First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

This region, called Damascenus, is a realm of bliss, higher than the earth, tempered with the purest air, and everywhere dressed with flowering plants in good keeping. As Isidore says, it is planted with every species of fruit bearing trees. It is not hot, but has a constant temperate climate. Out of the center runs a spring that waters the woodlands throughout. As the master of history states in his beginning of the world, Paradise faces the east, and is located so high that the waters of the flood did not reach it.

Strabo[ Strabo, Greek geographer and historian, was born c. 63 BCE, at Amasia in Pontus, a city which has been much Hellenized. He studied under noted masters, visiting Rome early in life. Although he had seen comparatively small portions of the regions he describes, he traveled much. His is the most important work on that science left us by antiquity. It consists of seventeen books, dealing with the various countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. He chiefly employed Greek authorities, the Alexandrian geographers Polybius, Poseidonius and Theophanes of Mytilene, the companion of Pompey. He probably amassed his material in the library of Alexandria, and made comparatively little use of Roman authorities.] and Bede[ Bede (672 or 673-735), English historian and theologian, commonly called "the Venerable Bede," earned for himself the title Father of English History, by his .] say that it extends into the orbit of the moon; but others maintain that it does not. It is a most wholesome place, longer and broader than the earth and sea, and if man had not sinned, God would have enlarged it to accommodate all persons. The trees of Paradise never lose their foliage, and Enoch and Elijah will tarry there unmolested until the Day named by the master historian. As Bede says, the place is so high that no one can reach it; it extends into the upper region of the air. The waters precipitated from it make such a roar that the people who live in the vicinity lose their hearing. According to Basil and Ambrose these waters flow out of a spring in Paradise, giving birth to four rivers, namely, the Pison or Ganges; the Gihon or Nile; the Tigris, and the Euphrates.

Paradise is a well ordered place, and is located in the East, directly below the Scales and the Ram, and therefore the sun passes through the middle of Paradise twice a year. The air is most subtle and quiet, and the nights are always the same. Elijah and Enoch can see both poles. The trees bear twice a year, for each year has two summers and winters. Our longest day and shortest night is the depth of their winter, while our equal days and nights are their midsummer. Marcianus[ Marcianus, Greek geographer, was born about 400 CE. Two of his works have been preserved in more or less mutilated condition: , intended as a complete description of the coasts of the eastern and western oceans; and (Mediterranean), a meager epitome of a similar work by Menippus of Perganum.] says that India has two summers and winters. So it appears that this place is the highest point of the earth, the most celestial, most temperate, most regulated, most blissful, and most fertile; and no doubt it also has a garden of all pleasure; for here are verdure, pleasing flowers, herbs agreeable to the taste, fresh spring waters, shade trees, fruit in abundance, and the songs of birds.

For the adornment of Paradise God also planted three kinds of trees, as Isidore and Augustine state, namely, the first, to sustain life, and of which God commanded and said, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; the second, planted by God to insure obedience—the tree of knowledge of good and evil, of which God forbade them to eat.[] But our first parents did not keep this commandment, and therefore, after partaking of its fruit, their eyes were opened and their mutual desires were aroused—something to which their eyes had been closed, as Augustine states. And now, as they became conscious of the temptations of the flesh, and of the desires working within them, and realized that they had deprived themselves of grace, they made garments of fig leaves to cover and protect themselves. However, it is not to be understood that the sin of Adam and Eve consisted in the fruit of the tree, nor in its enjoyment, as Augustine states, but in the unlawful desires which contravened the divine mandate. For it is one thing when something is forbidden as sinful, and another when it is sinful because it is prohibited.[ This is an elementary legal distinction between acts inherently wrong ( mala in se ), and acts which are wrong merely because they are forbidden ( mala prohibita ). Murder is an example of the former, while poaching in violation of game laws, or smuggling, in violation of the revenue laws, are examples of the latter. The first class includes such offenses as we are in conscience bound to abstain from, apart from their being prohibited by statute.] And this was the case here. The tree of knowledge of good and evil was so called because of what ensued upon its enjoyment; for soon after partaking of its fruits they discovered the evils of weakness and illness, and the opposition of the flesh to reason. And they came to recognize the benefits of good health, strength and obedience, just as the doctor recognizes the plague not only by attendance upon the sick, but by suffering from it himself. What he knows of his art, he afterward learns by experience; for he who does not taste the bitter, soon tires of the sweet. The third is the tree of life. It is the noblest, first, because of its strength; for he who ate thereof became immortal and free from all illness and infirmity; not, however, through natural strength, but rather by grace, for a virtuous soul obedient to God is absolutely essential to immortality, as Thomas states. As often as a person became ill, he could have restored himself to health by partaking of the fruit of this tree, and this he could have continued to do until the time of the outer world had been fulfilled, when all persons would have been taken into heaven together. And it is the noblest, secondly, because of its location; for it stands in the middle of Paradise as the most precious and worthy, like the heart of a creature that lies in the middle of its body giving life to the whole, like the Cross of Christ which gives life to the entire world and draws all things unto itself. Thirdly, because of its holy significance. As Augustine says, the tree of knowledge of good and evil represents freedom of will, while the tree of life personifies Christ.

After man's fall the approach to this region was girded about by a fiery wall reaching to the heavens. A cherubim, which is a guardian angel, was stationed on the walls to ward off the evil spirits. The flames bar out mankind, and good angels drive away bad angels; and thus neither flesh nor spirit can gain admittance.

Two distinct elements of the immortality of man are involved in the status of innocence: (1) The internal sustaining strength of the soul which was received from God; (2) the external, which consisted in partaking of the fruit of the tree. This fruit also gave mankind long life, even after his fall, as Augustine states. But this partaking of the fruit of the same tree was prohibited to man after his fall; and for that reason, according to the third chapter of the Book of Creation, the angels are spoken to in the passage where it is said that should Adam eat of the fruit of the tree of life, he would live on forever, which is a very long time. And with this Saint Thomas is in accord.