What is the real story of the Garden of Eden?

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1. Paradise lost

The story of the Garden of Eden is one of the best known in the Bible. It explains how Adam and Eve, the first humans, sinned, were separated from God and were expelled from paradise.

Yet how much do you really know about the story? For example, the devil and the apple, although well known, are not mentioned in the version of the story found in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

More startling is the fact there is a second brief version of the Garden of Eden story in the Bible, which appears in the book of Ezekiel. It contains no reference to Eve and some scholars believe it was written before Genesis. It reveals a very different narrative in which a mighty king was thrown out of the garden for trading, violence and claiming to be like God.

2. CLICKABLE: Secrets of the Garden of Eden

Explore the image below to find out more about the key parts of the Eden story.

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The Garden of Eden, 1530. Cranach, Lucas, the Elder.

3. Where is the fabled garden?

The Bible hints at possible locations for the Garden of Eden. For centuries, theologians, historians and explorers have wondered about its whereabouts.

Iraq

There is a reference in the Genesis story to the Euphrates river.

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Iraq

The Euphrates runs through Iraq. One popular theory posits that Eden was located here, in the ancient cradle of civilisation.

Jerusalem

The Genesis story mentions the Gihon, one of three rivers which ran through the Garden of Eden.

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Jerusalem

The Gihon spring is located in Jerusalem. For some scholars this is evidence that this was the site of the real Garden of Eden.

Iran

Ancient Sumerian texts referred to Eden.

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Iran

These texts and archaeological evidence were used to theorise that Eden was located in a vast plain in Northern Iran near Tabirz.

Venezuela

Christopher Columbus believed that many of his voyages were divinely inspired.

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Venezuela

When he arrived in Venezuela, he thought he had found Eden. He backed this up with a theory that the earth was pear shaped with Eden at its highest point.