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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Comments (70)

It’s no surprise that the creation account has always been in the crosshairs of the enemy. Since the Garden of Eden, God’s Word has suffered and withstood many aggressive attacks, all driven by one scandalous purpose—to cast doubt upon God and the integrity of His Word.

Genesis in particular, has been a favorite target. Many are saying . . . Adam was not a real person, Eden was not a real place, and the talking serpent was not a real tempter. In fact, they start with the word, “day” in Genesis 1. According to the “framework hypothesis,” day doesn’t mean a real 24-hour period of time. John MacArthur goes on to explain . . .

One popular view of creation held by many old-earth advocates is known as the "framework hypothesis." This is the belief that the "days" of creation are not even distinct eras, but overlapping stages of a long evolutionary process. According to this view, the six days described in Genesis 1 do not set forth a chronology of any kind, but rather a metaphorical "framework" by which the creative process is described for our finite human minds.

This view was apparently first set forth by liberal German theologians in the nineteenth century, and was later adopted and propagated by some leading evangelicals, most notably the late Dr. Meredith G. Kline, an Old Testament scholar who taught at Westminster theological seminary.

The framework hypothesis starts with the view that the "days" of creation in Genesis 1 are symbolic expressions that have nothing to do with time. Framework advocates note the obvious parallelism between days one and four (the creation of light and the placing of lights in the firmament), days two and five (the separation of air and water and the creation of fish and birds to inhabit air and water), and days three and six (the emergence of the dry land and the creation of land animals)—and they suggest that such parallelism is a clue that the structure of the chapter is merely poetic. Thus, according to this theory, the sequence of creation may essentially be disregarded, as if some literary form in the passage nullified its literal meaning.

Naturally, advocates of this view accept the modern scientific theory that the formation of the earth required several billion years. They claim the biblical account is nothing more than a metaphorical framework that should overlay our scientific understanding of creation. The language and details of Genesis 1 are unimportant, they say; the only truth this passage aims to teach us is that the hand of divine Providence guided the evolutionary process. The Genesis creation account is thus reduced to a literary device—an extended metaphor that is not to be accepted at face value.

But if the Lord wanted to teach us that creation took place in six literal days, how could He have stated it more plainly than Genesis does? The length of the days is defined by periods of day and night that are governed after day four by the sun and moon. The week itself defines the pattern of human labor and rest. The days are marked by the passage of morning and evening. How could these not signify the chronological progression of God's creative work?

The problem with the framework hypothesis is that it employs a destructive method of interpretation. If the plain meaning of Genesis 1 may be written off and the language treated as nothing more than a literary device, why not do the same with Genesis 3? Indeed, most theological liberals do insist that the talking serpent in chapter 3 signals a fable or a metaphor, and therefore they reject that passage as a literal and historical record of how humanity fell into sin. Where does metaphor ultimately end and history begin? After the flood? After the tower of Babel? And why there? Why not regard all the biblical miracles as literary devices? Why could not the resurrection itself be dismissed as a mere allegory? In the words of E. J. Young, "If the 'framework' hypothesis were applied to the narratives of the virgin birth or the resurrection or Romans 5:12, it could as effectively serve to minimize the importance of the content of those passages as it now does the content of the first chapter of Genesis."

In his book, Studies in Genesis One, Young points out the fallacy of the "framework" hypothesis:

The question must be raised, "If a nonchronological view of the days be admitted, what is the purpose of mentioning six days?" For, once we reject the chronological sequence which Genesis gives, we are brought to the point where we can really say very little about the content of Genesis one. It is impossible to hold that there are two trios of days, each paralleling the other. Day four ... speaks of God's placing the light-bearers in the firmament. The firmament, however, had been made on the second day. If the fourth and the first days are two aspects of the same thing, then the second day also (which speaks of the firmament) must precede days one and four. If this procedure be allowed, with its wholesale disregard of grammar, why may we not be consistent and equate all four of these days with the first verse of Genesis? There is no defense against such a procedure, once we abandon the clear language of the text. In all seriousness it must be asked, Can we believe that the first chapter of Genesis intends to teach that day two preceded days one and four? To ask that question is to answer it.

The simple, rather obvious, fact is that no one would ever think the time-frame for creation was anything other than a normal week of seven days from reading the Bible and allowing it to interpret itself. The Fourth Commandment makes no sense whatsoever apart from an understanding that the days of God's creative work parallel a normal human work week.

The framework hypothesis is the direct result of making modern scientific theory a hermeneutical guideline by which to interpret Scripture. The basic presupposition behind the framework hypothesis is the notion that science speaks with more authority about origins and the age of the earth than Scripture does. Those who embrace such a view have in effect made science an authority over Scripture. They are permitting scientific hypotheses—mere human opinions that have no divine authority whatsoever—to be the hermeneutical rule by which Scripture is interpreted.

There is no warrant for that. Modern scientific opinion is not a valid hermeneutic for interpreting Genesis (or any other portion of Scripture, for that matter). Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 2:16)—inspired truth from God. "[Scripture] never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). Jesus summed the point up perfectly when He said, "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17, KJV). The Bible is supreme truth, and therefore it is the standard by which scientific theory should be evaluated, not vice versa.

As John MacArthur wrote, proponents of the “framework hypothesis” argue the language and details of Genesis 1 are unimportant; they are only meant to show that divine Providence guided the evolutionary process.

But, if that’s really what God intended for us to take away from the first few chapters of Genesis—Providence guided evolution—then why did God provide such exact details with precise language?

Take that question to the comment thread.


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#1  Posted by William Stinson  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 1:15 AM

The understanding I have is Lucifer speaks 90% truth and 10% lie and that 10% will take a person so far off course in time he will be lost.

#2  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 1:48 AM

How can we love the one true God, if it is not that one who He says He is?

Then we have made ourself an false God. If we change any of God's words, we are in absolute chaos and confusion. We live by His word.

In the beginning was The Word.

#3  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 4:10 AM

In 2 Corinthians 11:2-3, the Apostle Paul expresses his one and only goal. That is to teach about Jesus. Teaching exactly who He is, and what He has said and done, so that we can be saved, and to love and conform to His exact image.

What if that image is not precise and the words presented not precise?

Then you maybe get the wrong image of Jesus, the wrong meaning and intensions of He's words.

Then it is not longer Jesus, but an idol conformed to your sinful desires and you are a hypocrite, deceiving yourself. (And all other that conforms to your teaching)

Paul gives these warnings in 2 Corinthians 13:5-7. Examine yourself, except ye be reprobates.

We do all know about the bible says that not all is qualified as teachers. They are a gift from God to the church.

How are we as dependent little children of God, to discern how to find such an excellent teacher, who is presenting the one and true God? That one, who is the gift from God, and not a grievous wolf?

I'll stick to that one who knows the real Jesus. Are you that one, or shall I seek another?

