Keywords: framework interpretation, creation, geology, Biblical inerrancy, Professor Arie Noordzij, Meredith G. Kline, two-register cosmology, waw consecutive, providence, progressive revelation
Editors note: This article was originally published in Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal, vol. 11 (2006): 63–133. It is posted here with kind permission of the journal.
Be sure to read both articles in this series:
This article is the second of a two-part critique of the framework interpretation of the creation account.1,2 In essence, the framework interpretation argues that the creation “week” itself is a figure, a literary framework, designed to present God’s creative work in a topical, nonsequential manner, as opposed to a literal week comprised of sequential, literal days. As noted in the previous article, the framework interpretation is supported by four theses: the figurative nature of the creation account, the creation account controlled by ordinary providence, the unending nature of the seventh day, and the two-register cosmology. In the first article, I specifically demonstrated that the first thesis of the framework view, which argues for a topical arrangement of the “days” of the creation “week,” cannot be consistently supported with the overall exegetical details of Genesis 1:1–2:3. And it ultimately undermines the literary nature of the creation account as a genuine historical narrative serving as a prologue for the remainder of the historical narrative in Genesis. My purpose with this concluding article is to evaluate the remaining three theses of the framework interpretation.
The creation account controlled by ordinary providence
According to some advocates of the framework position, Genesis 2:5 assumes that God used ordinary providence (God’s non-miraculous operations in sustaining and directing all of creation)3 to govern the creation events recorded in Genesis 1. The chief advocate of this position is Meredith G. Kline.4 Not only is his interpretation based on this assumption about Genesis 2:5, but also an appeal to the analogy of Scripture.5
In addressing how these framework advocates interpret Genesis 2:5–7, two items need to be summarized: the “because it had not rained” interpretation of Genesis 2:5,6 and how it relates to Genesis 2:5–7 in the context of Genesis 1–2. As the first article noted, the “because it had not rained” argument in Genesis 2:5 says that God used ordinary providence, rather than extraordinary providence (God’s miraculous intervention in the created order),7 for the creation period recorded in Genesis 1.8 According to Meredith G. Kline, the underlying assumption of this verse is that “divine providence was operating during the creation period through processes which any reader would recognize as normal in the natural world of his day.”9 This means that there was “a principle of continuity between the mode of providence during and after the creation period.”10 Since a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 requires God’s use of extraordinary providence in the creation week, the literal interpretation is in conflict with the “because it had not rained” argument. If this argument is correct, “Genesis 2:5 forbids the conclusion that the order of narration [in Genesis 1] is exclusively chronological.”11
When the “because it had not rained” interpretation of Genesis 2:5 is integrated with vv. 6–7, this provides, according to Mark D. Futato, a further justification for interpreting vv. 8–25 as a topical account, rather than a chronological one12 as the 21 uses of waw consecutive in Genesis 2:4–25 seem to suggest. It is further argued that this non-chronological interpretation of these verses provides an implication for reading Genesis 1:1–2:3 as a non-chronological account. 13 While I only alluded to this interpretation of Genesis 2:5–7 in the first part of this series,14 Futato’s understanding of vv. 5–7 requires more explanation since this interpretation of vv. 4–25 buttresses the thesis that the creation account of 1:1–2:3 was ruled by ordinary providence.
Predicated upon Kline’s interpretation of Genesis 2:5,15 Futato has argued that Genesis 2:4–25 “is a highly structured topical account with a two-fold focus on vegetation and humanity.”16 He has drawn this conclusion by examining the internal evidence within this passage and external evidence by comparing 1:1–2:3 with 2:4–25. In presenting the internal evidence, he describes this Hebrew style of writing as an example of a “synoptic/resumption-expansion” technique.17 Following this writing technique, the narrative flow in this passage indicates that v. 5a presents a dual problem of having neither wild vegetation nor cultivated grain and v. 5b a twofold reason for the problem: rain is required for wild vegetation to grow and a cultivator, man, is necessary to develop cultivated grain. Verses 6–7 provide a solution for both problems: the inception of rain אֵד in v. 6 and the creation of man in v. 7.18 Verses 5–7 provide the setting for vv. 8– 25. Verse 8 provides a synopsis of this setting. In v. 8a, God planted a garden; and, in v. 8b, he placed the recently created man of v. 7 in the garden. Verses 9–25 resume and expand on v. 8 with vv. 9–14 focusing on vegetation—the garden (v. 8a)—and vv. 15–25 on the placement of man in the garden (v. 8b).19 While avoiding any substantive discussion of the sequential force of the 21 waw consecutives in Genesis 2:4–25,20 Futato’s “synoptic/resumption-expansion” approach argues that the internal evidence in vv. 4–25 suggests that it is a topical account about plants and man.
From the perspective of external considerations, this topical understanding of Genesis 2:4–25 is additionally supported by demonstrating that a sequential interpretation of it cannot be harmonized with the same literal interpretation of Genesis 1:1–2:3. For example, in Genesis 1:24–27, animals are created before men, but in Genesis 2:7–19, man is created before the animals. On the surface, the two accounts appear contradictory. How do framework advocates harmonize them? While the prima facie reading of Genesis 2:4–25 appears to be chronological, a supposedly more precise reading, when compared to Genesis 1:1–2:3, indicates Genesis 2:4–25 cannot be chronological. “The author,” as Futato states, “is guided at this point by concerns that are not chronological.”21 Consequently, internal considerations within 2:4–25 and external comparisons exhibited by comparing this narrative with 1:1–2:3 argue for a topical reading of 2:4–25, rather than a literal, sequential reading.22 By demonstrating that the narrative of 2:8–25 flows out of vv. 5–7, and successively suggesting that vv. 4–25 is a topical account, Futato bolsters Kline’s thesis that Genesis 2:5 assumes that ordinary providence governed the creation period.
Since I have described a framework interpretation of the assumption of Genesis 2:5 and its interpretation of vv. 5–7, we need to next examine how the analogy of Scripture reputedly supports the premise that Genesis 1:1–2:3 was controlled by ordinary providence. If the creation period was controlled by normal providence, as framework advocates claim Genesis 2:5 implies, this contradicts a literal interpretation of 1:1–2:3 that necessarily appeals to the divine use of extraordinary providence. For example, on Day 3, Genesis 1:9–13, the waters under the heavens are gathered into one place and named “seas,” dry ground appears from the seas and is called “earth,” and flourishing vegetation is formed out of the earth. However, an earth instantaneously formed out of the sea does not dry up in simply a few hours by normal providential means. Only an extraordinary providence could dry up the earth in this short period. But framework interpreters object that an appeal to extraordinary providence, as a literal interpretation of Genesis 1:1–2:3 demands, contradicts the underlying assumption of Genesis 2:5 and undermines the analogy of Scripture. 23 “The analogy of Scripture,” according to Irons and Kline, “as applied in the context, forces the Bible-believing interpreter to abandon a literalist reading of the creation narrative.”24
Our summarization of this premise suggests a number of questions. Since some significant advocates of the framework position focus on Genesis 2:5, how is this verse to be interpreted, and how does it relate to the surrounding verses? In addition, is Genesis 2:4–25 set up as a topical account of creation? Or, do the many uses of waw consecutive25 suggest that the mainline narrative sequence in Genesis 2:4–25 is a chronological account? Furthermore, do the statements in Genesis 2:5 about the lack of rain and man provide a physical reason why the entire earth had no vegetation? To state this question differently, is the specified vegetation in Genesis 2:5 the same as that mentioned in Genesis 1:11–12? In other words, does Genesis 2:5 look back to Genesis 1:11–12? Or, does it anticipate the creation of the Garden of Eden? Finally, does Genesis 2:5 assume that God worked exclusively through ordinary providence in the creation period of Genesis 1:1–2:3?
We must now address these questions to determine whether or not Genesis 2:5 assumes that normal providence was the modus operandi in controlling the creation period. In the following section, Genesis 2:5 will be discussed in relationship to the immediate context of vv. 4–7. This will be followed by a discussion of how v. 5 relates to the surrounding context of 2:4–25 and finally by the wider context of Scripture.
The immediate context of Genesis 2:5
A significant argument used by some framework advocates is that Genesis 2:5 presupposes that God worked through natural processes in the creation period which, in turn, demands a nonliteral interpretation of the days of the creation week; however, the context of Genesis 2:4–7 works against their argument:
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when26 the LORD God made earth and heaven. 5Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. 6But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. 7Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
In reading Genesis 2:4–7, the framework’s presupposition that v. 5 assumes God worked exclusively through natural processes in the creation period is not clearly implied from v. 5. In order to evaluate this presupposition, we, nevertheless, will examine the textual details of vv. 4–7 to determine if it is a possible inference from v. 5. These four verses may be divided into two subdivisions: v. 4 and vv. 5–7.27 In this section, I will argue that v. 4 serves as a heading and vv. 5–6 provide background information for the mainline narrative sequence that begins with the use of the first waw consecutive in v. 7, “the LORD God formed,” אֱלֹהִים וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה. Initially, we must look at the significance of the heading in v. 4.
The heading in Genesis 2:4
Many framework proponents, who understand Genesis 2:5 like Kline, acknowledge that v. 4 is a heading that introduces new material. 28 While agreeing with Kline’s interpretation of v. 5,29 framework defender Henri Blocher maintains that v. 4 introduces a second account of creation.30 With either framework interpretation of v. 4, their understanding of Genesis 2:5 does not integrate well with the significance of the heading in v. 4.
The use of Tôledôt in Genesis
To understand the significance of Genesis 2:4 as a heading, we need to examine the introductory use of tôledôt, תֹולְדֹות, in this verse as well as its other uses in Genesis. The feminine plural substantive תֹולְדֹות is derived from the Hiphil stem of the verb וֹלֶר:, to “beget,” “cause to bring forth.”31 Since תֹולְדֹות is a cognate of the verb וֹלֶר, it refers to “those things which are begotten.”32 It has been assigned glosses such as “generation,” “account,”33 “descendants,” “successors.” 34 This substantive has reference “to that which is born or produced” 35 and, in the context of Genesis, “developments that arise out of” something else.36 In each heading found in Genesis, תֹולְדֹות is part of a construct-genitive relationship, with תֹולְדֹות being a construct substantive followed by a specified genitive. For example, in Genesis 6:9, תֹּולְדֹת אֵלֶּה, “this is the account37 of Noah,” the construct, “account of,” refers to what developed from the genitive, “Noah.” While the genitive in 6:9, “Noah,” connects the narrative of 6:9–9:29 with the preceding narrative in 5:1–6:8, the point of the heading in 6:9 is to introduce a new account dealing with key events that developed in Noah’s life, such as the universal flood and Noah’s role as a second Adam with a renewed creation after the flood. In short, the genitive Noah indicates where the narrative started and תֹולְדֹות indicates what happened to Noah.38
In the various headings in Genesis, the construct substantive תֹולְדֹות is generally followed by a proper name that functions as a genitive. The construct noun “account of” is followed by a proper name in Genesis 11:10, “the account of Shem.” A similar phrase is Genesis 10:1, “account of Noah’s sons.” What is distinctive about Genesis 2:4 is that the genitive phrase does not contain a personal name. The construct noun, “account of,” is followed by a genitive phrase, “the heavens and the earth,” which is further qualified by a temporal qualifier, “when they were created.” Furthermore, the second half of v. 4, “when the LORD God made earth and heaven,” is chiastically connected to the first half.39 This suggests that the entirety of v. 4 should be taken as a heading for vv. 5–25. Thus, the extended genitive phrase, “the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made earth and heaven,” initiates this narrative and תֹולְדֹות reflects what developed the recently created heavens and earth.
The substantive תֹולְדֹות is most often used in Genesis in the catchphrase “this is the account of [תֹולְדֹות] ....”n40 When תֹולְדֹות is used in this phrase, many commentators recognize that the תֹולְדֹות formula is a rhetorical device that serves as a heading to introduce a new segment of narrative in Genesis.41 In this regard, this formula functions as an organizing principle that divides Genesis into various narrative segments. Though there is a basic unity of function for this formula, its use allows for a little diversity. This diversity is reflected in that the תֹולְדֹות rubric often serves as a heading for a genealogy, and at other times it introduces a narrative cycle. For instance, this formula introduces an extended genealogy (Gen 5:1, 10:1, 11:10, 25:12, 36:9), and it initiates a narrative cycle with a brief genealogy (Gen 6:9, 11:27, 25:19). And twice it begins a cycle of narratives associated with a person referenced in the heading (Gen 36:1, 37:2).42 When תֹולְדֹות appears in this type of heading, the sense of “account,” rather than “generations,” harmonizes readily with its range of uses as a stereotypical rubric that organizes the narrative cycles in Genesis. Taking תֹולְדֹות in the more general sense of “account” allows for it to introduce an account that develops key events, often including genealogical records, associated with the person and, on one occasion, the objects that are specified in the heading.
Tôledôt as a heading and link
Because Genesis 2:4 is the only heading that does not have a personal name associated with it, this is one of the issues that has allowed for some ambiguity with the interpretation of תֹולְדֹות in Genesis. This type of ambiguity has provided an occasion for some interpreters to take v. 4 as a subscript, a colophon for 1:1–2:3.43 However, as we have noted, the semantics of תֹולְדֹות work against taking this formula as a colophon. Furthermore, another significant problem for taking the תֹולְדֹות formula as a colophon in 2:4 is that it is consistently used throughout Genesis as a heading (Gen 5:1, 6:9, 10:1, 11:10, 27, 25:12, 19, 36:1, 9, 37:2). With the exception of Genesis 1:1–2:3, each new narrative subdivision is introduced by the תֹולְדֹות formula. 44 Genesis 5:1, for example, uses the תֹולְדֹות heading “This is the book of the account of [תֹולְדֹות] Adam.” The construct תֹולְדֹות, “account of,” refers to those who were reproduced, the descendants, from the genitive “Adam.” In the narrative of 5:1–6:8, 5:1a is a heading with vv. 1b–2 providing a few specifics about the creation of Adam and Eve, 5:3-6:5 develops the narrative line which includes an extended genealogy, and 6:6–8 concludes the narrative with a statement of God’s grief over fallen humanity, the descendants of Adam, with Noah as an exception who “found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” The starting point of the narrative was “the account of Adam” in 5:1. This account draws a historical line of Adam’s descendants to a conclusion in 6:6–8. Thus, the תֹולְדֹות phrase gives a starting point for a new narrative unit and the remainder of the narrative develops what has been summarized with תֹולְדֹות.n45
Not only does the תֹולְדֹות heading introduce a new narrative cycle, but it also looks back to the previous section. Returning to the example in Genesis 5:1, the genitive, “Adam,” provides linkage with 4:25–26 and the construct, “account of,” anticipates new narrative material about the descendants of Adam and what became of the world in which they lived. As already noted, “Noah” in 6:9 looks back to 6:6– 8 with “account of” advancing the narrative about what happened to him. In this regard, the תֹולְדֹות heading provides a link with the previous material and introduces the next sequence of narrative material. 46 As such, this heading, as Mathews observes, “serves as a linking device that ties together the former and the following units by echoing from the preceding material a person’s name or literary motif and at the same time anticipating the focal subject of the next.”47 The תֹולְדֹות heading is used 11 times in Genesis and it divides the book into 12 sections. The only place that this heading is not found is Genesis 1:1–2:3, and its omission is for good reason: there is no created substance prior to it.48 Therefore, the תֹולְדֹות formula is consistently used in Genesis as something of a hinge that points to an aspect from the preceding section but advances the focus to the subsequent material. As this relates to the heading in Genesis 2:4, the genitive phrase, “the heavens and the earth ...,” provides a link with the previous material in 1:1–2:3, and the construct, “account of,” introduces the development of the subsequent history of Adam and his family.49 Since Adam had no human predecessors, this introductory תֹולְדֹות heading does not have a personal name.
