Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Paradise" Found

During my final year of schooling in High School, I was placed into a group of four students and asked to try and create our own utopia. I was never a studious student (doesn't seem like it right?), but this was a topic worthy of my invested time. I went home, brainstorming different facets of a "utopia" and I did a bit of research online. I wasn't fond of the word utopia, however, so I searched "paradise" in it's place. This search was far more rewarding, for the search on a utopia was too... idealistic and suited for personal pleasures.

Paradise, over time and much misconception, has changed in meaning drastically since it's origin, particularly from the meaning of its original root to the beliefs within Christendom and other religions.  Early Christians (anyone who followed in Jesus' footsteps) believed that paradise would be a restored Garden of Eden that would cover the entire earth as Matthew says the happy shall "inherit the earth" (Matt. 5:5). Some time after Jesus' death, seemingly within a short period of 2 centuries, Bishop Irenaeus (now considered Martyr and Saint) merged the ideas of a paradise and a heaven into one. Many Christians today believe this doctrine as truth, while some groups have reverted back to believing the doctrine that the earth will become a paradise after a global expurgation of evil.

The word Paradise can be traced back down the ages to the Old English (Anglo Saxon) PARADIS which came from the Latin PARADISUS which goes further back to the Greek PARÁDEISOS and even farther back to the Old Iranian (Avestan) PAIRI-DAEZA... That's a mouthful, but I find it amazing nonetheless.  The Old Iranian word pairi-daeza meant literally "a wall that surrounded a park or garden". The Persians were very meticulous about this practice about making a wall around their gardens or orchards to the point where they encouraged the Greeks into carrying out this practice, and a Greek mercenary (Xenophon) who spent time in the Iranian army called it a parádeisos.

In the 2nd century BCE, a group of seventy Greek men (a septuagint) translated the Hebrew word for paradise (Gan-Edhen) as parádeisos in reference to the Garden of Eden. And this was appropriate, as the Garden of Eden was evidently an enclosed park area. Over time, around the 13th century CE, Old English adopted the word into their language as paradis, now paradise.

I find it interesting to note the Hebrew word for paradise, though. It makes perfect sense, but it still astounds me. The Hebrew word for paradise is "GAN-EDHEN" which literally means Garden of Eden. This is what my group ended up calling our supposed utopia: Gan-Eden. But it just occurred to me to try and dig a little deeper. Our word "garden" sounds like a shortened gan-edhen, does it not? I looked it up, but the farthest back the word seems to go is the German GARTEN... I wouldn't be surprised (maybe I would actually) if our word for garden traced all the way back to the Garden of Eden.


If you find any research on this matter, I'd be glad to look into it, as I'm just as curious myself. If you have any other questions you'd like to ask me about this article or others, please do so in the comment area below. Also, if you have any ideas as to future topics of discussion TELL ME.

No comments:

Post a Comment