May 1987) 129-131.
  35. Manfred Hutter, "Adam als Gärtner und König (Genesis 2, 8:15)," Biblische Zeitschrift 30 (1986) 258-262; see also J. Vermeylen, "Le recit du paradis et la question des origenes du Pentateuque," BijdraGenesis 41 (3, 1980) 230-250. The garden, plant, and dust motifs of Genesis 2 are often paralleled elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures; the writers used conceptual, common­place imagery; see Tikva Frymer-Kensky, The Planting of Man: A Study in Biblical Imagery, in John H. Marks and Robert M. Good, eds., Love and Death in the Ancient Near East (Guilford, CT: Four Quarters Publ.) 129-136, and Delbert R. Hillers, "Dust: Some Aspects of Old Testament Imagery," in Marks and Good, 105-109.
  36. James M. Kennedy, "Peasants in Revolt: Political Allegory in Genesis 2-3," JSOT 47 (1990) 3-14.
  37. Chaim Abramowitz, "The Story of Creation, the Garden of Eden," part III, Dor Le Dor 10 (4, 1982) 234-242.
  38. F. F. Hvidberg, "The Canaanite Background of Gen. I-III," VT 10 (1960) 285-294.
  39. Wyatt, passim.
  40. Adrien J. Bledstein, "The Genesis of Humans: The Garden of Eden Revisited," Judaism 26 (2, Spring 1977) 187-200.
  41. William H. Shea, "Adam in Ancient Mesopotamian Traditions, Andrews Univ. Seminary Studies 15 (1, Spring 1977) 27-41.
  42. Similarly, Skinner thought it of interest where the Hebrew imagination would place the garden, and that attempts to locate it would elucidate both ancient geography and the origin and character of the garden story taken as a Paradise-myth; Skinner, 62.
  43. The Holy Bible, New International Version. Abbreviated below as NIV. All translated Bible portions are from the NIV unless noted otherwise (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1978).
  44. KJV.
  45. NASB (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1978).
  46. Manfred Görg, "Eine Heterogene Überlieferung in Genesis 2," Biblische Notizen 31 (1986) 19-24.
  47. Wallace, 73. See also the one other instance of 'êd in the Bible, Job 36:27, translated "mist" in the NAS, "vapor" in the KJV, and "streams" in the NIV.
  48. R. Laird Harris, "The Mist, the Canopy, and the Rivers of Eden," Bulletin (now JETS) 11 (Fall, 1968) 177-179; see also W. F. Albright, "The Babylonian Matter in the Predeuteronomic Primeval History (JE) in Genesis 1-11: II," JBL 58 (1939) 102ff.
  49. See E. A. Speiser, "'Ed in the Story of Creation," BASOR 140 (Dec 1955) 9-11; reprinted in J. J. Finkelstein and Moshe Greenberg, eds., Oriental and Biblical Studies: Collected Writings of E. A. Speiser (Philadelphia, PA: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1967) 19-22; see also E. A. Speiser, Genesis, AB (vol. 1, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964) 16.
  50. Harris, 178. The Glossary was not referenced.
  51. Assyrian Dictionary (University of Chicago, IV, 1958) 35-36, as referenced in Harris, 178.
  52. Ibid., 178.
  53. Albright, "Babylonian Matter," 102-103; Wallace, 73-74; Kikawada, 33.
  54. Hebrew Nôwd, for "wandering." But see Howard Jacobson, "The Land of Nod," JTS 41 (April, 1990) 91-92, who traces the word to the Hebrew root nûwach, "to rest," as in sleep or death.
  55. For analysis and speculation concerning metalworking traditions underlying Genesis 4, see John F. A. Sawyer, "Cain and Hephaestus: Possible Relics of Metalworking Traditions in Genesis 4," Abr-Nahrain 24 (1986) 155-166. He decides the Genesis 4 mention of forging bronze and iron tools is from the Late Bronze age or earlier.