The significance of tôledôt in Genesis 2:4
Our discussion of the תֹולְדֹות heading has a twofold significance for understanding Genesis 2:4 and how it connects 2:4–25 with 1:1– 2:3. First, while v. 4 looks back to 1:1–2:3, its main purpose is to shift attention to the creation of man and his placement in the garden. 50 It does not introduce a second account of creation.51 Two items communicate this shift. Initially, it may be seen in the chiastic arrangement of v. 4:
This is the account ofA—the heavensB—and the earthA1—and heaven.C—when they were createdB1—earth
C1—when the LORD God made
The chiastic arrangement of the two parts of this verse is readily apparent: A—“the heavens,” B–“and the earth,” C–“when they were created” is reversed to C1–“when the LORD God made,” B1—“earth,” A1–“and heaven.” Since this intentional chiasm prohibits this verse from being bifurcated,52 it indicates that the entirety of v. 4 should be regarded as a heading that introduces the account that begins in v. 5.53 Moreover, this chiasm significantly reverses the generally recognized Old Testament pattern of “the heavens and earth” to “earth and heaven.” This reversal only occurs in one other place, Psalm 148:13, an apparent allusion to Genesis 2:4.54 By reversing the normal order of heaven and earth, attention is shifted to focus “on what happened on the earth after the creation of man, particularly in the garden.”55
In addition, this shift in focus is reflected by the use of divine names. The compound use of divine names יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, “the LORD God,” is found for the first time in Genesis 2:4. This compound is used 20 times in Genesis 2:4–3:23, and only one other time in the Pentateuch, Exodus 9:30. Prior to Genesis 2:4, the divine appellative אֱלֹהִים, “God,” is found 35 times in Genesis 1:1–2:3. This appellative stresses God’s sovereign might and is appropriate to portray his role as Creator of the universe in 1:1–2:3. The divine name יְהוָה, “the LORD,” is God’s personal name and is often associated with his covenant- keeping ability. The use of יְהוָה is apropos in a context like Genesis 2–3 since the emphasis is no longer universal but on Adam’s responsibility in the garden. The conjoining of the two divine names in Genesis 2–3 stresses that the sovereign God who created the universe is also the LORD who is a personal God and holds man accountable to his moral rule. The conjoining of the two names communicates the concept that “the transcendent God of Genesis 1 is the same as the immanent God of Genesis 2–3.”56 Consequently, these two shifts in emphasis in Genesis 2:4 indicate that Genesis 2:4– 25 is not a second account of creation, as advocated by framework proponent Henri Blocher.57
Second, Genesis 2:4 links 2:4–25 with 1:1–2:3. The language of 2:4 looks back to the creation account. “The heavens and the earth” (הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ) had been used in 1:1 and 2:1. “Created” (בָּרָא) had been used 4 times in 1:1, 21, 27, 2:3, and “made” (עָשָׂה) 10 times in 1:7, 11, 12, 16, 25, 26, 31, 2:2 (twice), 3. Yet, the use of the תֹולְדֹות heading to initiate v. 4 suggests that additional information was intended to expand on what had been set forth in 1:1–2:3. In contrast with the framework position, 2:4–25 expands on the sixth day of the creation week when God made man, as the first of 21 uses of waw consecutive in Genesis 2:4–25 implies in v. 7 (“[Then the LORD God] formed”), and, as the chiastic arrangement of v. 4 suggests, focus is directed to what developed from earth. From the context of 2:4–25, the focus on earth is to emphasize that man was placed in a paradisiacal environment, the Garden of Eden. Of course, some framework advocates agree with this observation.58 At this point, the path of those who follow a traditional interpretation and Kline’s framework view depart. Someone following the traditional interpretation would not use this information to suggest that Genesis 2:4–25 was set up to undermine or contradict the sequential narrative of Genesis 1:1–2:3.59 For example, framework advocate Mark Ross briefly acknowledges the point that Genesis 2 is set up to develop the subsequent history of “the heavens and the earth after they were created.” 60 He then attempts to demonstrate how a chronological reading of 2:4–25 cannot be harmonized with a similar reading of 1:1–2:3.61 Furthermore, if 2:4–25 neither undermines nor contradicts a chronological interpretation of 1:1–2:3, this implies that the use of Genesis 2:5 as a hermeneutical grid to reinterpret 1:1–2:3 is not as certain as these framework advocates assert.62 A more consistent way to interpret Genesis 2:4–25, including the framework’s key text, v. 5, is as an account that complements 1:1–2:3.63 In contrast with the framework position, we will develop how Genesis 2:4–25 relates to 1:1–2:3 and how 2:5–7 correlates with a literal, sequential interpretation of 2:4– 25.
The structure of Genesis 2:5–7
Having examined the heading in Genesis 2:4, we must now examine vv. 5–7. Interpreters have seen a number of difficulties in Genesis 2:5–7.64 While the purpose of this paper does not allow for an examination of all the difficulties in these verses, it is necessary to treat the structure of Genesis 2:5–7 as it relates to the interpretation of v. 5
Genesis 2:5–6 contains six clauses with four of them being circumstantial clauses, with one in v. 5 being an explicit causal clause,65 and with a final one in v. 6 a clause introduced by waw consecutive plus a perfective verb form.66 The circumstantial clauses are readily identified since each is introduced by a simple conjunctive waw attached to a non-verbal form.67 To illustrate the circumstantial use of waw, I have inserted waw in brackets in the following arrangement:
5Now [waw] no shrub of the field was yet in the earth,
and [waw] no plant of the field had yet sprouted,for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth,and [waw] there was no man to cultivate the ground.
6But [waw] a mist used to rise from the earth,and water the whole surface of the ground.
Not all commentators view the four circumstantial clauses as being equally coordinate. The specific issue relates to the last clause in v. 5, “and [waw] there was no man to cultivate the ground.” Is this last clause outside of the preceding causal clause and coordinate with the other three circumstantial clauses, as our preceding textual arrangement reflects? Or, is this clause coordinate with the previous causal clause, “for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth”?68 If it were part of the previous clause, the text would look like this:
5Now [waw] no shrub of the field was yet in the earth,
and [waw] no plant of the field had yet sprouted,for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth,6But [waw] a mist used to rise from the earth,
and [waw] there was no man to cultivate the ground.and water the whole surface of the ground.
As this last arrangement sets forth, it is possible, from a syntactical perspective, that the fourth clause (“and [waw] there was no man to cultivate the ground”) is coordinate with the causal third clause. This is to say, the waw conjunction that begins the fourth clause extends the causal sense from the third clause. Because the waw conjunction at the head of the fourth clause implies a close syntactic relationship with the preceding causal clause, my preference is to take the fourth clause as coordinate with the causal third clause. This would indicate that the last two clauses provide two reasons for the vegetation deficiencies specified in the first half of v. 5: no rain and no man. Verses 6–7, then, explain how the two shortages were corrected: God provided a water supply (v. 6) and created man (v. 7), who becomes the focus of the narrative sequence in vv. 7–25. God’s taking care of both deficiencies indicates that he had not finished his week of creation. Nevertheless, I recognize that commentators are divided about the clausal arrangement and that a reasonable case may be marshaled to support either view.69
What appears to have more clarity is that whichever view a commentator follows about the arrangement of the clauses in v. 5, most maintain that vv. 5–6 provide a setting for v. 7. For example, Westermann has stated it like this: “The structure of this first part is quite clear and easy to explain: vv. 4b–6 comprise the antecedent, v. 7 is the main statement.”70 Hamilton provides another example and explains vv. 4b–7 as having a protasis followed by an apodosis: “Verses 4b–7 are one long sentence in Hebrew, containing a protasis (v. 4b), a series of circumstantial clauses (vv. 5–6), and an apodosis.”71 While both explanations about the relationship between vv. 4–7 are nuanced differently, each has the formation of man in v. 7 as the primary proposition. To state this another way, the six clauses of vv. 5–6, which, in contrast to the 21 waw consecutives initiated in v. 7, are grammatically nonsequential and provide certain conditions associated with occurrence of the action in the main clause of v. 7 (“Then the LORD God formed man of the dust from the ground”).72 This main clause contains a waw consecutive (וַיִּיצֶר, “formed”) that initiates the mainline narrative sequence followed by a series of waw consecutives in vv. 7–9.73 If, for the moment, we harmonize both views about the clausal arrangement in vv. 5–6, vv. 5–7a could be viewed in this manner:
5Now [waw] no shrub of the field was yet in the earth,7Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground,
and [waw] no plant of the field had yet sprouted,
for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth,
and [waw] there was no man to cultivate the ground.
6But [waw] a mist used to rise from the earth,
and water the whole surface of the ground.
While the formation of man from dust of the ground in v. 7 undoubtedly provides a semantic link with vv. 5–6, the waw consecutive at the head of the Hebrew text in v. 7 (וַיִּיצֶר, “formed”) initiates the mainline narrative thread that is sequentially followed by 5 waw consecutives in vv. 7b–9. The paragraph in vv. 10–14 interrupts the string of waw consecutives with a series of circumstantial clauses that explain the resplendent nature of the eastern area of Eden where God had planted the garden and placed man in v. 8. This paragraph, focusing on the four rivers that flowed from Eden, is anticipatory of the next waw consecutive in v. 1574 that resumes the narrative sequence with a series of 15 waw consecutives in vv. 15–25. As I noted in the first part of this series, the waw consecutive is an unambiguous grammatical device that generally affixes to past time narration an element of progression.75 While I recognize that 4 of the 21 waw consecutives in these 22 verses are not sequential, I will argue in a subsequent section that the mainline narrative is advanced by 17 sequential uses of waw consecutive. Assuming for the moment that the waw consecutives in 2:4–25 are employed consistently with their general Old Testament uses as advancing the narrative sequence, this should raise some questions about Futato’s “synoptic/resumption-expansion” approach to Genesis 2:4–25.76 As previously noted, Futato says that Genesis 2:5–7 provides the setting for vv. 8–25, with v. 8 serving as a synopsis from the setting and vv. 9–25 providing a resumption and expansion of the synopsis.77
However, this approach minimizes the sequential nature of the 6 waw consecutives in vv. 7–9. If the 3 waw consecutives in v. 7 are made part of the background information in vv. 5–6,78 why not also include the following 3 waw consecutives in vv. 8–9 as part of the background information? In keeping with the general use of waw consecutives in narrative literature, the 3 waw consecutives in vv. 8–9 are preferably taken sequentially. The first waw consecutive in v. 8a (“[the LORD God] planted [a garden],” וַיִּטַּע) presents the fourth sequence after the formation of Adam: God planted a garden. With the fifth waw consecutive in v. 8b, the next sequence is introduced: God placed the man in the garden (“[there] He placed [the man],” וַיָּשֶׂם). The waw consecutive at the head of v. 9 initiates the sixth sequence: God caused the trees in Eden to grow (“[Out of the ground the LORD God] caused to grow [every tree],” וַיַּצְמַח). While I must concede that not all waw consecutives are sequential79 and, therefore, that it is possible that the first waw consecutive in v. 8 is an example of a pluperfect— an action that is anterior to the mainline narrative sequence— also referred to as a past perfect or a flashback, as the NIV apparently reflects (“had planted”), there is no clear contextual evidence to support the pluperfect rendering.80 With Futato’s discussion of the two parts for his synopsis in v. 8 (with each part introduced by a waw consecutive), he did not provide any examples of other waw consecutives that would parallel the 6 waw consecutives found in vv. 7–9.81 This is to say, vv. 7–9 have an uninterrupted sequence of clauses introduced by waw consecutive, with no other waw clauses that break up this chain of waw consecutives. Are there other examples of a tight sequence of waw consecutives like Genesis 2:7–9, which do not have explicit contextual evidence to reflect a disruption, where the sequence is interrupted by a “synoptic” use of waw consecutive?82 In the final analysis, it would seem that the “synoptic/resumption-expansion” approach creates an unwarranted discontinuity with the uses of the waw consecutives in vv. 7–9.83 Consequently, it is preferable to take vv. 5–6 as providing background information for the development of the narrative sequence initiated with the first waw consecutive in v. 7. Nevertheless, my objective is not complete because it is not the structural arrangement of Genesis 2:5–7 that is the key component for Kline’s framework position, but the interpretation of Genesis 2:5. How then is this verse to be understood?
The interpretation of Genesis 2:5
Since I have established that Genesis 2:5–6 provide the setting for the series of 6 waw consecutives initiated in v. 7, we must now look at the contextual setting of v. 5 and how this affects the interpretation of v. 5.
In placing Genesis 2:5 in its contextual setting, three items should be highlighted. Initially, 2:4–25 is tightly connected to 3:1– 24. This close linkage is reflected by the use of the divine compound “the LORD God.” As previously noted, “the LORD God” is found 20 times in these two chapters, with only one other appearance in the Pentateuch, Exodus 9:30. Since the divine compound appears neither in the pericope before 2:4–25, 1:1–2:3, nor in the one after 3:1–24, 4:1–26, its 11 uses in 2:4–25 and 9 in 3:1–24 reveal a close connection between these two chapters. The common subjects in Genesis 2:4–25 and 3:1–24 and the same geographical matrix further indicate this tight relationship between both pericopes. For example, the LORD God, Adam and Eve are used in both sections. There is also a common spatial setting, the Garden of Eden. These items reflect that both chapters are closely connected. However, this linkage is not so tight that both chapters should be considered one pericope. While the key participants and the geography remain the same in 2:4–25 and 3:1–24, the introduction of the serpent at 3:1 reflects a turning point in the narrative.84 As such, 2:4–25 and 3:1–24 are more closely related to each other, though distinct, than they are to 1:1–2:3.
