In six days God created: refuting the Framework and Figurative views of the days of creation
Xulon Press, 262 pages
£13.50, Kindle version £5.84
Star Rating : 4
Today there are three main interpretations of the days of Genesis 1: the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) view that they are normal days of one earthly week, around six thousand years ago; the Old Earth Creationist (OEC) view that they each represent a period of time of unspecified length; and the Literary Framework view that the days exhibit a logical (or topical) rather than chronological order.
According to this third view, the days may be regarded as either literal or figurative, but, either way, Genesis 1 does not tell us how old the earth is, nor how God created it. Under this view, theistic evolution (teleological evolution) could be regarded as a possible option for Christians.
In recent times amongst evangelical scholars, the Literary Framework view has become increasingly popular and probably the dominant view. This is obviously linked to the growing acceptance of theistic evolution among evangelical leaders and in evangelical colleges and organisations.
In this context, Paulin Bédard’s book is very welcome. He provides an excellent survey of Literary Framework views, with detailed evaluations of each proposal and their related biblical and theological arguments.
As such, it is important for anyone who needs to understand and participate in the debates over biblical creation. At the least, Bédard shows that the YEC approach remains the natural interpretation of Genesis and that it has been the dominant view down the centuries. He also demonstrates that past and present arguments against it can be successfully countered.
There is, however, an unavoidable drawback to his book. Any book evaluating contributions to an ongoing debate is going to miss some contributions. There are two key contributions that fall into this category: John Walton’s The lost world of Genesis one (IVP USA, 2009) and John Lennox’s Seven days that divide the world (Zondervan, 2011).
Walton’s ‘cosmic temple’ view has become possibly the most influential version of the Literary Framework approach, while John Lennox’s fame as an outstanding Christian apologist has ensured that his views on this topic are widely known and respected.
Lennox actually critiques Walton’s view and affirms a real chronological sequence in Genesis 1. However, his view has some similarities to the Literary Framework.
He separates Genesis 1:1-2 from the six days (vv. 3-31), so leaving the age of the universe indeterminate (pp. 52-53). He appears to favour the view that the days of Genesis 1 are real, but spaced out over the entire period of God’s creative work (which could, therefore, be compatible with the long ages of secular geology).
Although Bédard doesn’t consider these options directly, he provides ample reasons to question these modern interpretations of Genesis.