  56. The genealogical data of Genesis 5 yield for the creation-Flood interval 1656 years (Hebrew Masoretic text), 1307 years (Samaritan version), or 2242 years (Greek Septuagint version). Examination suggests that the Septuagint and Samaritan genealogical data might be corruptions of the precursor of the Masoretic (which itself dates only from the 6th to 8th centrury AD but has been generally validated by the Dead Sea scrolls of 200 BC to 200 AD). See C. F. Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (vol. I, The Pentateuch, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1969 (orig. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1864-1901)) 121. Detailed study leads to the conclusion that the genealogical data suffer omissions, hence, "the Mosaic records do not fix and were not intended to fix the precise date either of the flood or of the creation of the world;" see William H. Green, "Primeval Chronology," 1890, reprinted in Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., ed., Classical Evangelical Essays in Old Testament Interpretation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1972) 27.
  57. See, for example, Robert W. Rogers, "Eden," in Samuel C. Jackson, ed., The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (vol. IV, New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1909) 74.
  58. Friedrich Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies? (Leipzig, Germany: J. C. Hinrichs'sche Buchhandlung, 1881); H. E. Ryle, Early Narratives of Genesis (London: Macmillan, 1904), ch. 2 n. 48; Joseph P. Free, Archaeology and Bible History (Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press, 1962) 30; Barry J. Beitzel, Garden of Eden, Moody Atlas of Bible Lands (Chicago, 1985) 75-76; Authur H. Lewis, "The Localization of the Garden of Eden," Bulletin (now JETS) 11 (Fall, 1968) 169-175; Ira M. Price, The Monuments and the Old Testament (Philadelphia, PA: Judson Press, 1925) 110­111; George F. Wright, "Eden," in James Orr, ed., ISBE (vol. II, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949) 898.
  59. Wright, 897.
  60. André Lemaire, "Le pays d'Eden et le Bît-Adini aux origines d'un mythe," in Syria: Revue D'Art Oriental et D'Archéologie, l'Institut francais d'archéologie du Proche-Orient (vol. 43, Paris: Libraire Orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1981) 313-330.
  61. Lewis, 170.
  62. The New Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967) map 5.
  63. T. Alton Bryant, ed., The New Compact Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1967).
  64. Ibid.
  65. Ibid.
  66. Ibid.
  67. Scofield, map 5; Beitzel, 78, map 21; Bryant.
  68. This conclusion was drawn by Henri Blocher, In the Beginning (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1984) 112-113.
  69. Alford, 11; James, 76.
  70. Friedrich Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies?, 4, 6, 79f; E. A. Speiser, "'Ed," 10; Lewis, 170-171; Beitzel, 74.
  71. See Lemaire, 315.
  72. Westermann, 210.
  73. Wyatt, 10-21.
  74. John Elder, Prophets, Idols, and Diggers: Scientific Proof of Bible History (New York: Bobbs-Merill, 1960, 40).
  75. Ugarit (Ras Shamra), a Phoenician seaport on the Mediterranean coast north of Sidon, yielded a rich library in 8 languages to a French expedition beginning in 1929; see Henry H. Halley, Halley's Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1965) 54-55.
  76. Westermann, 210. See Cassuto, 107; disputed by Gordon J. Wenham, WBC (vol. 1, Genesis 1-15, Waco, TX: Word Books, 1987) 61.
  77. See Speiser, AB, 19.
  78. Lemaire, 316; A. R. Millard, "The Etymology of Eden," VT 34 (1984) 103-106.
  79. James M. Gray, Christian Workers' Commentary on the Whole Bible (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co. (Spire Books), 1973) 17.
  80. Beitzel, 74; Kikawada, 33.
  81. Lemaire, 317-319.
  82. An Edenic source was claimed by G. Charles Aalders, Genesis (vol. I, transl. W. Heynen, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1981) 89; also by Wallace, 74, who so argued on the basis of yâtsâ' used with springs for drinking in Exodus 17:6, Numbers 20:11 and Judges 15:19; but the word has more general usage. Joseph N. Kickasola (personal communication) notes that a source under or within Eden is consistent with Ezekiel 47:1, Joel 3:18, and Zech 14:8, which represent Jerusalem as a source of rivers. The Koran (4:57) describes paradise as "gardens underneath which rivers flow." Neiman likewise concluded that "Gan Eden is not simply the beautiful paradise, but the source of all the great waters as well"; David Neiman, "Gihon and Pishon: Mythological Antecedents of the Two Enigmatic Rivers of Eden," in A. Shinan, ed., Proc. Sixth World Congress of Jewish Studies, (vol. I, Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, 1977) 324.