Additionally, the contextual setting is reflected by the sequential movement of Genesis 2:4–25 and 3:1–24. Waw consecutive appears 21 times in 2:4–25 and 34 times in 3:1–24. The use of this grammatical device represents a sequential movement in these two chapters, 85 just as we noted in the previous article about the 55 waw consecutives advancing the sequential movement in 1:1–2:3.86 Not only, as just noted, is there a tight thematic connection between 2:4– 25 and 3:1–24, the use of waw consecutive indicates that 3:1–24 advances historically from 2:4–25. This is to say, the sequence of events advanced by waw consecutive in 2:4–25 provides a foundation for the next sequence of events advanced by waw consecutive in 3:1– 24. As a result, if the contextual setting of Genesis 2:5 is 2:4–3:24, the focus of 2:5 is not intended to provide a hermeneutical grid to reinterpret the clear chronological advancement of 1:1–2:3 as a non-chronological, topical account, but to focus on the formation and fall of man and woman in their paradisiacal environment in Eden.
The contextual setting of Genesis 2:5 is Day 6 of the creation week.Finally, the contextual setting of Genesis 2:5 is Day 6 of the creation week. Genesis 1:1–2:3 is a cosmogony that summarizes the events of the creation week. On Day 6 (Gen 1:26–28), this cosmogony includes a brief outline of the creation of man and woman in the image of God. In the context of 1:26–28, no hint is given that the woman was subsequently taken from the rib of Adam, to mention just one omission. This type of detail is reserved for the expansion of details for Day 6 in Genesis 2:4–25.87 Moses’ style of writing initially gives an overview of the creation week in 1:1–2:3. Drawing from selective items in the overview, Moses expands on these items in 2:4– 25.88 What is clearly set forth in this latter context is a focus on the formation of each of God’s image bearers and their marital union in the Garden of Eden. This focus is unmistakably observed when the narrative thread of 2:4–25 is initiated with the first waw consecutive in v. 7 that presents the creation of man, “then the LORD God formed man” (וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאָדָם). The final four waw consecutives in this chapter (vv. 22 [twice], 23, 25) describe the formation of woman as a complement for the man along with the formation of their marital union. Since the creation of man and woman is described in 1:26–28 as taking place on Day 6 and the narrative sequence of 2:7– 25 gives an expanded view of the same creative activities, the emphasis of the narrative thread in 2:7–25 is an expansion of Day 6 with a focus on the divine image bearers in their pristine environment. As noted earlier, the superscription in Genesis 2:4 introduces the narrative unit of 2:5–25, with the six nonsequential clauses of vv. 5–6 providing the setting for the narrative sequence started in v. 7.89 Therefore, Genesis 2:4–25 describes in greater detail key events that happened on Day 6, but had not been included in the summarized description of the creation of man and woman in 1:26–28. As such, the connection of Genesis 2:5 with Day 6, as well as the previous two items discussed, indicates that the contextual setting for v. 5 is Day 6.
In looking at the immediate interpretation of Genesis 2:5, some framework advocates maintain that Genesis 2:5 prohibits a literal reading of Genesis 1:1–2:3. If, according to their argument, God used extraordinary providence to uphold creation during the creation period, as a literal interpretation of 1:1–2:3 requires, it is contradictory for God to give an explanation that is generally associated with normal providence, the lack of rain, as a reason for not creating vegetation. 90 As noted earlier, this is the “because it had not rained” argument. 91 This title is derived from Kline’s original 1958 article.92 With his explanation of Genesis 2:5, Kline contends, “The Creator did not originate plant life on earth before he had prepared an environment in which he might preserve it without by-passing secondary means and without having recourse to extraordinary means such as marvelous methods of fertilization. The unargued presupposition of Gen. 2:5 is clearly that the divine providence was operating during the creation period through processes which any reader would recognize as normal in the natural world of his day.”93 This “un-argued presupposition” is the sine qua non of Kline’s framework position.94 Is this presupposition demanded by v. 5? In evaluating this, a closer examination of this verse is in order.
Interpretative difficulties associated with Genesis 2:5–6 are legion. As far as this paper is concerned, the difficulties relate to the connection between the vegetation in v. 595 and the cosmogony in 1:1–2:3. Interpreters maintain that 2:5 either conflicts or harmonizes with a sequential interpretation of the creation account.
Interpreters who identify a conflict between Genesis 2:5 and 1:1– 2:3 either see a contradiction between the P and J sources96 or harmonize this conflict by reinterpreting the sequentially arranged days of 1:1–2:3 in light of their understanding of 2:5. According to Kline’s framework position, v. 5 teaches that God did not create vegetation before he established normal providence to sustain plant life. God’s establishment of normal providence to sustain the flora took place before his creation of man during the creation period of 1:1–31.97 As reflected in this paper, this latter option is the approach of some framework defenders.
As noted above, v. 5 has four clauses with the first two functioning as circumstantial clauses and the last two as causal clauses. To again review v. 5, I prefer to arrange the clauses of v. 5 like this:
5Now [waw] no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and [waw] no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and [waw] there was no man to cultivate the ground.
Initially, if Genesis 2:5 means that the entire earth had no vegetation because the earth lacked rain, the syntax of the last clause, as the preceding arrangement sets forth, indicates that the lack of man provides a second reason for this global floral deficiency. To interpret the first two clauses as a reference to a universal vegetation deficiency implies that God created rain and man before vegetation. However, even some framework interpreters reject the creation of man before vegetation. And this rejection is because, according to Kline, it conflicts with “natural revelation.”98 To relate the vegetation of 2:5 to the entire earth, framework supporters must somehow marginalize the last clause of v. 5 to fit their interpretative scheme. In the final analysis, a normal reading of this text does not support a marginalization of the last clause of v. 5.
In addition, a contextual understanding of the clausal arrangement in v. 5 indicates that there is no need to marginalize the last clause. The first two circumstantial clauses state that, at the time of man’s creation (v. 7) on Day 6, the shrubs of the field were not yet in the earth and the plants of the field had not yet sprouted. The last two causal clauses explain that God’s work in creation, as it related to the specified vegetation in this verse, was incomplete in two areas: a water source for irrigation and a man for cultivation. A problem for framework interpreters who follow Kline’s approach to Genesis 2:5 is that there is, in reality, only one reason for the flora deficiencies in v. 5a: no rain. As such, this approach marginalizes the last clause of v. 5 to a parenthetical remark.99 The syntactical constraints of v. 5 suggest that the last clause of v. 5 could either be coordinate with the other three circumstantial clauses in vv. 5–6 or coordinate with the preceding third, causal clause in v. 5. Neither view, however, suggests that there is a conflict between v. 5 and the creation account, as some framework proponents maintain.100 To interpret the statement about the lack of man to a parenthesis is syntactically tenuous. Furthermore, if the last clause in v. 5 about the lack of man, who would be formed out of dust in a specific location, is coordinate with the preceding causal clause, as the waw conjunctive implies, this indicates that the vegetation mentioned in v. 5 is used with a restrictive rather than a universal sense.101 Thus, it is questionable to interpret Genesis 2:5 as conflicting with the creation account.
In contrast to this problematic understanding, other interpreters maintain that Genesis 2:5 is compatible with a sequential view of the creation account. This interpretation of v. 5 provides background information for the events of Day 6 described in vv. 7–25. Since one of the events focuses on the placement of man in the Garden of Eden, the vegetation of v. 5 is used restrictively. Those who follow a restrictive reading of v. 5 have followed a day-age interpretation of 1:1–2:3,102 analogical day interpretation,103 or historic literal day view.104 What distinguishes the historic literal day view from the other two is that events of 2:7–25 are understood as having occurred on a literal sixth day that is a part of a sequence of literal days that are chronologically arranged in a literal week. Though a restrictive view of 2:5 is not the exclusive domain of the historic literal day view, this understanding correlates well with it. In keeping with this interpretation of the specified vegetation in v. 5, a contextual case will be made that this verse relates to a specific geographical matrix, Eden, and the creation of man to dwell in this location.
As previously noted, the contextual setting of Genesis 2:5 is Day 6 of the creation week with the formation of humanity and their placement in Eden. This suggests a specific location, rather than a general reference to the entire globe. The purpose of the tôledôt heading in v. 4 is to depict what developed from “earth and heaven”: the creation of man and woman and their life in the Garden of Eden both before and after sin. The NASB translates the two uses of אָרֶץ in v. 5 as “earth.” This term has a broad semantic range. It can relate to the entire earth, as opposed to the heavens. This is how אָרֶץ is used in Genesis 1:1–2, 2:1 and in the heading of 2:4. In 1:10–31, אָרֶץ refers to dry land as opposed to the sea. Most translations render the three uses of אָרֶץ in 2:5–6 as “earth”; however, the ESV renders each of these as “land.” Since this context focuses on the creation of man and his placement in Eden, אָרֶץ is preferably taken as “land,” with the ESV. In the context of 2:4–25, the heading in v. 4 uses אָרֶץ twice as a reference to the entire globe. The vocabulary of v. 4 suggests that the writer linked his new narrative material with the creation account of 1:1–2:3. While drawing from the creation account in v. 4, Moses’ objective is to develop what happened to the pristine habitat of Eden both before both before and after Adam’s sin.105
Two other geographical terms are also used in v. 5: שָּׂדֶה (“field”) and אֲדָמָה (“ground”). “Field,” שָּׂדֶה can refer to open fields where wild animals (Gen 2:19–20, 3:1, 14) and plants (Gen 2:5, 3:18) reside. It can also refer to cultivated fields (Gen 4:8).106 Man is taken from the dust of אֲדָמָה, “ground,” (Gen 2:7) and will return to it at death (Gen 3:19). Because of Adam’s sin, אֲדָמָה is cursed and man will eat, in his toil, from it (Gen 3:17). Thorns and thistles grow from the cursed “ground” (Gen 3:18). In Genesis 2:5, these three geographical terms overlap in use, as they describe the location where Adam would rule. Thus, the purpose of this tôledôt section is to depict mankind both in his glorious residence in and disgraceful expulsion from Eden.
Genesis 2:5 is best understood in light of Genesis 3:8–24.107 The language used in v. 5 anticipates that Adam’s sin would relate to the specific vegetation found in Eden. Adam was to joyfully cultivate the vegetation in Eden (Gen 2:15). However, after Adam fails his probation, he is driven in judgment from Eden with the result that he would cultivate the cursed ground from the context of his own depraved nature until the day his body would return to dust (Gen 3:23). In the context of Genesis 2–3, Eden is the epicenter from where Adam and the created order would be cursed. If the language of 2:5 anticipates the Fall, the “shrub [שִׂיחַ] of the field” and the “plant [עֵשֶׂב] of the field” are preferably interpreted as two categories of vegetation in Eden that, according to the remainder of the verse, need a water supply and farmer. “Plant,” עֵשֶׂב occurs more often in the Old Testament than “shrub,” שִׂיחַ. “Plant,” עֵשֶׂב, found 33 times in the Old Testament, generally refers to “plants” used as food for both people and animals.108 Besides its use in Genesis 2:5, the identical phrase, “plant עֵשֶׂב of the field,” is used in 3:18. In this latter context, man’s diet, after the Fall, is taken from the “plants עֵשֶׂב of the field” and is further specified as “bread” in v. 19. Similar wording in each verse reflects the connection between “plants” and “bread”: “you will eat plants עֵשֶׂב of the field” (v. 18) and “you will eat bread [לֶחֶם]” (v. 19). This suggests that “plants עֵשֶׂב of the field” are those grains that require man’s cultivation to produce bread.109 Since עֵשֶׂב is also used in 1:11–12, 29–30, as a reference to God’s creation of “plants” over the entire land mass of earth, some have connected the “plants of the field” in 2:5 with the universal creation of plants in Genesis 1.110 However, this connection is unlikely for three reasons. Initially, since the context of Genesis 2:5 focuses on humanity and their placement in Eden, the “plants of the field” refer to a restrictive category that was indigenous to Eden. Additionally, the “plants עֵשֶׂב yielding seed” in 1:11–12 reproduced by their own seed, while the “plants of the field” in 2:5 require man for cultivation. Finally, God gave the “plants yielding seed” in 1:11–12, 29–30 to be used as food for man and for every animal of the earth; however, after the Fall, man eats the “plants of the field” in 3:18 as a result of a divinely imposed intensification of man’s labor.111
“Shrub,” שִׂיחַ, is only used four times in the Old Testament (Gen 2:5, 21:15, Job 30:4, 7).112 In Genesis 21:15, Hagar left Ishmael under one of the “shrubs.” This was a desert shrub large enough to provide some protection for her son. Since “plant of the field” in Genesis 2:5 is used again in 3:18, it is also likely that the “thorns and thistles” in v. 18 help to define “shrub” in 2:5. The result of God’s curse on the ground are the “thorns and thistles” of 3:18. Apparently, the “shrub,” שִׂיחַ, created before the Fall, became, at least in part, “thorns and thistles” with the curse.113
Therefore, rather than taking the vegetation of Genesis 2:5 as a global reference, the vegetation of v. 5 has a restrictive use that anticipates its precise identification as Eden in v. 8. Mathews summarizes this contextual understanding: “Thus 2:5–6 does not speak to the creation of the overall vegetation but to specific sorts of herbage in the world to follow. The language of cultivation, ‘work the ground’ (2:5), anticipates the labor of Adam, first positively as the caretaker of Eden (2:15) but also negatively in 3:23, which describes the expulsion of the man and woman from the garden. God prepared a land for the man, but in telling of his creation and the land in which he is placed, the text anticipates the land will suffer from the effects of Adam’s sin.”114
With this evaluation of the immediate context of Genesis 2:5, we have examined the tôledôt heading in Genesis 2:4 and the literary context of 2:5–7. In treating the heading in v. 4, it was shown that, between the chiastic arrangement of this verse and the use of divine names, this heading does not introduce a second account of creation. It was further proven that, while establishing a link with 1:1–2:3, the heading in v. 4 shifts the focus toward man’s formation and his placement in the garden. As a result, Genesis 2:4–25 is preferably taken as a complement to the creation account in 1:1–2:3, rather than providing a conflict with it. In reference to the literary context of 2:5– 7, the structure of vv. 5–7 as it related to the interpretation of v. 5 was presented. With the structure of vv. 5–7, vv. 5–6 provide background information for the narrative sequence that is initiated in v. 7 with the first waw consecutive and continued with a series of waw consecutives. With this interpretation of v. 5, its contextual setting on Day 6 of the creation week focuses on the creation of human beings and their placement in an ideal environment. The reference to geography in v. 5 refers to the setting in Eden where God chose to place the couple that he created in his image. The vegetation has reference to the plants and shrubs Adam would cultivate in the Garden. How does Genesis 2:5 in its immediate context relate to the surrounding context of vv. 4–25?
The surrounding context of Genesis 2:4–25
Genesis 2:5 is part of a series of six nonsequential clauses in vv. 5–6 that provide circumstances associated with the formation of man in v. 7: “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” This creative activity in v. 7 is summarized by a series of 3 waw consecutive verbs (“formed [וַיִּיצֶר],” “breathed” [וַיִּפַּח], “became” [וַיְהִי]). In the Hebrew text, each of the three waw consecutives advances a narrative sequence. The waw consecutive is a significant component of Hebrew historical narrative in that it generally adds to past time narration an element of sequence.115 Waw consecutives, according to Pratico and Van Pelt, “are used primarily in narrative sequence to denote consecutive actions, that is, actions occurring in sequence.”116 While this grammatical device has uses other than a strict sequential verb form, it nevertheless has a primary function of representing sequential movement. By minimizing the sequential force of the waw consecutives in Genesis 2:4–25, this seemingly supports the argument of some framework advocates that this pericope is a topical account. Though a few waw consecutives in this passage are not strictly sequential, the majority of them are used sequentially and they establish a sequence of activities that took place on Day 6 of the creation week.
