An Argument Against the Framework Hypothesis

During one of the panel discussions at the recent Ligonier Conference, R.C. Sproul, Jr. remarked that he believed the literal 6-day 24 hour view of the creation days based on sound exegetical principles. He emphasized the word “sound” in what I took to be a friendly jab at Michael Horton (who holds the Framework view), who was sitting right next to him. Horton laughed just as much as the audience did. Now, I agree with Sproul, Jr. on this one over against Horton. I believe that the exegetical evidence adduced by the Framework guys for their position admits of other explanations. I have explained this before, but I think it won’t hurt to rehearse this evidence again.

Just to remind us, the Framework view holds that the 7 days of the creation week are a non-literal but literary framework that has nothing to do with how long God actually took to create the world. So, in fact, a FH advocate could still be a young earth advocate. They tend to argue that Genesis 1 and 2 have nothing to say about the length of time God took to create the world. There are several arguments they use to support this position. Two of the most prominent are the following: 1. the statements in Genesis 2:5 concerning the lack of rain and the lack of a human being indicate that natural, not supernatural, preservation was initiated in the creation “days” of chapter 1. If there was light without the sun (as would be indicated by comparing day 1 and day 4, that would be supernatural preservation. Therefore, the FH argues, the only explanation that accounts for the natural preservation instituted by God is the non-literal interpretation. Secondly, the similarity of function of days 1 and 4 (they seem to do the same thing) are indicators that we are not to interpret the days literally.

The answer to the first argument is relatively simple: the natural preservation spoken of in verse 5 is limited to plants that are tied to human cultivation. See Keil and Delitzsch’s commentary on 2:5, where the commentary argues against the Documentary Hypothesis’ assumption of a contradiction with chapter 1, because the plants in question were not ALL plants, but only those that would not thrive without rain and human cultivation. Thus, natural preservation is certainly present in the creation week of chapter 1, but the only thing that 2:5 proves is that preservation was present in things related to human agency. It does not prove that natural preservation was present relating to all things in the created week.

The answer to the second argument concerning days 1 and 4 requires a bit of background explanation. In order to be a convincing argument for the Framework Hypothesis, the similarity of days 1 and 4 could have no other possible explanation than a non-literal interpretation of the days. If there is another possible explanation, then the similarity of days 1 and 4 ceases to be a convincing argument for the FH. I would argue that an apologetic intent explains the similarity of the days. Note, for instance, in Genesis 1:16, that Moses does not say “the sun and the moon,” but rather “the greater light and the lesser light.” The Hebrew word for “sun” is “shemesh,” which is also the name of the sun-god that ancient Near Eastern peoples worshiped. They believed that all things came from the sun, and that the sun was the source of all light. Moses, therefore, has an apologetic against the sun-worship by showing us that light originated outside of the sun. This explains not only the similarity of days 1 and 4, but also why Moses pictures light as existing independently of the sun. Only the one true God is the true source of light. Other authors have noted the apologetic intent of Genesis 1. However, no one of whom I am aware has tied the apologetic intent of chapter 1 and the order of days 1 and 4 to a rebuttal of the FH as I have done.

As a further argument against the FH, we can note the biblical-theological way in which the Bible ends: there will once again be a time when light exists apart from the light-givers. This is a hint that the order of light before lights is reversed at the end of all things. Revelation is explicit in saying that the light of the city is the Lamb. There will be no more need of sun and moon (Revelation 21:23). This is more than a hint that the book of Revelation interprets the days of Genesis as, at the very least, chronological in order, and not a mere literary framework.

Frankly, then, there is no need for the FH. It does not explain Genesis 1 and 2 any better than the literal interpretation does. Indeed, I would argue that it falls under the strictures of Occam’s razor: it is too complicated an explanation, when a simpler explanation works better. The FH has plausible arguments for it. However, as I have attempted to show, it is not forced from the text. The features of the text that the FH uses to prove its validity have equally plausible, simpler explanations.



  1. Steve Drake said,

    April 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Good article. Thanks for laying this out. You said:

    So, in fact, a FH advocate could still be a young earth advocate.

    This may be true, although I don’t think I’ve heard any FH advocate claim they are YE. It seems the opposite in fact; that the FH advocate holds his FH position so that he/she can justify an old earth position. Claiming that modern geology and radioisotopic dating, along with Big Bang cosmogony for the origin of the universe compel one to believe the universe and earth are billions of year old, the FH advocate usually denies a recent, mature creation and young earth.

    All FH advocates that I know of or have read, also deny a universal, global Flood with it’s universal and global judgment on all mankind and ‘those in whose nostrils is the breath of life’, except Noah, his family, and those animals he took on the Ark. That modern geology ignores this crucial Scriptural event is testament to an a priori philosophical reasoning and rejection of the scriptural revelation of God’s purpose in sending this global, catastrophic Flood. FH advocates will typically argue for a local or tranquil Flood contained to the Mesopotamian area only.

    Frankly, then, there is no need for the FH. It does not explain Genesis 1 and 2 any better than the literal interpretation does. Indeed, I would argue that it falls under the strictures of Occam’s razor: it is too complicated an explanation, when a simpler explanation works better.

    Right on!

  2. greenbaggins said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    I haven’t heard of any FH guy being young earth, either. My point was that the Framework view does not necessitate an old earth view.

  3. Steve Drake said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Lane,
    Agreed. But your point about Occam’s razor and that the FH hypothesis doesn’t explain Gen. 1 and 2 any better than the literal interpretation raises the question of why it was promulgated and devised in the first place. I guess my point is that, it was raised up against the literal interpretation view historically (in the 20th century) as an answer as to how one could hold to an old earth, old universe, and the narrative in Gen. 1. It’s a modern accommodationist view in other words.

  4. April 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Stars are far older than the earth, but a literal view of Genesis 1 would lead us to believe otherwise. That’s one of my reasons for happily embracing the literary framework view.

  5. Reed Here said,

    April 10, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    All one has to do is affirm that the FH literary structure IS ALSO the historic structure, and one can be YE. Of course, the FH denies that the literary co-inheres with the actual history of God’s creative actions.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    April 10, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Aaron, you seem rather confident that you KNOW that the stars are far older than the earth. How do you know that? What you see is an appearance of age. But the literal reading of Genesis has a very easy answer to this. Adam and Eve were created as adults. The garden of Eden had trees in it that were already fruit-bearing (adult trees, in other words, even though just created). The exegetical evidence points solidly to God creating a home that has the appearance of age. Otherwise (assuming a young earth here) none of us would ever enjoy starlight, and Adam wouldn’t have had any fruit at all to eat for several years, which would go directly against the exegetical evidence. God created the stars with many of their light-beams already reaching us. God created fruit-bearing trees already bearing fruit. Beware of making overly confident statements: science does not give us knowledge of truth. It gives us theories that seek to explain what we see. But there will always be alternate theories. Of course, the most common objection against the “appearance of age” theory is that it somehow implies that God lies. This makes the assumption that God didn’t tell Adam and Eve what He had done in making the earth appear old. Are we to suppose this? The objection is based on an assumption that we cannot possibly test. I would prefer to believe that God told Adam and Eve about how He had created the heavens and the earth, including the appearance of age. As to us, God owes fallen creatures no special revelation beyond what He has already given us. Since we are the ones who lost communion with God in Adam, we cannot complain that God has not explained everything to us. We must be more humble, I think.

  7. April 10, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Maybe I shouldn’t say I “know,” lol. But the age of the earth/stars/other things in space are mostly agreed upon by scientists, and I (personally) am not comfortable saying that they’re all in error. (Even though I personally don’t know ANYTHING about science, unfortunately.)

    But really, to take these things literally seem to be WAY off the point of the beginning of Genesis.

    People of that day worshipped the sun and the moon. The Israelites were always being drawn away to false gods. All the people around them were worshiping false gods. And so the REAL point of the beginning of Genesis, I think, is that these things are NOT WORTHY of worship.

    Genesis has beautifully demoted the sun to the fourth day. It’s really quite a breathtaking thing.

    To talk about “which day” this and “what day that,” and “what kind of day,” and young earth vs. old earth, etc. etc. etc., is to grossly miss the entire point of what’s really going on here. The text is actually far more beautiful than these trivial things. The text is actually saying far more about God than what’s usually spoken about in this debate.

  8. Roy Kerns said,

    April 11, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Aaron, I urge you to rethink your response (#7) to Greenbaggin’s comment (#6). That you have not understood him seems apparent from your not having interacted with his reasoning. He does not contest the claim that the universe looks ancient. He even observes that it looked old to Adam. (Consider this. Years after Adam’s first day, he would have had experience and could extrapolate from what he observed in order to estimate its age. He would realize, for example, that Eve, when presented to him mere minutes after her creation, seemed an adult with years of life. Years of life divided by minutes of real existence…she looked hundreds of thousands times older than she really was. Hmm.) Gotta rethink that bit about handling the fact scientists mostly agree that the universe looks ancient makes. That has zero relation as to when God created it.