#4  Posted by John Adams  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 5:21 AM

A Pastor’s Perspective on the Dangers of an Ultra-Literal Perspective -

#5  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 5:37 AM


Boyd's video doesn't really have anything to do with the frame work theory of Genesis, but my question of you, and I guess the larger BioLogos constituency, is whether or not you have problems with Boyd's heretical views of God? I find it amazing (and telling) that BioLogos turned to Greg Boyd, a false teacher who denies God knows the future and who takes a radical, hyper-Arminian position on the sin of man (really Socinianism), to offer a "pastor's perspective" on this subject.

#6  Posted by Steve Sprague  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 8:24 AM

I just ask did Moses understand Genesis 1? I made this page to reflect my frustration with attacks on Gen 1. Hope someone can use it.

The very essence of the lives of the people were based on their understanding of Gen 1-2

Thou shalt work six days...why, because God worked six days. That's how they understood it.

#7  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 9:01 AM

For those interested in a much more detailed interaction with the frame-work hypothesis, Dr. Robert McCabe has uploaded two lengthy journal articles he wrote for the Detroit Baptist Theological Journal.

#8  Posted by Russell Carroll  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 9:21 AM

I am a Christian first and a (former) scientist second. What do I tell an unbelieving world when scientific data clearly does not line up with the Bible? I'm truly looking for input, not controversy.

#9  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 12:01 PM

Hi Folks: Thanks Fred for the links to Dr McCabes' articles, I just got into them a little way, but it seems good. I'm going to save them for later.

To Mr. Carroll, I am not the moderator of this blog, just a blogger, but I want to thank you for your question. May I suggest that as you look at the data, ask yourself what the motives of the scientist are, and what his world view is. If he has no agenda but is an atheist he still has a bias, and his data will show that bias. If he/she is a christian, we don't seem to have the same issues he would, as demonstrated by this debate. A Christian's foremost desire is for the truth, where there is true debate going on is where the truth comes out. Having said this, it is better to be truthful then intellectual. Our desire to boost our ego gets us into trouble, and as you remember that was exactly Satan's problem.

The second issue is that God could have said anything regarding how he created the universe and it would have been true. He chose a 6 day period. Gerald Schroeder a professor at Hebrew University suggest that God used six literal days, but that inside the mix it might appear differently, i.e. billions of years. (He is a Big Bang theorist) I do not know what happened when God said "Let there be light", except that "... there was light". Any "processes" that took place within that statement are beyond any of us. Only God knows. God chose the specifics of how he would create and what it would mean, he did not need to accommodate man and thereby become a liar. And we do not need to accommodate a sinner who needs the truth. We don't need to do the Holy Spirit's job for him. Speak the truth and let God do the "God thing". We need to,in this case, get out of the way. Just a thought.

#10  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 12:55 PM

#4 Is he talking about Jesus, Peter, Paul, John, James, me..? - With his ultra-literal warnings about believing God?

#11  Posted by Robert McCabe  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 4:21 PM

Fred & Paul, thanks for your interest in my critique of the framework. if you are interested in reading my greatly reduced paper on the framework, go to


#12  Posted by Stephen Perry  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 5:01 PM

I would be curious to get the feedback of those who are skeptical there could be light on the first day of creation when God said, "Let there be Light" considering He did not create the sun until day 4. Could God provide light without first creating the sun? I know for a fact He did; Revelation 21:23-25 says of the New Jerusalem, "And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there." Praise the Lord; He is the light of the world!

#13  Posted by Robert McCabe  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 6:17 PM

I might add to this by noting that the creation of light in day 1 involved God's creation of the entire electromagnetic spectrum, with a visible source, such as something similar to the sun. Andrew Kulikovsky has a good discussion of this issue on pp. 124-25 in his recent book, Creation, Fall, and Restoration.

#14  Posted by Peter Heffner  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 6:20 PM

Meredith Kline was a brilliant theologian who wrote some excellent material including that on the glory cloud; so it was a shock when I first read his framework hypothesis. Yes, the creation week in Genesis is written in beautiful poetic language; yes, it is clearly written as actual history.

That said, this hypothesis helped motivate me to take a closer look at the structure of Gen 1:1 -- 2:4, which strengthened the view that solar days are the simple and proper reading. The key is that the pericope is an obvious chiasm; I can explain if there is a way to contact anyone directly here (I'm new to commenting).

#15  Posted by Robert McCabe  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 6:43 PM

I am curious what do you mean that Genesis 1 is written in "beautiful poetic language"? To be sure, it has some rhetorical features, & this may be all you are referring to; however, Genesis 1:1-2:3 is not poetry. It is not characterized by linear poetry, as is found in psalmic literature. Further, this passage is most definitely typical of narrative literature. Genesis 1-2:3 is characterized by a narrative device, the waw-consecutive. This device is used 2,107 times in the book of Genesis with 55 uses found in Genesis 1:1-2:3.

#16  Posted by Peter Heffner  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 7:01 PM

I might add to this by noting that the creation of light in day 1 involved God's creation of the entire electromagnetic spectrum, with a visible source, such as something similar to the sun. Andrew Kulikovsky has a good discussion of this issue on pp. 124-25 in his recent book, Creation, Fall, and Restoration.

Dr. McCabe-

If you read vv. 14-19 closely in LXX side-by-side MT, then I think that indeed Day 1 includes the sun...

#17  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 10:48 PM

Robert: Thanks for the link. I started with the four pager, but will read more later.

#18  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 5:33 AM

Peter, I have my LXX and Hebrew text opened. Can you elaborate on what you are talking about? How exactly did Day 1 include the sun according to the LXX. (The Greek translation of the OT for the uninitiated).

#19  Posted by Robert McCabe  |  Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 6:24 AM

I posted this very quickly before I went to bed last night and I did not double check it. When I said, "this device [waw-consecutive] is used 2,107 times in the book of Genesis with 55 uses found in Genesis 1:1-2:3," this is incorrect. What I meant to say is that the waw-consecutive is used 2107 times in the Old Testament and 55 times in Genesis 1:1-2:3. My apologies

Peter, I do not understand what you are saying about the LXX of Gen 1:14-19,

#20  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 8:47 AM

Hi Folks: I was re-reading R.K. Harrison's tome on O.T. Introduction and thought that his view (P.J. Wiseman's view) merited a place in this discussion. According to the Wiseman-Harrison view the first thirty seven chapters of Genesis (Gen.1:1 to 37:2) are records which Moshe(Moses) probably used to write these chapters. They appear to follow cuneiform tablet formatting, using the colophon at the end of the tablet, [the colophon acts as an address line or tells you who the tablet belongs to,(see Harrison's discussion p.p. 542 to 553)]. If the case is true, then the assumption that this was "poetry" would not stand as the format of such cuneiform poetry is already understood through religious text found at various sites throughout the ANE,(e.g. Ugarit). The eleven (11) tablets which were identified by the colophons, would also point to a narrative summary rather then a poetic composition. To my way of thinking, and I could be wrong, this view fits best with the details we find in the chapters under discussion. (If anyone has information that would give other insight - I'm open to change my point of view) Just a thought