  83. Bush, 57.
  84. Wright, 897, 898.
  85. Aalders, 89, 91.
  86. Speiser, AB, 17, 20.
  87. See also Harris, 179; Lewis, 171; A. Noordzij, God's Woord en der Eeuwen Getuigenis (1931) 156, cited by Aalders, 89.
  88. Speiser, "The Rivers of Paradise," in Finkelstein and Greenberg 28. Speiser notes that S. N. Kramer, "Dilmun, the Land of the Living," BASOR 96 (1944), 28 fn. 42, showed that Sumerian poets and priests perceived the Gulf as the source of annual overflows of the Tigris and Euphrates, rather than Armenian runoff. Dilmun was the Sumerian Paradise at the Gulf head. Consequently, the four heads lie beyond the garden on the upstream side.
  89. Beitzel, 74.
  90. Speiser, AB, 20.
  91. Beitzel, 74.
  92. James Strong, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (1890) (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1980) no. 6376.
  93. Manfred Görg, "Zur Identität des Pischon (Genesis 2, 11)," Biblische Notizen 40 (1987) 11-13.
  94. Neiman, 321-328.
  95. Speiser, "Rivers," 27.
  96. This conclusion is the same as that of Bryant, 34.
  97. Ignoring the Amelikite information, Albright held that Havilah referred to both coasts of the Red Sea, and in Genesis 2, to the African Havilah (See Albright, "Location," 19-20).
  98. Westermann, 217; the sand connection is disputed by Albright, " Location," 18.
  99. Bryant, 357, 536.
  100. Pliny said it was a gum; see Alford, 12.
  101. NAS.
  102. NAS.
  103. Frederick H. Pough, A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1953) var. pp.
  104. Beitzel, 74-75; Speiser, "Rivers," 32. The compound Latin name used in English preserves the custom.
  105. Speiser, "Rivers," 32.
  106. The color indication also rules out Albright's identification (after Jensen, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, X, 368ff) of shôham as malachite, a green cupric carbonate, which led him via malachite's Nubian sources to put Eden in Africa (See Albright, "Location," 18, 20).
  107. See Friedrich Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies?, 51, 63, 68f; Rogers, 75; Wright, 898.
  108. Lewis, 171.
  109. The Wadi Rumma (Rimah), the extension of the Wadi Batin in north central Arabia, was proposed by F. Hommel, Ancient Hebrew Tradition (London, 1897) (as cited by Rogers, 75), as the river Gihon.
  110. See Hamblin, 127-135.
  111. James, 74. For additional analysis see also W. F. Albright, 15-31; Speiser, "Rivers," 23-34.
  112. Genesis 2:13.
  113. See a reference to the Gihon in Ben Sirach (Ecclesiasticus 24:25-27); Beitzel, 74.
  114. Neiman, 325, 327. Neiman speculated that "Gihon" led to the Greek Okeanos.
  115. See P. T. Crocker, "Cush and the Bible," Buried History 22 (2, 1986) 27-38 for the argument that Cush may refer to Sudan and not Ethiopia.
  116. See Pss 78:51; 105:23, 27; 106:22.
  117. Genesis 10:6-12 and 1 Chronicles 1:8-10.
  118. Speiser, AB, 20; Speiser, "Rivers," 25-26. See also Harris, 179; Aalders, 90; Beitzel, 74. Barton characterized the inhabitants as barbarians, called Kas(s)ites or "Cossaeans"; George A. Barton, Archaeology and the Bible (Philadelphia, PA: American Sunday-School Union, 1916) 65. The Kassite view of Cush was disputed by Albright, "Location," 19.
  119. Harris, 179.
  120. Wright, 898.
  121. F. Hommel, cited by Rogers, 75; see also Eduard Glaser, Skizze der Geschichte...Arabiens (ii 323 sqq., 341 sqq., Berlin, 1890, cited by Rogers) 75.