    For me, the money quote shows up in the last sentence of Steve Drake’s #3.

    I remain utterly astonished at people believing in the perspicuity of scripture and the analogy of faith (these two especially as touching what the church has believed thru history), yet concluding not until the 20th C did the church at last understand Gen 1.

  9. Don said,

    April 11, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Genesis 2:19 says that animals and birds were formed after man (which was in 2:7), in obvious contrast to 1:20, 24, 26. Is this ever claimed as evidence for the Framework Hypothesis? How does the literalist/young earth interpretation treat this issue?

  10. Reed Here said,

    April 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Don: Gn 2:5ff. is not a second creation account. Instead, it is a focusing in on items already introduced in the prior account. The emphasis is not on the order of creation in Gn 2:5ff., but on the purpose of creation. God orders those items according to their relevance to the point he is making.

    Thus, there is no conflict between the passages. The prior passage is focused on the order of God’s creative activities. The latter is focused on God’s purpose for creation. The items in each are presented according to these focuses.

  11. Steve Drake said,

    April 11, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Don @ 9,
    See Reed’s comment #83 on the thread ‘Question and Answer Session 2’.

  12. Steve Drake said,

    April 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Aaron @ 7,

    But the age of the earth/stars/other things in space are mostly agreed upon by scientists, and I (personally) am not comfortable saying that they’re all in error.

    Hi Aaron,
    This is the heart of the matter I believe. I feel your angst. I think many people have this same dilemma. How do we hold to the supernatural in a scientific age? It seems the scientific evidence is overwhelming, even when we’re not talking about supernatural things. So how can the thinking Christian deny it?

    I think part of the answer is embedded in your statement above;’mostly agreed upon by scientists’. But who are these scientists? What are their belief systems? Michael Polanyi, a philosopher of science, along with Thomas Kuhn have written on the ‘objectivity’ of scientists and utterly destroyed the notion that scientists come to their conclusions without a whole lot of subjective bias. Dr. Adrian Keister, here on this blog, a few months ago now, in the thread ‘A Critique of Creation, Evolution, and Christian Lay People by Tim Keller’ has also demonstrated the inability of science to answer ultimate questions about origins. But here’s my question I guess: ‘Why would you hold to what some scientists are saying and their conclusions about age and origins, and not hold to other scientists who conclude based on the same evidence for a completely opposite conclusion about age and origins?’ What is the determining factor for you to believe one set of scientists as opposed to another set of scientists?

  13. BillH said,

    April 11, 2012 at 11:29 am

    “But the age of the earth/stars/other things in space are mostly agreed upon by scientists, and I (personally) am not comfortable saying that they’re all in error”…..

    “But the possibility of a worldwide flood is nil as mostly agreed upon by scientists, and I (personally) am not comfortable saying that they’re all in error”…..

    “But the resurrection of the dead is impossible as is mostly agreed upon by scientists, and I (personally) am not comfortable saying that they’re all in error”…..

    “But the bodily ascension of Christ into heaven is a story and that is mostly agreed upon by scientists, and I (personally) am not comfortable saying that they’re all in error”…..

    “But that homosexuality is a natural, albeit small percentage of the population, is mostly agreed upon by scientists, and I (personally) am not comfortable saying that they’re all in error”…..

    “”But the Bible is just a collection of stuff written my ancient, superstitious men, and this is mostly agreed upon by scientists, and I (personally) am not comfortable saying that they’re all in error”…..

    Where do you draw the line? Do you interpret all of life and living by science, or by Scripture? Remember what the Holy Spirit told you, which you once believed

    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

  14. April 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Well, science doesn’t apply to any of those things. Science cannot prove or disprove historical events such as Christ’s resurrection or His ascension.

    And it wouldn’t matter to me if science proved that homosexuality is “natural,” because we are, by “nature,” sinful. Something is not good or holy merely because it is natural, right?

    And even though most scientists believe that the Bible is nothing but mythology, the truth is, science cannot in any way prove that scripture is “superstitious.”

    I actually embrace science in my debates with scientists and atheists. It is not “scientifically” sound to believe in a self-creating universe as many of them do, so I use this illogical view against them. (Even though that’s the extent of my scientific knowledge, lol.)

  15. Steve Drake said,

    April 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Aaron @ 14.

    Well, science doesn’t apply to any of those things. Science cannot prove or disprove historical events such as Christ’s resurrection or His ascension.

    Hi Aaron,
    If science cannot prove or disprove historical events, then why don’t you believe the narrative in Gen. 1? Do you think God is lying?

  16. April 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I think there’s a disconnect in our communications here. I’m only saying that scientific knowledge about the stars being older than the earth is commonly accepted. I’m not saying that science can go back and do experiments on historical events, such as God’s creation of earth.

    Christians who hold to the literary framework view believe that the original readers would have seen Genesis 1 in FAR different light than how we see it.

  17. Steve Drake said,

    April 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Aaron @ 16,

    I’m only saying that scientific knowledge about the stars being older than the earth is commonly accepted.

    Still not addressing me personally Aaron. That’s okay. But it does say something about your style.

    Can you answer my question in #12 above, specifically: ‘What is the determining factor for you to believe one set of scientists as opposed to another set of scientists?”

  18. April 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I’m actually very ignorant of science. If science and scientists actually are NOT in agreement that the stars are younger than the earth, I guess I should look into that…

  19. Steve Drake said,

    April 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Hi Aaron @ 18,
    Still not addressing me personally. What is the problem with calling me Steve?

  20. Reed Here said,

    April 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Aaron: regarding Gn 1, do you recognize that you are assuming it is NOT historical?

    If it is historical, then does the same caveat about science apply to it?

  21. April 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    It IS historical, if you want to give it that title. And its purpose is to reveal some important things about God. Things that we usually miss in the church today. Like the differences between what God did and what the creation myths said happened.

    Like the fact that God created the world sovereignly and meticulously, according to how He sees fit. (The ancient creation myths didn’t believe this, so this would have been STUNNING to the original readers.)

    And that God saw that what he created was “good” (rather than through accidents or cosmic violence of the gods, as the ancient creation myths taught. Again, the original readers would have grasped this point, and it was most likely STUNNING to them.)

    There is SO MUCH about Genesis 1 that we just don’t see today, because all we’re seeing and teaching is “on day one this, and on day two that, and on day three this, and on day four that.” We are TOTALLY missing all the beautiful theology about God that’s being taught here. We’re missing the beautiful contrasts between the ancient myths and God’s reality.

    The original readers certainly saw the main POINTS of the listing of the “days.” And they certainly recognized that, “wait a minute, the earth was listed BEFORE the sun here, so something else — something more important — than the surface-level literal sequence is going on here.”

    The ancients didn’t read things like we do today. They did not think, like we do today, that something is either “wrong,” or it is “literal.”

  22. April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    The Bible is never wrong. God does not lie. But, God does NOT write everything in Scripture with literal intent. (As you all already know.)

  23. April 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Oh, sorry, Steve. I didn’t know that’s what you meant by addressing you. (I’m a bit socially “off” at times. Sorry…)

  24. Steve Drake said,

    April 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Hi Aaron @23,
    No problem brother. I think it is more personal in an exchange to clearly delineate who you’re speaking to, that’s all. Did you answer my question in #12 above, and did you address it to me?

  25. April 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    I don’t think I addressed you in my first response, Steve, but I’m actually very ignorant of science. And if science and scientists actually are NOT in agreement about those things I was mentioning, I guess I should look into that.

  26. Steve Drake said,

    April 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Hi Aaron @ 25,
    I think you would benefit by looking into ‘that’. Blessings to you brother.

  27. Reed Here said,

    April 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Aaron: how do you know the ancients read the Bible differently than we do?

    What do you mean by literal intent?

    Is Gn 1 historical according to God’s intent or not?

  28. April 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I don’t know. I could be wrong. About everything. All I meant by my “literal” comment was that God doesn’t always intend that we read Scripture (such as Revelation, for example) literally.

    Some Scripture is poetry, some is history, some is wisdom literature, some is apocalyptic, etc. That’s all I meant.

    Rather than always reading Scripture “literally,” we should always read it “literarily.” We should approach it based on the type of literature that it is. And it just seems to me that Gen. 1 has much more going on in it than a mere, straight-forwad, literal text.

    But again, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Just this morning, as I was DRIVING to work, I panicked for a minute because I thought I left my car keys at home. So, who am I to trust this dull mind that’s locked in my head.

