Monday, June 27, 2011

What Paradise Must Have Been

Alice C. Linsley

Christ came to restore Paradise according to ancient Church teaching. It is said that by His Cross and Resurrection the “curse is made void,” “Adam is renewed” and “Eve is set free.”

So what was Paradise like? How can we best describe it?

Some believe that Paradise is a metaphysical concept intending original or primal innocence. That may be true, but Genesis maintains that Paradise was also a physical reality experienced by Abraham’s earliest ancestors.

The Paradise of Eden is described as a well-watered garden. If you are a gardener (as I am), you know how welcome water is, especially in hot weather. The text says that springs came up from the earth and there were rivers.

There were many trees and shrubs. Some believe that the earliest of Abraham’s ancestors were forest dwellers. This pushes those ancestors to a time before memory, and yet the Paradise they enjoyed is remembered. Jung might suggest that the Paradise of Genesis reflects the collective memory of Abraham’s people who originated in ancient Kush.

Today much of ancient Kush is desert. It is hard to believe that the region was ever a well-watered area but many discoveries, such as the 8000 year old Dufuna boat in the Sahara, provide considerable evidence that it was.

Today those who dwell in the region labor hard to sustain their families. They sweat under a crushing sun. The water is mostly gone. There is little rest. The infant mortality rate is high and many women die in childbirth or are ostracized because of fistulas. Death is commonplace and familial; its immediacy disturbing to those of us who try to hide it in clinics, hospitals, hospices and nursing homes.

Yes, the curse is real and most immediately felt in the very place that the Bible claims the Fall took place. So we have no reason to doubt that Paradise was likewise real.

What do you think Paradise must have been like? That’s something to ponder because Christ came to restore Paradise and you might want to consider what that will be like.

I'd love to read your thoughts! Leave a comment.


Anonymous said...

Ms. Linsley, I was taught many years ago that the first 11 chapters of Genesis were "pre-historical"; i.e., they transmitted the "existential fall/condition" of humanity in "poetic prose" but did not convey any actual historical truth. I'm unaccustomed to thinking of "Paradise" as an actual place, but your research is quite interesting; gives me a lot to re-think and process. Best and respectfully, Brent

Alice C. Linsley said...

Today our knowledge of many of the castes and related clans listed in Genesis 10 has brought this material into history.

Once the misconception that Gen. 10is a “Table of Nations” is set aside, we can explore the relationship of these peoples and reconstruct the two and three-clan confederations based on what is known about the Proto-Saharan languages spoken by Abraham's ancestors.

Best wishes to you and thanks for the thoughtful comment.

Joseph Messner said...

I have been curious about how God will treat the issue of history and nostalgia within "Paradise." I am a Civil War buff; I enjoy doing genealogy; I enjoy digging fossils and arrowheads; I like using my grandfather's shaving mug. All of these are past brought forward and embedded in the present and it gives a sweetness to life. I hope God has a means of embedding history in eternity...

Alice C. Linsley said...

Joseph, This is a wonderful comment! Indeed our hearts yearn for things of the past.

As to how God will handle that yearning... I believe it will be fully satisfied.