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The Garden Of Eden And Missouri


WalkerW

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FAIR has a nice overview of the claims that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri. This is one that I have extreme difficulty with. I'm aware that no primary documentation for Joseph's claims exist, but the amount of contemporaries that say it came from him seem to indicate that it originated with him.

Being one who is not prone to take the Garden of Eden story as historically concrete, I'm kind of wondering what to do with this.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on the matter.

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It's called Sacralizing History. It's part and parcel of the project of updating the Bible to be specifically doctrinally relevant to the modern Generation. Placing Sacred locations in their midst made the saints view of their role in Religious History even more concrete. They could view themselves living the Drama, and walking where the Ancients walked, doing what the Ancients did. Life was the Sacred Drama. Later, this was more consolidated in the Temple experience.

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FAIR has a nice overview of the claims that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri. This is one that I have extreme difficulty with. I'm aware that no primary documentation for Joseph's claims exist, but the amount of contemporaries that say it came from him seem to indicate that it originated with him.

Being one who is not prone to take the Garden of Eden story as historically concrete, I'm kind of wondering what to do with this.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on the matter.

Well, if your not prone to take the Garden of Eden story as a historical event, then you can just as easily dismiss the idea that it existed at all.

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It's called Sacralizing History. It's part and parcel of the project of updating the Bible to be specifically doctrinally relevant to the modern Generation. Placing Sacred locations in their midst made the saints view of their role in Religious History even more concrete. They could view themselves living the Drama, and walking where the Ancients walked, doing what the Ancients did. Life was the Sacred Drama. Later, this was more consolidated in the Temple experience.

I'm aware of this and find that it fits very well. My question then would be this:

Was Joseph Smith and others aware that they were sacralizing history? The axis mundi changed locations in various traditions and Joseph seems to fit this Jewish pattern. But I don't know if he was attempting to fit the ancient pattern or merely thought that the Garden of Eden actually existed in Missouri. The temple and Zion were explicitly linked to the axis mundi if not synonymous with it. This makes more sense to me than the human race springing from Missouri.

But I'm trying to avoid reading my own bias toward sacralized history back on to Joseph and his contemporaries. The concept of the shifting axis mundi could either be a great example of Joseph Smith unknowingly fitting the ancient pattern or just revisionist history for the sake of apologetics.

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We also have the issue of the Doctrine and Covenants passages that speak of Adam/Michael dwelling in Adam ondi oman which is in Missouri.

How did Adam live in Missouri while other patriarchs live in the middle east.

I know the flood takes care of this problem, but I'm not prone to accepting a world-wide flood either.

I read the FAIR article on this subject but all the different theories just seem a bit too convoluted for me.

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FAIR has a nice overview of the claims that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri. This is one that I have extreme difficulty with. I'm aware that no primary documentation for Joseph's claims exist, but the amount of contemporaries that say it came from him seem to indicate that it originated with him.

Being one who is not prone to take the Garden of Eden story as historically concrete, I'm kind of wondering what to do with this.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on the matter.

Yes, but they are pretty good 2nd hand accounts... unless we think the prophets were lying.

Brigham Young stated, “Joseph the Prophet told me that the garden of Eden was in Jackson [County] Missouri.” (Journal of Wilford Woodruff, vol. 5, 15 Mar. 1857, Archives Division, Church Historical Dept., Salt Lake City.)

Heber C. Kimball said: “From the Lord, Joseph learned that Adam had dwelt on the land of America, and that the Garden of Eden was located where Jackson County now is.” (Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, 9 vols., Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson, 1888, 7:439; see also Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1967, p. 219.)

Joseph Fielding Smith said: “In accord with the revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, we teach that the Garden of Eden was on the American continent located where the City of Zion, or the New Jerusalem, will be built. When Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden, they eventually dwelt at a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman, situated in what is now Daviess County, Missouri. … We are committed to the fact that Adam dwelt on [the] American continent.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., comp. Bruce R. McConkie, Salt Lake City:Bookcraft, 1956, 3:74. Compare Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957–75, 2:93–95, 4:19–24; and Alvin R. Dyer, in Conference Report, Oct. 1968, pp. 108–9.)

D&C 116 also identifies Adam-ondi-Ahman, a site near the Garden of Eden, to be in Daviess County, Missouri, some seventy miles from present-day Kansas City. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., New York City: Macmillan, 1992, 1:19–20.)

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Joseph Smith likely said it, and it was likely his opinion.

He was speaking as a religious ethnocentrist, relocating biblical events to his own backyard - he and all the early saints were very into the idea of America being a "land of promise" and believed Zion would be established on the American Continent.

Garden of Eden in Missouri: not doctrinal (IMO).

