Dr. Jack L. Arnold
A. There are many evangelical scholars, who are not
evolutionists, who want to see in Genesis 1 long periods of time. Their
cosmogony is affected by what appear to be scientific facts.
B. The question is how does Genesis 1 fit in relation to
geological (involving rocks), paleontological (fossils), and anthropological
(man) studies? These viewpoints all try to harmonize the apparent facts of
science with the creation account in the Bible.
C. In this lesson, we will deal with two theories, not well
accepted in evangelical circles, which believe in creation but almost
completely capitulate to science.
II. MODIFIED GAP THEORY
Thus Genesis 1:1-2 evidently described not the
primeval creation ex nihilo, celebrated by the angels (Job 38:7; Isa. 45:18),
but the much later refashioning of a judgment-ridden earth in preparation for a
new order of creation--man. The Genesis account, accordingly, deals only with
God’s creative activity as it concerns the human race in its origin, fall and
redemption. There is no valid reason why the context of the phrase “in the
beginning” Gen. 1:1) should refer to any other time. There is nothing in the
original language to suggest otherwise, The spirit of God in the Genesis
narrative is simply giving the facts of creation as they immediately affect
man, who is a comparative late-comer in God’s creative program
(Merrill F. Unger, “Rethinking The Genesis Account of Creation,” Bibliotheca
Snare, p. 28).
1. The Genesis account evidently opens in
a much later context and, like the Mesopotamian creation stories, begins with
2. If Genesis 1:1 refers to the original
creation of the universe out of nothing, Genesis 1:2 must be construed to be
the original chaotic state in which the earth was created. But why would God
create an original imperfect and chaotic earth? Thus “in the beginning” must
refer to a new beginning after a previous judgment.
3. The Hebrew word bara does not always mean to create out
of nothing. It often bears the meaning of “shaping, forming or fashioning”
(Gen. 1:27; 5:1-2 Isa. 65:17). thus Genesis 1:1 could
be translated, “In the beginning God fashioned the heaven and the earth.”
4. The days of creation are 24-hour days,
describing how God refashioned the earth to make it livable for men.
1. It is strange that Genesis, the book of
beginnings, would have nothing to say about the beginning of God’s original. creation.
2. It is pure conjecture to place a gap
before Genesis 1:1.
3. The Bible nowhere refers to a judgment
or time period before Genesis 1:1. It is strange that this judgment is passed
over in silence.
4. This view seems to be willing to turn
the whole creation account over to the findings of uniformitarian geology.
5. This is a relatively new view and held
by only one prominent scholar.
III. PICTORIAL OR REVELATORY DAY THEORY
A. Definition. This view holds to a normal 24-hour day,
but sees the days as days of revelation and not days of the creating process.
Thus God revealed or depicted to Moses, in six 24-hour days, His previous
creative activity in six ages. These ages (stages), do
not necessarily represent strictly chronological sequence, for they are part
chronological and part topical. That is to say, various stages or phases of
creation are introduced in a logical order, as they bear upon the human
observer on earth. It is more logical to describe first the earth’s surface
upon which the observer must stand before introducing the sun and moon which are to shine upon the earth and regulate the
seasons. NOTE: This view is held by P. J. Wiseman in
the book Creation Revealed In Six Days.
1. This view can accept the obvious
meaning of “day” in Genesis 1, and still accept the findings of uniformitarian
2. This view can harmonize science and
1. There is nothing in the text of Genesis
1 that would suggest that a mere vision is being described.
2. If Genesis 1 was really only a vision
(representing, of course, the actual events of primeval history), then almost
any other apparently historical account in Scripture could be interpreted as a
vision, especially if it relates to transactions not naturally observable to a
human investigator or historian.
3. In cutting the Genesis 1 account loose from reality,
it allows science to have a free rein and anything that science would propose
could be put into or behind the creation account.
IV. THE LITERARY FRAMEWORK
The days of Genesis 1 are not intended to give a chronological sequence
of events, but are rather a literary framework (poetic-like structure), which
the author uses to teach us about God’s creative activity. Therefore, Genesis 1 is a prose form of
an old hymn celebrating the order of the cosmos as it presently stands but
gives no chronology.
The arrangement of six “days” is a literary device the
author uses to teach that God created everything. The six “days” which are neither twenty-four hour days or long
periods of time, give us six different “pictures” of creation, telling us that
God made all aspects of the creation, that the pinnacle of His creative
activity was man, and that over all creation is God Himself, who rested on the
seventh day and who calls man therefore to worship Him on the Sabbath day as
well (Ronald Youngblood, How It All Began).
1. The literary framework view is a modified pictorial or
revelatory day theory.
2. As hard as those who believe in the literary framework
view try to do away with chronology in Genesis 1, it still seems to be there.
3. The literary framework view is very new and has no
historical support. We should be
wary of any new views.
4. The literary framework view does harmonize with
science and a very old earth, and there just may be too much desire to do this
to get away from the knotty problems of harmonizing literal creation days with
5. Exodus 20:8-11 STATES CLEARLY THAT God rested on the
seventh day from creative activity.
If God did not create the earth by working for six days and resting on
the seventh, then the command to imitate Him would be misleading or make no