  122. Speiser, AB, 14.
  123. Philip H. Gosse, The Ancient and Modern History of the Rivers of the Bible (London: G. Cox, 1854) 86.
  124. Brenda R. Hockenhull, "Asshur," Biblical Illustrator 13 (Spring 1987) 74-76.
  125. Barton, 66.
  126. Geo. W. Gilmore, "Assyria," in Jackson, The New Schaff-Herzog (vol. I, 1908) 325.
  127. Gosse, 75.
  128. Lemaire, 322-325.
  129. Friedrich Delitzsch, AJSL, 35 (1919) 169; Elder, 39; Price, 110.
  130. Wright, 898.
  131. Price, 111.
  132. Ibid., 115.
  133. Wright, 898.
  134. Gosse, 84. Calvin also held this view; see John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, transl. John King (vol. I, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1948 (orig. 1554, printed London 1578) 118-124.
  135. Wright, 898; Gosse, 85; Beitzel, 74-75.
  136. Curtis E. Larsen, "The Mesopotamian Delta Region: A Reconsideration of Lees and Falcon," JAOS 95 (1975) 43-57; Curtis E. Larsen and Graham Evans, "The Holocene Geological History of the Tigris-Euphrates-Karun Delta," in William C. Brice, ed., The Environmental History of the Near and Middle East Since the Last Ice Age (London: Academic Press, 1978) 233.
  137. Geographical Section of the Naval Intelligence Division (Naval Staff), Geology of Mesopotamia and Its Borderlands (I.D. 1177, London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1918) 11; Freidrich Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies?, 175.
  138. Ibid., 12 and Fig. 2. See also J. de Morgan, Délégation en Perse, Mémoires, Tome I: Recherches archéologiques, Premiere Série: Fouilles à Suse en 1897-8 et 1898-9, par J. de Morgan, G. Jéquier et G. Lampre (Paris, 1900, xi, 202) pp., xxii pls. Beke preceded Morgan with highly speculative inferences on coastline advance based on Pliny and Lyell; see Charles T. Beke, "On the Geological Evidence of the Advance of the Land at the Head of the Persian Gulf," London and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science series 3, vol. 7 (1835) 40­46.
  139. For earlier reviews, see G. M. Lees and N. L. Falcon, "The Geographical History of the Mesopotamian Plains," Geographical Journal 118 (1952) 24-39; Larsen.
  140. P. Kassler, "The Structural and Geomorphic Evaluation of the Persian Gulf," in B. H. Purser, ed., The Persian Gulf: Holocene Carbonate Sedimentation and Diagenesis in a Shallow Epicontinental Sea (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1973) 11-32.
  141. See Taiba Al-Asfour, "The Marine Terraces of the Bay of Kuwait," in Brice, 245-254, for a review of literature and field data. Spatial variations in terrace elevations could be related to possible tectonic movements.
  142. See Larsen; Larsen and Evans.
  143. A. Falkenstein, "Die Eridu-Hymne," Sumer 7 (1951) 121-122; T. Jacobsen, "The Waters of Ur," Iraq 22 (1960) 184-185; both as cited by Larsen, 43.
  144. Hamblin, 130. The pre-Sumerian village of Al Ubaid was near Ur. See Lees and Falcon, 25; Larsen, 57.
  145. William D. Dietzman, Naim R. Rafidi, and Arthur J. Warner, Middle East - Crude Oil Potential From Known Deposits (DOE/EIA-0298, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Energy, 1981) 11; E. N. Tiratsoo, Oilfields of the World (2nd ed., Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Co., 1976); R. W. Powers, L. F. Ramirez, C. D. Redmond, and E. L. Elberg, Jr., Geology of the Arabian Peninsula: Sedimentary Geology of Saudi Arabia (USGS P-560-D, Reston, VA: U.S. Geological Survey, 1966); G. F. Brown, Tectonic Map of the Arabian Peninsula (Arabian Peninsula Series AP-2 (1:4M), 1972, Min. of Petrol. and Min. Res., Dir. Gen. of Min. Res., Kingdom of Saudi Arabia); N. E. Baker and F. R. S. Henson, "Geological Conditions of Oil Occurrence in Middle East Fields," Bull. Amer. Assoc. Petrol. Geol. 36 (10, October 1952) 1885-1901, reprinted in Anthony E. L. Morris, ed., Geology and Productivity: Arabian Gulf (Foreign Report Series No. 2, Tulsa, OK: Amer. Assoc. Petrol. Geol., 1978) 1-16.
