Framework interpretation (Genesis)
- This article focuses on the views of certain Christian commentators and theologians. For a more general account of the topic, see Genesis creation narrative.
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The framework interpretation (also known as the literary framework view, framework theory, or framework hypothesis) is an interpretation of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis which holds that the seven-day creation account is not a literal or scientific description of the origins of the universe, 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.
While based primarily on exegetical considerations, the framework interpretation also attempts to synthesize knowledge of historical and cultural conditions out of which the text arose, as well as a theology of general revelation. It has been advanced in modern times by scholars such as Meredith G. Kline and Henri Blocher and has the support of commentators including Gordon Wenham. It stands in contrast to literalist approaches to the Genesis text.
Theology of the framework 
Two triads and three kingdoms 
|This section relies on references to primary sources. (November 2010)|
Genesis 1 divides its six days of Creation into two groups of three ("triads"). The introduction, Genesis 1:1-2, "In the beginning ... the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep...", describes the primal universe containing darkness, a watery "deep", and a formless earth, over which hovers the spirit of God. The following three days describe the first triad: the creation of light and its separation from the primal darkness (Gen.1:3-5); the creation of the "firmament" within the primal waters so that the heavens (space between the firmament and the surface of the seas) and the "waters under the firmament" can appear (Gen. 1:6-8); and the separation of the waters under the firmament into seas and dry land with its plants and trees. The second triad describes the peopling of the three elements of the first: sun, moon, and stars for the day and night (Gen. 1:14-19), fish and birds for the heavens and seas (Gen. 1:20-23), and finally animals and man for the vegetated land (24-31).
|First triad||Second triad|
|Day 1||Let there be light (1:3).||Let there be lights (1:14).||Day 4|
|Day 2||Let there be an expanse to separate water from water (1:6).||Let the water teem with creatures and let birds fly above the earth (1:20).||Day 5|
|Day 3||Let dry land appear (1:9).
Let the land produce vegetation (1:11).
|Let the land produce living creatures (1:24).
Let us make man (1:26).
I give you every seed bearing plant...and every tree that has fruit with seed in it...for food (1:29).
Framework theologians observe that the first and fourth day of creation appear to have many similarities which leads them to conclude that these are two descriptions of one single event: the creation of "light and darkness" and "day and night". A critical analysis of the passage reveals that on the first day God "separated the light from the darkness" and "called the light day, and the darkness He called night" (Gen 1:3-5), which is repeated again on the fourth day when God created the two great lights in order "to separate the light from the darkness" and "to separate the day from the night" (Gen 1:14-19).
|CREATION KINGDOMS||CREATURE KINGS|
|Day 1: Light||Day 4: Luminaries|
|Day 2: Sky/Water||Day 5: Birds/Fish|
|Day 3: Land/Vegetation||Day 6: Land animals/Man|
|THE CREATOR KING|
|Day 7: Sabbath|
Using the interpretation of the first and fourth days, framework advocates argue the similarities between the days indicates the days progress in topical rather than chronological order. It appears parallelism is the method the author of the creation account used in order to describe God's work, not in a way that was intended to be read literally. In this sense, the creation account serves a greater role in purpose as revelation rather than simply to give a historical account of the events of creation.
Differences exist on how to classify the two triads, but Meredith G. Kline's analysis is suggestive: the first triad (days 1–3) narrate the establishment of the creation kingdoms, and the second triad (days 4–6), the production of the creature kings. Furthermore this structure is not without theological significance, for all the created realms and regents of the six days are subordinate vassals of God who takes His royal Sabbath rest as the Creator King on the seventh day. Thus the seventh day marks the climax of the creation week.
Other considerations 
Historical and cultural 
||This section improperly uses one or more religious texts as primary sources without referring to secondary sources that critically analyze them. (August 2010)|
The text of Genesis was written in the historical and cultural context of the Ancient Near East. Historians now know that this setting was characterized by a milieu of competing world-views, deities and theories about creation. Framework advocates argue that the author of Genesis constructed his creation account with the intention of combating these various animistic, pantheistic and polytheistic ideas. For example, the sun and the moon are deliberately not mentioned by their names because, in Old Testament times, some people worshipped the sun and the moon as gods (Gen 1:16). The author thus portrays the one true Elohim (the God of Israel) as supremely transcendent and sovereign over creation. The details of the account serve this end, rather than to satisfy the scientific curiosity of the modern era. Accordingly, it is argued that literalists who wish to derive scientific data from Genesis are committing the hermeneutic error of interpreting the text outside of its original context.
Literary genre 
Many theologians concur that Genesis 1 represents a unique literary genre which differs significantly from the later, straightforward narrative sections of Genesis. The text has been described[by whom?] as being "full of repetitive formulae and quasi-poetic language". Suggested designations for the genre include "mytho-historical", "proto-historical" and "theological history". The semi-poetic nature of the text is used as an argument against taking it literally and in favour of the framework view.
