Was the Garden of Eden in present-day southeast Turkey–northwest Iraq? Was it at the confluence of the River Euphrates and River Tigris—the eastern most part of the Fertile Crescent—between Sumer and Sushan, abutting the uppermost extremity of the Persian Gulf? Or did we, according to palaeontology, come out of Africa?
I know not …
Recently, Stan Deyo came to conclude that Ghan Aden was to be found at the site of the Ngorongoro Crater, northern Tanzania [See The Garden of Eden: Where is it Located?, and see also Genesis : :  The Fall of Mankind].
… what I do know, however, and intuitively—what I know intimately—is that within Eden lay that Holy City, omphalos of the earth.
Locating the earth’s omphalos
A satellite image displays in orthographic projection a faithful representation of the proportions to the “Middle East”. It demonstrates clearly the Land of Canaan at the crossroads to the great landmasses (and empires): Europe to the north-west; Eurasia to the north along the Caucasus bridge, between the Caspian and Black Seas; east to central Asia and from there to the Far East; and Africa and the Arabian peninsula to the south.
The Land of Canaan today bears the name “Israel”, the epicentre of which is Jerusalem –the spiritual, and to most eyes political, crux of Israel. If Israel occupies one-third the length of the eastern seaboard of that Great Sea of the Old World, Yerushalayim centres that World.
Jerusalem sits at the very heart of the age-old tribal battle over this Land of Canaan – the Promised Land of Jewish folklore. But fascination with Jerusalem goes well beyond geography. For without qualification, Jerusalem affords pre-eminence for the spiritual battle within the big monotheistic three – between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
The battle – physical, intellectual, spiritual – involves the same bit of real estate, like some hotly contested property auction; only with eruptions of violence. Add to this melting-pot a drop, of oil, promises a viscous, volatile brew. And with recent and more remote turmoil in the region, a battle looms.
Each side to this tripartite battle, moreover, is convinced of victory. Although each tells a familiar tale from a mutual patriarch, each lays claim to it from a different guise and each adhering to an ending all their own. This is the battle.
The battle relates to nations and peoples, beliefs and counter-beliefs. The battle confronts East with West more than it does north with south. The battle brings into opposition both right and wrong or how, and by whom, they are to be defined. In short, the Battle is between three books: the Tanakh, the Bible, and the Koran.
The Tanakh is the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament, the story of the nation of Israelites, from the seed of Abraham and Sara through their younger son of promise, Isaac, and their emancipation from the successive yokes of Egypt, the wilderness, Canaanites, idolatry, pride, greed, Babylon, and Greece and, prophetically, also Rome. It is the story of the salvation of a people, through trial and tribulation, fortune and divine grace.
The Bible includes the Old Testament but also relates the story of a small sect of Judaism, followers of a Rabbi known as Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth who was recognised as the only Son of God, and who ultimately came to nominally envelop most of the western world in their ideology. The western world of Christianity, later known under the umbrella term of “Christendom”, shared a tempestuous relationship with both Judaism, as people of the Tanakh, and the Islamic people of the Koran. Indeed, much of the time following the death (and resurrection) of Jesus (the Christ) has been spent by these three sets of peoples coming to terms with each other and themselves. As such, Christendom, it may be said, rather than Christianity per se, has something to answer for in potentially misappropriating its original charge to spread the gospel – the “Good News” of the four books of the New Testament which relate the life of Jesus – to the four corners of the world.
The Koran (Quran), also follows the path of the mutual patriarch, Abraham, but from the perspective of his eldest son, through Hagar the Egyptian, Ishmael, father of the Arabs, and from whom came a self-declared prophet, Mohammed, said to be God’s great messenger.
One person unites these three books. At first blush that may appear to be Abraham. While Abraham is the bedrock of all three books, the one person who unites them more than any other is, in fact, Yeshua (Jesus). Because of a spiritual blindness, according to the New Testament of the Bible, the Jewish people are unable to acknowledge Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah and the Son of God. Apart from that, on the whole, Christians and Jews identify closely with one another. Muslims identify Isa (Jesus) as a very important prophet of God. Jesus is highly esteemed in Islam. However, the Koran tells of Jesus feigning death on the cross and, like (non-Messianic) Jews, Muslims refuse to believe Yeshua (Jesus) is the Son of God, claiming that God (Allah) is not begotten and has begotten not. For their part, Christians and Jews alike question the identity of this Islamic god.
Interestingly, “Isa” is mentioned 25 times in the Koran while “Muhammad” is only mentioned five times. Jesus is not mentioned by name in the Old Testament, but Christians argue that there are over a hundred references to Him in the Tanakh. Of course, the New Testament of the Bible revolves entirely around Yeshua of Nazareth and His teachings.
Surely mankind is now better at resolving conflict without resorting to armed conflict? The United Nations, for instance, proposes that the Old City be partitioned and granted International status recognition. The European Union, in fact, already considers Jerusalem a corpus separatum, to say nothing of the Vatican’s stance.
I detect, then, a conflict of interest among our paragons of virtue over Jerusalem. But, to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
And now, time for the great End-Time Battle.
Featured Image: Torah, Bible, and Koran