Sanctuary/Temple in Genesis 1-3: A Reevaluation of the Biblical Evidence

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, Old Testament Studies PhD

First Advisor

Jacques B. Doukhan

Second Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Third Advisor

Roy E. Gane


This dissertation reevaluates the most significant biblical evidence and theological implications involved in the debate over possible vocabulary pertaining to a sanctuary/temple motif in Gen 1-3. Thus, this study addresses the following research question: Is there evidence for the sanctuary/temple in the creation and Eden narratives, and if so, what are the implications of this evidence?

Chapter I introduces the background to the problem by summarizing the most significant scholarly arguments for and against allusions to the sanctuary/temple in Gen 1-3. In addition, this chapter projects particular implications related to the interpretation of the Eden narratives (Gen 2:4b-3:24), the creation account (Gen 1:1-2:4a), and the theology of the sanctuary/temple in the biblical canon.

Chapters II-III reexamine the biblical evidence in the Eden narratives of Gen 2-3, specifically the arguments arising from the Hebrew word עֵדֶן in Gen 2:8, the garden as a mountain in Gen 2:10, the river of Eden in Gen 2:10, the Hebrew verbs עָבַד and שָמַר in Gen 2:15, the Hebrew word צֵלָע and the Hebrew verb בָנָה in Gen 2:21-22, the Hebrew participle מִתְהַלֵּךְ in Gen 3:8, the Hebrew word כֻּתֹּנֶת and the Hebrew verb לָבַש in Gen 3:21, the Hebrew word כְּרֻּבִים in Gen 3:24, and the eastern entrance to the garden in Gen 3:24. The discussion leads to the conclusion that the Garden of Eden and its cultic conceptual framework reflect the sanctuary/temple in the heavenly realm. Accordingly, the earthly sanctuary/temple (the wilderness tabernacle/Solomon’s Temple) is not the only type of the heavenly counterpart: the Eden narratives of Gen 2-3 portray in vertical typology an equivalence of functionality (Ezek 28).

Chapter IV reveals that the motif of temple building and the creation account of Gen 1:1-2:4a show a corresponding purpose by concluding with rest on the seventh day. This connection indicates that just as God governs from his sanctuary/temple (in the heavens), he governs the newly created earth (Gen 2:1-3; cf. Exod 20:11; 31:17; Pss 78:69; 132:7-8, 13-14; Isa 66:1-2). Similarly, the connection between the creation account and the sanctuary/temple motif is observed when the special vocabulary of the fourth day of the creation week is recognized (Gen 1:14-16), revealing the writer’s intentionality to embed the historical narrative within a semantic or conceptual framework.

Chapter V discusses the theological implications of the sanctuary/temple motif in Gen 1-3. The biblical evidence points to the interpretation of the beginning and end of Scripture (creation and re-creation) through the sanctuary/temple motif. Thus, the historical development of God’s creative and redemptive acts is framed by the sanctuary/temple. This conclusion is reached when considering the equivalence of functionality between heaven and earth through vertical typology, a pattern that is prevalent in Scripture. Accordingly, this vertical typology approach establishes the concept of Eden as an archetypal framework from the beginning of the biblical narrative to the end of it, and even beyond Heilsgeschichte into eternity.

Chapter VI summarizes the findings of this study. The reevaluation of the major biblical arguments for the sanctuary/temple motif reveals the presence of this motif both linguistically and conceptually in Gen 1-3. The protological and eschatological intertextual relationship comprehends a correlational semantical framework: the canonical/biblical narrative commences with Eden in heaven (Ezek 28), continues with Eden on Earth (Gen 2-3), and ends with a heavenly Eden on earth (Rev 22). Therefore, archetypically the Garden of Eden was, is, and will be the ideal place of rest in protology and eschatology.

Subject Area

Bible. Genesis 1-3--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Tabernacle; Temple of Jerusalem (Jerusalem)


This document is currently not available here.