While the waw consecutive is unmistakably identifiable in a Hebrew text, the same is not true in an English version. As was noted in the first part of this series about Genesis 1:1–2:3,117 the waw consecutives provide the basic framework that advances the narrative sequence, though the sequential use is not its only use. While waw consecutive has different uses in Genesis 2:4–25, the sequential use of 17 of the 21 waw consecutives is the backbone of this narrative section. To communicate this, I have taken the liberty of adapting the NASB’s translation of the 21 waw consecutives. Though the semantic distinction between some of my italicized conjunctions is arbitrary, my purpose with supplying the italicized conjunction is simply to denote a distinction in uses of waw consecutive. These waw consecutives are used in four ways: 17 are sequential (81%), 2 are resumptive (9%), 1 is a pluperfect (5%), and 1 a consequential use (5%). In the chart on pages 91–92, I have supplied an italicized “then” with the 17 examples of sequentially arranged waw consecutives (listed in the chart as Sequential WC), an italicized and for the 2 resumptive uses (abbreviated Resump WC), an italicized “now” for the lone pluperfect (abbreviated as Pluper WC), and an italicized “thus” for the final example of a consequential use (abbreviated Conseq WC).
|Verse||Sequential WC||Resump WC||Pluper WC||Conseq WC|
|7||then the LORD God
then man became
|8||then the LORD God
planted a garden
then there he placed
|9||then the LORD God caused to grow|
|15||and the LORD God
took the man
and put him into the Garden of Eden
|16||then the LORD God
|18||then the LORD God said|
|19||now the LORD God had formed|
|20||then brought them
then the man gave names
|21||then the LORD God
caused a deep
then he slept
then he took one of of his ribs
then he closed up the flesh
|22||then the LORD God
then he brought her
|23||then the man said|
|25||thus the man and his wife were both naked|
General observations about waw consecutive
To explicate the narrative development in Genesis 24–25, some general observations about the various uses of waw consecutive are appropriate. First, the mainline narrative begins in v. 7a, is continued by a tight sequence of 5 waw consecutives in vv. 7b–9, briefly interrupted by five verses, vv. 10–14, that presents background information setting up the resumption of this text in v. 15 with 2 waw consecutives, and subsequently advanced to completion with 13 waw consecutives in vv. 16–25. Second, since the mainline narrative sequence begins in v. 7, this suggests that vv. 4–6, as we have noted, is an informing background for v. 7 with its inception of the narrative unit that continues through v. 25. Third, the mainline sequence of events in this passage is advanced by 17 sequential uses of waw consecutive. The 17 uses of waw consecutive (81%) show that this passage is a historical narrative that is incrementally moved along. Fourth, the two waw consecutives in v. 15 have a resumptive function. While the two waw consecutives in this verse form a sequence with the event represented by the fifth waw consecutive in v. 8 (“placed,” וַיִּטַּע), they do not form a strict sequence with the sixth waw consecutive in v. 9 (“caused to grow,” וַיַּצְמַח). Fifth, the final waw consecutive in v. 25 (“Thus [the man and his wife] were,” וַיִּהְיוּ) brings this unit to a conclusion. 118 The preceding waw consecutive in v. 23a (“then [the man] said,” וַיֹּאמֶר) communicates Adam’s delighted response to the formation of the woman from his “rib.” As opposed to the animals that Adam had just assigned names, the woman was of the same substance as he; she was a genuine complement for him.119 The storyline has advanced to v. 23 with the twentieth example of a waw consecutive; however, the editorial interruption in v. 24 applies the creation ordinance of marriage to Adam and Eve’s posterity. As an outgrowth of the whole narrative, especially vv. 23a– 24, the account is completed with the final waw consecutive in v. 25. A waw consecutive that concludes a storyline, as v. 25 does for vv. 4– 24, provides an example of its consequential use.120 Sixth, while the 2 resumptive uses of waw consecutive in v. 15 and the 1 use of a pluperfect in v. 19 (14%) may seemingly create a problem for my interpretation of the creation account, they are readily harmonized with the sequential material. Since the reputed difficulty with the waw consecutive revolves around these 3 uses of waw consecutive, these need more explanation.
Resumptive uses of waw consecutive in Genesis 2:15
Most commentators recognize that the two waw consecutives in Genesis 2:15 resume the narrative thread of v. 8.121 However, the issue for framework advocates who follow Kline is not exclusively tied to the issue of resumption. Rather the issue is related to demonstrating that these waw consecutives are nonsequential and that they, therefore, imply that other waw consecutives should be taken topically rather than sequentially.122 Both waw consecutives in v. 15, according to Irons and Kline, are examples of temporal recapitulation.123 Drawing from v. 15 and a few other examples, they conclude, “Thus, temporal recapitulation for the purpose of topical arrangement appears to be a key structural device in Genesis.”124 Though waw consecutive may at times reflect temporal recapitulation, Irons and Kline’s conclusion is overstated and undermines the sequential substance of the waw consecutive.
Since the context of Genesis 2 clearly indicates that v. 15 resumes the narrative thread of v. 8, both sequential verbs reflect some level of temporal recapitulation. Nevertheless, this recapitulation is restricted by its context. What Irons and Kline do not point out is that both waw consecutives are bound to a context that is advanced by a series of 17 waw consecutives used sequentially. This is to say, the actual sequential chain to which the two waw consecutives in v. 15 belong controls the recapitulation. The narrative line in this pericope begins with the first waw consecutive in v. 7 and is advanced by a tight chain of 5 other waw consecutives in vv. 7b–9. After the three waw consecutives describing the creation of man in v. 7, the next three waw consecutives in vv. 8–9 picture God’s planting a garden in Eden, placing man in the garden, and adorning this garden with various kinds of beautiful trees that had nutritious fruit, as well as including, in the middle of the garden, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The sequence of waw consecutives is broken by a waw disjunctive in v. 10 (“now [waw] a river”) and this disjunction is continued through v. 14. Since none of the verbs in vv. 10–14 are waw consecutives, the sequential chain is temporarily set aside. This digression from the narrative sequence in vv. 10–14 is a series of verses summarizing the resplendent nature of the garden where God had placed the man. While vv. 10–14 may seem out of place since it does not advance the sequential chain, its intention is to describe the glories of the garden environment in which God had placed man and where man would subsequently fail his probationary test in Genesis 3. After this brief excursus about the splendor of the Garden of Eden, two waw consecutives in v. 15 resume the narrative chain by repeating, as well as expanding on, the waw consecutive in v. 8 (“[there he] placed,” וַיִּטַּע). Consequently, it is preferable to take these two verbs as examples of resumptive repetition.
Genesis 2:15 provides a good context to describe the literary technique of resumptive repetition. In this regard, we should note that both verbs in v. 15 (“took” [וַיִּקַּח] and “put” [וַיַּנִּחֵהוּ]) have some semantic overlap with the second waw consecutive in v. 8 (“placed” [וַיָּשֶׂם]).n125 The semantic overlap in the vocabulary reflects some form of repetition. Because the two verbs in v. 15 pick up the sequence from v. 8, this is a resumption of the sequential line. Resumptive repetition takes place with a waw consecutive when, after a significant event is initially represented by a waw consecutive and the narrative line is temporarily diverted, a subsequent waw consecutive that semantically overlaps with the initial waw consecutive continues the sequential line.126 With the use of resumptive repetition, this does not require that the verbs involved with the resumption are strictly synonymous. In Genesis 2:15, the Hiphil form of “put,” adds the nuance of bringing rest to someone.127 Adam was securely placed in the garden to tend it with divine blessing. While there is some semantic overlap between the verbs in v. 8 and v. 15, the Hiphil waw consecutive of j"Wn, while resuming the narrative thread, additionally implies that “God prepares the garden for man’s safety, where he can enjoy the divine presence.”128 Thus, while the waw consecutives in v. 15 resume the narrative sequence, they also add to the sequence that man with divine security was placed in the garden. This also indicates that both verbs in v. 15 are sequential in that they resume the situation presented by the waw consecutive in v. 8.129 By using resumptive repetition, Moses shows how the sequence of v. 15 relates to the overall sequential chain in this account. In addition, the use of resumptive repetition in this context also shows how the digression of vv. 10–14 is skillfully related to the immediate context.130
Though the description of the waw consecutives in v. 15 as examples of resumptive repetition indicates that they do not reflect a strict chronology, this does not mean that chronological constraints have been abandoned by the narrative sequence.131 Since the two sequential verbs in v. 15 are part of a chain of 17 other waw consecutives, these other sequential verbs advance the chronological and sequential substance of this account. The use of the waw consecutives in 2:7–25 are part of a larger Old Testament scheme that uses this sequential framework to present Israel’s historiography. Therefore, both waw consecutives in v. 15 sequentially resume the narrative line. In addition, though the waw consecutives in v. 15 are not sequential, the 17 sequential waw consecutives in 2:7–25 establish the chronological advancement of this passage. In the final analysis, the two resumptive waw consecutives are a non-issue since they practically function like the 17 sequential waw consecutives.
Pluperfect use of waw consecutive in Genesis 2:19
The third waw consecutive used to support a topical interpretation of Genesis 2:4–25 is found in the first part of v. 19 (“[the LORD God] formed,” וַיִּיצֶר). If the narrative line is followed in many English translations, Genesis 2:19a is part of a chronological sequence. The sequential development in vv. 18–19 is exhibited in the NASB:
Then the LORD God said [waw consecutive], ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’ 19Out of the ground the LORD God formed [waw consecutive] every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought [waw consecutive] them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.
I have placed in brackets the waw consecutive after the appropriate three verbs in vv. 18–19. We should observe that the initial waw consecutive in v. 19 is translated as a past tense, just like the other two waw consecutives in v. 18 and v. 19b. The past tense rendering of וַיִּיצֶר, “formed,” is also followed in the KJV, NKJV, ESV, NRSV, NLT, and NET BIBLE. If the translation of the NASB and other versions is correct, this reflects a narrative sequence in these two verses that looks like this:
- The LORD God said it is not good for man to be alone.
- The LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky from the dust of the ground.
- The LORD God brought every beast of the field and every bird of the sky to man so that man could name them.
Before the sequence in vv. 18–19, the narrative sequence was initiated by the creation of man, v. 7, then the formation of the Garden of Eden, vv. 8–9. Following the sequence in vv. 18–19, woman was formed from man, v. 22. According to the apparent sequence in Genesis 2, the beasts and birds were formed after the creation of man in v. 7 but before the formation of woman in v. 22. This sequence may conflict with the creation account. On Day 5 God created birds (Gen 1:21–22). On Day 6, God initially created wild animals, livestock, and creeping things (vv. 24–25), and he finally created man and woman (vv. 26–28). If וַיִּיצֶר is rendered as a past tense, “formed,” the sequence in Genesis 2:4–25 seemingly contradicts the arrangement in 1:1–2:3. Two solutions to this reputed contradiction will be examined.
First, some framework advocates claim that a topical interpretation of Genesis 2:4–25 resolves this contradiction. This position states that man was created before beasts and birds if וַיִּיצֶר is used as waw consecutives normally function to show chronological sequence.132 However, since the formation of man before beasts and birds conflicts with a chronological reading of Genesis 1:1–2:3 that has birds and beasts created before man, the past tense translation of וַיִּיצֶר indicates that the account should be read topically rather than chronologically. According to Kline’s framework position, a chronological reading of the sequential verb in 2:19, as well as the two waw consecutives in v. 15, is inconsistent with a literal sequence in 1:1–2:3.133 As such, the account in Genesis 2:4–25 has examples of sequential verbs that indicate a temporal recapitulation.134
While framework interpreters use the sequential verb in Genesis 2:19, as well as the two verbs in v. 15, as examples of temporal recapitulation, this does not prove that all the waw consecutives in 2:4– 25 are not chronological. It indicates that three of 21 uses of waw consecutive reflect some level of temporal recapitulation. Nevertheless, it does not demonstrate that all of the other18 waw consecutives reflect temporal recapitulation.135 Furthermore, to have 2:4–25 function as a dischronologized account, some framework supporters assume that 2:4–25 and 1:1–2:3 are in conflict with each other. And, the discontinuity that 1:1–2:3 has with 2:4–25 is predicated on the “unargued presupposition” that 2:5 assumes God worked exclusively through normal providence in the creation period. This was Kline’s thesis in his 1958 article. This “unargued presupposition” of v. 5 became the basis to deny a literal, chronological interpretation of 1:1–2:3 and to support a figurative interpretation of this passage.136 Another development from this “unargued presupposition” of v. 5 was that 2:4–25 also had no chronological significance but was better interpreted as a topical account.137 However, if the assumption of v. 5 is questionable, as has been previously noted, should not this give some pause about the validity of assuming that 1:1–2:3 has a discontinuity with 2:4– 25? By the nature of the content of 2:4 and the events described in vv. 7–25 being coordinate with Day 6 of the creation week, as addressed earlier in this paper, 1:1–2:3 has a basic continuity with 2:4– 25.138 As such, is there not a better interpretation of the sequential verb in 2:19 that harmonizes both pericopes?
Second, if the first sequential verb in Genesis 2:19a is a pluperfect, a chronological reading of 2:4–25 is preserved as well as the account maintaining a continuity with 1:1–2:3.139 This view says that וַיִּיצֶר, in the midst of a chain of sequential waw consecutives, may be translated as a past perfect, “has formed,” reflecting a temporal activity that preceded the mainline sequence in 2:4–25.140 While the NASB, like other English versions, translates v. 19a with a past tense: “Out of the ground the LORD God fformed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky” (emphasis added), the NIV translates v. 19a with a pluperfect: “Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air” (emphasis added). In this context, the NIV best preserves the continuity of 1:1–2:3 and 2:4–25.