Garden of Eden physically existing on earth sometime in the distant past: unlikely.

Garden Story largely figurative and allegorical (non historical): likely.

Cinepro's Constant: no LDS leader has ever publicly taught any Old Testament story is anything but literal, and the current correlated curriculum of the LDS church portrays OT events as totally historical and global in scope.

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Joseph Smith likely said it, and it was likely his opinion.

He was speaking as a religious ethnocentrist, relocating biblical events to his own backyard - he and all the early saints were very into the idea of America being a "land of promise" and believed Zion would be established on the American Continent.

Garden of Eden in Missouri: not doctrinal (IMO).

Garden of Eden physically existing on earth sometime in the distant past: unlikely.

Garden Story largely figurative and allegorical (non historical): likely.

Cinepro's Constant: no LDS leader has ever publicly taught any Old Testament story is anything but literal, and the current correlated curriculum of the LDS church portrays OT events as totally historical and global in scope.

Does it really matter if the story is allegorical or historical?

My belief in Noah isn't going to cause me to climb a mountain in Turkey to verify with my own eyes if the Arc is there. Nor is it going to cause me to search the areas that Joesph Smith named as the areas around the Garden of Eden for an Angel with a Flaming Sword.

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Joseph Smith likely said it, and it was likely his opinion.

He was speaking as a religious ethnocentrist, relocating biblical events to his own backyard - he and all the early saints were very into the idea of America being a "land of promise" and believed Zion would be established on the American Continent.

Garden of Eden in Missouri: not doctrinal (IMO).

Garden of Eden physically existing on earth sometime in the distant past: unlikely.

Garden Story largely figurative and allegorical (non historical): likely.

Cinepro's Constant: no LDS leader has ever publicly taught any Old Testament story is anything but literal, and the current correlated curriculum of the LDS church portrays OT events as totally historical and global in scope.

Do you believe the D&C's reference to Adam Ondi Ahman or the Book of Mormon's claim about the New Jerusalem being on this land of America?

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Let's not forget Joseph's statement about Noah launching the Ark from what is presently the state of South Carolina... or of the City of Enoch being in the Gulf of Mexico.

See my tagline for why I believe Joseph was accurate in all this.

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I, personally, believe the Garden was in western MO. with the center of the garden being the Temple Lot in Independence. I believe history begin there and that history will "end" there, like a giant chiasm (sp?).

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Does it really matter if the story is allegorical or historical?

Nope.

LDS folks can make up their own minds on whether it really happened or not.

I think soon the church will reach a tipping point where a majority of members will not believe the Flood was a global event.

In Elders quorum the issue came up, a couple of Elders shared how they believed it was local. Most were ambivalent/agnostic to its scope. Nobody took the global view. The instructor said what you just said; "it doesn't matter".

Do you believe the D&C's reference to Adam Ondi Ahman or the Book of Mormon's claim about the New Jerusalem being on this land of America?

No, I don't believe either are literal.

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Nope.

LDS folks can make up their own minds on whether it really happened or not.

I think soon the church will reach a tipping point where a majority of members will not believe the Flood was a global event.

In Elders quorum the issue came up, a couple of Elders shared how they believed it was local. Most were ambivalent/agnostic to its scope. Nobody took the global view. The instructor said what you just said; "it doesn't matter".

No, I don't believe either are literal.

So likewise, the 10th Article of Faith is also not literal?

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Cinepro's Constant: no LDS leader has ever publicly taught any Old Testament story is anything but literal, and the current correlated curriculum of the LDS church portrays OT events as totally historical and global in scope.

But what is missing is that all of this is totally UNKNOWABLE, scientifically speaking. When science finds where the Garden of Eden was, let me know.

To use my old analogy, just asking the question is like asking "What color is virtue". Just as virtue does not have a color, the Garden didn't have a "where" because there were no maps to put it on! No place names- no latitude longitude- no "Asia" no "Middle East" no "Middle West".

Or better still, you can believe it was "anywhere" you like, and you will be perfectly right.

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But what is missing is that all of this is totally UNKNOWABLE, scientifically speaking. When science finds where the Garden of Eden was, let me know.

Joseph Smith did let us know.

He evidently pegged the location of the Garden of Eden to be a lush area he was familiar with. This statement was recorded and entered the mormon vernacular. Now the location of the garden of Eden might as well be revealed doctrine.

On the other hand, there is considerable scientific evidence casting doubt on two modern humans living in a paradisiacal garden in Jackson Co. Missouri 6000 years ago.

Taking nothing away from Joseph Smith's prophetic claims - I believe the nature of Creation Myths (including the LDS Temple Drama), Scriptural Allegory and Metaphor, all point to the Adam & Eve story being figurative.

