Traditional Christianity has predominately characterized the Garden of Eden as reflective of the fall of mankind, with the widely held perspective being the standard arc of the serpent deceiving Eve, who in turn coaxed Adam into partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which contributed to the fall of mankind. As may be the case in scientific research and scholastic pursuit, simply focusing on a single passage does not provide the proper context, not to even take into account to which the myth has taken on many properties which are not even contained in the account of Genesis, in which the underlining theme also has contributed to the oppression of women throughout the centuries. There are many factors both historical, and also found within the Old Testament which may call many of the mythical themes which have continued throughout the centuries into question, in terms of reevaluating the creation myth found in the story of Genesis.
Simply reevaluating from a contextual Biblical perspective, within which the myth is portrayed, offers some initial insight which may provide relevant context in terms of interpreting the Genesis account. One being the symbol of the serpent as not always a negative connotation throughout the Old Testament. Another also remaining to gain a thorough understanding of the symbol of the serpent throughout ancient civilizations. In the context of the Old Testament the symbol of the serpent contained some positive connotation in certain instances as Exodus 7:10 provides the classical example as Aaron’s staff turns into a serpent in the presence Pharaoh, and later in Numbers 21:9 Moses is commanded to mount a serpent as a symbol for the people to look on. Ezekiel 28:13 also provides an interesting reference in stating ‘ Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.’ Gaining an broader understanding of the additional nuances associated with the symbols present in the Biblical account of the myth associated with creation provides greater clarity, and also may dispel many of the traditions that have evolved which may not have been held in varying ancient civilizations.
Another context which may provide insight is that in ancient times temples oftentimes held a connotation with being the place where a deity presence might reside. It also remains a generally widely held belief Mesopotamia is considered the birthplace of civilization, with the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon as one of the wonders of the ancient world. It is also important to note, Göbekli Tepe discovered in southeastern Turkey is the oldest known temple currently dated 11,500 years old and depicts various plants and animals, of which many temples whom followed mirrored. Could it be possible the Garden of Eden was actually an early temple with whom Adam, as indicative of a priest communed with God, with an allegory of the chaos that may follow when civilization strays from universal laws that guide harmony and peace, based upon an actual incident in time?
Given the newfound discoveries which are challenging previously dismissed notions of ancient flood myths, in addition to timelines of civilization, recent discoveries may provide greater clarity on myths such as the Garden of Eden, and their relevance to current society. Myths of the fall of civilization from an ancient Golden Age have permeated and transcended throughout the centuries. Notable such instances remain the Yuga in Hinduism which is an epoch or era within a four-age cycle (ages) in which the Satya Yuga, is also known as Krita Yuga or the Golden Age. The Krita Yuga is considered the Golden Age as it is an age when humans are governed by gods, and every manifestation is as close to purity and ideal. Another additional such instance as Plato in his Cratylus, whom also provided references to an age of golden men extensively in Ages of Man from Hesiod’s Works and Days, which denoted a period of peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity. It was during this age in which humans lived to very old ages, dying peacefully, yet living on as spirit guardians.
Given the greater context and understanding of the overlap of many myths which shares many similarities to other myths references an peaceful time when mankind lived in harmony with nature enjoying abundance is shared across many civilizations and religions. This is not unique to the Garden of Eden as the flood cataclysm is another prevalent ‘myth’ which also is shared across many Mesopotamia cultures. Given the additional Old Testament references which shed light on tradition and it’s impact on interpretation throughout centuries it is plausible the Garden of Eden may have been an allegory however yet plausibly based upon a factual time in history with which an civilization fell from perfection due to natural laws, which guide humanity towards harmony and peace.