In 1949 E. J. Young Was A Framework Man

The work of creation is composed of an hexaemeron, or period of six days, coming to a majestic climax in the resting of the Creator on the seventh day. The length of these days is not stated but a certain correspondence of them may be observed. Thus:


1. Light 4. Luminaries
2. Firmament, division of waters 5. Birds, fishes
3. Dry land, vegitation 6. Animals, man

…But Genesis does not teach that the earth is the center of the universe or solar system. It is geocentric only in a religous sense; not for an instant can its accurate statements be regarded as out of harmony with true science.


Edward J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (London: The Tyndale Press, 1949), 50–51.



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    • Paul,

      Thomas Aquinas saw a framework in Scripture in the 13th century and he was almost certainly not the first. The Framework is not a scientific theory. It is a literary pattern. Which scientific theory bewitched Aquinas? Was Young bewitched by science when he criticized the Framework in the 1960s? Perhaps your theory is flawed?

      • Maybe I misunderstood Young’s Framework for the Framework Hypothesis that denies six, ordinary 24 hour days of Creation. The Framework Hypothesis is a scientific theory which I understand to ascribe long periods of time to each of the six days of Creation in order to reconcile the Biblical, historical narrative with the current “understanding” of the origin and evolution of the universe. If 1500 or so years before Christ Moses was giving the Israelite nation a history lesson, I don’t see how he could have expected his people to understand “Yom” to be anything but a literal 24 hour day (which was their only “day” experience).

        • Paul,

          The Framework interpretation has nothing per se to do with the age of the earth or the length of the creation days. It merely recognizes the rulers/realms pattern in the creation narrative.

          Speculation about the length of the creation days is an extra-biblical question, which the text of the holy Scriptures does not address.

          • I disagree that the length of a “Yom” is an extra-Biblical question. Is the length of a “Yom” used anywhere and everywhere else in the OT an extra-Biblical question?

              • That He rested on the seventh Yom means He began to rest at the period immediately following the end of the sixth day. The Yom there is just a way of saying that place in time “beginning immediately after the end of the sixth day”. It isn’t given to express a duration of time, merely the location of the beginning of an event (His rest). His rest from all His Creation works continues till now and until “time will be no more”.

                    • It’s this figurative:

                      8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

                      9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

                      10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

                      11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11, KJV)

                    • Paul,

                      I agree that the Yom in Gen 2:4 is figurative. So, we come to this. The 6/24 view asserts that the sunless mornings and evenings of days 1-3 are “literal” or “normal” (per one ecclesiastical declaration) but yet they typically recognize that day seven is endless and figurative.

                      Can you see how this does not seem entirely coherent to someone who is not already convinced a priori of the 6/24 position?

                    • Paul,

                      That’s amusing but I’ve seen really good men, sound, orthodox, and confessional rejected by presbyteries (or nearly so) because they did not hold to 6/24 creation. In that light it seems fair to ask if the ground for that rejection is coherent, don’t you think?

  1. Westminster Confession of Faith: Section 3 “Providence”

    GOD in his ordinary providence makes use of means,(10) yet is free to work without,(11) above,(12) and against them,(13) at his pleasure.

    (8) Acts 2:23. (9) Gen. 8:22; Jer. 31:35; Ex. 21:13; Deut. 19:5; 1 Kings 22:28,34; Isa. 10:6,7. (10) Acts 27:31,44; Isa. 55:10,11; Hos. 2:21,22. (11) Hos. 1:7; Matt. 4:4; Job 34:10. (12) Rom. 4:19–21. (13) 2 Kings 6:6; Dan. 3:27.

    • Ron,

      Amen! Tell it to the guys who want to make 6/24 creation the rule of orthodoxy.

      as I read genesis one there was light without a sun for three days. if so, that is a great example of God operating apart from or beyond the ordinary.

  2. Psalm 90 KJV Lord, You Have Been Our Dwelling Place
    1{A Prayer of Moses the man of God.} Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
    2Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
    3Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.
    4For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
    5Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
    6In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
    7For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.
    8Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
    9For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.
    10The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
    11Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.
    12So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
    13Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.
    14O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
    15Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.
    16Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.
    17And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

    2 Corinthians 6:2
    King James Version
    2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

    Days are important.

    • Tim,

      Yes, days are important? Did anyone say they weren’t?