From the perspective of some framework supporters, the waw consecutive as a pluperfect is not a clear syntactic option in Genesis 2:19. A pluperfect sense could have been communicated by other grammatical constructions. As a result, the author of Genesis intended to convey something other than a chronological sequence.141 However, what is overlooked by this reasoning is that pluperfect may be used within a sequence of waw consecutive verbs. Though waw consecutive is generally used to advance a narrative timeline one incremental stride after another,142 a waw consecutive may be used to denote an action prior to an immediate narrative sequence. Waltke and O’Connor provide a few examples where the waw consecutive corresponds to the pluperfect (Exod 4:11–12, Num 1:47–49, 1 Kgs 13:12).143 Another example is found in Genesis 12:1. According to the sequential verbs in 11:31, Abram had left Ur of the Chaldeans with his father Terah, set out for Canaan, and had settled in Haran. However, the waw consecutive that initiates 12:1 does not incrementally advance the timeline, but provides a flashback when the LORD had spoken to Abram about initially leaving his father’s country in Mesopotamia before moving to Haran (Gen 15:7, Acts 7:2). The mainline sequence is further interrupted by a series of clauses, vv. 1b–3, that contains God’s promises to Abram with the narrative sequence being resumed in v. 4. In keeping with this pluperfect use, the NIV translates v.1a: “The LORD had said to Abram ...” (emphasis added). Pipa provides another example from Exodus 10:24–11:8. This narrative sequence is advanced by a series of waw consecutives. However, in 11:1, Moses uses a waw consecutive to introduce an interruption in the narrative sequence that serves as a flashback to “introduce a revelation previously given to Moses.”144 Although Moses had other syntactic options to convey a pluperfect, his syntactic preference, with these examples, was to use a waw consecutive for this anterior action.
Like the two waw consecutives in Genesis 2:15, וַיִּיצֶר in v. 19 is an example of temporal recapitulation. Both verses reflect two different types of temporal recapitulation. The sequential verbs in v. 15 are restricted by the immediate narrative sequence in vv. 4–25. Because of the immediate narrative, we have noted that both verbs are examples of resumptive repetition. However, the temporal recapitulation in v. 19 transcends the immediate pericope of 2:4–25 and looks back to the previous pericope in 1:1–2:3. Because וַיִּיצֶר in 2:19 transcends the immediate episode as it looks back to the preceding one, it is better to view this as an example of a pluperfect.145 Various criteria are used to indicate that a waw consecutive is used as pluperfect, such as a sequential verb starting a new pericope or paragraph.146 The context of Genesis 1–2 reflects another criteria for determining if a verb is used as a past perfect. This technique is what Collins calls the “logic of the referent.”147 With this technique, the literary context establishes that the event represented by a waw consecutive verb occurred before the situation represented by a prior verb.148
In the context of Genesis 2:4–25, we have seen how the tôledôt heading was arranged as a chiasm. More specifically, the actual words used in this chiasm (“heavens,” “earth,” “created,” “made”) inextricably link 2:4–25 with 1:1–2:3.149 The mainline narrative sequence was advanced in Genesis 1:1–2:3 by the use of 55 waw consecutives to give an overview of the first literal week in the realm of the created. Genesis 2:4–7 interrupt the mainline narrative as a way of briefly reversing the sequence of events so that more details may be given about the key events that occurred on Day 6. While using vocabulary in the chiasm of v. 4 to link the second account with the first, the tôledôt heading in v. 4 shifts the narrative focus to describe what developed from the “earth” and “heaven.” More precisely, this purposeful shift in focus to Day 6 begins with the creation of the man from dust, continues to the formation of his wife from his own body, and finally concludes with a statement about their marital union. The heading in v. 4 is followed by a series of six nonsequential clauses, vv. 5–6, providing circumstances associated with the formation of man in v. 7. While the overview of the creation week in 1:1–2:3 was sequentially advanced by 46 of 55 waw consecutives,150 moving from the first day through the seventh, the pericope of 2:4–25 backs up to Day 6 and resumes the narrative sequence with the first waw consecutive in v. 7 (“Then the LORD God formed [waw consecutive] man of dust from the ground”). The initial sequential verb in v. 7 starts a sequence of 21 waw consecutives that advance the mainline narrative of Day 6. While 4 of the 21 waw consecutives in this pericope are not chronological, the actual chronological sequence started in v. 7 is advanced by 17 sequential uses of waw consecutives. While we do not want to gloss over the 4 waw consecutives that are not chronological, we should not ignore that these 4 nonsequential waw consecutives, with good syntactical justification, are tethered to a context of 17 sequential waw consecutives that advance the mainline narrative. The precise use of the nonsequential waw consecutive in v. 19a is defined by the logic of the referent. In this context, the logic of the referent for the event summarized by וַיִּיצֶר in v. 19 is the literary environment of the previous pericope, especially Days 5–6, 1:20–31.151 Since Moses intended 1:1– 2:3 and 2:4–25 to be read as complementary accounts, this suggests that וַיִּיצֶר in 2:19 is preferably translated as a pluperfect, “had formed.” The pluperfect translation of וַיִּיצֶר is consistent with a traditional reading of Genesis 1:1–2:3 as an overview of each day in the creation week and 2:4–25 as an expansion of the sixth day of the creation week.152
In closing this discussion of the waw consecutives in 2:4–25, the 3 waw consecutives in vv. 15 and 19 reflecting temporal recapitulation do not provide a justification for reinterpreting the overall narrative sequence as a dischronologized account. Should the 3 exceptional uses of waw consecutive (14%) define the nature of the narrative sequence? Or, should not the 17 normal uses (81%) define the mainline narrative? Since the waw consecutives in vv. 15 and 19 are connected to 17 other waw consecutives that demonstrate a normal sequential use of waw consecutive, Genesis 2:4–25 should be taken as a chronological account that has 3 examples of temporal recapitulation. What defines this pericope is the mainline sequence of 17 sequential waw consecutives. In the final analysis, this certainly does not sound like a use of 21 waw consecutives that are dischronologized.
The wider context of Scripture
As initially noted in this paper, the reputed “unargued presupposition” of Genesis 2:5 is that God exclusively operated in the creation period through ordinary providence. Kline has stated his position like this: “Embedded in Gen. 2:5 ff. is the principle that the modus operandi of the divine providence was the same during the creation period as that of ordinary providence at the present time.”153 Kline’s point is that the literal historic day interpretation of Genesis that the literal historic day interpretation of Genesis 1:1–2:3, by presupposing that God “employed other than the ordinary secondary means in executing his works of providence,” contradicts this embedded principle in 2:5.154 When this thesis that questions the use of extraordinary providence in Genesis 1:1–2:3 by Kline and some framework advocates155 is examined, it is found to be in conflict with the account of creation, the overall tenor of Scripture with regard to miracles, and the correct use of the analogy of Scripture.
Defending extraordinary providence from Genesis 1:1–2:3
The creation week provides no evidence that God worked exclusively in this week through ordinary providence; and, in fact, the evidence is to the contrary. While the reference to the Spirit of God moving over the water surrounding the unformed and empty earth in Genesis 1:2 has some difficulties,156 it clearly pictures divine protection and care of the earth at the beginning of the creation week.157 The Spirit of God, like an eagle protectively and vigilantly hovering over its young (Deut 32:11), supernaturally preserved the earth.158 In addition, if there is any supernatural intervention, extraordinary providence, this calls into question this thesis of the framework. For example, God directly intervened in 2:7 when he “formed man out of the dust from the ground,” “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” and “man became a living being.” In addition, Young noted that the only works described on Day 3 are not works of ordinary providence, but that of extraordinary providence. “Indeed, on no viewpoint can it be established that ordinary providential working prevailed on the third day. The only works assigned to this day were the result of special, divine, creative fiats. If ordinary providence existed during the third day, it was interrupted at two points by divine fiats.”159 Because the creation week reflects that God intervened by fiat and by supernaturally preserving his creation, the framework’s thesis cannot be consistently used to deny the literal, sequential interpretation of the creation week
We have observed that Kline maintains that the providence of the creation period was the same as it is today. However, this assessment cannot be correct. Only if God created everything in a nanosecond could this assessment possibly be true. Furthermore, since Kline allows for the creation era to be punctuated with supernatural acts of creation,160 he allows for some extraordinary providence in this period. However, his point is that normal providence was the characteristic of the creation period and this certainly implies that this period has an era-perspective.161 A closer reading of the creation account in Genesis 1:1–2:3 reveals that it is more accurate to say that the creation week is governed by extraordinary providence while, concomitantly, establishing the conditions in the created order so that it could begin to operate according to normal providence.
After God’s initial creation of the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1, the Spirit of God is also pictured in v. 2 as conserving and guiding this inanimate creation. Not only does God’s direct creative work show extraordinary providence but also the Spirit’s moving over the earth’s watery surface suggests his supernatural work in preserving and directing creation. With God’s use of normal secondary causation in providence, every part of a multifaceted universe must be in place so that it can function without God’s continual miraculous intervention. “Whether it is,” according to Kruger, “the balance of gravity in our intricate solar system or the complex interdependence of the Earth’s ecosystem, it is essential that all parts be in place in order for them to operate effectively.”162 Therefore, in contrast to the framework view that has an era of creation characterized by normal providence, my point is that the literal creation week was characterized by extraordinary providence, both by direct creation163 and by the Spirit preserving the creation intact, and that during this week the conditions for the earth to operate according to normal providence were being established in such a way that at the end of this week the earth would be ready to effectively operate in ordinary providence.
Defending extraordinary providence from progressive revelation
The overall tenor of progressive revelation opposes this thesis of the framework since God has not limited himself in biblical history to work exclusively through ordinary providence. While God used extraordinary providence in the Flood, such as sending rain upon the earth 40 days and nights and breaking open the fountains of the great deep, Noah and his family in ordinary providence built the ark and took care of the animals in the ark for about a year. Does this sound like God suspended normal providence because he used extraordinary providence with the Flood? In the case of the ten plagues on Egypt, should it be assumed that, because God miraculously intervened with each plague, God placed a moratorium on ordinary providence? When God brought the plague of total darkness on Egypt for three days, while the Israelites had light where they lived (Exod 10:21–29), did God postpone the operation of normal providence with the Israelites, while he supernaturally imposed a judgment of darkness on the Egyptians? In addition, when framework defenders deny a literal interpretation of the creation week by maintaining that Genesis 2:5 denies God had miraculously dried up the ground on Day 3,164 this clearly conflicts with God miraculously drying up the wet ground of the Red Sea when he divided it so that the Israelites, in ordinary providence, could cross it on dry ground (Exod 14:21–22).165 In the New Testament, Christ performed many miracles, while, in normal providence, he grew up and lived a life of perfect obedience fulfilling the demands of the Law. Since biblical history reflects a mixture of God’s use of both extraordinary and ordinary providence, God used both in the creation week.166 “Every creative act of God,” as Grossman writes, “is presented as an extraordinary act of God. Furthermore, every miracle in the Bible occurs in the midst of ordinary providence and gives lie to the idea that the two cannot coexist.”167 Since the creation week included a mixture of extraordinary and ordinary providence, it was, therefore, not exclusively characterized by ordinary providence.
Defending extraordinary providence from the analogy of Scripture
While some framework proponents insist that the type of interpretation that I just presented about extraordinary providence preserving the created realm is only “exegetical presumption,”168 I am convinced that this is a necessary exegetical implication from the context of Genesis 1:1–2:3, as well as the overall teaching of Scripture that has a bearing on the creation account.169 Additionally, Irons and Kline claim that the historic literal day view is in conflict with the teaching of Genesis 2:5–6 and that those who take a literal day view should adopt a view that does not conflict with Genesis 2:5–6: “If we believe that Scripture is inspired, and therefore inerrant, we are required to adopt an interpretation of Genesis 1:1–2:3 that does not conflict with Genesis 2:5–6. The analogy of Scripture, as applied in this context, forces the Bible-believing interpreter to abandon a literalist reading of the creation account.”170 In effect, the analogy of Scripture, as it relates to Kline’s original interpretation of Genesis 2:5, requires believers to jettison a literal interpretation of 1:1–2:3.
Besides the tenuous nature of their interpretation of Genesis 2:5, Irons and Kline’s appeal to the analogy of Scripture is questionable. The hermeneutical principle known as “the analogy of Scripture,” analogia scriptura, also at times referred to as “the analogy of faith,” analogia fidei,171 says that Scripture interprets Scripture. Since Scripture is a self-authenticating special revelation from God, Scripture is a self-interpreting book.172 As such, “what is obscure in one passage may be illuminated by another. No single statement or obscure passage of one book can be allowed to set aside a doctrine which is clearly established by many passages.”173 In essence, analogia scriptura maintains that the totality of Scripture is the context and guide in interpreting specific passages of Scripture, such as Genesis 2:5.174
This appeal to the analogy of Scripture as applied to Genesis 2:5 is tenuous.175 According to the analogy of Scripture, Scripture’s overall teaching on creation should have a bearing on a difficult text like Genesis 2:5. The overall context of 2:4–25 indicates that the context of v. 5 is Day 6 of the creation week.
Because Genesis 2:5 has been the subject of some interpretative ambiguities,176 caution should be exercised in using Kline’s novel interpretation to solve what is really only a post-Darwinian problem. 177 Yet, Kline, as well as his followers, maintains his interpretation of v. 5 is clearly taught: “The unargued presupposition of Gen. 2:5 is clearly the divine providence was operating during the creation period through processes which any reader would recognize as normal in the natural world of his day” (emphasis added).178 If this “unargued presupposition” of v. 5 is so “clearly” recognized “as normal in the natural world” of any reader, why is this presupposition not found in orthodox commentaries before 1958? Since Kline has influenced some others about the legitimacy of his interpretation of v. 5, why is this not reflected in any major commentaries since 1958?179 Evidently, v. 5 is not as clear as some think it is! Whatever else v. 5 teaches, it neither makes a precise statement nor clearly implies that Genesis 1:1–2:3 was characterized by normal providence. Furthermore, while overlooking Kline’s interpretation of 2:5, most commentators connect this verse with the formation of man in anticipation of the Fall in Genesis 3. In short, rather than using a novel interpretation of 2:5 to reinterpret 1:1–2:3, the overall message of Scripture about creation, including 1:1–2:3, should have substantive value with any interpretation of a difficult text like 2:5. This approach would be a legitimate use of the analogy of Scripture.
In concluding this examination of the framework’s second thesis that the creation period was controlled by ordinary providence, the “unargued presupposition” of Genesis 2:5 does not demand that the creation week was exclusively controlled by ordinary providence. In contrast to the framework view, Genesis 2:5 provides the setting for the creation of man along with his placement in the Garden of Eden to tend its vegetation in anticipation of the Fall in Genesis 3. Briefly stated, Genesis 2:5 does not provide any evidence to abandon the traditional, literal interpretation of Genesis 1:1–2:3. Therefore, my conclusion is that the literal creation week was characterized by extraordinary providence and that during this week God miraculously established the conditions for the earth so that, at the end of the six days of divine creative activity, the earth would be able to operate in normal providence.