    To answer your question, I don’t know what to make about the “literalness” of Gen. 1. But I do believe in Jesus’ work on the cross for me.

  29. Steve Drake said,

    April 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Hi Aaron @28,

    I don’t know. I could be wrong. About everything.

    Dear brother, the FH hypothesis is bankrupt. It is void of any explanatory power, a modern accommodationist view and thus be rejected.

  30. hashavyahu said,

    April 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    It’s a shame that the pertinent question posed by Don @ 9 about Gen 2:19 has not been answered adequately here or in #83 on ‘Question and Answer Session 2.’ The so-called pluperfect interpretation of the wayyiqtol that is required by the harmonizing reading of Gen 1-2 is a dubious category for a verbal form that by definition denotes sequence. The pluperfect, by definition, expresses action out of sequence, for which waw-disjunctive syntax would be necessary. It doesn’t help for Reed to insist that the emphasis is on the “purpose” rather than “order.” He would need to make a grammatical argument for how this makes sense given the sequence. It is true that some grammarians accept the pluperfect, but many also think it is a dubious category. If nothing else it is extremely rare (the best example is textually problematic) and a weak grammatical hook to hang a harmonistic exegesis on. Besides, the logic of the passage is pretty clear. God saw (preterit) that the man was alone (18a), and resolves (future) to make a helper (18b). He commences to create the animals (19, wayyiqtol denoting action in the past in sequence to previous wayyiqtol), after which it is discovered that animals aren’t going to cut it (v. 20), etc. So I think Don’s comment about the narrative contradiction remains important and so far unanswered.

  31. Steve Drake said,

    April 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Hi Hashavyahu@ 30,
    Wow! Quite an accusation! I’m curious, Don’s question at #9 is somehow not answered by Reed in #10 above or in #83 in ‘Questions and Answers Session 2’? What would you accept to be a proper answer to this?

  32. Steve Drake said,

    April 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Hashavyahu @ 30.

    It’s a shame that the pertinent question posed by Don @ 9 about Gen 2:19 has not been answered adequately here or in #83 on ‘Question and Answer Session 2.

    What would you accept to be a proper answer here?

  33. Steve Drake said,

    April 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Hashavyahu #30,

    It’s a shame that the pertinent question posed by Don @ 9 about Gen 2:19 has not been answered adequately here or in #83 on ‘Question and Answer Session 2.

    Please explain what you would consider a proper answer here. What answer will you accept?

  34. April 11, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Reblogged this on AaronWagner7000 and commented:
    I took a beating here. (Figured I’d reblog it anyway.)

  35. Don said,

    April 12, 2012 at 1:29 am

    @Reed Here #10,
    I didn’t say it was a second creation account, did I? But the first word in 2:15 and 2:18 (NASB) is both “Then.” How do you not interpret that as the order in which things are reported as happening?

    Or, you could just answer hashavyahu’s Hebrew grammar question, but please try to not leave us English-only speakers too far behind!

  36. David Palmer said,

    April 12, 2012 at 3:45 am

    “the literal 6-day 24 hour view of the creation days (is) based on sound exegetical principles”.

    This is probably a true statement, but it fails to take into account the very old age of the earth, hence alternative understandings such as the framework view, which contra earlier comments I have never found particularly complicated, provided of course we don’t want everything to be defined to the nth degree.

    I find it salutory to consider the ways in which our Reformed forefathers of the second half of the nineteenth century – Hodge, Warfield, etc men who stood for the unity of all knowledge whether theological or that arising from the study of the created world were prepared to seek an accommodation and I then contrast that with YECs who jetison the clear evidence for an old earth because they no longer are seeking that unity between God’s two books of revelation.

    I happen to reject Darwinian evolution, but do so principally on philosophical and scientific grounds. I affirm historical Adam and Eve for biblical reasons not least of which are found in the NT and find such a position compatible with an old earth.

    But don’t let’s fight over these things, certainly not drum persons out of our ecclesiastical circles who differ over the age of the earth or even evolution when they affirm the doctrines of grace and inspiration/inerrancy of the scriptures!

  37. John said,

    April 12, 2012 at 6:46 am

    Reed, you earlier mentioned “assumptions” and I think that is a good category to address. YE and 6/24 advocates usually assume the burden of proof lies at the feet of OE and non-6/24 advocates. Why should this be?

    To me, the overwhelming natural evidence is that we have an old earth that was not created in 6 calendar days. To me there is no overwhelming scriptural argument that Gen. 1-2 must be interpreted as literal chronological history. The framework view offers a robust interpretive alternative which more than adequately handles the data. The best thing about it is that, as you mention, it doesn’t commit one way or other to the age of the earth or the length of creation days.

    There is a difference between sloppy harmonization and/or “accommodationism” on the one hand, and on the other hand allowing the overwhelming consensus on the interpretation of general revelation to motivate us to go back and make sure we have interpreted special revelation correctly.

    I would rather place the burden of proof at the feet of those who think that common sense realism should drive our scriptural interpretation and the sorts of questions we ask of the Bible.

  38. hashavyahu said,

    April 12, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Steve @ 31-33,

    A grammatical answer, or at least an admission that what he’s proposing for 2:19 is philologically unlikely but for him necessary ex hypothesi.

  39. Reed Here said,

    April 12, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Nathan: please clarify what exegetical mistake I am making with reference to Gn 2:19. Thanks.

  40. Reed Here said,

    April 12, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    John: my challenge to you was your insistence on exegesis, and then your silence when given exegesis.

    Your comment here retreats to the position: natural revelation demands changes in our exegesis. That is an example of the error of eisegesis.

  41. hashavyahu said,

    April 12, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Reed: Your mistake is grammatical. Your reading requires Gen 2:19 to be temporally anterior to Gen 2:18. The wayyiqtol form, however, marks Gen 2:19 as following v. 18 in succession, thus depicting the creation of “all the animals” as following the creation of the man, i.e. the opposite order from Gen 1.

  42. rfwhite said,

    April 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    41/30 hashavyahu: with regard to the wayyiqtol form in 2.19, what do you make of the argument that the waw-relative can be used for the pluperfect when there is lexical repetition or when knowledge of the real world leads to the conclusion that an explanation of a previous event or situation is being provided?

  43. Reed Here said,

    April 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Nathan: my Hebrew is rudimentary at best. You are arguing that I am forcing the waw-consecutive at the beginning of Gn 2:19 to be read as a mere conjunction, referencing past completed action?

  44. Keedai Kim said,

    April 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I thought FH was one of four interpretations held to by the PCA?

  45. John said,

    April 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Reed, eisegesis is always a real danger. And it’s an accusation easily turned around. You accuse framework proponents of allowing general revelation to drive their exegesis. Framework proponents could just as easily return that the cultural assumptions of early modernity (namely common sense realism) are driving the 6/24 exegesis. And around and around we go…

    I have made no retreat regarding your exegesis. You raised some good points. They seem internally coherent to me, but so do the arguments of the framework view (which you also concede are internally coherent).

    If the exegetical arguments for both views are internally coherent and faithful to the text, then how do you choose which view to hold? It seems reasonable to me to choose the view which does not commit you to science one way or the other.

    So I actually read your post here as an argument in favor of the framework view!!!

  46. April 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Hmm. Excellent response, John.

  47. jsm52 said,

    April 12, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    How are were the Israelites to understand the commandment regarding the Sabbath?… or we? The context is six 24 hour days that they work connected to six days in which the Lord created. There isn’t any transition or qualifier to define God’s six days of work in any way other than that of the Israelites. Doesn’t this Scripture help interpret Gen. 1?

    Ex. 20:
    8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 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. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.


  48. Reed Here said,

    April 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    John: respectfully, you dismissed my exegesis with less than 10 words comment. Frankly, given how much else I have to do, the respect I showed your request was not responded to with a commensurate attitude. I’ll take no offense, but I certainly will not give your arguments much attention in the future.

    As to my making an argument in favor of FH, see my first comment here (no. 5). I’m comfortable with the literary insights of the FH. I disagree with the literary ONLY position of the FH. Big difference.

    As to cultural assumptions of early modernity, what would those be? No need for round and round.

    Oh, again, where did I accuse FH folks of what you’ve accused me of accusing them?