      The point here is that the dean of conservative, inerrantist, Old Testament scholars, in the mid-20th century affirmed the existence of a literary framework in Genesis 1. He also believed that days were important.

  3. Westminster Confession of Faith: Section 3 “Providence”

    GOD in his ordinary providence makes use of means,(10) yet is free to work without,(11) above,(12) and against them,(13) at his pleasure.

    (8) Acts 2:23. (9) Gen. 8:22; Jer. 31:35; Ex. 21:13; Deut. 19:5; 1 Kings 22:28,34; Isa. 10:6,7. (10) Acts 27:31,44; Isa. 55:10,11; Hos. 2:21,22. (11) Hos. 1:7; Matt. 4:4; Job 34:10. (12) Rom. 4:19–21. (13) 2 Kings 6:6; Dan. 3:27.

    What is evident, is there is no contradiction between what occurred during Creation and the norm of what is consistently set forth in Scripture as the number of days in a week and how many hours were in each during creation and now after (although the catastrophic effects of the fall have affected even time itself.). So it is that the Lord, who created all things and by him and for him are all things created, did so by bringing normal days into existence before the natural causes that normally act as makers of day and night existed. So it is the non-Christian scientists as well as Christian scientists attest that the earth is young and provably so and that such propositions must not be determined to be false. Nevertheless, creation is easily made according to the plain sense of the words in the historical narrative similarly to the fact that Jesus made water in to wine within minutes in contrast with a natural process that takes much time.

    • Ron,

      Show me where Scripture cares about the age of the earth.

      You’re entitled to your opinion but you’re not entitled to try to make it into a confessional issue. The churches do not confess a view of the age of the earth.

      Of course God is free to act extraordinarily, which the Genesis narrative suggests he did by creating light before there was a sun but it’s still nonsense to talk about “science” in one breath and 24-hour days in the absence of the sun in the other.

  4. Well, I appreciate your opinion but don’t agree with it at all. The Confession states what it states. And the Lord cares about the age of the earth. The historical narratives attest to it, the didactic teachings in the Scripture side with it and the genealogies that are stated clearly in Scripture support it. Why? It is a divine defense of the need to preserve the veracity of the Scripture and protect it from those who would destroy it unwittingly or not.

  5. I don’t have a strong dogmatic opinion about the meaning of “day” in Genesis but I have always wondered if day doesn’t mean day, does Savior mean what we commonly think the word Savior means? Isn’t this kind of a slippery slope where everything in the Bible becomes metaphorical?

    • Bob,

      Is there any indication in a text of Scripture that the word “Savior” is used figuratively? Isn’t our job as interpreters of Scripture to pay attention to what the authors (the human author and the Holy Spirit) intend to say? This isn’t arbitrary. We can read a text and see the inherent indicators of intent.

      There are, after all, figures of speech in Scripture. In Genesis 6 God is said to repent. Did he literally repent? If we say yes, then we are saying that God is mutable (changeable). Isaiah 51:9 speaks of the “arm of the Lord.” Ps 33:18 speaks of the “eye of the Lord.” Deus 9:10 speaks of the “finger of God.” We could go on. God is said to have, in Hebrew, a nose, feet, hands, etc. Now, we have two choices. We can say that these are literal expressions, in which case we join the ancient heretics, the Anthropomorphites and the Mormons (and the Open Theist Clark Pinnock) or we can, with the Great Christian tradition, recognize that these are figures of speech.

      Our confessions recognize that these are figures of speech and that God does not literally change his mind and that he does not have “passions” (i.e., he does not suffer) or parts, i.e., that he is simple. We confess that he is immutable. This is ecumenical truth (e.g., the Definition of Chalcedon) as well as part of the Reformed confession of God’s Word.

      So, there are different genres in Scripture. Are the gospels figurative? Well, Jesus does use hyperbole quite a lot and other genres (e.g., parables) but the gospels themselves are historical narratives that do not present the same challenges as the narrative in Gen 1 & 2.

      The disciples saw Jesus’ body before it was raised and after. It was capable of being seen by mere moral eyes. Is the same true of God “speaking,” (as it were—even that is a figure of speech since literally to speak create sound waves that strike an ear drum, which presupposes creation and creatures) into nothing and creating all that is? No, it is not. No human is capable of seeing or hearing the act of creation so of course we are given ways of understanding it that may not be pressed to say more than they do.

