Order of Creation

Paul Adams (ADAMS_P@msb.flint.umich.edu)
Wed, 19 Jun 1996 17:08:41 EDT

On June 10, 1996 Fred Phelps wrote the following:

>The main problem with the topical interpretation seems to be that
>temporal order is suggested by the days being numbered one through six.
>I believe any valid interpretation of Gen 1 needs to explain both the
>days and the above topical pattern. And, for this believing
>semi-scientist, it needs to be compatible with an old earth. Both
>Blocher's and Glenn's views seem to pass this test although I wish
>Blocher or someone would go into more detail when they argue that the
>days are a "literary devise".

The first creation account in Genesis had two major purposes: to
establish a theology of God as Creator and to establish a temporal
pattern for human life. The first purpose is accomplished by building a
pyramid of topics culminating in the creation of mankind. The second
purpose is accomplished by placing the topics within the context of a
work week. Here God is modeling the kind of work/rest cycle that man is
to have. A standard interpretation is that it represents God's activity

The main evidence for this comes from the treatment of the seventh day in
which God is said to have "rested" from his work. This suggests an
anthropomorphic intent because God does not literally need to rest.
However, rest could simply mean the cessation of activity--an
interpretation that would be consistent with a literal interpretation of
the creation week.

Elsewhere in the Old Testament the usage of "rest" in Gen. 2:3 is
clarified. Exodus 31:17 states, "...in six days the Lord made heaven and
earth, and on the seventh day he rested, *and was refreshed.*" Thus, rest
did not just mean the cessation of work but that God was rejuvenated,
just like man would be after working a hard week.

The treatment of the seventh day is obviously anthropomorphic. And if the
seventh day is intended this way, so likely is the whole week. (Blocher
covers this perspective briefly on p. 48.)

Paul A. Adams
Biology Department
University of Michigan-Flint
Flint, Michigan 48502-2186