Does it matter to you if the Bible tells us how the world was created or just that it was created? If it does, the following article should bring your spiritual temperature to the boiling point. The following theory was surreptitiously taught to me while I attended classes in a Christian college. Show your sensitivity to such attacks on your beliefs by searching for an answer that is scripturally sound, and then send your opinion or contribution to die Beacon Lights.
While studying the story of creation recorded in Genesis 1-2, I found many differences between Genesis 1-2:4 and Genesis 2:4-25. For example, in Genesis 1-2:5 there is (1) a statement of fact, “And God said, Let there be light.” (2) An orderly account of creation in a seven day sequence. (3) A sequence of creation beginning with light and ending with man, and (4) many repetitious phrases. Compare this to Genesis 2:4-25 here there is: (1) No statement of fact, but an explanation, see Genesis 2:4. (2) No mention of the days on which things were created. (3) No sequence from man’s creation to women, and (4) no set pattern of phrases.
Why are there these differences? What reasons could there be? Why would Moses write the same story in two styles? Perhaps Moses in writing the Pentateuch first wrote the law and then wrote the reason for the law: namely creation and the fall. Accepting the above makes the differences understandable. If Moses did write Genesis after he wrote the law, creation would be seen in the light of Israel’s redemption, the Exodus. Then the account of creation became a theological confession that God is Creator as well as Redeemer. If this is the purpose of the creation account, then it matters little how creation took place. It matters only that it did take place and God is Creator. Genesis 1-2:4 and Genesis 2:4-25 combine with their differences to become one theological confession written by Moses in a literary framework declaring God to be Creator.
Moses was influenced by the society he lived in and by the literature of his day, just the same as we are. The form Moses used to convey the creation account was the Jewish workweek he lived in, six days of work and one day of rest. Also the writings of Moses’ contemporaries, the Babylonians, show similarities in form to Genesis.
“Both accounts of creation (that in Genesis and that in Enuma elish) mention a watery chaos …. The basic concept of heaven and earth is essentially the same . . ., and the sequence of creation acts is essentially the same: light, firmament, dry land, luminaries, and man, with God or the deities resting at the end of creation.” These similarities prove Moses was writing Genesis 1-2:4 in the literary form of his day. By comparing the creation account to the Jewish work week and the Babylonian writings we realize we must distinguish between faith and form. We accept as faith that God is Creator but acknowledge the how of creation to be in a literary form.
Moses was not writing to make the study of biology, geology, botany, etc. unnecessary. He was writing a creed of faith that God is Creator. This is what we must believe, that God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis is not telling us how the world was created, don’t make the “how” an article of faith. New facts on the “how” of our world are always being discovered. Accept God as creator and don’t be concerned with scientific facts which may weaken your faith. Believe only the infallible, inspired Word of God.
If the literalists still need further proof, examine Psalm 105:31 and 34 compared to Exodus 11:12-13. Here as in Genesis “and God spoke” simply means God has all power.
The view of creation I have just explained is called the literary framework theory. In summary, this theory holds that God created the heavens and the earth because the infallible Word tells us this. It also defends the believer from scientific attack since it gives him a creed to cling to. If you are a thinking and conscientious Christian, creation becomes a beautiful article of faith when viewed in the light of the literary framework theory. 1
- Arnold B. Rhodes, The Mighty Acts of God (Richmond, Virginia, 1964), p. 29.