Three Interpretations of Genesis 1

In preparing for John Walton’s book, The Lost World of Genesis One, I had to refresh myself in the different interpretations of Genesis 1. I am doing this in preparation of Walton’s book review, which I hope to have done on Monday:

Literalism

This interpretation involves a very literal understanding of the first chapter of Genesis in which there is (usually) no large separation of time between Genesis 1.1 and 1.2; furthermore, ‘days’ are actual 24 hour days. However, there is a division between Young Earth Creationists and those that hold to the Gap Theory. Further, some understand the ‘days’ to be scientific epochs or ages.

Framework

The framework interpretation (also known as the literary framework viewframework theory, or framework hypothesis) is an interpretation of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis which holds that the seven-day creation account found therein is not a literal or scientific description of the origins of theuniverse; rather, it is an ancient religious text which outlines a theology of creation. The seven day “framework” is therefore not meant to be chronological but is a literary or symbolic structure designed to reinforce the purposefulness of God in creation and the Sabbath commandment. (Wiki; Check out more here.)

Allegorical

Supporters of this view generally take this portion of Genesis as historical allegorical, tending to believe in a theistic evolution. They see Genesis as a reinterpretation of ancient Near Eastern myths.

An example of this last one is seen from a recent email on the Versions message board:

Gen 1:3 And God said, “Let there be” light: and there was light.

“Let there be”. Yet the Sun predates the Earth in cosmic history! Unless you are
a Geo-centric flat earther. God is “light”! Does this mean God allowed the Sun’s
rays to penetrate the primordial darkness that covered “the face of the deep”?

Gen 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and
let it divide the waters from the waters.

Notice that “let there be” again! The atmosphere begins to take shape and much
of the primordial ocean begins to evaporate and precipitate while volcanic
action causes land masses to appear. Polar ice caps appear as the earth cools
down exposing even more “dry land”! The higher elevations begin to accumulate
snow.

Did this all occur in one rotation of the Earth? Or millions of years? GOD is
eternal, what is a million years to him?

Gen 1:11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed,
and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon
the earth: and it was so.

How about that! GOD says “let the EARTH bring forth”! The Earth brings forth
vegetation that uses “light” to produce oxygen from the carbon dioxide and
carbon monoxide gas produced by the volcanic action! How ingenious! So far GOD’s
finger hasn’t touched a thing. The basic elements are all there! nothing has
been produced from nothing in this account so far!

What’s next?

Gen 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to
divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and
for days, and years:

Did this mean that the Moon and Stars did not exist until this moment? Hardly!
The atmosphere cleared enough that they could be seen from the “dry land”! The
Stars are almost as ageless as GOD himself! And the Moon was a captive satellite
long before it was visible from the surface of the Earth!

Gen 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving
creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open
firmament of heaven.

Notice GOD says “Let the waters bring forth”! The oceans were the primordial
“soup” that brought forth the basic building blocks of life! From single cell
organisms that developed into more and more sophisticated organism with many of
these diverse organisms leaving the water environment and began to inhabit the
vegetated dry land! From reptiles eventually birds appear! These organisms are
all based on the same biological model, lungs, gastro-intestinal system, brain
and reproductive systems! They are all related in development!

Gen 1:21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth,
which “the waters brought forth” abundantly, after their kind, and every winged
fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

This is a good statement! “God created…every living creature…which the
waters brought forth”! Just what does this mean? GOD willed it, the Waters did
the work!

Gen 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his
kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it
was so.

Again, “Let the earth bring forth”! It must be mentioned that every creature is
made up of all the mineral elements of the Earth and lots of water!

Now to the grand finale!

Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed
into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

It would seem that all of the raw materials were there.
Nothing was “created” out of nothing. Isn’t it understood by creationist that
“create” means to bring into existence from nothing”! May I remind you all of
the raw materials where all there! Man was not created from nothing! “POOF”!

Sounds a lot like “Evolution” by “intelligent design”! Well thought out by the
mind of GOD and directed by his supreme will!

Do you believe that our solar system was created in 144 literal hours?

What has been described above took many millions, perhaps billion of years to
come into being! But remember GOD is Eternal what’s a billion years to him?

Do you believe that GOD hand formed every animal and both humans of clay an
breathed air into their little mouths and “poof” they came to life?

All within one cycle of the Sun (24hrs)?

I have a hard time seeing “Young Earth Creationism” in the first two chapters of
Genesis. The fall of man is a totally seperate issue.

Gen 1:26 And God said, Let Us make man according to Our image and likeness, and
let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the flying creatures
of heaven, and over the cattle and all the earth, and over all the reptiles that
creep on the earth.
Gen 1:27 And God made man, according to the image of God He made him, male and
female He made them.
Gen 1:28 And God blessed them, saying, Increase and multiply, and fill the
earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the seas and flying
creatures of heaven, and all the cattle and all the earth, and all the reptiles
that creep on the earth.
Gen 1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given to you every seed-bearing herb
sowing seed which is upon all the earth, and every tree which has in itself the
fruit of seed that is sown, to you it shall be for food.
Gen 1:30 And to all the wild beasts of the earth, and to all the flying
creatures of heaven, and to every reptile creeping on the earth, which has in
itself the breath of life, even every green plant for food; and it was so.

These “males” and “females” predated the Garden of Eden.

Gen 2:7 And God formed the man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul (nephesh, pyscen).

Gen 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature (nephesh,
psycen = soul) after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the
earth after his kind: and it was so.

The living creatures were also “formed” of the dust of the earth and received
the breath of life and became living souls.

Gen 2:15 And the LORD God took the (?) man, and put him into the
garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

In this verse a single man is referred to even though GOD “formed” both males
and females prior to the Garden account!

This also would account for Adam and Eve’s children to take mates without
committing incest and how Cain could build a “city”. Adam was only one out out a
multitude of males and females. That is if you can believe what the bible itself
says!

You might also want to check this out as well.

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10 Replies to “Three Interpretations of Genesis 1”

  1. Sounds a lot like “Evolution” by “intelligent design”! Well thought out by the
    mind of GOD and directed by his supreme will!

    That’s childish nonsense. You will never hear a biologist invoke a magic god fairy (intelligent designer) to explain the history of life.
    The mechanisms of evolution include natural selection, sexual selection, and genetic drift. Biologists do not consider magic (also known as Mr. God) to be a mechanism of anything.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if one day Christians grew up and joined the rest of us here in the 21st century.

  2. Amen Joel, to your comment!  I would be a version of “framework” myself, but closer to the ID position. We called it Neo-Orthodox in my time. My father was a physicist (RIP). I am an old earth guy myself.

    Fr. R.

  3. I love St. Paul’s quote in 2 Cor. 4:6, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (ESV, by the way..)
    Wow, “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God…in the face of Jesus Christ” !!!   As Philo said, the unfolded fulness of the divine (manifested powers) and coincides with His self-revelation – “shone in our hearts”; Indeed, “glory”!

    Fr. R.

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