#21  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 10:35 AM

To John Adams: Hi, just looked at the Bio-Logos site, It seems to me that this pastor's view point at the end of his first semester in college is exactly what we have been discussing. The atheistic mindset of his instructors was more then he was able to handle. (And I can understand this, been there). Here is the problem, we have assumed that scientist "objectively" seek the truth about origins. This is not the case... evolutionary scientist start with the fundamental premise that there is "No God". With such a bias they are not free to take the data where it leads. And just because they have libraries of books saying it is the truth, does not mean that they have interpreted the raw data correctly, nor does it mean that the experiments used to collect such data are valid. To see what I am talking about read Blaise Pascal's "Letters" in the "Great Books of the Western World". Note how the S.J.s tried to influence church doctrine through writing books and then referencing them as factual. A great tactic, it allowed for all kinds of heretical doctrine to come into the Roman Catholic Church.

Why do we roll over and show our belly every time the the word "science" is used, as if it is the summum bonum to which all must bow. It has become a ruse used to trap the unwary. Just a thought

#22  Posted by Scott Christensen  |  Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 12:13 PM

Dr. McCabe,

How do you see the "toledot" pattern in Genesis 1-11 contributing to its narrative structure?

#23  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 2:00 PM


I'll let Dr. McCabe answer for himself. In the meantime, here's what my Old Testament professor, Dr. Michael Grisanti said about the use of the word tôledôtin in Genesis. The following section was taken from a forthcoming book he worked on.

The structure of the book [Genesis] is comprised of an initial section that concerns the creation of the universe and mankind (1:1–2:3), followed by eleven (or ten) sections, each introduced with the same word. The major structural word of the book is tôledôt, expressed in the clause literally rendered, “these are the generations of . . . .” The word is a feminine plural noun from the verb yālad, “to give birth” or “to beget.” It is often translated as “generations” or “descendants.” The term is part of a heading for each section of Genesis (after the Creation account). It serves “as a linking device that ties together the former and the following units by echoing from the preceding material a person’s name or literary motif and at the same time anticipating the focal subject of the next.” The tôledôt heading could be freely rendered, “this is what became of ____.” For example, the tôledôt of Terah is not so much about Terah, but is primarily concerned with what became of Terah, i.e., Abraham and his kin. In summary, the person named after tôledôt is usually not the central character in the narrative but the person of origin. It is important to notice that the book of Genesis (via the tôledôt sections) involves a narrowing in the focus of God’s program, from all of creation (first section of the book) and Adam in particular (first tôledôt section), to the twelve sons of Jacob (final tôledôt section), one of a myriad of descendants of Adam.

The following outline draws on the prominent tôledôt structure as well as key thematic/topic shifts. Keep in mind, however, that the use of “primeval” and then “patriarchal” does not signify legendary or non-historical material followed by historical narratives, as suggested by some scholars. The term “primeval” simply describes an early period (for which there are no clear dates) before the more clearly dated patriarchal narratives.

I. Primeval History: Creation of the Universe and Preparation for the Establishment of the Covenant People 1:1–11:26

Four Great Events: Creation, Fall, Flood, Babel

A. Creation 1:1–2:3

B. The Tôledôt of the Heavens and Earth 2:4–4:26

C. The Tôledôt of Adam 5:1–6:8

D. The Tôledôt of Noah 6:9–9:29

E. The Tôledôt of Shem, Ham, and Japheth 10:1–11:9

F. The Tôledôt of Shem 11:10-26

II. Patriarchal History: The Establishment of the Covenant People 11:27–50:26

Four Great Men: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph

A. Patriarchal Narratives about Abraham 11:27–25:18

1. The Tôledôt of Terah 11:27–25:11

2. The Tôledôt of Ishmael 25:12-18

B. Patriarchal Narratives about Abraham’s descendants (primarily Jacob) 25:19–37:1

1. The Tôledôt of Isaac 25:19–35:29

2. The Tôledôt of Esau, the Father of Edom 36:1–37:1

C. The Story of Joseph 37:2–50:26

#26  Posted by Peter Heffner  |  Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Robert McCabe and Fred Butler,

I noticed something in the Greek for Day 4, that, if valid, might well add an interesting chiastic approach supporting the observation that "something similar to the sun" was created in Day 1. It would be hasty for me to explain too much here; I'll have to write it up and hope there is someone willing to critique it.

Thanks for showing interest, though! By the way, I have been enjoying reading Dr. McCabe's articles on his website.

#27  Posted by Robert McCabe  |  Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 5:05 PM

Scott & Tommy, I apologize for taking so long to get back but I was tied up at work until about an hour ago.

I totally agree with Dr. Mike Grisanti’s explanation of the tôledôt formula in Genesis. And, in fact, it basically the same way I teach my Pentateuch class when we go through Genesis.

More specifically, I agree that Genesis 2:4 has a linking function. In my second journal article critiquing the framework, I specifically describe tôledôt as serving as a heading and linking device. We can see in 2:4 that the language of 2:4 (“This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens”) looks back to 1:1–2:3. For example, “the heavens and the earth” had been used in 1:1 and 2:1. “Created” had been used 4 times in 1:1, 21, 27, 2:3, and “made” 10 times in 1:7, 11, 12, 16, 25, 26, 31, 2:2 (twice), 3. Yet, the use of the tôledôt heading to initiate v. 4 suggests that additional information was intended to expand on what had been set forth in 1:1–2:3. As Dr. Grisanti’s material reflects, the tôledôt formula functions this way throughout the ten or eleven sections of Genesis.

I should further note that in contrast with the framework position, 2:4–25 expands on the sixth day of the creation week when God made man, as the first of 21 uses of waw consecutive in Genesis 2:4–25 implies in v. 7 (“[Then the LORD God] formed), and, as the chiastic arrangement of v. 4 suggests, focus is directed to what developed from earth. From the context of 2:4–25, the focus on earth is to emphasize that man was placed in a paradisiacal environment, the Garden of Eden.

I could say more but I fully treat this on pp. 69–77 of my journal article. Here is the PDF:

#28  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Friday, June 11, 2010 at 9:47 AM


I'm not sure your familiarity with the languages, but it seems to me that studying the LXX to determine the meaning of Genesis is wrong headed. The LXX, while extremely helpful on a number of levels, is not an inspired text, nor it is a completely accurate translation. If what you are looking at/for doesn't exist in the Hebrew, it probably isn't worth making a big fuss over.