  49. hashavyahu said,

    April 12, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    rfhite @ 42 and Reed @ 43:

    Reed: I am saying that you are reading the wayyiqtol as referring to anterior rather than successive action, that is, as a “pluperfect.” This is a function that many grammarians deny exists for the wayyiqtol form.

    rfwhite: I am not convinced by those arguments, though I know that some, including Waltke/O’Connor, make them (the examples they give are not only extremely few, but are capable of other interpretations. see Driver, Tenses, and Jouon 118d n. 2). The problem is that an anterior reading of the wayyiqtol contradicts the semantics of the form, which is explicitly to describe sequential action in the past. If an author wanted to talk about anterior action (I’m avoiding the term “pluperfect” for what it implies about the tense/aspect debate), he would have to use the w … qatal disjunctive sequence. To quote Jouon para. 118d “Hebrew has no other way [than the waw-disjunctive w …. qatal sequence] of expressing the value of the pluperfect than by avoiding wayyiqtol in this way.” In other words, it is the deliberate avoiding of wayyiqtol that can be used to indicate anterior action. In v. 19, the author chose a wayyiqtol rather than a w … qatal sequence, and I can only conclude that he intended this verse to be read in temporal sequence to v. 18. If you want to preserve single authorship of Gen 1-2, this looks like a point in favor of the “framework” view.

  50. John said,

    April 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    But Reed, equally respectfully, your exegetical arguments, by your own admission, do not prove that a literal chronological reading is necessary, only that it is possible. I could interact with your specific exegetical arguments, but that seems like a waste of time for both of us for two reasons: 1) better exegetes have already done so in the literature, and 2) the case for the literary framework view does not depend on demonstrating that the 6/24 view is wrong, but only that it is not the only plausible reading of the text.

    Regarding accusations: “Your comment here retreats to the position: natural revelation demands changes in our exegesis. That is an example of the error of eisegesis.” That sounds like an accusation of eisegesis to me. So you think it’s just me and not framework advocates in general?

    I think your early modern assumption is the common sense realist tendency to assume that the literal interpretation is the best rather than the literal INTENTION of the author.

  51. rfwhite said,

    April 12, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    49 hashavyahu: Thanks for your comments. Are you familiar with Collins’s essay on this grammatical point, and what do you make of his argumentation (as distinct from his conclusion)?

  52. Steve Drake said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Let’s be clear on this whole discussion here. Whether one wants to adopt the FH like Kline, Blocher, Irons, or like C. John Collins understand the days to be ‘analogical’ or ‘anthropomophic’, the problems that an old earth present theologically are insuperable. The parallels and relationships in the FH or ‘analogical’ views, are either artificial, stretched, or non-existent. Mark Ross, The Framework Hypothesis, p.113, openly admits that this interpretation is not the first impression one gets from the text.

  53. Reed Here said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:45 am

    John: on the prior thread you wanted exegesis, explicitly and repeatedly refusing to interact with arguments that were not exegetical. I assumed you wanted some exegetical discussion/debate. Apparently I assumed wrong. Maybe you could tell me (asked twice now), if your intent was not interaction over exegesis, why ask for exegesis?

    Were you issuing some sort of challenge, “prove that YE is exegetically required”? If so, maybe you could just ask it that way. (Or were you asking something else?)

    As to the necessary vs. possible, that is not the question you asked which I was answering (i.e., the question of apparent conflict between Gn 1 and 2). You cannot fault my answer for failure to answer a question you did not ask.(BTW, why would you want to use an argument that cuts both ways? “Merely possible” equally to the FH as well.)

    As to accusations, I made none against proponents of the FH in general. You’ve read that into what I said. As to my specific response to you, I make no accusation there either. Instead I characterized your comment. You can deny my characterization (and I’m willing to engage sincerely with good intentions in such an exchange). But you’ve no cause to read into what I’ve said, especially along the lines I’ve challenged you.

  54. Reed Here said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:46 am

    John, additional observations that may be of help:

    Aside, a friend wrote m offline a perfection to my eisegesis observation. He observed it would be better to we’ve got competing harmonization schemes going on. One can be described as seeking to harmonize special revelation (Gn 1) with special revelation (Gn 2). The other can be described as seeking to harmonize special revelation (Gn 1 and 2) with natural revelation. Both are valid harmonizations, yet the former must always take precedence over the latter.

    With this hopefully helpful clarification in mind, I do get your idea that we’re merely trading nyah, nyah, nyah comments. You say I’m beholden to early modernistic influences. My “eisegesis” comment does imply I’m saying you’re beholden to late modernistic influences.

    You may very well be (as I your challenge). Be that as it may, that is NOT the point in your comment that I’m seeking to challenging. Instead I’m pushing you in terms of the harmonization scheme that is dominating your comments. It does NOT appear to be the one that must take priority, hence my challenge. Does this make better sense (regardless of whether you agree ;-) )?

  55. Reed Here said,

    April 13, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Nathan: I understand what you are asking, I think. If I might summarize it this way:

    The wayyiqtol in Gn 2:19 must be read as a waw consecutive (i.e., “and then”), denoting action narratively consequent to the action in the preceding sentence narrative. Accordingly, this creates the appearance of conflict with the narrative ordering of the creation of animals vs. man between Gn 1:24-26 (animals then man) and Gn 2:7, 19 (man then animals).

    If I’m tracking correctly, I get the nature of the challenge and accept that it does pose a potential problem. As I do not have time to engage in detail I trust you will accept my sincerity in referring to Collins’ and Futato’s observations to demonstrate sufficient exegetically based information to demonstrate that the anterior interpretation (not “mine” but the common one in at least English translations) of wayyiqtol in Gn 2:19 is an exception that proves the rule.

    Collins, “The Wayyiqtol As ‘Pluperfect’: When And Why”
    Futato, “Because It Had Rained: A Study Of Gen 2:5-7 With Implications For Gen 2:4-25 And Gen 1:1-2:3”

  56. Reed Here said,

    April 13, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Nathan, follow up question for you:

    So your challenge rests on the argument that wayyiqtol in narrative must be interpreted as describing consequent action, i.e., the waw-consecutive rule, correct?

    If so, then what do you do with rest of the wayiqtols, beginning in Gn 1 and stretching through at least Gn 11? How do you account for all these, and the fact that following the rule you’ve insisted upon means the author intends for us to read this as history?

    One solution, to be sure, is to argue for some sort of multiple author position (e.g., JEDP, or whatever the documentary hypothesis de jure is). But does that not require allowing for contradictions between sources?

    Or maybe you have some other exegetical solution in mind. Thanks.

  57. hashavyahu said,

    April 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Reed: yes, I personally accept the JEDP theory. Authors use wayyiqtols (mostly) for temporal succession. The compiler of the text doesn’t change the verb forms (a phenomenon to be noted throughout the pentateuch and distinguishing the work of an author from the work of this particular compiler: the compiler is reticent to change his sources, even to remove contradictions. compare the combination of material in the Sam Pent, where that compiler was more willing to harmonize). A framework person might hold to the single authorship of Gen 1-2 and cite this as evidence that Gen 1 and 2 cannot both be taken literally.

    Why would wayyiqtols imply that the author intends us to read as history? I don’t understand that argument.

    Also, in response to Reed and rfwhite: I hesitate to get too deep into Collins’s article in this context (its publication in a theological journal rather than one that deals with Hebrew linguistics should tip you off as to the seriousness of its argumentation). Suffice to say the meat of Collins’s article is really his parroting of the data adduced by Buth. Collins’s contribution is to accept Buth’s argumentation but argue against Buth that Gen 2:19 can be “pluperfect.” The evidence he cites for this (primarily Josh 18:8) is inadequate (Josh 18:8 can be easily interpreted sequentially!). The rare cases of temporal overlay in wayyiqtols all involve the overlay of various sequences of actions in an immediate context, none as far separated as Gen 1 and Gen 2:19. For a more serious linguistic engagement on this topic, see John Cook, “The Semantics of Verbal Pragmatics: Clarifying the Roles of wayyiqtol and weqatal in Biblical Hebrew Prose,” JSS (2004), but again, a discussion of the implications of that article here would take us too far a-field in this context (his denial of temporal succession in favor of foregrounding as basic to the wayyiqtol doesn’t help in Gen 2:19).

    Finally, Reed: I would not argue that exceptions exist, that the pragmatics of an utterance may trump semantics, and this may be a case of that. I am more comfortable, however, going with a more natural reading of the text and letting the implications be what they may.

  58. Reed Here said,

    April 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks Nathan. Not to inappropriately infer, but in that you affirm JEDP, and are willing to live with the implications, then do you believe there is an actual contradiction in view?

    I’ll spend sometime working through Collins and Futato, and your critique. It may or may not be something to follow up with (as responsibilities dictate for us both).

    As to historical reading, is it not correct that the waw-consecutive is used predominantly in historical texts, those which intend to communicate straightforward, “this is what happened, and then this is what happened next, and then this is what happened next, and then …”?

  59. jedpaschall said,

    April 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Nathan, Reed, et. al.,

    Have any of you interacted with John Walton’s most recent work Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology? While he doesn’t specifically deal with the wayyiqtols in Gen. 1, he does argue that it is a sequential, literal day account of the inaguration of the cosmic temple. His argument is that Gen 1 is not dealing with material, rather functional creation in the context of shared ANE conceptual framework.