Differences between Genesis 1 and 2 
An exegesis of the first two chapters of Genesis reveals two distinct creation accounts with conflicting chronologies.The first account, which uses the Hebrew word Elohim in reference to God, places the creation of man and woman on the sixth day, at the very end of creation. In contrast, the second ("Yahwist") account (which begins in chapter 2 verse 4) has plants, animals and birds created after the man.[unreliable source?][broken citation]
Supporters and critics 
The framework interpretation is held by many theistic evolutionists and some progressive creationists. Some argue that it had a precedent in the writings of the early church father St. Augustine. Others claim Augustine was a young earth creationist. Dr. Arie Noordzij of the University of Utrecht was the first proponent of the Framework Hypothesis in 1924, which was made more popular by Herman Ridderbos decades later. It has gained acceptance in modern times through the work of such theologians and scholars as Meredith G. Kline, Henri Blocher, and Bruce Waltke.
"It has been unfortunate that one device which our narrative uses to express the coherence and purposiveness of the creator's work, namely, the distribution of the various creative acts to six days, has been seized on and interpreted over-literalistically… The six day schema is but one of several means employed in this chapter to stress the system and order that has been built into creation. Other devices include the use of repeating formulae, the tendency to group words and phrases into tens and sevens, literary techniques such as chiasm and inclusio, the arrangement of creative acts into matching groups, and so on. If these hints were not sufficient to indicate the schematization of the six-day creation story, the very content of the narrative points in the same direction."
— Gordon Wenham
The framework view has been successful in the modern era because it resolves the traditional conflict between the Genesis creation narrative and science. It presents a scholarly alternative to literalistic interpretations of the Genesis narratives, which are advocated by some conservative Christians and Creationists at a popular level. Creationists who take a literalist approach have laid the charge that Christians who interpret Genesis symbolically or allegorically are assigning science an authority over that of Scripture. Advocates of the framework view respond by noting that Scripture affirms God's general revelation in nature (Ps 19, Rom 1:19-20), and therefore in our search for the truth about the origins of the universe we must be sensitive to both the "book of words" (Scripture) and the "book of works" (nature). Since God is the author of both "books", we should expect that they do not conflict with each other when properly interpreted.
The framework interpretation is rejected by some biblical scholars, such as James Barr, Andrew Steinmann, Robert McCabe, and Ting Wang,. It is also not supported by some systematic theologians, including R.C. Sproul, Wayne Grudem, and Millard Erickson, who deem it an unsuitable reading of the Genesis text.
See also 
- Kline, "Space and Time," p. 6.
- "Creation", New Bible Dictionary third edition, Inter-Varsity Press 1996
- Geoghegan, Jeffrey; Homan, Michael M.; Schultz, Karl (2003). The Bible for dummies. Indianapolis: Wiley. pp. 39–40. ISBN 0-7645-5296-1.
- Davis A. Young (1988). "The Contemporary Relevance of Augustine's View of Creation". Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 40 (1): 42–45. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
- Benno A. Zuiddam (2010). "Augustine: Young Earth Creationist". Journal of Creation 24 (1): 5–6.
- Robert V. McCabe (2005). "A Critique of the Framework Interpretation of the Creation Account (Part 1 of 2)". Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 10: 19–67.
- Wenham, Gordon J. (1987). Genesis 1-15. Waco, Texas: Word Books. pp. 39–40. ISBN 978-0-8499-0200-0.
- Don Batten (editor), Ken Ham, Jonathan Sarfati, and Carl Wieland. "Did God really take six days?".
- Berry, R. J. (2003). God's book of works: the nature and theology of nature. Edinburgh: T & T Clark. ISBN 0-567-08915-0.[page needed]
- Dr Don Batten, Dr David Catchpoole, Dr Jonathan D. Sarfati and Dr Carl Wieland. "Is Genesis poetry / figurative, a theological argument (polemic) and thus not history?". Creation Answers Book. Creation Book Publishers.
- Dr. Douglas Kelly. "Creation and Change: Dr. Douglas Kelly - Book - Christian Living, Controversies in the Church, Creationism". Ligonier Ministries. Retrieved 2012-02-06.
- Grudem, Wayne A. (1994). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester: Inter-Varsity. pp. 302–304. ISBN 978-0-310-28670-7.
- Erickson, Millard J. (1998). Christian theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. pp. 407–408. ISBN 0-8010-2182-0.
- Henri Blocher (1984). In the Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 978-0-87784-325-2.
- Mark Futato (Spring 1998). "Because it Had Rained: A Study of Genesis 2:5-7 With Implications for Genesis 2:4-25 and Genesis 1:1-2:3". Westminster Theological Journal 60 (1): pp. 1–21. (Also reprinted in Reformed Perspectives Magazine: part 1 and part 2.)
- Lee Irons (January 2000). "The Framework Interpretation: An Exegetical Summary". Ordained Servant 9 (1): pp. 7–11.
- Lee Irons with Meredith G. Kline (2000). "The Framework Interpretation". In David G. Hagopian (ed.). The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the "Days" of Creation. Global Publishing Services. ISBN 978-0-9702245-0-7.
- Meredith G. Kline (May 1958). "Because It Had Not Rained". Westminster Theological Journal 20 (2): pp. 146–57.
- Meredith G. Kline (1996). "Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony". Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith (48): pp. 2–15.
- Bruce K. Waltke with Cathi J. Fredricks (2001). Genesis. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-22458-7.
- Tremper Longman III (2005). How To Read Genesis. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 978-0-87784-943-8.