It would be exactly the same as someone (and this has happened to me recently) who claimed that when Luke says, "Adam son of God" in Luke 3:38, Luke is comparing Adam to Jesus who is also called Son of God. Of course the problem is that "son of" in the Luke 3 genealogy is an interpretive translation (a good one) of the genitive of relationship. The Greek word for "son" is not in the Greek text, so Luke is not calling Adam "the son of God" in any way similar to Jesus.

#29  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Friday, June 11, 2010 at 9:58 AM

Dear Gabriel:

Translators use the LXX all the time to see how Ancient Jewish sages thought about a word, verse, or book for that matter.Hold on will try som

#30  Posted by Stephen Perry  |  Friday, June 11, 2010 at 10:06 AM

Amen Peter. It makes no difference what any person, book, "scientific" finding, etc. external to the scripture purports. Eventually all bow to the Word of God on this side or the other side of eternity.

#31  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Friday, June 11, 2010 at 10:11 AM


Indeed! But we're interested in what the text means, not what Ancient Jewish sages thought (right?). Remember that Ancient Jewish sages who used the LXX are not necessarily going to tell us what the original hearers thought; and they certainly won't tell us what the inspired authors thought.

So studying the LXX would be helpful perhaps for understanding historical interpretations of the text, but not necessarily the correct interpretation of the Hebrew text.

Seeing how NT authors use the LXX is a unique and interesting study in itself.

#32  Posted by Scott Christensen  |  Friday, June 11, 2010 at 10:25 AM

Tommy (23) & Dr. McCabe (27),

Thanks for the responses. I had Dr. Grisanti too at TMS. Loved both him and Dr. Barrick. Do you know the name of the forthcoming work Dr. Grisanti contributed to?

#33  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Friday, June 11, 2010 at 11:33 AM


No, actually we do care how they perceived the Word, nothing happens in a vacuum. ANE sages allow us to view the thoughts of the original writers because they interfaced with those writers over time. I think that the dynamic involved here mirrors the text itself. And while the Sages may not be inspired as the writers of the original autographs, they did interact on a daily basis with these writers, both in a negative and in positive ways. Otherwise what are we doing reading a text that no one could understand. I think that Myron Houghton said it best, "Inspiration of the text would count for nothing if God did not also preserve the text."( this is not quite the quote, but close I believe). Part of that "preserving" is allowing us to have other text which shows us how those that came before understood what we now read. They may not be inspired as the originals, but certainly anyone who desires to translate an accurate copy labors to make it an authentic account of the original manuscript. And really, are we saying that we are trying to come up with something "new". All inter into the labors of others,the professors that I had at FBBC for instance. I came to know, love, and respect them for their testimony and teaching. They are my mentors, the ones who taught me what I know about "the faith once delivered to the saints". They try to not do something "new" but deliver what they were entrusted with. That's the way it works. The ancient sages do the same to some extent, and translations as well. Just a thought.

#34  Posted by Peter Heffner  |  Friday, June 11, 2010 at 12:35 PM

I view the LXX as one tool among many. I started consulting it after noticing references to it in the notes of my MacArthur Study Bible. The NT authors, who used the LXX as the ancient standard (but of course not inspired) Greek translation provide one reason to consult it. Also, because the LXX translators were fluent in the living forms of both ancient Hebrew and Greek, and were exposed to a larger extant body of literature in each, the LXX sometimes has useful nuances that shed light on the Hebrew. Since it is not utilized all that often in commentaries, I have been surprised with little gems that help me with difficult passages in the OT; so it is a nice, additional study resource.

#35  Posted by Hooper Carl  |  Friday, June 11, 2010 at 2:13 PM

Thus says Yahweh, Don’t let the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, don’t let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 but let him who glories glory in this, that he has understanding, and knows me, that I am Yahweh who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, says Yahweh.

#36  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Friday, June 11, 2010 at 2:29 PM


I don't want to get into this too much because it is diverting from the topic at hand, however I am curious to know (not discuss) what you believe regarding the texts themselves.

But first, I certainly agree that we should not be seeking something "new", and that we must learn from those who have taught us and sought the truth themselves (2 Tim. 2:2). But we must be careful in how we apply that to unbelievers. Shouldn't we break from the interpretations of the Pharisees and Sadducees? I think you would agree that we should. Obviously it becomes more difficult to discern how to apply this principle the farther back we go, but it is something to keep in mind.

I thought it interesting that you said, "while the Sages may not be inspired as the writers of the original autographs, they did interact on a daily basis with these writers." By that are you denying Mosaic authorship of the Torah and assigning a late date to the books being put together by editors? Again, I'd just like your clarification, this is not the place to debate the issue.

#37  Posted by Lois Dimitre  |  Friday, June 11, 2010 at 2:34 PM

--"But, if that’s really what God intended for us to take away from the first few chapters of Genesis—Providence guided evolution—then why did God provide such exact details with precise language?"

~I believe God provided "such exact details with precise language" so His beloved could, if they humbled themselves, avoid succumbing to the pitfalls of evolutionism.

#8 Russell Carrol wrote:

--"I am a Christian first and a (former) scientist second. What do I tell an unbelieving world when scientific data clearly does not line up with the Bible? I'm truly looking for input, not controversy."

~Mr. Carrol, as someone in the same position as you, here is what I have told/tell a) the unbelieving world and, by extension, b) Theistic Evolutionists/Progressive Creationists (TEs/PCs) who have compromised. Both have been among colleagues of mine and my (for what it's worth) message for both is the same.

First - It is not 'scientific data' that doesn't align with the Bible. It's ones presuppositions which lead to the interpretation of said data which allows for this alleged 'misalignment'. If one accepts the Bible as the absolute standard, then everything else must be considered against its light - not the other way around.

Second - I ask them (particularly in the case of TEs/PCs) if they've put as much effort into researching (studying, so to speak) what God's Word says about His creation as they have their chosen scientific discipline. This is a question I had to ask myself, so as to be ready to give a reason for my belief.

By the grace of God, I never struggled with a literal 6 day creation; I believed it because God said it. However, my own lack of diligence in studying Genesis in depth (and the rest of Scripture as it relates to this topic) left me unable to contend for my faith. I had put more effort in studying His creation than I had the Creator and what He had to say starting with "In the beginning...".

As it relates to TEs/PCs, if they've a sincere desire to know the truth about this issue, then I'd suggest they'll search with an uncompromising approach to Scripture. Don't analyze through a secular "scientific" filter. Prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to an understanding of His Word sans the taint of human wisdom.

Lastly, I want to thank Dr. McCabe for taking part on this thread. I've been reading your work for years; it's been such a blessing to me, helping this 'non-theologian' to understand the meat of this issue.

#38  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Friday, June 11, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Scott: Here's the book info you requested.

Merrill, Eugene H., Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti. The Word and Its World: An Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, forthcoming.