Unending nature of the seventh day
This premise of the framework pertains to the unending nature of the seventh day. If Day 7 is an unending day, it is not a literal, earthly day, but rather a figure that reflects a heavenly time of divine rest. Additionally, if Day 7 is a metaphor, then the first six days that are subsidiary to this day are also metaphorical days.180 The seventh day, according to Kline, “had a temporal beginning but it has no end (note the absence of the concluding evening-morning formula). Yet it is called a ‘day,’ so advising us that these days of the creation account are meant figuratively.”181 Two items support the unending nature of Day 7. First, while each of the six days of the creation week are concluded by the evening-morning formula, the description of Day 7 in Genesis 2:1-3 omits the evening-morning formula. As Blocher has noted, this omission “is deliberate. There can be no doubt about that in a text that has been composed with exact calculation.”182 Second, Hebrews 4 confirms this understanding of Day 7 with the motif of an eternal Sabbath rest.183
Kline mentions this argument in his 1958 article,184 as has Irons in his paper “Framework Interpretation: An Exegetical Summary.”185 Irons states the case like this: “The final exegetical observation that ultimately clinches the case [for the framework interpretation] is the unending nature of the seventh day.”186 Blocher187 and Ross188 also use this argument. More recently, this argument has become a key plank in Kline’s more complex two-register cosmology argument.189 Regardless of whether the extended nature of the seventh day is treated as a major thesis or as a supporting thesis for Kline’s latter argument, framework advocates who follow Kline use some form of this thesis to support their position. Thus, it is necessary to address the two items that sustain this thesis.
The omission of the evening-morning formula on Day 7
Because the evening-morning conclusion is not explicitly used in Genesis 2:1–3, God’s rest, according to the framework position, started on the seventh day and continues until today.190 This omission indicates that Day 7 was an eternal rather than a literal day. “The seventh day,” as Irons states, “is unique in that it alone lacks the concluding evening-morning formula, suggesting that it is not finite but eternal.”191 According to Blocher, the open-ended nature of Day 7 is the “most simple and natural conclusion” that can be drawn from this deliberate omission.192 There are four reasons why an open-ended interpretation of Day 7 cannot be the “most simple and natural conclusion.”
First, as noted in the first part of this critique, the evening-morning conclusion is one part of a fivefold structure that Moses employed in shaping the literary fabric for each of the days of the creation week.193 None of the other parts of this fivefold arrangement are mentioned on the seventh day.194 Moses used this fivefold pattern to represent, in a brief yet accurate manner, God’s creation of the heavens, the earth, and all things therein in the space of six, sequentially numbered, literal days. By excluding the fivefold pattern, Moses’ theological emphasis was to demonstrate in literary form that Day 7 was a day of cessation from divine creative activity.195 This is to say the omission of the evening-morning conclusion is related to the omission of the other four parts of this fivefold pattern. Since the other four parts are not needed in that God’s creative activity is finished, this concluding formula was not needed either. This overall structuring device was not utilized for the apparent reason that God is no longer creating after Day 6. Because Day 7 is a historic literal day, it is numbered like the previous six days.
Second, the evening and morning conclusion has another rhetorical function that is to mark a transition from a concluding day to the following day.196 If the first week was completed, there was no need to use the evening-morning conclusion for transitional purposes. Pipa has precisely summarized this argument: “The phrase ‘evening and morning’ links the day that is concluding with the next day. For example the morning that marks the end of day one also marks the beginning of day two. Thus, we do not find the formula at the end of the seventh day, since the week of creation is complete.”197
Third, the omission of the evening-morning conclusion as a support for seventh day being eternal is an argument from silence.198 Genesis 2:1–3 neither explicitly state nor necessarily imply that Day 7 was eternal: “1Thus the heavens and the earth were completed כלה, and all their hosts. 2By the seventh day [בַּיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי] God completed [כלה] His work which He had done, and He rested [שְׁבֹּת] on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested שְׁבֹּת from all His work which God had created and made.” The translation of v. 2 by the NASB clearly indicates that God’s creative work did not cease on the seventh day but that it was finished “by the seventh day [בַּיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי].”n199 Other English translations have a level of ambiguity in that God is seemingly presented as completing his creative work “on the seventh day”: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made” (KJV, this is essentially the same in NKJV, NRSV, ESV). This translation lacks clarity since God did not finish his creative work “on the seventh day.” This point is confirmed by Israel’s practice of gathering manna for the first six days of the week during their wilderness wanderings so that they could rest on the Sabbath, as indicated in Exodus 16:29–30: “‘See, the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.’ 30So the people rested on the seventh day.” Thus, Genesis 1 clearly has God creating the heavens, the earth, and all things therein in the space of six days. In other words, God’s creative work is finished on the sixth day, and not the seventh. Thus, בַּיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי, in Genesis 2:2 is best translated with NASB as “by the seventh day.”200
Fourth, two narrative texts in Exodus dealing with the Sabbath ordinance rule out an open-ended interpretation of the Day 7. The first text is 20:11: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the 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.” The second is 31:17: “for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.” Based upon God’s week of creative activity, Israel was commanded, in both passages, to imitate his pattern by working six days and resting on the Sabbath (20:9–10; 31:15–16). Because both passages have been clearly understood as references to man imitating the divine pattern established in the first week of temporal history by working on six consecutive, normal days and resting on a literal seventh day,201 framework advocates attempt to dodge the force of 20:11 by stating that even literalists have to take God being “refreshed” in 31:17 as an analogy, rather than a literal statement of God being refreshed. “If,” as Irons and Kline assert, “a nonliteral interpretation of the divine refreshment does not invalidate the Fourth Commandment, neither does a nonliteral interpretation of God’s seventh day. Thus, the objection from Exodus 20:8–11 completely loses its cogency, unless literalists insist on taking the divine refreshment of Exodus 31:17 literally.”202 However, God’s response of delight to his cessation from creative activity does not indicate that the days of creation were nonliteral. Does something that relates to God’s being, which is certainly analogical since it pictures God as “refreshed,” indicate that the creation days were also anthropomorphic? To say that the anthropomorphism of divine refreshment precludes a literal interpretation of the days of creation is a comparison of apples and oranges.203 Since there is no inherent connection between God’s nature and the duration of his creative activity, the real issue focuses on whether Scripture affirms that God created on heavenly or earthly time. With a proper use of the analogy of Scripture, Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 unequivocally indicate that God did not create on heavenly time, but on earthly time. He created the universe in six, sequentially arranged, normal days. Both passages use an adverbial accusative of time (“in six days”). This grammatical construction indicates the duration of God’s creative activity by stating how long it occurred, “during six days.”204 This construction, as Benjamin Shaw has correctly noted, “implies both that the days were normal days, and that the days were contiguous. Thus, the ‘dayness’ of the six days, as well as the seventh, is essential to the meaning of the Sabbath commandment. It is not simply analogy—God rested one period after six periods, so in a similar way we rest one day after six of work. Rather, because God made the six days and the seventh, we work the six days and rest the seventh.”205 Therefore, the biblical evidence demands the Day 7 of the creation week was a literal day.
A literal interpretation of the seventh day is also consistent with the employment of two verbs in vv. 1–2, “completed,” כלה (vv. 1, 2), and “rested,” שְׁבֹּת (vv. 2, 3), and the divine pronouncement of blessing on the seventh day. Twice in vv. 1–2, Moses stated God “completed,” כלה,n206 his work of creation. By utilizing the passive Pual form of כלה in v. 1, the agent of creation is not specifically given; however, the agent of creation, God, as subject of the active Piel stem of כלה, is specified in v. 2. The verb כלה is used 17 times in the Old Testament, with two uses in the Qal stem, 14 in the Piel (with one of these in Gen 2:2), and only one in the Pual (Gen 2:1). This verb has two general nuances: to “destroy,” “consume,” “use up,” or to “bring to an end,” “finish.”207 In this context, כלה has the clear nuance of bringing to an end. In commenting on these two nuances, Hamilton has stated: “The context offers no reason to apply the first nuance [destroy] to Gen. 2:1–2. The point made by this verb is that the universe is no longer in a process of being created.”208 The nuance of bringing to completion indicates that, as of the separately enumerated, seventh day, God’s preceding six days of creation were finished. 209
Additionally, “rested,” שְׁבֹּת, is used twice in vv. 2–3. Though שְׁבֹּת is translated as “rest” in most English versions (NASB, ESV, NIV, TNIV, KJV, NKJV, HCSB, NLT), it may also be translated as “ceased,” with the NET BIBLE.210 Because “sabbath,” שַׁבָּת, is cognate with this verb,211 it is not surprising that most versions translate this as “rested” in vv. 2–3. If this translation is followed, it must not be taken that God had to renew his strength.212 This type of understanding would be a theological abomination. In the context of Genesis 1– 2, “rest,” שְׁבֹּת, unmistakably means to “cease.” Wenham has noted that שְׁבֹּת has three related nuances: “‘to cease to be,’ ‘to desist from work,’ and ‘to observe the sabbath.’ It is clear that the second sense is central here.”213 The nuance of desisting from work specifically refers to “the cessation of creative activity.”214 This verb is used with the same sense of cessation from activity in Joshua 5:5: “Again Pharaoh said, ‘Look, the people of the land are now many, and you would have them cease [שְׁבֹּת]from their labors!’” Cessation of talking is found in Job 32:1: “Then these three men ceased [שְׁבֹּת] answering Job.” Thus, the concept of cessation is a significant element in the semantics of שְׁבֹּת, and it is specifically the required sense in Genesis 2:2–3.215 Gentry has made this very point: “In Genesis 2:2 Moses declares simply that God ceased his creative process. And he ceased it at a particular moment in time, i.e., on that particular day. In fact, God does not ‘rest’ from all labor, for he ‘made’ (עָשָׂה [sic], asah) coats of skins for Adam and Eve (Ge 3:21). He does permanently cease from creating the world, but not from all temporal creative activity.”216
Finally, the seventh day must be a literal day because God blessed and sanctified it. If the seventh day is unending, this means that not only did God bless and sanctify it, but he also, on the same unending day, cursed the earth with the Fall of Genesis 3. From a theological perspective, this is questionable. “We must assume,” as John Whitcomb has astutely observed, “that the seventh day was a literal day because Adam and Eve lived through it before God drove them out of the Garden. Surely, he would not have cursed the earth during the seventh day which he blessed and sanctified.”217
Therefore, the omission of the evening-morning conclusion on Day 7 does not imply that this day was unending. The omission suggests that, since Day 7 was a cessation from divine creative activity, it was substantively different from the preceding six days that were characterized by divine creativity. Further, since Day 7 did not involve a transition to another day of creative activity, there was no need to say “and there was evening and there was morning, the seventh day.” Day 8 was not a day of divine creation; it could not have been characterized as a day of extraordinary providence. On Day 8, the created order was fully functioning according to normal providence and Adam and Eve began their divinely given responsibility of cultivating and maintaining the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:1–3 has no implication that the seventh day is an eternal day. Finally, Genesis 2:1–3 explicitly affirms that God ceased his creative activity as of a normal, literal day, as reflected by “day,” יוֹס, being qualified by the ordinal number “seventh,” שְּׁבִיעִי (Gen 2:2, 3), and as it is part of an uninterrupted sequence of days.218 How is this literal interpretation of Day 7 to be harmonized with Hebrews 4 where God’s eternal Sabbath rest is seemingly equated with Genesis 2:2?
The motif of God’s rest in Hebrews 4
Some framework proponents equate God’s eternal Sabbath rest of Hebrews 4 with the seventh day of the creation week. As Irons and Kline state this argument: “One might be tempted to assume that the seventh day ended, whereas God’s rest continues eternally. But the author of Hebrews equates the two .... According to this inspired New Testament commentary [Hebrews 4:4, 9–10] on Genesis 2:2, the seventh day itself is equated with the Sabbath rest that awaits the people of God. And this Sabbath rest is an ongoing, eternal reality .... Therefore, God’s Sabbath rest is clearly eternal.”219 In contrast to the framework view, the eternal rest in Hebrews 4 cannot be equated with Day 7 of the creation week for three reasons.
Initially, this equation of Hebrews 4 with Genesis 2:2 is only legitimate if Genesis 2:1–3 implies that Day 7 was unending. Since, as just argued, Genesis 2:1–3 neither explicitly affirms nor necessarily implies that Day 7 was an unending day, this interpretation is invalid. Hebrews 4 never states that the seventh day of the creation week is an unending day.220 In actuality, the use of Hebrews 4 to prove that the seventh day in Genesis 2:1–3 is an ongoing day assumes what needs to be demonstrated. In Hebrews 4:3–11, the author cites Genesis 2:2 and Psalm 95:7–11 as a warning against unbelief. The passage is a call to persevere in the faith. If one does not persevere, he will not enter into God’s eternal rest. The eternal rest presented in Hebrews is based on an analogy with God’s creative rest in Genesis 2:1–3. The author of Hebrews uses the Mosaic omission of the evening-morning conclusion as a type patterned after God’s eternal rest.
Moreover, in Hebrews 5:6–10 and 7:1–4, the author of Hebrews uses Melchizedek’s lack of a genealogical record in Genesis 14 and the omission of his death in Scripture as a type of Christ. Scripture’s silence about Melchizedek’s family background and death serve as an archetype for the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ.221 Just like it is invalid to repudiate the historical reality of Melchizedek’s ancestral background and death based upon the absence of these two items in Hebrews, so it is illegitimate on this foundation to reject the historical reality of a literal seventh day in Genesis 2:1–3.222
Finally, the actual kind of rest in Genesis 2:2–3 is completely different than the rest in Hebrews 4:3–11. The rest of Genesis 2:2–3 is a cessation from divine creative activity. Only the Creator can cease from that activity. It is absolutely impossible for the creature to experience that cessation. However, the Sabbath-rest of Hebrews 4:3–11 is a rest that the people of God actually experience. Therefore, the “rest” in both contexts cannot be identical. The framework position assumes that the “rest” of Genesis 2 is identical with Hebrews 4. However, instead of assuming that the “rest” of Genesis 2 and Hebrews 4 are identical, framework advocates need to demonstrate this identity. Because of the Creator-creation distinction, the only possible relationship between Genesis 2:2–3 and Hebrews 4:3–11 is one of analogy and not identity. Consequently, Hebrews 4:3–11 establishes that God’s eternal rest is an analogy drawn from God’s rest on the literal seventh day in Genesis 2:1–3. As such, Hebrews 4 does not preclude Day 7 of the creation week as a historic literal day.
Neither the omission of the evening-morning conclusion for Day 7 nor the use of Genesis 2:2 in Hebrews 4 provide support for the seventh day of the creation week as an unending, nonliteral day. Rather than sustaining the framework’s third thesis, the omission of the evening-morning conclusion coupled with explicit references to God’s cessation of his work of creation and pronouncement of blessing indicates that the seventh day was a day that was a specific, literal day that concluded a series of six, consecutive literal days.
