Review: Coming to Grips With Genesis

Mortenson, Ury, eds., Master Books, 2008, 478 pages, 5 of 5 stars

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 4.59.09 PMThe book’s best line is actually from Gleason Archer—an old-earther—proving once again that the age of the earth debate is not an exegetical matter.

“From a superficial reading of Genesis 1, the impression would seem to be that the entire creative process took place in six twenty-four-hour days. If this was the true intent of the Hebrew author…”

Now let’s stop here for a moment. How do you think this sentence will end? Will biblical exegesis follow?  “…This seems to run counter to modern scientific research, which indicates that the planet Earth was created several billion years ago…”

I appreciate Archer here because he’s honest about two things: (1) young earth (YE) is the first-off interpretation people get when reading Genesis 1-3 and (2) (YE) simply cannot be true because science says otherwise.

The best chapters in this outstanding book were #1 on Genesis and the church fathers, #5 on the hermeneutical approach of Genesis 1-11, and #6 on the exegesis of Genesis 1:1-2:3.

Regarding church history, the authors demonstrate it is false to say the church fathers’ young earth concept of creation was formed in a vacuum. They wrote largely to refute Plato and other Greek naturalistic theories of origins. Yes, Origen and Augustine didn’t view the days as 24 hours, but they don’t help old earth (OE). Origin was a poor exegete and at times unorthodox. Augustine believed creation happened in an instant, didn’t know Hebrew, was known for heavy allegorizing, denied there was death before the fall and believed in a literal global flood.

Regarding exegesis, the authors went on the offensive with too many arguments to address here. Regarding the few exegetical arguments raised against YE, there are answers.

Why can we not say God provided the light before the sun and moon were created? He’ll do it in the future (Rv. 21:23; 22:5). For those who say the seventh day is not 24 hours, I would ask why God could not have rested on a 24-hour day? He works within time to accommodate his creatures.

Even if it is analogous, couldn’t it be analogous of an actual 24-hour day of rest? If not, then on what basis was Israel supposed to rest on Saturday, that actual solar day? Furthermore, the seventh day is not the same as the other six days because “evening and morning” are removed. That is, YE are not fighting for 7 24-hour days, but six.

For those who say the day of Genesis 2:4 was not 24 hours long, there isn’t a problem here. But it doesn’t have a numeral in front of it, nor does it say evening and morning.

I studied at Reformed Theological Seminary around the time Bruce Waltke was on his way out for his positive comments about evolution. RTS also has Douglas Kelly who avidly writes about six-day creationism. My philosophy prof there was James Anderson, an old-earther. The question I asked him in class is the same question I asked Dr. Ross at the ETS meeting in Chicago years ago. “What would the Bible have to say, and in what kind of language, for you to believe that the world was created in 6 24-hour days?”

Sadly, their answer most often is that such language does not and cannot exist.

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