Re: History of 6000 Year old creation

From: Allen Roy (
Date: Wed Jul 10 2002 - 02:40:32 EDT

  • Next message: Michael Roberts: "Re: History of 6000 Year old creation"

    Here are some paragraphs from Gerhard F. Hasel, "The 'Days'of Creation in
    Genesis 1: Literal 'Days' or Figurative 'Periods/Epochs' of Time?" in
    "Creation, Catastrophe, and Calvary" edited by J. T. Baldwin, 2002, Review
    and Herald Publish Association.

    pg. 42

    Some Medieval Understandings of Creation 'Days'

    The Alexandrian curhc father Origen, an accomplished practitioner and
    defender of the allegorical method of interpretation, has received credt for
    being the first to understand the creation "days" in an allegorical and
    nonliteral manner.

    Augustine, the most famous of the Latin fathers, followed Origen in arguing
    that we should approach the creation "days" allegorically rather than
    literally. Scholars understand Augustine to teach that God created the
    world in a single flash of a moment.

    At this point it seems appropriate to reflect on some methodological
    matters. Neither Augustine nor Origen had any evolutionary concept in mind.
    They took the creation 'days' as nonliteral, standing for something else,
    because it was philosophically mandatory to assign to God creation activity
    unrelated to human time. Sine the 'days' of creation are God's work, they
    argued, such 'days' have to be representative of philosophical notions
    associated with God taken from their philosophical perspectives.

    Greek philosophy regards God as timeless. Since the creation 'days' are
    part of divine activity, the two church fathers assumed that they also
    should be understood in a timeless sense. Philosophy, not scientific
    speculation, influenced the thinking of Origen and Augustine, leading them
    to reinterpret the creation 'days.'

    What this approach has in common with modern attempts, which also take the
    creation 'days' to mean something other than what the face value of the
    terminology seems to suggest, is that both derive from influences outside
    the biblical text itself. Medieval theologican, who assumed the creation
    'days' to be nonliteral, based in on nonbiblical, pagan philosophical mods
    of thinking.

    pg. 42

    Today still another influence from outside the biblical text leads
    interpreters to change what seems to be the plain meanding of 'days.' At
    present a naturlistically based scientific hypothesis, the modern theory of
    evolution, prompts such changes.

    The Alexandrian allegorical method of interpretation shaped the thinking of
    medieval CAtholic theologican. They adapted the fourfold sense of Scripture
    for medieval times, one that still has support in current official Roman
    CAtholicism. The three nonliteral meanings of the fourfold sense of
    Scripture (i.e., allegory, anagogy, and tropology) dominated Christendom for
    more than a millennium, providing the hermeneutical means for the
    reinterpretation of the literal sense of the creation 'days.'

    Reformation Understanding of Creation 'Days'

    The sixteenth-century Reformers agreed that the fourfold sense of Scripture
    compromised the literal sense of the Bible, making its authority for faith
    and life null and void. They insisted that the single, true sense of
    Scripture is the literal sense, the plain meaning of the text.

    One of the major achievements of the Protestant Reformation was the return
    to Scripture itself. It meant that Scripture has no need of an external key
    for interpretation--whether that key be the pope, the church councils,
    philosophy, or any other human authority. Scripture's prespicuity became
    the norm of the day. Protestantism considered a reading from within its own
    context as paramount. We must not superimpose external meaning on it, as
    had been the practice during medieval Catholicism. Rather we should
    approach the Bible in its literal and grammatical sense.

    Martin Luther, accordingly, argued for the literal interpretation of the
    creation account: "We assert that Moses spoke in the literal sense, not
    allegorically or figuratively, i.e., that the world, with all its creatures
    , was created within six days, as the words read." The other Reformers
    understood the creation 'days'
    in the same way. Such literal and grammatical interpretation, sometimes
    call the historical-grammatical method, remaind the norm for biblical
    interpretation more or less into the nineteenth century.

    Changes Under the Influence of Modernism

    As the concept of long time periods made its way into the understanding of
    earth's origins in the wake of the publications of James Hutton and Charles
    Lyell, some Christian concordist interpreters started to interpret the
    Genesis 'days' of creation in a nonliteral manner. The Bible itself did not
    demand it, but rather the new worldview of uniformitarianism and its concept
    of origins that required long periods of time.

    pg. 43

    The understanding of the creation 'days' as 'days of restoration,' 'days of
    revelation,' aside from taking a 'day' for an 'age' ('day-age' theory) or an
    epoch/era, goes back to this period and the changes in time frames required
    by the new geology. A nonliteral reinterpretation of 'days' was typical of
    concordists who had accepted long ages for the origin of earth. In view of
    such developments, we cannot avoid concluding that the need to provide for
    geological ages became the catalyst for the reinterpretation of the 'days'
    of creation.

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