    Having read his earlier work, he does grant some of the elements of the framework interpretation, specifically the forming of days 1-3 and the filling of days 4-6. However, he see’s this as describing the assignment of a functional cosmos ready for man to fulfill their priestly role under God’s kingship, and framework advocates are still operating off a paradigm of material creation.

  60. Steve Drake said,

    April 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Hi Jed,
    Is Walton an old earth guy or young earth guy? Lest you ask what has that got to do with anything, I’m sure you can see it might have bearing.

  61. Reed Here said,

    April 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Jed: I’ve given some attention. My initial reaction is that Walton is allowing the ANE paradigm rule more than necessary, to the exclusion of some aspects of the inter-revelation paradigm.

    E.g., I the Immanuel concept is not given the full biblical weight in the cosmic temple scheme.

    Again, this is an initial reaction. I’d want to give it more attention before discussing it further.

  62. hashavyahu said,

    April 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Reed: Yes, I think there is a narrative contradiction in view, though in this case a relatively minor and insignificant one. I’m still working on the theological implications of this for my own personal walk (I have no aspirations to being a theologian), but that might need to wait until I finish my formal studies.

    As for history and the wayyiqtol: the form denotes past action (I hold to an aspect prominent perspective on the verbal system as a whole, with the wayyiqtol as preserving an old past tense form a la Cook, Holmstedt, Hackett), but is used, like the English past, in a variety of genres including but not limited to “history”. See Judges 9:8-15 for the use of a wayyiqtol sequence in a “parable.”

    jed: I have not read Walton.

  63. sean said,

    April 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Jed says: “Having read his earlier work, he does grant some of the elements of the framework interpretation, specifically the forming of days 1-3 and the filling of days 4-6. However, he see’s this as describing the assignment of a functional cosmos ready for man to fulfill their priestly role under God’s kingship, and framework advocates are still operating off a paradigm of material creation.”

    Jed, does he interact with a two-register scheme?

  64. jedpaschall said,

    April 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Steve & Reed,

    Walton is somewhat agnostic to what “science” fits in the text, because he claims that “science” (in the modern sense) is not present in the text. He was at one point YEC, and his views do not preclude a YEC scientific model, or any other view, because to him Gen 1 is primarily concerned with God’s creation of the cosmic temple wherein man would serve him. One could ostensibly be YEC, OEC, TE, or otherwise in his views. They are admittedly controversial, primarily because they are gleaning off of ANE research that has not historically been availible to the church.

    If you wan’t a solid introduction to his thought without having to read through his books there is a fantastic debate he had with David Hall (PCA Pastor – YEC Advocate) at Malone University. Both men did a masterful, and charitable job of presenting salient issues in the debate:

    Walton & Hall Debate Genesis 1

    I would highly reccomend his books, there’s valuable information in them even for those inclined to the YEC view. GK Beale picks up a lot on Walton’s work in Gen 1 & 2 in his Temple and the Church’s Mission and other works (without delving into specific origins issues), and makes a rock solid case that the theology of the text is pointing to the Temple – it won’t settle the origins side of the debate, but theologically it is one of the more interesting developments in Biblical Theology in quite some time.

  65. jedpaschall said,

    April 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm


    Not that I remember, I can check when I get the chance.

  66. Steve Drake said,

    April 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Jed @ 64,
    You’re referring to his book ‘The Lost World of Genesis One, Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate’, Intervarsity Press, 2009, right?

  67. jedpaschall said,

    April 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm


    No, Lost World was written for a popular audience. Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology is a scholarly work from Eisenbrauns published in 2011. It deals simply with the ANE & Cosmological components of Gen. 1, doesn’t even touch the modern origins debate. Lost World is a solid work however, not as detailed as the scholarly work though.

  68. Reed Here said,

    April 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Jed: I’m not concerned about Walton’s take on science vis-a-vis Gen 1 (2). I’m more interested in his perspective on its historicity. Given his opinion that this material serves a heuristic (alone) purpose, I most likely have problems with his position.

  69. jedpaschall said,

    April 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm


    I am not sure exactly what you mean here. Walton takes Gen 1 as the historical account of the formation of the cosmic temple, which to him takes place over 6 literal days. He takes Gen. 2 as historical narrative, and Adam and Eve as historical, created by God’s own miraculous work. Admittedly his understanding of how Gen 1 is historical is unique, but in terms of Gen 2, his views are generally in line with conservative scholarship on the issue of historicity.

  70. Reed Here said,

    April 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Jed: yes, I understand. However, he divorces the “history” from what I would expect in two important ways. First, he denies that Gn 1 is about creation. In an interview at Biologos (and elsewhere) he makes it clear that he does not see Gn 1 speaking at all to God’s creation of things, but merely his ordering of things.

    Second, his meaning of “history” is a bit sketchy, at least what I understand him to be saying. In a rejoinder to Poythress’ review of his book he specifically notes that the details given in Gn 1 are for heuristic purposes, divorced from Poythress’ historical usage.

    As a good example of his sketchiness on what “history” means is his understanding of the historicity of Adam. Walton’s “archtype” position is hardly consistent with the normal meaning of “history.” It is history at a bare minimum. There is some historical (factual) referent, but the narrative is so organized according heuristic purposes that all he really means is that there is some historical connection, but it merely serves as a starting point for the instructional purposes of the text. This is more like Enn’s description of myth.

    I’m sure you don’t mean it, but calling this position “history” without qualification can be very misleading, at best. (I’m smiling, so you better too ;-) ).

  71. Steve Drake said,

    April 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Jed 59/64/67,

    …John Walton’s most recent work Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology? While he doesn’t specifically deal with the wayyiqtols in Gen. 1, he does argue that it is a sequential, literal day account of the inaguration of the cosmic temple. His argument is that Gen 1 is not dealing with material, rather functional creation in the context of shared ANE conceptual framework.

    I imagine this new work and his ‘The Lost World of Genesis One’ are fairly similar in his arguments and conclusions. That he thinks the early chapters of Genesis do not provide an account of material origins, but functional origins, and that the church has misunderstood this real meaning for centuries would be problematic for me as well, Jed. I agree with Reed, it seems to only serve an ad-hoc ‘problem-solving’ type application and function.

    I believe in ‘Lost World’ he makes the claim that the reason why the Church has almost universally misunderstood Genesis is that knowledge of the ancients and their world-view had been lost for many centuries. That however, in recent years, as archaeologists have recovered many ancient texts, and linguists have re-learnt the ancient languages, it is possible for scholars to regain an understanding of how the world thought. And now through his own study of ancient near eastern beliefs, he has been able to correctly interpret these early chapters.

    I think he also claims in ‘Lost World’ that in the interpretation of the text that he is offering, very little in evolutionary theory would be objectionable. Earlier in this same book he states that biological evolution is capable of giving us insight into God’s creative work.

    I’m not sure what this view offers that the FH or analogical day view doesn’t.

  72. jedpaschall said,

    April 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm


    Why wouldn’t I be smiling dude! I just am constitutionally opposed to emoticons – seems unbecoming for this Calvinist. First, Walton has clarified with respect to the biologos – and does so in the debate – he believes in the historicity of Adam. His commentary simply takes Gen 2 as more or less straightforward narrative (in a temple context).

    Second, if you are reading Walton through the lens of Poythress, I would advise against this. Poythress is a fine scholar, but he misrepresents Walton severly in his review – here’s Walton’s Response. Walton has never shied away from the fact that his views are new, and controversial, and has often welcomed critique – which primarily gave rise to his last two books – but he felt that Poythress did not deal with the substance of his arguments. Frankly, David Hall was more charitable from a YEC perspective – I would be inclined to agree that his concerns are more reasonable (which is why I supplied the link – if you ever have the time, it’s quite good).

    As to your concerns over history, these are some of the more common objections that Walton encounters, and he attempts to deal with them fairly and honestly, since he is introducing such new concepts. His main issue is that texts must be read as the original reader understood it as much as possible in order to understand the original context. He does not fault prior Christian scholarship for not coming to the same conclusions as he has in the material v. function debate, because many of the resources that have opened our understanding of the Israelite mind simply were not available. Now that they are available, and we do have a clearer picture of the ancient worldview, we have a better understanding of what the ancients thought, and why.

    IMO, he avoids some of the more egregious errors of Enns, because he does not equate Gen. 1 with the ANE cosmological material, as if to make Genesis 1 & following yet another ANE myth. He shows how there were certain shared conceptual elements between Genesis and other ANE cosmologies, without ever equating the Bible with ANE lit – he is very insistent on where Genesis is unique, and how it departs radically from ANE paganism by presenting Yahweh as the sole creator of the heavens and the earth. But, I am sure his association with BioLogos is not very settling with YEC advocates, and I wonder if he could have addressed his position through better (possibly more neutral) avenues.

