Sunday, January 04, 2009

Three Views on the Days of Creation: Framework

Science and Christianity              Dale Partin               January 4, 2009


Lesson 13



We continued the study of The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation.  We previously studied the “24 hour per day” view of Duncan and Hall.  Today we began the study of the Framework View of Irons and Kline.


The Framework view: what is it?   Irons and Kline

This view teaches that Genesis 1 only provides a theological framework for understanding God’s creation of the world.  It is not trying to tell us whether the “days” were 24 hours long or ages long.  That is not the point.  The things described are historical events, but the sequence and chronology of them are not relevant to the story that is being told.  The created things are arranged by topic to make a theological point, not to tell us the order and timing of their creation.  Again, the story is arranged to give us a framework in which to understand God’s message.  Three basic points are made to define and defend this view.  Most of the first point was covered in class today.  The rest of it will be given below.  This point is that the Genesis 1 account is structured as two triads of days followed by a Sabbath, and that the second triad (days 4 to 6) is actually a different perspective on the first triad (days 1 to 3).


Point ONE:  Two triads in submission to the Creator

            Creation kingdoms                        Creature kings

Day 1 Light                                      Day 4 Luminaries

Day 2 Sky and seas                       Day 5 Sea and winged creatures

Day 3 Dry land, vegetation          Day 6 Land animals, man


                                    The Creator King

                                    Day 7 Sabbath


Thus, the luminaries (Sun, Moon) “rule” or “govern” day and night.  The waters “teem” with creatures, and the birds “fly above the earth, and across the expanse of the sky.”  They are told to “be fruitful and increase in number”.  This is dominion.  Similarly, land creatures were made to move on (“rule”) the ground.  Finally, man was made to rule over all the rest of creation.  God rules over all.  Days 4 to 6 are the same as days 1 to 3, but the emphasis on days 1 to 3 is on the created “kingdoms”, and the emphasis on days 4 to 6 is on the “creature kings” that rule over them.


Thus, the story is about God creating kingdoms and creatures to rule over them, as God rests on His throne, ruling over all.  This is a theme that is repeated in the seven day week and in several other things in Scripture, which are given as 7 days, 7 weeks, 7 generations..., or multiples of 7.  This is so, even if the numbers do not strictly add up to 7.  This is not science; it is a message describing God and His creation.


How old is the earth and universe?

How old is the earth and universe?  The Framework View says that we need to find that out from General Revelation and science, since the Bible does not say.  Although many who hold to the Framework View accept that the earth is very old, one could hold to a younger earth interpretation of nature and still hold to the Framework view.  The Framework View does not bind the conscience of the Church to any position on the age of the earth.  The 24 hourand day-age views both understand that the Gen 1 text is chronological and sequential, while the framework view does not.  In the Framework view, the purpose of Gen 1 is covenantal and redemptive.  It is primarily about theology, not science.


Genesis is a real, historical story.

In this view, the institution of the solar day, on the fourth day of the creation week, is an indication that the days are not to be understood literally as solar days.  Nevertheless, the Framework View teaches that creation was a historical event.  Jesus and the apostles referred to creation events as being real. For example,


“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female…’” Jesus, Matt 19:4


The Framework View affirms a historical creation, Adam, and Fall.  Gen 1-3 is a historical narrative of events that actually took place in space and time with the angels of God as “eyewitnesses” of everything except the initial ex nihilo creation event.


Sequential vs nonsequential.

The creative works of God are viewed as being arranged topically, not sequentially.  Most obviously, the creation of the luminaries (Sun, Moon, stars) on Day 4 actually coincides with the creation of daylight on Day 1.  There is some sequence in the days, however.  For example, man is created last since he is to rule over all creation.  Also, the Sabbath must follow the other days. 


Nonsequential narration is common.

Nonsequential (topical) narration is common in Scripture.  For example, the Documentary Hypothesis of critical scholars claims that instances of nonsequential narration in the  Pentateuch shows that it was written by many authors over a long period of time (not by Moses).  However, this can be alternatively viewed as a normal feature of Hebrew writing style.  Irons and Kline cite other Scriptural examples, including differences in the topical arrangement of narration of some events in the Gospels. 


Recapitulation is common.

Not only may stories be nonsequential, but they can be recapitulated.  For example, Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 gives the “big picture”, including the creation of man, male and female. Then Genesis 2:4 to 2:25 goes “back” and gives more detail, especially on the creation of Adam and Eve, referring to the sixth day of Gen 1.  Also, there is an example of recapitulation within Gen 2.  In vs 8, Adam is placed in Eden.  After describing the garden in vss 9-14, vs 15 repeats that Adam was put into the garden, with emphasis this time on his relationship with plants, especially with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


Thus, this story is about God creating kingdoms and creatures to rule over them, as God rests on His throne, ruling over all.  The role of man is not only to rule, but to find rest in submission to God.  The days and nights, evenings and morning, are thus a literary framework for this story. 


Material beyond this point was not covered in class, but is given here for coherency.  I will briefly review this material next Sunday.  The other two points that define and defend the Framework View will also be covered next Sunday.


Sabbatical Symbolism.

Sabbatical symbolism is often used to structure biblical history, to show God’s covenantal and redemptive purposes.  Thus, the Babylonian captivity lasted 70 years (actually 66-67), a multiple of 7 (approximately).  These were “Sabbatical years” in which the land rested. 


20 He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21The land enjoyed its Sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah. 

2Chron 36 (and see also Lev 26:43)


Sabbatical Symbolism.

Daniel prophesied 70 “weeks” of years until the coming of “The Holy One” (Dan 9:24-27).  In Matthew 1, the genealogy of Jesus lists 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 more to Jeconiah, and 14 more to Jesus.  Four generations were skipped, not because of a mistake, but to emphasize the redemptive plan of God.  The pattern of six sevens emphasizes that God still rules from his throne, and seeks to care for and redeem us as we submit to him.  It is not about exact numbers of generations.  While not explicitly said in Scripture, Irons and Kline argue that the Messiah initiates the ultimate “seventh seven” of those who are saved by faith in him, no matter how many human generations this may involve.


The Two Triads.

Irons and Kline note that it is possible to recognize the symmetry of the triads without endorsing the Framework View.  The account could still be viewed as sequential and chronological, but have thematic parallels in it.  However, they note that there are so many detailed textual similarities (too many to cover here) between days 1 and 4, 2 and 5, etc that the Framework View is favored.


Two additional major points favoring the Framework View will be covered next Sunday.

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