With the goal of offsetting a literal interpretation of Genesis 1:1– 2:3, Kline crafted out a new argument in 1996 that focused on using a two-register cosmology to further support the framework position.223 This argument states the created cosmos has two distinguishable registers, an upper and lower register. The upper register is the invisible, created dwelling place of God and his angels; and the lower register is the visible, created cosmos that extends from planet Earth to the stars in the heavens. An analogical relationship exists between the upper and lower tiers. The lower register analogically replicates the archetypical upper register.224 Kline’s two-register cosmology is supported by his interpretation that both the “heavens” in Genesis 1:1 and the “seventh day” in 2:2–3 refer to upper register, heavenly time. The “heavens” in 1:1 and the “seventh day” in 2:2–3 form an inclusio arrangement. This inclusio, or “bracket” argument, suggests that the intervening six days also operate according to heavenly, figurative time, rather than earthly, literal time.225 What this means for the interpretation of the creation narrative is that Irons and Kline’s identification of five upper register elements in Genesis 1:1–2:3 is replicated by a comparable element in the lower register. According to this approach, the lower register element of the “earth” in v. 1 corresponds to the “heavens” in the same verse, the “deep” in v. 2 to the Spirit, the fulfillments on Days 1–6 to the fiats, man as God’s image bearer on Day 6 to the divine council on the same day, and the Sabbath ordinance of Day 7 to the divine rest.226 This analogous association between the five items of the upper and lower registers implies that the objective reality behind the chronological material in the creation narrative, such as the days of the creation “week” with their attendant evening-morning refrain, is the time associated with the upper register.227 Irons and Kline describe this two-register cosmology this way:
Each relationship is an example of earthly things being used as metaphors for upper-register realities. Our argument, then, is that the language of the days and “evenings and mornings” is not literal but an instance of lower-register terms being used metaphorically to describe the upper register. Just as the heaven where God dwells does not have literal clouds or a rainbow, so heavenly time is not literally measured by solar days or earthly evenings and mornings. Because of the analogical relationship between the two registers, Scripture employs the language of earthly time to speak of the progress of heavenly time.228
In simplified form, Irons and Kline’s argument is that just like there is a spatial/dimensional distinction between the realm of the heavens and the earth, so there is a temporal distinction between the heavenly realm and the earthly.229 Scripture unequivocally affirms that there is an absolute distinction between the Creator and creation, as Irons and Kline’s affirm230 and that there is some truth to their distinction between the heavens of God’s created realm and the earth (Gen 1:1).231 However, the problematic areas of Kline’s two-register cosmology relate to the lack of contextual clarity in Genesis 1:1–2:3 about his spatial/dimensional upper and lower registers and, more specifically, to the false dichotomy that his questionable two-register cosmology sets up between heavenly and earthly time.
A qualification of the two-register cosmology thesis
In reality, the framework’s final thesis about a two-register cosmology is not so much a major premise supporting the framework but an explanation that integrates the preceding three major premises with Kline’s overall understanding of biblical cosmology as a justification for taking the temporal elements of Genesis 1:1–2:3 as upper register time. Duncan and Hall have made this basic point: “The ‘two-register cosmology’ supplies a biblical explanation of the significance of the nonliteral nature of the time indicators in Genesis 1 .... The two-register cosmology is not evidence for the framework view but rather something that would be consistent with it if it were true. However, it could also be consistent with views other than the framework position.”232 Framework proponent Robert Godfrey even acknowledges that this fourth argument does not have the same significance as the other arguments: “Here we will simply note that while the ‘two-register cosmology’ is present in Scripture, it is not clear that it is a helpful key with reference to the days of Genesis 1. Genesis 1:2 focuses our attention on the earth, not on the heavenly realm. From that focus follow the days of Genesis 1, which are all about the creation of the visible world, including the creation of day itself” (emphasis added).233
Irons and Kline themselves agree that the two-register cosmology is an explanation to justify a metaphorical understanding of the temporal elements in Genesis 1:1–2:3, rather than an exegetical supporting argument: “Taken together the two triads and the ‘because it has not rained’ argument are sufficient to show that the framework interpretation lays claim to a solid exegetical foundation. However ... two-register cosmology explains the significance of the nonliteral nature of the time indicators in Genesis 1 within the overall cosmological teaching of Scripture” (emphasis added).234 Briefly stated, Kline’s two-register cosmology is more of a synthesis of his preceding theses with an explanation from Kline’s understanding of biblical cosmology to justify the metaphorical nature of the temporal elements. The substance of Kline’s two-register cosmology rises or falls on the substance of the first three major premises addressed in this two-part critique. If the three theses are unconvincing, then the two-register cosmology is also not a credible justification for the time indicators of Genesis 1:1– 2:3 to serve as metaphors for upper register time. Since this two-part critique has responded to each of the framework’s three theses, my concluding objective is to demonstrate that there is no biblical distinction between heavenly and earthly time.
Time indicators and metaphorical language
According to framework defenders, the time indicators are either anthropomorphisms or metaphors used as references to a divine time schedule.235 For example, Blocher has referred to the creation week as an “anthropomorphic expression,”236 and N. H. Ridderbos described “creation in six days” as an “anthropomorphic mode of expression.”237 Ross sees the temporal indicators as metaphors or analogies.238 Returning to Irons and Kline’s reputed five upper register elements in Genesis 1:1–2:3 that have corresponding parts in the lower register of earth, they describe this relationship as being fundamentally analogical: “The upper register is an archetype, and the lower register is an analogical replica of the upper register.”239 As just noted, their argument, therefore, is that the use of days, evenings, and mornings in the creation account are earthly metaphors that describe figurative, heavenly time.240 If the time indicators related to the creation account, such as day, evening and morning, can be proven to be figurative as framework proponents contend, Genesis 1:1–2:3 is a nonchronological, topical account.
However, the framework’s identification of the specified time markers in the creation account as metaphors is inconsistent with the use of these same temporal expressions in other Old Testament narratives. As has been argued in the first part of this critique, the 55 uses of waw consecutive in Genesis 1:1–2:3 demonstrate that this pericope is clearly a narrative prologue that introduces the narrative of Genesis. 241 It was further shown that the singular “day,” יוֹס, “day,” when not part of a compound grammatical construction, is invariably used in the Old Testament for literal days.242 Again, when the singular “day,” יוֹס has a numeric qualifier and is part of a sequential scheme, which occurs in two other Old Testament narratives, “day,” יוֹס is a literal day and is set apart from the other numbered days in the sequential scheme.243 In addition, “evening” and “morning” are used 19 times in the Old Testament, excluding 6 uses in Genesis 1, and 38 times without “day,” יוֹס. In each case, “evening” and “morning” refer to literal days.244 The Old Testament evidence clearly shows that the specific time markers used in Genesis 1:1–2:3 are undeniably used to refer to literal, earthly time in all other contexts.
How is the literal view of the creation week to be harmonized with the anthropomorphism of God’s rest in Genesis 2:2–3 and Exodus 20:11, as well as God being “refreshed” in Exodus 31:17? Is God’s formation of man out of the dust of the ground in Genesis 2:7 another anthropomorphism? My argument in supporting a literal interpretation of the creation week does not deny that the normal use of language includes the use of figures of speech such as anthropomorphisms. Since God is the infinite Creator and man the finite creature, God has condescendingly given special revelation about himself to those created in his image. Of necessity, the infinite Creator would need to use analogies to convey truth about himself to man. Additionally, since the infinite Creator knows everything originally and exhaustively, including the use of human language, he has accommodated himself to use the medium of human language with its various metaphors in such a way that he truthfully and accurately conveys his special revelation to his image bearers. This suggests that, when God uses an anthropomorphic analogy to describe himself, there is some point of comparison made about his person or nature so that man can comprehend the analogy. To recognize that language used by God’s image bearers contains metaphors and anthropomorphisms is not incompatible with a literal interpretation of Genesis 1:1–2:3 since the goal of a literal hermeneutic is to interpret a given text the way it was originally written. And this task is accomplished through a historical and grammatical hermeneutic which interprets literal expressions literally and figurative expressions figuratively. As such, a literal hermeneutic recognizes the use of metaphors and anthropomorphisms; however, it also recognizes that when a text has the marks of a literal narrative, it interprets the text literally. The traditional view of Genesis 1:1–2:3 has been the literal interpretation.245
In Genesis 2:7 God’s formation of man from the dust of the ground uses a verb that elsewhere refers to a potter’s activity (“formed,” יצֶר formed). God directly created Adam at a specific time on Day 6 from the dust of the ground.
God’s rest in Genesis 2:2–3 does not mean that God was exhausted and needed rest to rejuvenate himself. The reference to God’s rest is clearly anthropomorphic. As has already been noted, the comparison with God’s rest is to show that God had ended his week of creative activity. God’s rest, cessation from creative work, in vv. 1–3 is the foundation upon which the fourth commandment in the Decalogue is based: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the 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” (Exod 20:11). God did his creative work on Days 1–6 and ceased from his work on Day 7. The point of this command is for man to shape his weekly schedule to conform to the first week in temporal history (Gen 1:1–2:3), rather than God having shaped his week of creative activity to conform to man’s work week. What does this suggest about narrative in Genesis 1:1–2:3? At the minimum, Weeks states, “there has to be some sort of divine activity which man can imitate. Further than that, it has to be an activity that is adequately represented by a pattern of six days of work and one of rest. Here the framework theory is shown to be untenable. For it alleges that the seven days of Genesis 1 are only a framework to describe events. God’s activity did not have that form. How then could man imitate God’s activity in the weekly cycle if God’s activity was not originally as described in Genesis 1?”246
This interpretation of God’s rest indicates that, at the end of the creation week, God ceased from his creative activity, while necessarily continuing to work in providence. However, the problem with this interpretation, according to framework supporters, is that it does not explain God being “refreshed” in Exodus 31:17: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”247 Since God needs neither rest nor refreshment, both expressions are anthropomorphisms. However, framework advocates maintain that for any literalist to recognize this point is to concede that God speaks analogously: “Literalists must admit that the command is still valid because there is an analogy between God’s rest and man’s, even if there is not exact identity .... But if the literalists recognize that the nature of the rest is not identical to man’s, why not recognize the same thing with respect to the duration of the rest? If the nonliteral interpretation of the divine refreshment does not invalidate the Fourth Commandment, neither does a nonliteral interpretation of God’s seventh day.”248 Irons and Kline’s argument is that if “refreshed” is an analogy, and clearly not equating man’s refreshment with God’s, then the temporal statements in both Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 must also be an analogous. Unfortunately, this is an invalid comparison of apples and oranges. “We know,” as Pipa unmistakably avers, “God needs no rest so we look for the comparison. The phrase expresses the great delight God took in contemplation of his handiwork.”249 In the final analysis, anthropomorphisms are used in Scripture to describe God’s person and nature; however, there are no clear examples of anthropomorphisms used to describe days, evenings, or mornings, unless Genesis 1:1–2:3 is the exception.
A false dichotomy between heavenly and earthly time
Kline’s framework position argues that as there is a spatial/ dimensional distinction between the heavenly upper tier and the earthly lower tier so there is also a temporal distinction between the heavenly and earthly registers. This two-register cosmology “demonstrates that while the days are not ordinary solar days,250 neither are they simply a literary figure having no referential connection to objective reality because they are as real as the upper register of which they are a part.”251 Kline’s two-register cosmology, which he claims provides an “umbrella” under which his earlier arguments can be subsumed, 252 gives an answer to a charge that Young had perpetuated from G. C. Aalders. In responding to Noordtzij’s figurative days in Genesis 1, Aalders charged that Noordtzij’s figurative understanding of the days in Genesis 1 had no reality behind the figure.253 Kline’s two-register view of reality seemingly provides an answer to this claim;254 however, there are two reasons why identifying the objective reality behind the creation days cannot be heavenly upper register time.
First, the basis for Kline’s analogous relationship between the two temporal schemes is tenuous. Irons and Kline’s identification of five spatial/dimensional upper register elements that are replicated in the lower register raises questions at each point of correspondence. Initially, v. 1 does not say that God created “the invisible realm of the divine Glory and angelic beings.”255 While it is certainly true that the Creator, the uncaused Being, formed the realm of the created, which includes visible and invisible, v. 1 does not equate the heavens with an invisible realm and the earth with a visible realm. Verse 1 simply indicates that God created the initial substance that comprises the entire universe. This was the beginning of the space and time continuum. Over the course of the following five days of creative activity, God would bring his initial creation to completion with his focus on earth where his image bearers were to reside. Even the sun, moon, and stars created on Day 4 have some connection with the earth and its inhabitants. The point is that the corresponding relationship between the heavens and earth in v. 1 does not have the clarity that Irons and Kline maintain. Can an analogous relationship exist between the socalled heavenly, invisible realm and the visible earth, when the text does not specify that the heavens in v. 1 be clearly identified with the invisible realm? Moreover, the relationship between the Spirit and the “deep” in v. 2 is unconvincing. The focus of v. 2 is unambiguously on the earth and not the supposed upper register.256 Does this verse or any other indicate that the reference to the Spirit in v. 2 is contextually connected with the upper register? How does this correlate with the Spirit’s immensity and omnipresence? Rather than taking the Spirit’s moving over the surface of the deep as a reference to an analogous relationship between the upper and lower register, it would be preferable to say that the omnipresent Spirit was preserving God’s just-created, unformed and empty, water-covered earth. While Genesis 1:1–2:3 emphasizes God’s transcendence, 1:2 also says something about his immanence.257 In addition, though framework advocates recognize the fiat-fulfillment scheme in Days 1–6, their focus on the fiats (“let there be” or an equivalent) occurring in the upper register and corresponding fulfillments (“there was,” “it was so” or a corresponding expression) in the lower register258 says something the text of Genesis 1:1–31 does not say. The eternal God himself, without any hint that he dwells in the upper, invisible realm, spoke the fiats. Rather than the relationship between fiat and fulfillment being simply one of analogy, the textual focus in vv. 1–31 is one of cause and effect. The self-existent triune God, who cannot be confined to the created realm, whether visible or invisible, actually spoke his creative activity (fiat), and his fiat was immediately and effectively accomplished (fulfillment). Does the creation account’s fiat-fulfillment scheme sound like an analogy reflecting a two-tiered view of the created cosmos? In reality, Genesis 1:1–2:3 suggest a two-tiered view of Creator and creation, but not a two-layered spatial/dimensional upper and lower registers within the created order. The framework’s spatial/dimensional relationship is not explicitly taught in Genesis 1:1–2:3.
Furthermore, Irons and Kline’s analogous relationship between the divine council of God deliberating with his angels in Genesis 1:26 (“Let Us make”) and man being “created in the image not only of God but also of the judicial council which is a central feature of the upper register”259 is misleading. According to Irons and Kline, “man is a lower-register counterpart to the judicial authority of God and His angels in the upper register.”260 Though their correlation of “Let Us” in v. 26 with God addressing an angelic host is accepted by a number of commentators, many commentators take a dissenting view.261 Irons and Kline’s identifying the image of God as including God’s judicial council with angels has far less support from commentators.262 Because of the Creator-creation distinction, there is an analogous relationship between God and man. What is questionable is the connection of God who along with his angels dwells in the upper register and man as their lower register counterpart. Biblically speaking, man is not made in the image of God and his angels who dwell in the upper register. Man is in the image of God (Gen 1:26, 27, 9:6).