#39  Posted by Robert McCabe  |  Friday, June 11, 2010 at 7:10 PM

Lois, thanks for reading my material on biblical creationism. We are in a battle to defend the literal truth of the early chapters of Genesis and I pray that God will enable us to be faithful in representing his truth to a world enslaved by evolutionary presuppositions.


#40  Posted by Garrett League  |  Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 8:34 AM

Stephen O. Moshier, professor and chair of the geology department at Wheaton College, responds to John MacArthur on Uniformitarianism, pt.1:

#42  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 7:35 PM

Dear Gabriel:

I intended that you distinguish between sages and prophets. The autographs are "theopneumaton", God-breathed. However we do not have the originals, we do have the copies where the originals have been preserved. We have God's Word and the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Word we have. Pharisees and Sadducees are only a part of the total amount of information we draw from. And when we need help in this area we have finds given to us like manuscripts from Qumran and etc. The dating methods used to pin point the time line for authorship, from a conservative viewpoint, fit best with the information provided in scripture. I am very conservative on these points. (My thoughts)

#43  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 8:08 PM

Hi Folks:

This is my second blog tonight, I wanted to counter (somewhat) the statements of Stephen O. Moshier on his web site. I have been around long enough and have read enough literature to understand that those who taught my biology course, and my geology course, and have such displays as are currently being displayed at institutions as the Smithsonian, all speak as if they look at things exactly as JM describes. The Geologic column was described on national TV, several years ago, the exact same way JM was describing uniformatarianist views. Evolutionist who wrote my textbook from the University of Maryland use such language to describe the uniform processes which allowed the first life to emerge from the "soup". It has been admitted for years that the way that geologist first formed the so called Geologic column in the first place is by going to an evolutionary paleontologist first and asking how old is this fossil and how long did it take to form from the first single celled organism, and then visa verso happens. While I do not dispute what Dr. Moshier may contend, what is really being taught is a fabrication.

It is also noteworthy that radio-graphic dating was based upon the earlier assumptions, which are not now held. Just a thought.

#44  Posted by Anthony Smith  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 3:37 AM

Two problems I have with the straightforward-historical-narrative interpretation of Genesis 1:

(1) It gives no clue as to how the text was revealed. Was it direct revelation (verbatim) from God? To whom? To Adam? Moses? Abraham? If so, where else in the Scriptures is direct revelation from God not identified as such, with a formula like "The LORD spoke to ... saying ..."?

(2) It does not explain the presence of so many (purely) literary features in the text, not one of which is necessary to communicate the straightforward sequence of events. See below for a list. Were these features present when the text was dictated to Adam, Moses, or whoever? Where else in the Scriptures is direct revelation from God adorned with similar literary devices? Or did Moses (or someone else) take the straightforward revelation from God and add all the literary structure to it? Wouldn't it have been much clearer if 1:1-2:3 didn't have all this careful craftsmanship? E.g., "And God said to Moses, 'I created the heavens and the earth in six days. On the first day I said...' " without the careful repetition of individual words etc.


Gen 1:1-2:3 literary features

“God” (35), “Day” (14), “Earth” (21), “Kind” (10), “Make/Made” (10), “God saw … good” (7)

28 letters in 7 words (14+14) in 1:1

14 words in 1:2

35 words in 2:1–3 (including 3 x 7 in 2:2-3a)

Also: 10 x “God said…” (10 commandments), 7 days (sabbath)

Compare literary structure of Genesis as a whole, with 10 (or 7) sections, hinging around 2:4.

Gen 1: 3+3+1, the structure of the days reflecting key themes of Genesis as a whole

3 days of separation (calling)

3 days of filling (blessing)

1 day

Gen 2-50: 1+3+3

(1) Heavens and earth

(2) Adam (i) genealogy (ii) corruption

(3) Noah (i) narrative (ii) corruption

(4) N’s sons (i) genealogy (ii) corruption

(5) Shem (6) Terah: separation and filling

(7) Ishmael (8) Isaac: separation and filling

(9) Esau (10) Jacob: separation and filling

#45  Posted by Stephen Perry  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 6:21 AM

Answer to question #1:

2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Answer to question #2 (from the MacArthur Study Bible):

Author and Date

While 1) the author does not identify himself in Genesis and 2) Genesis ends almost 3 centuries before Moses was born, both the OT (Ex. 17:14; Num. 33:2; Josh. 8:31; 1 Kin. 2:3; 2 Kin. 14:6; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 13:1; Dan. 9:11, 13; Mal. 4:4) and the NT (Matt. 8:4; Mark 12:26; Luke 16:29; 24:27, 44; John 5:46; 7:22; Acts 15:1; Rom. 10:19; 1 Cor. 9:9; 2 Cor. 3:15) ascribe this composition to Moses, who is the fitting author in light of his educational background (cf. Acts 7:22). No compelling reasons have been forthcoming to challenge Mosaic authorship. Genesis was written after the Exodus (ca. 1445 B.C.), but before Moses’ death (ca. 1405 B.C.). For a brief biographical sketch of Moses read Ex. 1–6.

I especially like the following statement by the Son of God Himself, which sums it up pretty much:

John 5:39-47 (ESV): 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

#46  Posted by Stephen Perry  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 7:26 AM

For those interested, here is a link from Glenn Leatherman on "The Theology of Fulfillment". The author, Fred G. Zaspel states, "Some OT scholars have argued that we should read and study the OT on its own terms. That is, we should seek to understand it by itself without "reading back" into it from the NT. There is a sense, of course, where that is right. But what Jesus seems to be emphasizing in these passages is that we in this age should be able to read the OT better than that. There is the matter of "historical-grammatical" interpretation, to be sure. But if "historical-grammatical" leaves out the Christological focus, it is deficient. In fact, Jesus seems to be implying that this is how the OT could always have been read! "Moses wrote of me . . . Abraham saw my day" seem to insist that the NT "revelation" is precisely the message of the OT."

#47  Posted by Robert McCabe  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 7:34 AM

Let me take a stab at Anthony's comment.

First, direct revelation about the creation account had to be given to someone in order for it to be inscripturated as the special revelation of the Torah. Since the creation account is not the ten commandments, God communicated may have communicated more about the creation week than what we have in Genesis 1. Subsequently, the author of Genesis 1, finally Moses, structured it under divine guidance the way he actually wrote it in Genesis 1. This is only my speculation since we have no firm facts about this.

Second, while I am not certain what all your literary features actually mean, it seems to me that you have isolated these features from their actual context. For example, 3 days of separating (calling) and 3 days of filling (blessing) is an oversimplification, to name one example. in Genesis 1:11-12 on day 3, did not land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds? This does not do justice to the overall context of Genesis 1:1-2:3. However, you should not take this to mean that I do not see Genesis 1 as a stylized use of Hebrew. I actually argue for a stylized use of Hebrew narrative in Genesis 1:1–2:3 (see pp. 50-53 of my first journal article on the framework:

In my estimation, the use of literary features only have significance when they are tied to the context of a biblical text. From my perspective, as far as structuring goes, the historical details of Genesis 1:1–2:3 are communicated with two overriding features: the use of waw-consecutive and the enumerated days.

