Could the Universe of Genesis 1 merely be Eden?

(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

This is a notion which has been brought up by several scholars of the OT, perhaps most notably John Sailhamer. It is also endorsed by numerous pastors and theologians such as John Piper, and was apparently endorsed in early medieval rabbinical texts.

I have already spoken of how Genesis 1 appears to be describing temple construction, in accordance with the great scholarship of John Walton. Here GK Beale explains how Eden is also described using temple imagery in Ezekiel 28. So is it possible that the temple of Genesis 1 is merely the Garden of Eden, not the universe? If so, then the Bible is silent about the history of the Universe as a whole.

What do you think of Sailhamer's interpretation of Genesis: Historical Creationism
(Edward Miller) #2

Could this be the case? I do believe that you have a good thought here. Whatever there was of creation besides Eden, seems to be a separate place. I am not Jewish; on the contrary, I am a Christian. However, I do believe that the Talmud in Judaism teaches that Gan Eden ( the Garden of Eden) was taken to heaven after the Fall, in other words, it was no longer on earth. The spirits of all the dead go to Gan Eden now according to Judaism. Gan is the Hebrew word for garden. I truly believe you have a good thought here. Others of us need to express our opinions on this. I do not believe that dinosaurs were in the garden; therefore, they could have been outside of Eden on the earth that was not part of paradise. Just food for thought.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #3

BTW, this is only a suggestion, it is not necessarily what I believe.

(Edward Miller) #4

Yes, but I like your suggestion. It shows you are a deep thinker.

(Laura) #5

So the idea being that when Genesis 2:8 says that God planted a garden “in Eden,” Eden was simply referring to one particular region on planet Earth? Or in other words, when Genesis refers to “the Garden of Eden,” it doesn’t mean “the garden named Eden,” (which I think is how many of us tend to see it) but rather a garden that was just one part of a larger area?

I do think that’s an interesting idea… but it probably brings up a lot of other questions as well. Such as, if Eden disappeared after the fall, then would the original audience of Genesis have understood it to be referring to just Eden when it says things like “God created the heavens and the earth”?

(Wookin Panub) #6

Interesting take, but the problem with this take is taking some obscure verse in the bible and applying to Genesis. Genesis spells out plainly the chronological order of when the universe was made. This is the problem when you don’t believe that Genesis can be taken as literal history. You end with all kind of theories, none of which brings you closer to the truth.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #7

It’s funny, I see the same sort of dynamics at work with the YEC movement, with weird theories about dinosaurs on the ark, humans hanging out with dinos, etc. It’s not in the Bible, but somehow they find it there in the text! Who knows where they got it…

(George Brooks) #8


Is it describing the day the Universe was created? Or just the days the planet Earth (along with, eventually the Sun and Moon) was created?

(Edward Miller) #9

If I were a Young Earther, I would have to believe that all dinosaurs were destroyed during the Deluge of Noah. If they weren’t, I can just see dino heads sticking out of the roof of Old Noah’s boat. Can you image that?

(Wookin Panub) #10

Ok…Those are science models. In which their theories could be valid in that (your model) no one actually was here to observe when dinosaurs walked the planet, but I digress. I am speaking about scripture, and that using obscure verses to come up with theories to explain what is plainly written in Genesis is not a wise thing to do.

(Wookin Panub) #11

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven(s) and the earth.” Now, this is just me, but I would have to assume that God created the universe before He created the earth to put it in

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #12

I quote St. Augustine, author of the doctrine of original sin, doctor of the faith, respected as a founding father of the entire Western Christian tradition:

“Now, it is a disgraceful and a dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.”


Bad assumption. Look at all of the uses of shamayim in Genesis 1. It is translated as heaven or sky. He created the sky to hold the sun, moon and stars, give the birds a place to fly, etc. To say this means the universe is adding to the text. You know the stars are part of the universe but the original author didn’t. He thought they were part of the sky.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #14

Ezekiel 28 may be relatively obscure. But it definitely refers back to Genesis 2-3, unless the Bible isn’t so inerrant as you think.

(Wookin Panub) #15

(1) I do not agree with everything Augustine wrote (2) He is fallible (3) I am not using the book of Genesis to explain how the world works. I merely stated what God said in Genesis 1:1 (4) I am a firm believer in predestination. I will be careful as not to look foolish to the unbeliever so as not to cast aspersion on God, but I do not hold to any illusion that anything I do or say (aside from preaching the gospel) is going to sway a person one way or another. God saves who He wants. He saves His elect.

(Wookin Panub) #16

I am glad you recognize that it is an obscure verse. My argument was not about that Ezekiel did not refer back to the book of Genesis. My argument was that we should not use an obscure verse to interpret parts of Genesis when Genesis is already sufficiently clear. If you can’t see how dangerous that is, then I don’t know what to say. We can do that to any book of the bible.

(Wookin Panub) #17

It’s not. I am not even going to debate that. It is clear from reading the Hebrew lexicon and throughout the bible that heaven(s) mean sky and above the sky. Furthermore the author is God. The creator of the heavens and the earth. I think God knew what He was referring to.

(Laura) #18

The authors of the Bible were many different people. God inspired it, but he did not dictate it verbatim.


My Hebrew lexicon says it means sky or the abode of God. When I read heavens in the Bible I don’t think of the Andromeda galaxy but the dwelling place of God.

But do you know what the Hebrew author meant when he wrote it? Without adding modern knowledge to that.

(Wookin Panub) #20

All scripture is God breathed…1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…“Prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”