  73. jedpaschall said,

    April 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm


    I’m not sure what this view offers that the FH or analogical day view doesn’t

    All I can say is interact with Walton’s material, the debate I provided is a good starting point. When I am finished with Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology I will try to give a detailed review over at my blog. Even if you don’t agree with his conclusions, much of his research in the area of Genesis can’t be ignored – and can even be useful to those who would reject other aspects of his research (such a hard line between material and function which isn’t controversial in conservative circles alone – there have been some epic dust-ups on liberal biblical scholarship blogs on this matter).

  74. Steve Drake said,

    April 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Hey Jed,
    Thanks for the heads up on your blog, I’ll give your review a read when you’ve got it ready! I guess in terms of this debate though, what does it(Walton’s interpretation) offer that the literal interpretation doesn”t? In other words, what is the perceived problem that Walton is trying to solve by this new, innovative interpretation? Blessings brother.

  75. Steve Drake said,

    April 14, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Jed, one other thought,
    I remember the enthusiasm and excitement from OE adherents when Gorman Gray’s book ‘The Age of the Universe; What are the Biblical Limits’ first came out, 15 years ago now, and the promotion that this was the end all, be all of the issue, much like you seem to be proposing for Walton’s ideas. But where are Gray’s ideas today but relegated to the evangelical backwater of ideas. It might be too soon yet to know if Walton’s ideas replace the traditional literal one in evangelical thought.

    I’ve listened to the first half of the debate between Hall and Walton on the link you provided. Will listen to the rest this evening or tomorrow, but like Hall mentions on tape, the literal interpretation has stayed around throughout the history of the Church, while these other views have come and gone, new ones cropping up from time to time as revisionist and accomodationist. I thought his analogy to ‘Dodgeball’ was apropos.

    At any rate, would still be interested in hearing what you think the perceived problem that Walton is trying to solve by this approach.

  76. Reed Here said,

    April 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Jed: not reading Walton through anyone other than Walton.

    So far, my take is that he is Enns-lite. In fact, he reads quite a bit like what I heard from Enns in my classes from him, tentative qualifications intended to remove objections but since tentative, well, tentative doesn’t just do anything.

  77. jedpaschall said,

    April 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm


    I sat in several of Walton’s classes, he is most definitely different than Enns. He has far more work done in ANE studies than most OT scholars, Enns included. He is an inerrantist. He holds to a historical (in the most straightforward sense) Adam. He does not equate ANE lit with the OT, simply demonstrates that Israel shared a common cultural, and literary framework with the ANE – drawing comparrisons from everything ranging from Hittite treaty structure, Hammurabi’s law codes, Ugaritic hymnic structures, and more. He is simply insisting that failing to read the OT with it’s cultural context in mind inhibits a full understanding of the text.

    Which works are you deriving an Enns lite understanding from?

  78. Reed Here said,

    April 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Jed: o.k., Twice now you’ve said Walton believes in a historic Adam. What exactly does that mean?

    I could have sworn I heard him talking about Adam as an “archtype,” not specifically the first created man, but someone chosen out of available stock to be the first in relationship (i.e., covenant) man. That is, he finds room for the “chieftan” of a 10,000 tribe of hominids “uplifted” to being with souls.

    Am I wrong? If so, what exactly does he mean by “archtype”? Same question with “historical”.

  79. Reed Here said,

    April 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Jed: your description of Walton’s position vis-a-vis ANE backgrounds sounds exactly like that of Enns while he was teaching at WTS in ’97-’98 (years I had classes with him). I hear similar echos in the other things you report hear, as well as what little I read of Walton (so far).

  80. jedpaschall said,

    April 15, 2012 at 2:08 am


    He is using archetype in a similar fashion to how we as Reformed use federal lamguage. Adam is archetypal inasmuch as he is a single representative of the whole. By historical, he means that Adam and Eve were real people created just as described in Gen 2, and lived in Eden in the early ANE. He is quite consistent in holding Scripture as inertant, authoritative, and binding, so when Paul or the several geneaologies that mention Adam plainly present Adam as historical, we must accept Adam as a real, historical figure based on biblical authority.

    In this respect he is vastly different than Enns, since Enns places his criteria for authority in outside sources whether ANE or science. Walton rejects this approach, demanding that we affirm the truth of Scriptures affirative claims even if science or archaeology claim otherwise because Scripture does not change, but science and archaeology do, often to the effect that they end up affirming the truth of Scripture where they previosly thought them to be in error.

    The only area of disagreement between Walton and the classic YEC position with respect to gen. 2 is that while he views Adam as archtypal (or representative of the whole) and historical,he leaves the door open to the possibility that other humans could have existed prior to or as contempoary to Adam. Even if this were the case Adam is the archetypal representative of these people as well. The major differences between Walton and YEC advocates exists in Gen. 1 and 6-9, because he holds to a local flood.

  81. Reed Here said,

    April 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Jed: thanks. So what does Walton mean when he says Adam was created? If humans (potentially) existed prior to or along with Adam, is Walton not disagreeing with fiat creation of Adam?

  82. jedpaschall said,

    April 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm


    I will dig further into Walton’s commentary later to give a couple of citations, but no, Walton has not suggested that Adam was created by any other means other than Adam being shaped from the dust of the earth via God’s supernatural (fiat) creation. The reason why he leaves open the possibility for other humans existing alongside Adam is because of the allusion in Gen. 4 by Cain that other people may want to kill him. But since Scripture isn’t clear one way or the other, as he would see it, we can’t know whether Adam was the first human chronologcally or archetypally (or as we Reformed would say Federally). But, Adam was a real individual who lived in a real Eden at some indefinite (probably early ANE) point in history.

    He is very hesitent to concede much of anything to Science in his reading of Gen 1-11, so he doesn’t believe that Scripture privileges any of the prevailing modern scientific readings of Genesis (young earth, old, theistic evolution, etc.) because it isnt a scientific genre, it is a historical narrative in the from of an ANE cosmology. All scientific questions need to be answered based on their scientific merits provided it does not oppose anything Scripture clearly teaches (e.g. creation ex nihilo), because to Walton Scripture is the final authority, not science. His reliance on ANE sources, unlike Enns, is simply to establish the cultural and literary context in which Scripture is written. Where he is controversial is that he argues for a different understanding of genre, especially in Gen 1 & 2, than the church has historically held, but the church simply did not have access to these sources that would have better indicated the genre of the text. In terms of the broad theology of these texts, he argues that this has always been discernable according to the perpescuity of Scripture.

  83. April 15, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    […] An Argument Against the Framework Hypothesis ( […]

  84. joebranca said,

    April 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Jed: “while he views Adam as archtypal (or representative of the whole) and historical,he leaves the door open to the possibility that other humans could have existed prior to or as contempoary to Adam. Even if this were the case Adam is the archetypal representative of these people as well. The major differences between Walton and YEC advocates exists in Gen. 1 and 6-9, because he holds to a local flood.”

    This sounds just like the material I’ve been reading with interest from Richard Fischer (… are you familiar with Fischer’s view and if in fact him and Walton take the same basic approach?

  85. jedpaschall said,

    April 16, 2012 at 1:21 am


    I have not read Fischer, but I’ll likely give it a read as he seems to be raising some interesting points about the neolitic ANE. I am not sure how he reconciles his theories theologically – specifically how Adam introduces sin into the world – not saying he doesn’t make a case for it. However, one of the more perplexing difficulties to me in Gen. 4 is Cain’s fear that other (unnamed) individuals may seek to end his life. Were they his brothers/sisters, or members of an extant population, and how does this comport with Paul’s presentation of Adam Christology?

    While I am not YEC, because I don’t think the text necessitates it, I am still not completely comfortable with the historical reconstructions surrounding Gen. 1-11, meaning I am hesitent to say that Old Earth, or Theistic Evolution, or some combination thereof are the right position either. The basic theology and history are quite clear, but some of the detailed questions seem to elude my own current understanding of the text. I have a couple of running theories of what may have been the case, but I am hesitent to hold any of them very tightly because I do believe that whatever historical and scientific views we take of the text, they must also be theologically justifiable. In my opinion Walton is raising the right issues, careful about what he thinks Genesis does and does not answer, but scholars such as Enns have been less than careful and have ended up advocating theologically untenable positions, especially for Reformed Christians who seek to be faithful to Scripture and to our confessional standards.

  86. jedpaschall said,

    April 17, 2012 at 7:50 pm


    Sorry for the delay, somehow I missed this comment:

    In other words, what is the perceived problem that Walton is trying to solve by this new, innovative interpretation?