To use my old analogy, just asking the question is like asking "What color is virtue". Just as virtue does not have a color, the Garden didn't have a "where" because there were no maps to put it on! No place names- no latitude longitude- no "Asia" no "Middle East" no "Middle West".

Or better still, you can believe it was "anywhere" you like, and you will be perfectly right.

Even if I believe it existed mainly in the imaginations of Ancient Hebrew authors and Early LDS leaders?

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Does it really matter if the story is allegorical or historical?

It's presented as historical so even though there is much of it that can be allegorical or metaphorical, there must be some historicity to it else the doctrine is false.

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My problem is when you read Moses 3:10-15

They talk Ethiopia, Assyria, Euphrates... The description seems very much like Mesopotamia, not Missouri. When clicking on the footnote on lds.org for Ethiopia it says that the names for these places attached with Eden were later used for lands that were elsewhere.

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Even if I believe it existed mainly in the imaginations of Ancient Hebrew authors and Early LDS leaders?

Believe what you like. It certainly "existed" there- the point is that it existed outside of a human locational context. "Where" it was is unknowable and I would argue, irrelevant.

It's like asking "what happened before there was time"? There was no "before" time- because there was no time. There was no "place" because "places" had not been invented yet.

It was the "whole known world" at the time. Does that help?

That is how the flood for example can be both global and local at the same time. It covered everything known.

We can't know anything or anywhere outside human experience. It is like talking about something "outside the universe" Good luck.

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For your consideration...

What Do We Know About the Location of the Garden of Eden?*

Bruce A. Van Orden, associate professor of Church history, Brigham Young University.

We must remember that the whole earth was paradisiacal before the Fall. The Garden of Eden was a center place. After the Fall, there was no Garden of Eden or paradisiacal status on earth. Yet relative to the locale of the site of the Garden of Eden, the Prophet Joseph Smith learned through revelation (D&C 57) that Jackson County was the location of a Zion to be and the New Jerusalem to come. The Prophet first visited Jackson County, Missouri, in the summer of 1831. The Prophet visited Jackson County again in April and May 1832. On one of the occasions, or perhaps both, the Prophet Joseph apparently instructed his close associates, and perhaps even a general Church gathering, that the ancient Garden of Eden was also located in Jackson County.

Brigham Young stated, “Joseph the Prophet told me that the garden of Eden was in Jackson [County] Missouri.” (Journal of Wilford Woodruff, vol. 5, 15 Mar. 1857, Archives Division, Church Historical Dept., Salt Lake City.) Heber C. Kimball said: “From the Lord, Joseph learned that Adam had dwelt on the land of America, and that the Garden of Eden was located where Jackson County now is.” (Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, 9 vols., Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson, 1888, 7:439; see also Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1967, p. 219.) Other early leaders have given the same information.

Unfortunately, we do not have primary source documentation for all of Joseph Smith’s revelations or doctrinally related declarations. This is especially true for the periods when he did not have a scribe to keep a record of his daily activities. His 1831 and 1832 trips to Missouri fit into this category.

One of the early Latter-day Saint residents of Jackson County was Emily Austin. Remembering her first year there, she reminisced, “Our homes in this new country presented a prosperous appearance—almost equal to Paradise itself—and our peace and happiness, we flattered ourselves, were not in a great degree deficient to that of our first parents in the garden of Eden.” (Mormonism; or, Life among the Mormons, New York:AMS Press, 1971, p. 67.) She was reflecting a commonly held belief among the Saints that Eden was in Jackson County.

It wasn’t until May 1838 that revelation (D&C 116) identified Adam-ondi-Ahman, a site near the Garden of Eden, to be in Daviess County, Missouri, some seventy miles from present-day Kansas City. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., New York City: Macmillan, 1992, 1:19–20.) Other revelations referring to Adam-ondi-Ahman were D&C 78:15–16 and D&C 107:53–57.

President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “In accord with the revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, we teach that the Garden of Eden was on the American continent located where the City of Zion, or the New Jerusalem, will be built. When Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden, they eventually dwelt at a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman, situated in what is now Daviess County, Missouri. … We are committed to the fact that Adam dwelt on [the] American continent.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., comp. Bruce R. McConkie, Salt Lake City:Bookcraft, 1956, 3:74. Compare Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957–75, 2:93–95, 4:19–24; and Alvin R. Dyer, in Conference Report, Oct. 1968, pp. 108–9.)

*Questions of general interest answered for guidance, not as official statements of Church policy

(Emphasis Added)

What Modern Revelation Teaches about Adam

Having experienced the change to mortal bodies, Adam and Eve were driven from Eden and began to till the earth and raise flocks. President Brigham Young and others reported that the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri, and that the nearby valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman was, at least for a period, “the land where Adam dwelt” (D&C 117:8 ).