  146. Data obtained from a 1987 field listing for Iran provided by Oil Research Corp., Houston, TX, representing Petroconsultants S.A., International Energy Services.
  147. Dietzman et al., 70-71.
  148. Ibid., 97.
  149. Charles D. Masters, H. Douglas Klemme, and Anny B. Coury, Assessment of Undiscovered Conventionally Recoverable Petroleum Resources of the Arabian-Iranian Basin (USGS Circular 881, Alexandria, VA: U.S. Geological survey Distribution Branch, 1982) 2-6.
  150. H. Douglas Klemme, Oil and Gas Maps and Sections of the Arabian-Iranian Basin (USGS OFR 84-353 19.76, Reston, VA: U.S Geological Survey, 1984); Masters et al., 3.
  151. Maurice Kameu-Kaye, "Geology and Productivity of Persian Gulf Synclinorium," Bull. Amer. Assoc. Petrol. Geol. 54 (12, December 1970) 2371-2394; reprinted in A. Morris, 19-42. See Figure 8, 2381 (repr. 29).
  152. Whitcomb and Morris, 228-232.
  153. Bernard Northrup, "Christianity and the Age of the Earth: An Open Letter to Davis A. Young," Bible-Science Newsletter 21 (5, May 1983) 1,2,15. Young is the author of Christianity and the Age of the Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982); Young accepts the standard geological timetable. Joseph N. Kickasola (personal communication) notes that the world's division at the time of Peleg could have been linguistic, at the Tower of Babel, given the use of pâlag in Psalm 55:9 where David asks God to "divide their tongues."
  154. Flood-generated petroleum is difficult to reconcile with Noah's use of pitch for his ark in Genesis 6:14 (if the pitch were petroleum-based), as noted by Alan Hayward, Creation and Evolution: The Facts and the Fallacies (London: Triangle, 1985) 185.
  155. John Calvin, Genesis (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975 (orig. 1554)) 119.
  156. Robert S. Candlish, Studies in Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal Publ., 1979 (orig. 1868)) 38.
  157. James G. Murphy, Commentary on the Book of Genesis (Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1873) 91-92.
  158. R. Payne Smith, The First Book of Moses Called Genesis (London: Cassell, 1885 (?)) 85. W. Wright, 486, noted a conjecture that the garden description originated in an inspired antediluvian document, commenting that it is "beyond criticism."
  159. A. Hallam, Great Geological Controversies (London: Oxford, 1983) 41-42, 157, 83. See William Buckland, Reliquiae Diluvianae (London: Murray, 1823).
  160. Hayward, 185.
  161. Whitcomb and Morris, 83 and note 4.
  162. Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976) 89.
  163. Ibid., 89-90.
  164. Ibid., 90. Interestingly, the present author has obtained the same responses from two other young-earth creationists regarding the problem. One was a published creationist author, the other the director of a regional creation-science chapter.
  165. Genesis 7:11 KJV. The NIV says "On that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened." Note that the Bible mentions only rain, floodwaters, and fountains in connection with the Flood (Genesis 6:17; 7:4, 12, 17-20, 24; 8:1-5), hence, its appellation as a flood.
  166. See Genesis 1-3; Numbers 32:38, 2 Kings 23:24, 24:17; 2 Chronicles 36:4.
  167. See Genesis 1:5, 8, 10. See George W. Ramsey, "Is Name-giving an Act of Domination in Genesis 2:23 and Elsewhere?" CBQ 50 (1, 1988) 24-35.
  168. See William P. Barker, Everyone in the Bible (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1966).
  169. Barr acknowledges the critics' use of literalism in his discussion of literalism; see James Barr, "Literality," Faith & Philosophy 6 (4, 1989) 412-428.

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