From: Robert Schneider (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Oct 09 2002 - 23:47:24 EDT
On this question of the meaning of "day" in Genesis 1, I quote from Gordon
Wenham's "Word Biblical Commentary" Genesis 1-15:
1:5: "There can be little doubt that here "day" has its basic sense of
a 24-hour period. The mention of morning and evening, the enumeration of
the days, and the divine rest on the seventh show that a week of divine
activity is being describe here. Elsewhere, of course, "in the day of" and
similar phrases can simply mean "when". Ps. 90:14 indeed says that a
thousand years are as a day in God's sight. But it is perilous to try to
correlate scientific theory and biblical revelation by appeal to such texts.
Rather, it is necessary to inquire more closely into the literary nature of
Gen. 1 and whether chronological sequence and scientific explanation are the
narrator's concern" (I, p. 19).
From the "Explanation" section: "Finally, at best, all language about
God is analogical. Words used to describe him and his acts must inevitably
be human words, but they do not have quite the same meaning when applied to
him as when they refer to men. In speaking of God as father, we do not
assign him all the attributes of human fatherhood. Similarly, in speaking
of his creating the world in six days, we do not identify his mode of
creation with human creativity nor need we assume his week's work was
necessarily accomplished in 144 hours. By speaking of six days of work
followed by one day's rest, Gen. 1 draws attention to the correspondence
between God's work and man's and God's rest as a model for the Sabbath, but
that does not necessarily imply that the six days of creation are the same
as human days."
"The Bible-versus-science debate has, most regrettably, sidetracked
readers of Gen. 1. Instead of reading the chapter as a triumphant
affirmation of the power and wisdom of God and the wonder of his creation,
we have been too often bogged down in attempting to squeeze Scripture into
the mold of the latest scientific hypothesis or distorting scientific facts
to fit a particular interpretation. When allowed to speak for itself, Gen.
1 looks beyond such minutiae. Its proclamation of the God of grace and
power who undergirds the world and gives it purpose justifies the scientific
approach to nature" (I, p. 39-40).
Maybe the inspired writer(s) of Gen. 1 is(are) more subtile than we are
able to discern. Yes, "yom" in this context means a 24-hr. day, but the
writer is giving the revelation that the Sabbath rest is built into the very
nature and structure of the universe from the very start. Yet "day" has
another purpose, to provide a framework for the organization of the
creation, not, as Wenham says, a chronology of 144 hrs. I think ancients
like Augustine and moderns like Conrad Hyers are correct to see the
framework of Gen. 1 as topical, not temporal. We sometimes forget that
words always appear in a context, and in their context they may be
multivalent in conveying meaning. That may make some souls anxious,
prefering to believe that the words of Scripture mean one thing only, but
that is not the way language works.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Hassell, Ian C." <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, October 09, 2002 5:01 AM
Subject: RE: Who lied? Moses or God?
> Can anyone validate Jan's statement below? I believe I've read recently
> that of the different usages of the word "day" in the OT, there is a
> definite difference between literal and figurative. I don't have the
> capabilities to research the Hebrew on this, but I'd be interested in
> I think Jim's question is worth some research.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jan de Koning [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2002 4:38 PM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: Who lied? Moses or God?
> At 09:41 PM 07/10/2002 +0000, Jim Eisele wrote:
> >Recently a question dawned on me. How do you reconcile a non-day-age
> >or a non-YEC view with the OT? Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 both claim that
> >God told Moses creation took six days.
> >Some take the position that Gen One is not historical. How can you
> >do that and not destroy the entire OT?
> >Jim Eisele
> >Genesis in Question
> The word used for day, is in other places or long periods of time. Even
> English: "the day of the industrial revolution." (Probably more often
> used years ago, when I grew up.)
> However, even then you run into difficulties. Therefor I believe, that
> Gen. 1-11 is more an indication of what happened than an accurate
> description in our modern sense of the word. Language use changes, as
> anyone who studies history and for example ancient or medieval language
> can testify.
> Jan de K.
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