The narrative device known as waw-consecutive is used 55 times in Genesis 1:1-2:3, with a total of 2,107 uses in Genesis (I erred in comment 19). Whatever else this means is that we are not dealing with any type of poetic or even semi-poetic text. This passage is not characterized by linear parallelism as is the case with a passage like Psalm 33:6-9.

The use of waw-consecutive in the creation account is tethered to the use of enumerated days. That days must be literal has clearly been demonstratd by Gerhard Hasel, “The ‘Days’ of Creation in Genesis 1,” at Further there are two other places in Scripture where enumerated days must be literal, sequentially numbered days, Numbers 7:12-83 and 29:17-35.

In the final analysis, I am still committed to the “straightforward-historical-narrative interpretation of Genesis 1.”

#48  Posted by Anthony Smith  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 8:28 AM

Dear Stephen,

Thank you - I agree with Moses as the (final) human author and God as the divine author of Genesis 1. The question is whether there was direct revelation involved. Under the framework view, there was no need for direct revelation of any of the content of Genesis 1, but under the straightforward-historical-narrative view, there had to be direct revelation involved, either to Moses or to someone before Moses. Hence my first question. I think you misunderstood my second.

Dear Bob,

Thanks for your reply. I've been working through your Framework critique (gradually!) - it's very helpful.

I certainly agree that the text is narrative (not poetry) and that - within the "world" of the narrative at least - it is recording a sequence of ordinary 24-hour days.

However, as above, (1) the lack of any statement about how the information in Genesis 1 was revealed, combined with (2) the literary features on all scales in the text (from specific words repeated, up to a wonderful balance with Genesis as a whole) makes me wonder whether we shouldn't be slightly agnostic (at least) about how to relate the sequence of 24-hour days in the narrative with events in space and time? Not all narrative is historical narrative, and this is certainly extremely unusual narrative.

For example, it is not difficult to see the tenfold repetition of "And God said" in Genesis 1 as a deliberate allusion to the Ten Commandments (it is difficult to see it as anything else). But in Genesis 1 God spoke 11 times, with a different formula used in 1:22. So it seems clear that Moses has deliberately crafted 1:1-2:3 to give an allusion to the Ten Commandments.

Given that, is there room to entertain the possibility that the skilled, deliberate work of Moses extended to the sequence of events as well?

Kind regards, Anthony

#49  Posted by Robert McCabe  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 8:57 AM

Thanks Anthony. And, I am glad that there are some key issues we agree on.

Further, I would concede that the my understanding about how the text of Genesis 1 was crafted is part of my own speculation, though I would like to think it is an informed understanding.

Here is the nub of the issue. I agree that with a little imagination it is not difficult to see how the tenfold repetition of "God said" in Genesis 1 anticipates the Ten Commandments. However, since this is part of someone's imagination, how can we be certain of this. The only way I could have certainty about it would be if God gave propositional revelation related to it. I do not think that as strong a circumstantial argument can be made for this point as to the one I made for the writing of Genesis 1:1–2:3.

However, this may be point that we may have to disagree.

Respectfully, Bob

#50  Posted by Anthony Smith  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 9:31 AM

Dear Bob,

I take it to be a theological point of the passage. Who is the is this "God" who created everything? It is none other than the God of the Ten Words and the God of the Sabbath - Yahweh, the God of Israel - our God. What a wonderful encouragement for the people of Israel in the wilderness to learn to tell the story of creation in such terms - having left the gods of Egypt and heading towards the gods of Canaan, it is our God, the God of Israel, who created everything!

The above point could be made by framework advocates or by straightforward-historical-narrative advocates, incidentally.



#51  Posted by Robert McCabe  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 10:03 AM

Dear Anthony,

Let me say upfront, I am not questioning your commitment to a literal interpretation of the creation account.

I appreciate your feedback but I fail to see how this is the theological point of Genesis 1:1-2:3. I do not know how many times I have read the Hebrew text of the creation account and it has been numerous, but I have completely missed it. Since I do not see anything explicit in the creation account, from my vantage point, this is an implication.

As I have thought about what you have said, I would concur that someone who takes the creation account as straightforward-historical-narrative as well as a framework advocate can take this view.

Thanks, Bob

#52  Posted by Anthony Smith  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 10:21 AM

Dear Bob,

Good to be interacting with you. Just a couple of clarifications. First, I hope I haven't been unclear, but I certainly question my own commitment to a literal interpretation! I'm leaning strongly towards a framework-like view. Second, "a" rather than "the" in "a theological point".

On the "And God said" occurrences, you are no doubt aware of how eight of those fit into the 3+3 structure, with two "And God said, Let there be..." statements of divine fiat on Days 3 and 6, and one on Days 1, 2, 4 and 5 (p22 of your first article). I'm simply adding the other two "And God said" statements in 1:28f to complete the set. Anyway, the theological point can still be made through the allusion to the Sabbath, even if the allusion to the Ten Commandments is there or not noticed.

Yours, Anthony

#53  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Hi Folks:

Numbers in the bible are slippery things, they are interesting BUT should be handled with care. No major doctrine should be made of them without the bible interpreting them for you first. Notice how Christ handled the parable of the sower in Matthews Gospel. You might also notice how John Phillips handles numbers in his commentary on Hebrews. Each of these is a legitimate use. Bullinger's work and J.J. Davis' works are the polls which one could use, I think, as points of references for a study in this area. F.B. Grant's multi-volume work on numbers might also be good to throw light on (or cloud) the issue. None of these are what we build doctrine on. They are the icing on the cake. Just a thought,(might ask JM as well, probably has some real good refs. in his library.)

#54  Posted by Robert McCabe  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Dear Anthony,

My initial impression was that you at least leaned toward the framework view. Since you did not explicitly declare that you took the framework position; and, at least, allowed the literal day view, I thought it would be best for me to be diplomatic, rather than to make accusations.

As you note, I am aware of the 10 uses of "and God said" in the creation account. And as you mention, the creation account may be an allusion, though I do not see it. Nevertheless, I am firmly convinced that exegetical evidence is on the side of the 24-hour day. All I ask is that you carefully consider the arguments for the 24-hour day view. And, let the chips all where they will.

In the final analysis, I still line up with my favorite exegetical-theological interpreter, John Calvin.

I have appreciated interacting with you. But at this point, we may need to respectfully disagree.



#55  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 12:50 PM


Can you clarify something you said earlier? "Under the framework view, there was no need for direct revelation of any of the content of Genesis 1."

