Friday, April 01, 2016

Thorns and thistles

We don't know a lot about the Garden of Eden. According to Gen 2, it was located somewhere in Mesopotamia. It was irrigated by river water. It contained fruit trees and tame animals. 

It's interesting to compare Eden to an oasis. For instance:

The oasis presents a drastic contrast involving a miniature "paradise" embedded in the vast, enveloping desolation. This is a very extreme example. 

One can imagine a little paradise that's utterly idyllic on the inside. If you're within the confines of the enchanted sanctuary, it will be lush in all directions. A thin rim of trees obstructs the view of the outside world. Yet only that ring of foliage a few trees deep partitions paradise from desolation. If you were to take a few steps into the verdant barrier, then step outside and see the world from the other side, your impression would be completely different. There's so little that separates you from the wasteland. An oasis, fringed by fruit trees and shade trees. An eye drop of life in a sea of sand. 

Imagine if you were banished from the oasis. Nothing but desert as far as the eye can see. 

I'm not suggesting that the buffer between the Garden of Eden and the world beyond was quite that tenuous. For one thing, the Garden was a riverine setting rather than an oasis. Still, the Garden may well have been situated in a narrow river valley. The countryside just over the ridge might be arid and barren. The Garden was a gift. 

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