    In brief, he is trying to move the debate to the level of what the text is actually affirming, and for him, this can only be resolved by understanding the text in it’s original context. This essentially removes a good deal of the “science” out of the Genesis text, with the understanding that God isn’t changing Israel’s worldview in that respect, what is revelatory (and quite radical given it’s ancient context) is the monotheistic theology in the creation texts. It renders the questions of young or old earth, or evolution, or any other modern question outside the concerns of the text, forcing these arguments to rise or fall purely on their scientific merits, because Scripture isn’t (to Walton) affirming any of these views.

    Hopefully you have had the chance to finish the debate to give better context to Walton’s position, but Walton is trying to resolve what has been the most difficult aspect of Genesis 1-11 (esp. 1-2) and that is context, and genre. It is one thing to understand the Hebrew text itself, entirely another to understand the cultural context of the original audience – what the author intended to communicate to them, presumably in a manner that they would understand. This cultural context was obscured by the time of the Hellenization of the ANE (say post 300 BC), and lost by the time the church begins formulating interpretation of Genesis 1-11. The primeval history, while narrative, is like no other narrative in the Pentateuch, or OT for that matter, it is the condensation of a few thousand years of salvation history into a few brief chapters, so it is highly selective, and at times difficult.

    The church has essentially understood the theology of Gen 1-2 since it’s inception, as it is fairly straightforward – God, the One true Triune God is responsible for all of creation – which forms the basis of his claims upon the whole of humanity and man’s duties to God, of course there’s more to it than this, but this is the irreducible theology of Gen 1. But it has been the work of modern archaeology that has recovered the artifacts of the ANE, and enabled us to understand it’s various cultures, including the culture in which, and to which Scripture was written. Think of how finds such as the Hittite Suzerainty-Vassal Treaties have only served to reinforce our understanding of the biblical covenants, or how the Egyptian Wisdom of Amenemope (which utilized nearly verbatum in Prov. 22) helped us to understand the contours of Wisdom literature throughout the region – giving insight into figures such as Solomon. None of these resources were available to the church until the last 150 years or so – and it has given us what is tantamount to a Hi-Definition view of the OT. Genesis 1 and 2 are no different, they were written to a culture that had just begun to emerge from the paganism of Egypt, and for all practical purposes shared their worldview, and some even their pagan practices – they would have immedeately recognized the temple character of the text, it is doubtful that they would have any inkling of the modern scientific questions debated here. What Walton claims he is trying to do (whether he achieves it or not) is to faithfully interpret Scripture in its own context.

    Yes it is new, but it is not as if the church has a history of quickly resolving certain matters of biblical interpretation. It took nearly 500 years to settle matters on Christology, close to 1000 to settle matters (or begin to) on atonement, 1500 to settle matters on justification; so why would it be inconceivable for the church to take 2000 years to reach the proper understanding of Genesis? As Protestants, we believe in the development of doctrine, and I doubt that the church has settled all theological and exegetical matters – we always need refining. Because Walton’s views are new, they need to be vetted, and pass full scrutiny, but their newness should not automatically make them wrong.

  87. Steve Drake said,

    April 18, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Thanks for your response.

    Hopefully you have had the chance to finish the debate to give better context to Walton’s position…

    Yes, listened through to the end.

    It renders the questions of young or old earth, or evolution, or any other modern question outside the concerns of the text, forcing these arguments to rise or fall purely on their scientific merits, because Scripture isn’t (to Walton) affirming any of these views.

    On tape, Walton makes the statement that Genesis 1 ‘is not’ giving us an account of material origins, but functional, and as you point out, he says it is left to science to give us the proper material origins description. He implies that the great exegetes of the past throughout church history have been wrong, and in one broad sweep confines them to the ash bin, supplanting them with his proper understanding of what has been lost for 3500 years (I’m assuming a date here of Moses c.1400 BC).

    I find this problematic for several reasons, not least of which is the scientific method for ultimate answers about origins. I think you were part of Adrian’s thread ‘A Critique of Creation, Evolution, and the Christian Lay Person by Tim Keller’, (correct me if not, here), whereby Adrian demonstrated the bankruptcy of the scientific reliance on the inductive method to give ultimate answers. I find this aspect of Walton’s reasoning, and his reliance on science to explain our material origins, quite troubling. It takes the description of our material origins out of God’s hands and puts it in the hands of science which cannot ultimately answer those questions in the first place. Since scientific theories come and go with regularity, and are often competing with one another, in the end, it is never is able to give any final answer. This is the fatal flaw to me.

    As I’ve mentioned in previous posts on some of the other threads, the Church has believed the literal translation of six normal 24 hour days and recent, mature creation for most of its history, up until the time of the advent of modern geology in the early 1800’s (although the shift was starting to happen in France and Great Britain in the mid 1700’s), its uniformitarian assumptions, and discovery and promulgation of ‘deep time’. I believe the Church has had this correct for most of its history, and for the past 200 years, living with the legacy of this shift, we are still trying to explain away what we have believed for 1800 years.

    I don’t understand the tendency of some to try and explain away what God has so clearly revealed in Scripture. I think He is explaining our material origins in Genesis 1; that He wouldn’t leave that to the inadequate methodology of scientific induction to tell us. From what I see of His character revealed in Scripture this seems absolutely essential. Not doing so, in my opinion, would leave too many questions unanswered, too much left to arbitrariness, too much in the hands of fallen man to try and come to the right answers.

  88. Roy Kerns said,

    April 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Steve #87. Yep.

    But re that last paragraph, Steve. I think the “tendency” (accurate eval imho) flows a) from Christians that don’t realize either the magnitude nor essence of what they are conceding; b) the lack of necessity for that concession, and, c) from Christians not doing the ‘sweat work’ in the hard sciences to provide well-thought-out paradigms that show the harmony of mature creationsim and the (very, very interesting) data technology has enabled us to recognize in the last few hundred years.

    Just reading the posts on this thread and similar threads on Green Baggins alone (eg, the thread developed after Adrian’s essay) makes all three points glaringly obvious. I continue seeing folks who simply have never even considered the scientific model implications of Adam walking in a garden with animals and trees not to mention he and Eve being able to see stars.

  89. Steve Drake said,

    April 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Roy @ 88,
    ‘Don’t realize the magnitude nor essence of what they are conceding’ is a brilliant analysis. I would agree with that statement. What are some examples, Roy, of the data that technology has enabled us to recognize in the last few hundred years? Are you speaking to irreducible complexity here, the incredible nano-machines in each one of our cells, or what specifics did you have in mind?

  90. April 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Coming in on this one late – sorry. I’m redaing one of the leading lights on framework, who shall remain nameless for the moment. He argues very clearly for the literary and figurative sense of the “Days” but goes on to argue that these days are ordinary solar days (based on the creation of the sun on day 1). Can anyone explain what a solar day is, if day is only figurative idea?

  91. Roy said,

    April 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Steve #89. Example: between mid 1800s and first 1/4 of 1900s technology enabled us to see not millions of miles further into space, but millions of times further. Universe became mind bogglingly ginormous and looked incomprehensibly ancient. No problem for mature creationist (who already knew that from Adam walking in garden with fruit bearing plants), but (despite being ignored) devastating to YEC model that says since created recently (was), must look recent (fooey, bad science, bad exegesis).

    Example: shaping our understanding of the evidence when wrestling with mitochondrial Eve (part of last year or so discussion, including here on Green Baggins). Whatever the model, the paradigm, it must incorporate the refinements in understanding provided by our growing comprehension of DNA mechanics and record.

    Example: just talking yesterday with 30 something friend working on doctorate in neurology. His physics undergrad makes him more capable than his contemporaries in understanding some of the tools used in his field, such as magnetic resonance imaging, statistics. Fascinating developments in creating physical (aka biochemical) model of mechanics of thinking a thought. Incredible to ponder dirt thinking; God is some engineer! How does this info influence what pastors do in counseling?

  92. Roy said,

    April 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Matthew #90 I can, of course, give a bunch of precise defintions of day, a few of which you may have never heard of (compare and contrast, eg, solar and sidereal. Do you know the story of how we got the defintion of “second”, or why we use 24 hrs in a day?). Then there are all the metaphorical examples, ranging from ‘saved the day’ thru ‘longest day’ to “this is the day the Lord has made’, etc, etc.

    But, is there *really* a problem here? One that would have confounded, for example, the farmer types, the herder nomad types that first heard Gen 1? Nah, not even slightly likely. They might not have been able to quantitatively describe the difference in daylight hours between successive days, nor even listed the factors involved. But to expect me to agree they did not know what day meant requires chowderheadness on my part. To suggest they could not distinguish between description and metaphor demands one consider them pretty dumb.

