Newsweek: Amid war and looting, the Bible is being uncovered

The first paragraph in this week's Newsweek cover story did not portend well for the rest of the package. In "Unearthing the Bible," Melinda Liu and Christopher Dickey begin:

What there was in the beginning, in the world of the Bible, is what there was in the land now called Iraq. There is nothing left of the Garden of Eden, no artifact at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers where myth has placed the Temptation and the Fall.

Using the loaded word myth is a sure way to alienate a huge part of Newsweek's readership. And readers are going to get exactly the wrong idea about what the Bible says. Here's Genesis:

A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

No one across the spectrum of Genesis interpretations argues that the biblical garden of Eden actually existed at today's confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers—the geography just doesn't match, even if two of the names do. Even six-day creationists point to the description of four rivers and say there's no way we'll ever know where the Garden was. (They add that Noah's flood wiped away all traces.) So if tradition puts the Garden at a specific place in Iraq, that is indeed ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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