TOM - I saw a program
on the history channel devoted solely to the possible
locations of Eden. One claim, that made sense to me
was that Eden was located just to the west of the
Persian Gulf now surround by and what is known as
Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait. The reason this location is so
appealing to many is due to the fact that the four
surrounding and connecting rivers and ancient river
beds are congruent with those mentioned in the Old
Testament account. Also the terrain and vegetation,
specifically fruit and fig trees are very prominent
there. Is there any evidence that would
support the Garden of Eden being in Jackson County as the Church claims?
JOEL - First of all, knowing the exact location of the Garden of Eden is not essential for the salvation of mankind and is therefore classified more as Mormon trivia rathar than as an "official" truth or Church doctrine.
Latter-day scripture does not categorically pinpoint the location of the Garden of Eden, but it does place Adam in the Western Hemisphere-stating that he dwelt at Adam-ondi-Ahman-and speaks particularly of Spring Hill in Daviess County, Missouri, as the place where Adam shall come to a future council meeting (see D&C 78:15; 116:1; 117:8). Drawing on this information, early Latter-day Saints concluded that the area now called the state of Missouri is the place where Adam and Eve dwelt after their expulsion from the garden.
There are no existing documents containing a specific declaration in the words of Joseph Smith in which he gave the exact location of the Garden of Eden, but several secondary sources report that he did so. Presidents Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Joseph Fielding Smith all said that Joseph Smith taught that the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County, Missouri, where the city of Independence now is.
President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
According to Wilford Woodruff, President Brigham Young once said: "Joseph, the Prophet, told me that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri. When Adam was driven out he went to the place we now call Adam-ondi-Ahman, Daviess County, Missouri. There he built an altar and offered sacrifices." (Heber C. Kimball, in Journal of Discourses 10:235.)
Speaking in Provo, Utah, in 1863, Heber C. Kimball discussed several things about Adam and about the redemption of the earth. As one of his points he said:
"The spot chosen for the garden of Eden was Jackson County, in the state of Missouri, where Independence now stands; it was occupied in the morn of creation by Adam and his associates who came with him for the express purpose of peopling this earth." President Kimball further commented that "the Prophet Joseph frequently spoke of these things in the revelations which he gave, but the people generally did not understand them." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-56), 3:74.)
The rivers spoken of in Genesis and in the Book of Moses are rivers that existed when all the waters of the earth were in one place. If all the waters were in one place, then obviously all the land was in one place (Gen. 1:9).
This was before the days of the flood. There can be no question that during the flood great changes were made on the face of the earth. The land surface was in the process of division into continents. The rivers mentioned in Genesis were rivers that existed in the garden of Eden long before the land was divided into continents and islands(Gen. 10: 25). The flood covered the entire earth, including those ancient rivers. After the flood, sedimentary layers sometimes miles thick may have buried forever the pre-Flood world, including the original Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Therefore, today's Tigris and Euphrates may have been named after the original pre-Flood rivers but may not be in the same place.
I think because of the above information, as far as I know, there have been no attempts to find physical evidence to support the claim of the Garden of Eden being in Jackson County, Missouri.
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