Can you explain what you mean? If God did not directly reveal the contents of Genesis 1, how would Moses have known the information? Also, what impact does direct or indirect revelation have on the issue?


#56  Posted by Anthony Smith  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 1:33 PM

Bob - I've enjoyed it too, and will probably get back to you when I've finally found time to read your articles on the framework view (I've read the first one so far, and printed them both out a couple of days ago, hoping I will read them more quickly on paper than on the computer!).

Gabriel - the framework view (as I understand it) is that (probably) Moses, in reflecting on God as Creator, chose to put together a way of telling the story of creation, as though God were a skilled craftsman doing a week's work (six days, plus one day's rest). Under that view, the sequence of events was entirely constructed (or, more crudely, made up) by Moses, so he decided what he would say took place on Day 1, etc. So the sequence of events in the narrative has no correspondence with a sequence of events in space and time, and this means Moses didn't need any information to be revealed to him, apart from the fact that God is the Creator.

In other interpretations (Day-Age or straightforward-historical-narrative) there is a direct link between the sequence of events in Genesis 1 and the sequence of events that took place in space and time. So the only way Moses could have accurately recorded what happened in space and time before the creation of Adam and Eve would have been for God to reveal it.

Hope that helps!


#57  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 1:57 PM


Thanks for the explanation. Can you point me to anyone who backs this up exegetically (the part about Moses making it up)? At first glance it appears to be imaginative speculation at best.

Would you be able to explain how seeing patterns in the week of creation negates a historical view? It is one thing to see patterns in a narrative, but to go beyond that and say that the patterns negate a historical understanding requires some exegetical basis. From a logical perspective, to say the narrative has patterns therefore it is not historical is a non sequitur.

#58  Posted by Anthony Smith  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 2:26 PM


Henri Blocher's book, "In the beginning" is a very fine exposition of the framework view. There is no direct exegetical backing for the suggestion that Moses made it up, just as there is no direct exegetical backing for God revealing to anyone his process of creation - we're left with imaginative speculation either way!

It's not a matter of deductive proof when people say the text is not straightforward history, but (like everything in life that is remotely interesting) it's a matter of probability or plausibility. Quoting Blocher (p19): "the following rule may be put forward: the more an author works at the form, the more plausible it is that he is stepping away from [the ordinary mode of expression]". So patterns and literary features make it more plausible that the passage is not to be interpreted in a straightforward way, but it's not a matter of definite proof.

Yours, Anthony

#59  Posted by Robert McCabe  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Anthony, I am glad that we were able to interact; and I be interested to hear what you think.



#60  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 2:48 PM


"imaginative speculation either way!"

Actually, that is not entirely accurate. There is a mountain of evidence that demonstrates the normal method of Moses' writing comes from direct revelation (what do you think Moses was doing all that time up in the mountain with God?). There are 83 instances of "Lord/God said to Moses..." in the Pentateuch. Of course there are many variations of that phrase that are not included in that count.

In other words, direct revelation of the contents of the Pentateuch is the normal method explicitly stated. Of course there are other elements which didn't need direct revelation because Moses experienced much of the events of Exodus to Deuteronomy. To me, it seems extremely odd that Moses would invent a detailed story (even putting words in God's mouth). Wouldn't it make Moses a false prophet for him to declare "God said" when God did not say?

Taking a queue from this idea that Moses made it up, let me put it this way. First, Moses would not have known that God was the Creator unless God told him, right? So I wonder how that conversation went.

God: Btw Moses, I created everything.

Moses: How?

God: Not telling. I'm sure you'll make sound good.

Obviously I'm being facetious. But the point is that in writing the history of the world (creation, fall, spreading, evil, flood, confusion of languages, Abram, etc.) it seems quite odd that God would inspire Moses to make up a story about how He created the world.

#61  Posted by Anthony Smith  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 3:50 PM


I wonder if you can tell me - without any speculation at all - how Moses came to know the information in Genesis 1? I don't think you can, and that's my point. If there was direct revelation involved, we are left to speculate about how that reached Genesis 1 - many Christians believe Genesis 1 was revealed to Adam, for example.

The Bible is full of God inspiring people to be creative and express things use their imaginations - read the Psalms for example. Obviously we can't consider Moses being deliberately deceitful, but the question is whether it is at all conceivable that Moses might provide us with a creative re-telling of the creation account, and if so, how would we recognize it?

All the best,


#62  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, June 14, 2010 at 4:25 PM


I didn't say that we know for certain that Moses received Genesis 1 via direct revelation. Instead, I said there is a mountain of evidence that suggests it whereas there is zero evidence to the contrary. In other words, the "made it up" view is pure speculation, but the "direct revelation" view is consistent with the bulk of the Pentateuch. You need something of substance to even begin to refute the direct revelation view.

As far as God revealing creation to Adam (it would be anachronistic to say Genesis 1), I don't personally have a problem with that. Though I would not say that Moses wrote on the basis of God's revelation to Adam. If God did reveal it to Adam, then that makes sense of all the ANE creation myths because Satan would certainly have twisted the truth as it was passed down to ungodly people (as he did with the flood).

"The Bible is full of God inspiring people to be creative"

Can you give me one or more examples where this includes extended historical narratives? I freely accept the concept in poetic texts (and we have such creative representations of creation there), but not historical texts. I think of Nathan's story to David, but the context makes it completely clear the story is fiction. I'd like to know if there is an example, represented as history that is not history.

"a creative re-telling of the creation account"

To be clear, are you saying it is re-telling a myth passed down, or re-telling the actual historical events creatively?

#63  Posted by Anthony Smith  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 1:15 AM


"Moses received Genesis 1 via direct revelation ... there is a mountain of evidence that suggests [that]"

Bob above (#47) suggests (by "speculation") a slightly more complex origin for the text of Genesis 1. Others suggest that it was passed down from Adam through the generations, much as the records of Adam's own history were presumably passed down through the generations. Then Moses compiled them into the book of Genesis. Are people who hold such views going against "a mountain of evidence"?

Would you agree that - outside of Genesis 1 - all examples of direct revelation from God are identified explicitly as such? For example, "The LORD spoke to ... saying ..." or "on the fifth day of the month ... the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God" (Eze 1:1). Can you give any examples to the contrary? If that is the case, then doesn't the fact that Genesis 1 doesn't identify itself as direct revelation from God at least provide a hint that it might not be direct revelation from God? Again, I'm not trying to "refute" anything by absolute proof, just looking for hints one way or the other. And you can say that it is not direct (verbatim) revelation while still holding on to the straightforward-historical-narrative interpretation, as Bob does (#47).

"Can you give me one or more examples where this includes extended historical narratives?"

No, because - as with the example you gave - such narratives would not be historical narratives. There's Jotham's fable as well, as another example of non-historical narrative.