Finally, Day 7 does not clearly indicate that it is an ongoing day. Since Day 7 has been taken by some to be an ongoing period, Day 7 in the framework view segues from a spatial/dimensional upper and lower register to a temporal distinction. “If the seventh day,” according to Irons and Kline, “was unending and eternal, it certainly cannot be an ordinary, lower-register day. But if the seventh day is an upper-register day, the entire week of which it is an integral part must be an upper-register ‘week’ as well.”263 As I have previously argued, the evidence from Genesis 2:2–3 and Exodus 31:17 does not support interpreting Day 7 of Genesis 2:1–3 as an ongoing day. I also further contended that the omission of the “evening-morning” conclusion in vv. 1–3 is an argument from silence; and the appeal to Hebrews 4 is invalid because it assumes what needs to be proven.
Consequently, the five areas of spatial/dimensional correspondence between the heavenly and earthly registers raise a number of questions. Two concluding items give me pause with Kline’s two-register cosmology. To begin with, Irons and Kline’s spatial/ dimensional dichotomy between the realms of the heavens and the earth allows for God to be confused with the localized manifestations of his being and operations in the space-time continuum.264 The Creator in Genesis 1 is the triune God of Scripture who in his immensity and omnipresence manifests his presence uniquely in the invisible realm of the created, while also concurrently manifesting his presence in realm of the visible creation. The triune God manifests his presence in the invisible and visible heavens in a way that is distinct from his presence on earth.265 Because the framework view uses the two-register cosmology primarily to locate God in the upper register, the framework allows for confusion about God’s immanence and omnipresence in Genesis 1:1–2:3.2266 Moreover, this two-register grid is superimposed on the text of Genesis 1:1–2:3. This is to say, it is a grid that is not explicitly taught in Genesis 1:1–2:3. Therefore, the spatial/dimensional distinction between the upper and lower registers cannot be harmonized with a contextual understanding of Genesis 1:1–2:3.
Second, Kline’s comparison between a spatial/dimensional two registers and a bifurcated temporal scheme is invalid for three reasons. At the start, Scripture neither explicitly teaches nor implicitly hints that there are two different temporal schemes in the created order. As we have seen, when the singular noun “day” is not part of a complex grammatical construction, it is consistently used in Scripture to refer to a normal day, or a portion thereof. The words evening and morning are used either independently or together in excess of 50 times in the Old Testament and these terms are never used to refer to anything other than literal time.267 Irons and Kline cavalierly dismiss the argument about the use of these lexical items as immaterial. In particular, they say, the lexical data related to “day,” יוֹס, is “irrelevant. It misses the basic point that the critical question is not the meaning of yom but the nature (literal or metaphorical) of the total image of the week of days.”268 Of course, their argument is that days are “part of an extended chronological metaphor. In all metaphors, words are employed to make a comparison between a literal referent and a metaphorical referent.”269 Accordingly, literal, earthly days are used analogously in reference to figurative, heavenly days. “Terms properly used to denote lower-register units of time have been appropriated to refer to upper-register time. Because the Holy Spirit intentionally and quite fittingly employed terms with lower-register significance to describe upper-register realities beyond our ordinary experience. Thus, the word yom in Genesis 1 denotes an ordinary, lower-register, solar day. Yet it is being used metaphorically to describe an upper-register unit of time that is not defined by the earth’s rotation with respect to the Ssun [sic].”270 If the framework argument about the two-register time is so clearly intended by the Holy Spirit, why is it that the literal words “day,” “evening” and “morning” are never used this way anywhere else in Scripture? Further, how is it that in the history of doctrine the Holy Spirit’s clarity on this subject has been missed until the last half of the twentieth century?271 Perhaps, the biblical teaching about the perspicuity of Scripture is also a metaphor!272
In reality, doctrine has not changed over the course of Church History. What has primarily changed in the last couple of centuries has been the way fallen man defines and uses science. Unfortunately, even professing evangelicals have been influenced by our world’s insistence that “science” teaches an old earth model. While some evangelical scholars explicitly argue for an old earth cosmology,273 Kline has crafted out a modern exegetical reinterpretation of the creation account that allows for an old earth model. Though Irons and Kline claim that those who accept the framework view need not espouse a particular view about the age of the earth,274 this claim is hollow. Perhaps, the best that can be said about this claim is that the explicit argumentation used to support the framework position does not deal with the precise subject of the earth’s age. Nevertheless, in actuality, three items imply that the “unargued presupposition” of the framework is an old earth model. At the outset, if Genesis 2:5 teaches that ordinary providence operated exclusively during the creation period of 1:1–2:3, this suggests that the creation period involved an extended period of time. This may be inferred from Kline’s assertion: “Gen. 2:5 reflects an environmental situation that has obviously lasted for a while; it assumes a far more leisurely pace on the part of the Creator, for whom a thousand years are as one day. The tempo of the literalists— reconstructed cosmogony leaves no room for the era-perspective of Gen. 2:5.”275 This certainly allows for an old earth model that is billions of years old.276 Furthermore, Kline has implied a presumed commitment to modern scientific opinion when he states that traditional interpretations of the creation account are guilty of creating a conflict between the Bible and science.277 In actuality, a literal interpretation of the creation week is in conflict with Kline’s interpretation of Genesis 2:5.278 Finally, in a context affirming his acceptance of Scripture’s authority about Adam’s federal headship, Kline states the following: “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.”279 In the final analysis, an old earth model shaped by our evolutionary age provides the matrix in which the framework view has been conceived.280
If we did not live in this current age, could framework advocates even have dreamed of using “day,” “evening” and “morning” as metaphors referring to heavenly time, as if in the realm of the Creator there is any temporal sequence?281 From my perspective the complex framework interpretation could not have been conceived because there is no scriptural reason to think that the temporal markers of Genesis 1:1– 2:3 could be taken in any way other than a literal use. Since outside of Genesis 1:1–2:3, there is no support for the complicated framework view, the only way to conceive of this view is to say that the actual text of Genesis 1:1–2:3 has historically been misinterpreted and a new enlightened exegetical solution gives the correct interpretation. At the end of the day, there is no biblical reason, as Jordan incisively avers, “to think that heavenly time has a differently ticking clock from earthly time. There is no evidence in the Bible for such a notion, however it may be expressed.”282
In addition, some framework advocates falsely assume that a two-register spatial view of cosmology implies that time also has a twofold scheme. The framework position says that Genesis 1:1–2:3 has five spatial/dimensional upper register features that are analogously replicated by five comparable lower register elements. As their argument goes, from the inception in Genesis 1:1 to its conclusion in 2:1–3, the spatial/dimensional distinction between the upper and lower registers pervades the creation account. “At each point, the upper register has been replicated in a lower-register analogue, thus charging the lower register with meaning that will later be tapped in biblical images of the upper register. The use of lower-register language to describe the upper register is well established, not only in Scripture generally, but in the creation account specifically.”283 Since the two-register pattern is clearly seen in the spatial/dimensional scheme, Irons and Kline’s contention “is that the days and the evenings and mornings are to be explained as further examples of lower-register language being used metaphorically in description of the upper register.”284 My contention is that the temporal features of the creation account are not “further examples” of lower register metaphors describing upper register time. Not only does Scripture not imply that the temporal markers are used as metaphors to refer to heavenly time, but we have an example in Exodus 24:16–18 where God works within the time frame of normal days. According to Kline, the Spirit, who dwells in the upper register, is pictured in Genesis 1:2 as hovering over the lower-register earth. Since Deuteronomy 32:11 also used the irregular term hover (רַחֵף), this suggests that the theophanic cloud, “the Shekinah, the theophanic cloud of glory,”285 who led Israel through the wilderness, is identified as the Spirit of Genesis 1:2. This suggests “the Spirit of Genesis 1:2 represents the upper-register dimension, while the deep over which the Spirit hovers is the lower register.”286 When this same theophanic cloud appears in Exodus 24:16–18, this cloud moved according to earthly time. This is seen in v. 16 where the theophanic cloud covered Mount Sinai for six literal days and on the seventh literal day the LORD called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. In v. 18 Moses climbed the mountain and entered the cloud for “forty days and forty nights.” Because the numerous references to this passage assume a literal interpretation,287 this clearly has the Spirit of the upper spatial/dimensional register moving according to earthly, literal time.288 Though passages such as Colossians 1:16 clearly reflect that there is a distinction between the visible and invisible aspects in the spatial realms of creation, none of these passages indicate that there is a similar temporal distinction. When God manifested his presence in the theophanic cloud, it was “the heavenly realm,” as Jordan notes, “inserting into the earthly. But this means that God marches in earthly time along with his people .... Thus, even if there were two kinds of time, God chooses to come into earthly time and move with it. And since Genesis 1 has to do with the lightening, forming, and filling of the earth, it has to do with earthly time.”289Consequently, it is invalid to assume that a two-register spatial view of cosmology implies that time also has a twofold scheme.
As a final point, while Scripture is clear that God created the heavens, the earth, and all things therein, including the visible and invisible over the course of six literal days, the framework’s two-register cosmology is a grid that is superimposed on the creation account. Based upon Kline’s questionable spatial/dimensional distinction in Genesis 1:1–2:3, a dichotomy between an upper and lower time is erected. If the foundation is questionable, then the superstructure is also tenuous.
Summary and conclusion
This article is the conclusion of a two-part critique of the framework interpretation of the creation account. In the first article, the framework position was summarized by developing four major theses of the framework position followed by an evaluation of the first thesis. The four major theses are (1) the figurative nature of the creation account, (2) the creation account controlled by ordinary providence, (3) the unending nature of the seventh day, and (4) the two-register cosmology. In evaluating the framework’s first thesis, three arguments were used to show that this thesis was at best tenuous. This concluding article has evaluated the remaining three theses.
In examining the framework’s second thesis, we investigated the immediate context of Genesis 2:5, the surrounding context of vv. 4– 25, and the wider context of Scripture. In terms of the immediate context of v. 5, we looked at the heading in v. 4 and the literary context of vv. 5–7. While providing a link to the preceding pericope through its vocabulary, the use of תֹולְדֹות in the heading of v. 4 indicates that that the pericope it introduces was designed to expand on what had been addressed in the cosmogony of 1:1–2:3. Because 2:5 immediately follows v. 4 and is part of a syntactical unit that sets up the main narrative line that begins with the first waw consecutive in v. 7, v. 5 supports the complementary nature of vv. 4–25, rather than serving as a hermeneutical grid, as Kline has argued, that reinterprets the cosmogony of 1:1–2:3. Additionally, the literary context of 2:5–7 shows that vv. 5–6 give background information for the narrative sequence that is initiated in v. 7 with the first of 21 waw consecutives that develop the narrative thread in this unit. The contextual setting reveals that 2:4–25 is tightly connected to 3:1–24, that it describes the formation and fall of humanity in their paradisiacal environment in Eden, and that, finally, its contextual setting is Day 6 of the creation week. In keeping with this contextual setting, the references to geography and vegetation in v. 5 were taken restrictively, rather than globally, as references to the environment in Eden as it anticipated the Fall in 3:1–24.
In reference to the surrounding context in Genesis 2:4–25, our focus was on the development of the narrative sequence in vv. 7–25. I demonstrated that the first waw consecutive in v. 7a (“formed”) begins the mainline narrative sequence that is continued by a tight sequence of five more waw consecutives in vv. 7b–9. While this tight sequence is briefly interrupted by a series of circumstantial clauses in vv. 10–14, the narrative sequence is resumed with a waw consecutive in v. 15a (“took”) and subsequently advances to its conclusion with 14 other waw consecutives in vv. 15b–25. In identifying the uses of waw consecutive in vv. 7–25, 17 were classified as examples of a sequential use, two as a resumptive (twice in v. 15), one as a pluperfect (v. 19a), and the final one as a consequential use (v. 25). The alleged problems for a sequential understanding of the narrative thread in vv. 4–25 are three examples of temporal recapitulation: two resumptive uses in v. 15 and one pluperfect in v. 19a. It was demonstrated that the pericope of 2:4–25 is defined by the mainline sequence of 17 sequential waw consecutives. This shows that the narrative line in vv. 4–25 is essentially a chronological account with three examples of waw consecutive reflecting temporal recapitulation and one example reflecting a consequential use.
Concerning the wider context of Scripture, we considered the framework’s dismissal of extraordinary providence in the creation narrative. With this examination, I demonstrated that the framework’s dismissal of extraordinary providence is in conflict with 1:1–2:3, with the overall tenor of Scripture as it relates to miracles, and with a proper understanding of the analogy of Scripture. Initially, a closer look at divine providence in the creation week revealed that this period was characterized by extraordinary providence and that during this period God established the conditions so that at the end of this week the earth could fully function according to ordinary providence. Additionally, the “unargued presupposition” of v. 5 that demands that God worked exclusively through ordinary providence in the creation account was found to be unconvincing since God has not limited himself to work exclusively through ordinary providence in biblical history. Finally, the appeal to the analogy of Scripture with Genesis 2:5 was found questionable. Rather than using a recent questionable interpretation of a difficult text like 2:5 to reinterpret 1:1–2:3 as a nonliteral text, Scripture’s overall message about creation, including 1:1–2:3, should have the major interpretative force in understanding a difficult text like 2:5.
The evaluation of the third thesis demonstrated that neither the omission of the evening and morning conclusion nor the use of Genesis 2:2 in Hebrews 4 furnished unequivocal support for the seventh day being an unending, figurative day. In contrast, the omission of the evening and morning conclusion, along with explicit reference to God’s cessation of creative activity and his specific blessing on Day 7, shows that this day was a specific, literal day that concluded the first literal week in the realm of the creation.
In assessing the fourth thesis, the framework’s argument is that as there is a spatial/dimensional upper and lower register so there is also a temporal upper, heavenly, and lower, earthly register. It was argued that the analogous relationship between heavenly and earthly time was faulty because the basis of the comparison is unconvincing. The framework’s five points of contact in Genesis 1:1–2:3 between the spatial/dimensional upper and lower registers cannot be contextually supported in this text. The spatial/dimensional upper and lower register was a grid read into the creation narrative and not an actual part of the textual substance of this narrative. As such, the comparison was fundamentally flawed. Furthermore, the bifurcation between heavenly and earthly time was questionable since Scripture never hints that there is twofold scheme to time; and when God works in the created realm, he operates according to the earth’s temporal scheme.
The theological and exegetical arguments used to support the framework interpretation have been set forth and evaluated. Rather than the exegetical evidence of Genesis 1–2, as well as the rest of Scripture, supporting the framework view, the evidence is consistent with the historic literal day interpretation of the creation account. The impetus for the framework view is an attempt to merge the biblical creation account to the modern scientific view of cosmogony. In this attempt, it stretches the creation account beyond where it fits as a straightforward exegesis of Genesis 1:1–2:3. Such exegesis demands that we accept the narrative account of Genesis 1:1–2:3 as it describes God’s supernatural work in creating the universe in six, sequential, 24-hour days, followed by a 24-hour day of cessation from creative activity. Finally, rather than demonstrating a distinction between heavenly and earthly time, the creation account shows a distinction between the creature and the Creator who is not circumscribed the limits assigned to him by framework advocates.
is Professor of Old Testament at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary in Allen Park, MI.