    Of course if they listened carefully they would have confronted the same sorts of questions that we do, even if without the same technical precision. How could there be day and night (in a given day, heh) if there were not yet a sun? And they would reach the same conclusion we should: of course! Since God did not make the creation complete and entire at a single word, but instead brought creation into existence in a piecewise manner in steps, lots of direct intervention and supernatural stuff went on before the creation was completed.

  93. Don said,

    April 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    @ Matthew Holst #90,
    The sun created on day 1? Then what was the great light created on day 4 in 1:16?

  94. Steve Drake said,

    April 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Roy @ 91,

    but (despite being ignored) devastating to YEC model that says since created recently (was), must look recent (fooey, bad science, bad exegesis).

    I’m not sure any YEC actually says or claims that creation must ‘look’ recent, but maybe you can clarify that if you know of some examples where this is being portrayed. I think most YEC’s would say that the argument is about how ‘age’ is determined. Especially for a fiat ex nihilo universe. Jesus’ water into wine comes to mind. To a wine connoisseur it might have looked and smelled and tasted like it had aged for years, but in terms of it’s ‘actual’ age was only an instant ago.

  95. Steve Drake said,

    April 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Don @ 93,
    Be nice :) Most likely an obvious mis-spoke.

  96. Don said,

    April 19, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    @Steve Drake #95,
    Not questioning Matthew Holst, just whomever he was referring to. If each day is a “solar day” then there had to be a sun there. That’s fine as far as that goes, but…day 4? The big daytime shiny thing that wasn’t there before?

  97. April 20, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Steve, Roy and Don,

    Sorry for the confusion – the sun was created on Day 4, but not if you are a framework man. Of course the linkage between day 1 and day 4 (though the idea of “day” to a framework proponent is irrelevant as it is purely figurative) for the Framework position means that the sun was created on day 1 to give light of which we read in Gen 1:3, even though there isn’t a day in view in framework.

    So my original question, which perhaps I didn’t phrase very well was, how can the time periods (though strangely nothing else in Gen 1-2) be figurative when one of the leading framework proponents describes the days as “ordinary solar days”?


  98. Steve Drake said,

    April 20, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Hi Matthew,
    It’s okay to name names here. Perhaps you can tell us who you’re reading and the source material (book, article, web page, etc.) so that we can look up the reference and the argument he is making to better answer your question?

  99. Roy Kerns said,

    April 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Steve #94. I have in mind the version of creationism which attempts to make the data say stuff looked at dates to about 6000 yrs ago. That means nearly everything one can find popularized in most of American evangelicalism. Includes some sites others have linked to in past half year’s worth of disussion here at Green Baggins, eg, Answers in Genesis.

    One may legitimately take issue with some conclusions about what the evidence indicates regarding how old something looks. No debate on demanding carefully done thinking. But equally so I find it utterly fruitcakey to insist, for example, that some object visible to the unaided eye and far further than 6 K light years away really is no more than 6K light years away. Or that the rocks making up some mountain range must be no older looking than 6K yrs. Etc.

    Bad science. Worse: bad exegesis. A few minutes after her creation when Adam met Eve she appeared, say, 20 yrs x 365 days x 24 hrs x 60 min/ 2 min = 5 million 256 thousand times older than she actually was. Etc.

  100. Steve Drake said,

    April 23, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Hi Roy @99,
    It is not bad exegesis to add up the number of years from Adam to Noah in Gen. 5, and from Noah to Abraham in Gen. 11 and conclude that it was approximately 2000 years from Adam to Abraham. Most scholars agree that Abraham lived around 2000 BC, thus inferring to the present would be another 4000 years for a total of 6000 years. This has been the predominant position of the Church for 1800 years and expounded by almost all Biblical chronologists from Julius Africanus, Eusebius of Caesarea through to James Ussher, the Bishop of Armaugh. It is not bad exegesis to understand the Hebrew of Gen. 1 and understand that these are meant to be understood as ‘six’ normal days of approximately 24 hour length, and Adam as an historical figure, created on the 6th day.

    It is a caricature of the position of organizations like Answers in Genesis, or ICR, or Creation Ministries International to say: “for example, that some object visible to the unaided eye and far further than 6 K light years away really is no more than 6K light years away.”

    This is a fundamental misunderstanding of their position.

  101. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Matthew: not sure if this was answered. In this debate a “solar day” is nothing more than a ordinary 24 hour day, as commonly currently measured.

  102. April 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm


    Thanks. However, I still do not understand how the Framework argues fo a non-literal, but ordinary solar day. It seems a contradiction in terms to me.

  103. Reed Here said,

    April 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Matthew: not sure where you picked that up. As I understand the FH, it is not taking a literal position on the question of what kind of days. If asked, “what kind of days?”, the FH says, “literary, or rhetorical days; days modeled after literal solar days, but since the whole point of the passage is to tell a story about creation, the question actually does not apply.”

  104. Steve Drake said,

    April 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Doesn’t the FH argue that the text is referring to actual ordinary 24 hour days, but that these days are ‘not’ to be taken as chronological in nature from the beginning of time? In other words, the 24 hour days are a ‘framework’ of God’s creative activity, but not rooted in anything you can put on a timeline?

  105. May 1, 2012 at 8:32 am

    In my reading of the FH, strictly speaking, it is agnostic on the length of days. I know of only two young earth Framework men, the rest take the days as figurative and time is not in view. This is what Reed correctly says in post 103.

    That is also my reading of the FH. My questions arise from Lee Irons’ article in Ordained Servant (2000) where he writes

    “The framework interpretation is the view that this picture functions as a figurative framework in which the eight divine fiats are narrated in a non-sequential or topical order. The days are ordinary solar days, but taken as a whole, the total picture of the divine work week is figurative. Although the temporal framework has a non-literal meaning, the events narrated within the days are real historical events of divine creative activity”

    So we have a figurative, non-literal framework of ordinary solar days. That’s where I’m struggling with this position (amongst other problems I have.)


  106. psalmodyguy6o8 said,

    May 1, 2012 at 8:42 am

    From the conclusion of Kline’s Space and Time in Genesis Cosmology

    In short, if the narrative sequence were intended to represent the chronological sequence, Genesis 1 would bristle with contradictions of what is revealed in Gen. 2:5. Our conclusion is then that the more traditional interpretations of the creation account are guilty not only of creating a conflict between the Bible and science but, in effect, of pitting Scripture against Scripture. The true harmony of Genesis 1 and Gen. 2:5 appears, however, and the false conflict between the Bible and science disappears, when we recognize that the creation “week is a lower register metaphor for God’s upper register creation-time and that the sequence of the “days is ordered not chronologically but thematically.

    So it seems as though the FH requires a rejection of chronological days of creation, because otherwise “Genesis 1 would bristle with contradictions of what is revealed in Gen. 2:5”. It seems clear that the primary target in the phrase “traditional interpretations” is 6×24 Creation. The FH also includes a charge to “traditional interpretations of the creation account” of being the genesis of the conflict between the Bible and science, and doubles down in by charging it with pitting “Scripture against Scripture” and making Gen 1 “bristle with contradictions” re Gen 2:5.

  107. psalmodyguy6o8 said,

    May 1, 2012 at 9:02 am


    In that footnote 47 Kline goes on to say

    In this article I have advocated an interpretation of biblical cosmogony according to which Scripture is open to the current scientific view of a very old universe and, in that respect, does not discountenance the theory of the evolutionary origin of man. But while I regard the widespread insistence on a young earth to be a deplorable disservice to the cause of biblical truth, I at the same time deem commitment to the authority of scriptural teaching to involve the acceptance of Adam as an historical individual, the covenantal head and ancestral fount of the rest of mankind, and the recognition that it was the one and same divine act that constituted him the first man, Adam the son of God (Luke 3:38), that also imparted to him life (Gen. 2:7).

    So the FH has no objection to evolutionary origin of man. While Kline rejects that, it doesn’t seem all that difficult to merely extend the upper/lower register theme, all the way through to Gen 3. Then the creation of Eve and the establishment of marriage become a lower register metaphor for the upper register relationship between Christ and the Church, and the Fall becomes the lower register metaphor for the upper register the conflict of good vs evil”

    So it’s pretty clear of not only what the FH entails but where it really leads.

  108. May 5, 2012 at 1:18 am


    Based on my understanding of the FH, the days must be intended as literal 24-hour days. That is, the Hebrew word ‘yom’ is not being used here as “age,” as advocated by the Day-Age view.

    It’s the whole package that is taken as figurative. As somewhat of an analogy, take a parable. The good Samaritan was a literal Samaritan, but whether or not the actual events recounted in the parable is beside the point: the entire story presents a picture with a theological point to make.

    I hope that made sense.

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