"To be clear, are you saying it is re-telling a myth passed down, or re-telling the actual historical events creatively?"

Or both? I suppose it depends on what you mean by "myth" and whether "the actual historical events" could be a "myth" (in the more technical sense of a possibly true big story that tells us how we were made, who we are, etc). I think I'm saying the latter: a re-telling the actual historical events creatively. And the actual historical events may well include the words God spoke to Adam and Eve - "Be fruitful..." etc - preserved through the ages by Adam's descendants, so these details need not have been "made up" by Moses.

Blessings, Anthony

#64  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 7:43 AM

Anthony asks,

If that is the case, then doesn't the fact that Genesis 1 doesn't identify itself as direct revelation from God at least provide a hint that it might not be direct revelation from God?

A question Anthony: Do you believe Moses spoke for God? Was Moses a prophet of God and spoke "Thus saith the LORD" to the people of Israel?"

#65  Posted by Anthony Smith  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 7:52 AM

Fred - absolutely! But when he was speaking prophetically he generally said "Thus saith the LORD" or similar.

#66  Posted by Stephen Perry  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 8:03 AM

Here is an obvious reiterated direct revelation God made to Moses:

Exodus 20:1: And God spoke all these words, saying,….

Exodus 20:11: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day……

Exodus 20:22: And the LORD said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the people of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have talked with you from heaven…..’

#67  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 8:11 AM

The reason I ask is with your comment I was responding to, #63, you seem to imply a text is not inspired UNLESS it has some confirmation attached to it like, "Thus saith the LORD." This is not how we define the doctrine of revelation and inspiration. Many books of the Bible would have to then be rejected as inspired.

In turn, you then imply that Genesis isn't necessarily meant to be inspired the same way other portions of scripture are inspired. At least that is how I am taking your words. But the fact that Genesis was written by Moses, who is called a prophet by God Himself (Deut. 34:10), a man who spoke as the mouth piece of God, demonstrates the book of Genesis -- in fact the entire Torah -- was inspired and is authoritative as a revelation from God. Whether the text is historical narrative (which it is) is determined by other grammatical-syntactical factors.

#68  Posted by Anthony Smith  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 8:30 AM

Fred - to clarify, I see all scripture as equally inspired and authoritative. But there are some parts of the Bible that are direct verbatim revelation from God. That's all I'm saying, and I presume you agree.

We're quite entitled to think about the human authors and how they knew what they recorded. For example, Luke tells us that he carefully researched the events he recorded in his account of the Gospel - there is no evidence that he received any of the information by direct verbatim revelation from God. But that doesn't make his book any less inspired or authoritative. Similarly, although Moses did receive a lot of revelation directly from the mouth of God, we presume that much of what he wrote (about the history of the wanderings in the Wilderness, for example) was written through his own experience of the events, rather than dictated by God. But, again, it is no less authoritative or inspired than the parts that are direct verbatim revelation.

I'm suggesting that, unless a text has "Thus saith the LORD" or similar, it is _probably_ not direct verbatim revelation from God. It is still inspired and authoritative, of course.

Hope that's clear...

Also, I'd like to know how you distinguish between historical narrative and non-historical narrative by grammatical-syntactical factors?


#69  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 8:45 AM

I see all scripture as equally inspired and authoritative. But there are some parts of the Bible that are direct verbatim revelation from God.

I do agree, but what you have been suggesting with your argument is that somehow the first two chapters of Genesis can be interpreted differently because there is no indication (at least for you) that they are directly revealed by God. However, any information we have about origins has to be direct revelation from God, because no person was there to see it.

Also, I'd like to know how you distinguish between historical narrative and non-historical narrative by grammatical-syntactical factors?

Dr. McCabe has already linked you to his articles on the subject, as well as Gehard's Hasel's classic work. Another is Dr. Stephen Boyd's chapter in "Coming to Grips with Genesis" in which he shows by syntactical and statistical analysis that the first 3 chapters of Genesis are without a doubt historical narrative and any attempt to interpret them according to other, foreign hermeneutics so as to synthesize Genesis with modern day Darwinian constructs is butchering the text of any genuine authorial meaning.

#70  Posted by Anthony Smith  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 9:03 AM

Thanks, Fred.

I haven't yet read Hasel's work, but if his argument is that the word "day" means "24-hour day" in Genesis 1, then I wholeheartedly agree. However, there is a difference between what a word means and what a word refers to in space and time. As I understand the framework view, it says that "day" means "24-hour day", but there is no direct connection between the "days" of Genesis 1 and any particular sequence of events in space and time.

I haven't read Boyd's analysis in detail, but he seems to be saying that Genesis 1 is much more similar to historical narrative than it is to poetry. If so, then, again, I wholeheartedly agree. Obviously Genesis 1 is not poetry (in the usual Hebrew sense). Again, under the framework view, Genesis 1 is most certainly narrative, but not historical narrative. I don't see how Boyd's analysis leads to the conclusion that Genesis 1 is historical narrative as opposed to non-historical narrative.



#71  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 10:57 AM

Would you agree that - outside of Genesis 1 - all examples of direct revelation from God are identified explicitly as such?

If by direct revelation you mean "dictation", then maybe. But I prefer direct revelation as being more broad than dictation, in which case I would not agree with your question. In both the Old and New Testaments there is too much content that could not be known apart from direct revelation. We do not have complete information on exactly how God inspired Scripture, but a God-breathed Scripture requires that every word is from God as the ultimate author of Scripture not just approver of Scripture.

Regarding Bob's comments, he refers to God communicating the content and divine guidance. Again, neither he nor I have said that God dictated the content as it is written, but both he and I have indicated that the revelation came directly from God in some form.

a re-telling the actual historical events creatively.

If the Framework view accepts evolution as the "how" of creation, then Genesis 1 and 2 cannot be a re-telling in any sense of the word.

preserved through the ages by Adam's descendants, so these details need not have been "made up" by Moses.

Do you know if there are any comparable myths in ANE that correspond with Genesis 3? If not, then I find this kind of transmission less likely than some kind of direct revelation because it would require well over 1000 years of faithful transmission without any other traces than our text.

#72  Posted by Anthony Smith  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 11:21 AM


Re dictation vs. direct revelation - okay, but the text doesn't explicitly claim to be based on direct revelation, so there is a certain amount of speculation. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

"a re-telling [of] the actual historical events creatively" - that leaves open which historical events are being re-told. For example, "God created everything" describes an actual historical event (or the combination of many historical events), and that could be retold creatively in the form of God doing a week's work.

No idea about ANE myths and their connection with Genesis 3, I'm afraid.


#73  Posted by Robert McCabe  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Because of some work commitments, it has been necessary for me to resist my urges in wanting to carry on with our discussion.

However, I want to thank Gabriel for explicitly delineating what I understand by special revelation.