Sunday, February 06, 2011

Creation Revealed in Six Days

I plan to blog in a new way this year. Instead of just listing the books I am reading monthly, I plan to post some proper book reviews, hopefully weekly.

Creation Revealed in Six Days by P. J. Wiseman

This book contains a little-known proposal on how to reconcile the narrative of Genesis 1 with geological evidence that suggests that the earth is millions of years old. There have been several different attempts at reconciliation - the Young Earth theory says that the universe was created in 144 hours and that geological dating which suggests otherwise is erroneous; the Day-Age theory suggests that the days of Genesis 1 are much longer periods of time, such as geological ages ; while the Gap Theory posits a long time between Genesis 1:1 ("In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth") and Genesis 1:2 ("And the earth was desolate and deserted"), so that the six (literal) days of creation occur when the earth is already very old. Gerald Schroeder has the ingenious theory that creation occurred in six days within the relativistic framework of the things being created, which equates to billions of years for an earth observer. Wiseman's theory is different to all of these - he argues that God revealed the story of creation to man in six literal days.

Wiseman's thesis argument rests on the hypothesis that the "generations" statements in Genesis refer to what come before rather than (as traditionally interpreted) headings for what come after. This is sometimes called the Wiseman hypothesis. Thus, Genesis 2:4 ("These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created,in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens") refers to the whole narrative from 1:1 to 2:3. Furthermore, Wiseman argues that generations means "written account" or "histories" and concludes that God's revelation of creation to man took six (literal) days.

This is an attractive theory precisely because it allows for a literal interpretation of the word "day", while at the same time accepting geological and other scientific evidence for an old earth. It is ultimately unconvincing in its argument about the word "generations" - how, for example, could Genesis 36:1 be referring to Genesis 35? Yet it does remind us that there are avenues of interpretation that we have hitherto overlooked, and ways of reconciling apparent contradictions that are still undiscovered.

The book is quite pleasant to read, although his arguments are not always clear. He does pay careful attention to the text, and that gives value to the book regardless of whether or not one agrees with his argument.

Wiseman was an Air Commodore in the Royal Air Force who became interested in biblical archaeology through his service in the Middle East. He was also the father of Donald Wiseman.

John Dekker

1 comment:

Steve Isham said...

There is more than a little of poetry in Genesis 1. And there is also a remarkable resonance with physical and biological chronology. I don't think we'll ever neatly box it.