“In the Beginning”: A Latter-day Perspective

When Adam and Eve were placed on the earth, they lived in the Garden of Eden. We do not know its dimensions, but the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that it was located in or near Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. 16 We learn in the Doctrine and Covenants that Adam and Eve later lived, at least for a period, not far distant from the garden, at Adam-ondi-Ahman (see D&C 117:8 ).

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Noah had traveled for a year, a considerable distance from anywhere near the lands by Eden, unless you think Noah spent a year floating in a single spot. The original Tigris and Euphrates rivers the Bible described was said to have a common source, which the current rivers do not.

Joseph Smith did not reveal to us that Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri, he said it is where a place he named Adam-ondhi-Ahman is.

What Joseph Smith taught was that Adam just prior to his death, had a meeting with his posterity at a place designated as "Adam-ondhi-Ahman." (D&C 107:53)

Later, Joseph Smith said that an event spoken of by Prophet Daniel would occur in Jackson County, Missouri, the area was at that moment renamed "Adam-ondi-Ahman" because, said he, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people again for another meeting with his posterity. (D&C, 116:1)

Because of the reference of Adam's mortal and immortal presence at a place that are both called Adam-Ondi-Ahman have led most Latter-day Saints to conclude they are one and the same, and merely by extension, they also assume that Garden of Eden must likewise be somewhere near by.

The claim to the location of the Garden of Eden is not an official doctrine of the church, such a claim has not been canonized, members are not bound to believe unofficial doctrine. It seems likely Joseph was the source of the idea (or, at the very least, they perceived this to be what Joseph had told them). We have no contemporaneous record of Joseph Smith teaching explicitly that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri. Though it is consistent with Latter-day Saint lore.

Among Latter-day Saints, there is a variety of lore for this issue. Each theory depends on the various ways one has dealt with other scientific issues such as the Age of the Earth, Death before the Fall, Evolution, Pre-Adamites, Noah's Flood, the extent to which scripture ought to be interpreted literally, etc.

Some say there are two Adam-ondi-Ahmans, that the American Adam-ondi-Ahman is so named because of a future event, simply because it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people. That it was named so because it's analogous to the site of a new "Jerusalem" (rather "Zion" the "New Jerusalem", not the re-founding of the original Jerusalem) that is to be built on the American continent. And so, that's not to say Adam didn't live and stay in the Middle East, only that the name Adam-ondi-Ahman is being given to a second site (i.e., at Missouri) in memorial of the first great meeting of the whole righteous human race. That first meeting, at which Adam presided, would then be a foreshadowing of the greater meeting of all the righteous prior to Christ's triumphant return in glory.

This reading might explain why D&C 116 bothers to give an explanation as to why he is giving that name to the site. If the site were simply the place that was already once called Adam-ondi-Ahman, perhaps there would be little need for it to seem like he's re-naming the place. This does not mean the "Adam-ondi-Ahman" site is the same as Adam's Adam-ondi-Ahman, or that the old Adam-ondi-Ahman has ceased to exist, and should still be considered to be somewhere in the Middle East after all.

But that is just one theory of about six that I am aware of. The theory Noah traveled from the somewhere in the Americas and then arrived at Ararat is very satisfying for most people's dogma demands.

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President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “In accord with the revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, we teach that the Garden of Eden was on the American continent located where the City of Zion, or the New Jerusalem, will be built. When Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden, they eventually dwelt at a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman, situated in what is now Daviess County, Missouri. … We are committed to the fact that Adam dwelt on [the] American continent.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., comp. Bruce R. McConkie, Salt Lake City:Bookcraft, 1956, 3:74. Compare Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957–75, 2:93–95, 4:19–24; and Alvin R. Dyer, in Conference Report, Oct. 1968, pp. 108–9.)

I have no problem with the Garden of Eden being here, but what are the "revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith" on the subject? The two verse sets given for the location of the Garden of Eden do not say where the Garden was located.

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I have no problem with the Garden of Eden being here, but what are the "revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith" on the subject? The two verse sets given for the location of the Garden of Eden do not say where the Garden was located.

Yes, where is the "Revelation" that linked the Garden of Eden to a specified location in Missouri?

This seems to be another Zelph incident:

Joseph Smith is with some buddies gazing over a bucolic pastoral scene on the American frontier and remarks it "looks like the Garden of Eden".

Brother Orson hears it as "this is the Garden of Eden." At breakfast Bro. Orson tells it to Bro. Richards, who records in his journal "Brother Joseph revealed to use the location of Adam's Garden of Olde." A hundred years later Joseph Fielding Smith (who else?) is calling it revealed doctrine and getting it into lesson manuals.

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