Garden of Eden

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In this essay on the second chapter of the Book of Genesis in the Pentateuch, a single example will serve to demonstrate the possibility that a so-called mythological narrative can not only anticipate that which will later be termed reality, but can itself provide knowledge equivalent in value to that later knowledge.

It will be seen that the story of the Garden of Eden is a case - there may be others - in which the insight into the structure of reality is so great and so important and is condensed into so small a space of literary expression, that the intensity of the inspiration bears no comparison with anything else in the whole field of mythological literature. Just enumerating the 'philosophical ideas' and 'answered problems' found in the text will show that it would be hard to find another poetic creation where the so many motifs have consciously been compressed in so simple a form. Every reader of the bible is familiar with the fact that there are accounts with many different levels of meaning, such that a child can understand them at one level, while philosophical minds continue their analyses and wonder to what depths they may yet be led. In my opinion, the story of the Garden of Eden surpasses all others in this respect.