      This is why I keep asking about “days” and lights without the sun. This is obviously extraordinary and it is meant to strike us as such. We’re supposed to be amazed. There’s no inherent indicator in the text that we’re supposed to say, “Oh sure, that happens every day. That’s just the was last Thursday.” Like the Israelites when they first heard this narrative from Moses, we’re supposed to “Well, that’s amazing. We’ve never seen light without a sun or mornings and evenings without a sun.” It is supposed to catch our attention. Again, we ought to remember the original intent of the text. This is Yahweh saying to the Israelites: “The stupid idols of the Egyptians didn’t make the world. I, Yahweh, the same God who just delivered you out of Egypt did.”

      This is why I keep asking about God “resting.” Again, we have an inherent, obvious indicator of a figure of speech. Does the use of a figure of speech about God mean that Jesus is not Savior or that he wasn’t raised from the dead? Not in a rational world where we pay attention to different ways of speaking. If I tell you that it’s “so hot outside that I could fry an egg” you have two choices: either I’m a lunatic or I’m using a figure of speech. Well, do I look like a lunatic? If I’m dressed ordinarily, not muttering to myself, and seem otherwise sane, then probably not. Then I’m probably using a figure of speech. If I then tell you that I have a flat tire, does that sound like a figure of speech? No. Flat tires happen in the world as we know it.

      Inherent indicators are real things and we use them all the time to distinguish figures of speech from literal speech and both, according to their kind, are true. Authorial intent is essential. That’s a good bit of what I’m trying to defend here. I’m amazed at ostensibly conservative Christians (not you) who seem to have abandoned authorial intent for a subjectivist, postmodern hermeneutic (way of reading texts) in defense of their position.

  6. What you say diminishes my confidence that I can really understand scripture as a non-academic. Is the Bible really for the lay Christian or must we rely on academicians to find the true meaning of scripture for us? For example, when I see the word “day”, for me the plain meaning is that it is either referring to a time period of 24 hours or the portion of that 24 hours which is illuminated. If there were no sun, time periods of 24 hours would still have meaning. That’s why I personally don’t see why we would be forced to adopt some novel definition for “day” even if the sun did not yet exist.

    • Bob,

      Do you need to be a scholar to interpret the sentence, “That car is a pistol”? I don’t think so. You know from experience that cars are pistols are two different things. One has four wheels and the other has a trigger. Thus, you reasonably infer that the sentence is a figure of speech. It’s a way of saying that the car is hot. How did you reach that conclusion? You paid attention to the signals inherent in the sentence and you thought about it.

      Scripture is no different in that regard. We don’t decide ahead of time what a text must say. We make inferences about what the text is saying based on the signals inherent in the text.

      When the text says that there “morning and evening, the first day” but there’s no sun yet we infer that we’re talking about a situation that is unusual to say the least, i.e., we’ve never seen it. Indeed, no creature has ever seen it. One need not be a scholar to draw that inference. Have you ever seen a sunless day? No.

      Have you ever seen a day that started but didn’t end? No and neither have I but Gen 2:4 describes the 7th day as beginning but there’s no end. That’s a different kind of day.

      In between days 4-7 have a sun, mornings, and evenings but lots of amazing things are still happening.

      So, what does a non-scholar infer?

      1. These are unusual days.

      2. These days are like ours, in some respects, and unlike ours in other respects.

      3. The narrative as we find it doesn’t seem very interested in our questions so perhaps our questions, which are less driven by the text of Scripture and more driven by apologetics (i.e., the need to defeat Evolutionary theory etc) are not the right questions. Asking Gen 1-2 to answer questions that arose after modern paleontology (the study of really old things) is what creates these problems.

      Sometimes, in Scripture, “day” does signal days as we experience them but sometimes (and you know this well) “day” does not. How long will the “day of the Lord” (Acts 2:20; 1 Cor 5:5)? Who knows? It’s a bad question. It’s clearly a figurative use of “day.” When Paul says he labored “day and night” (2 Thess 3:8) is he speaking literally or hyperbolically? Probably the latter. Biologically we can’t go literally “day and night” for very long without passing out.

      The problem here isn’t that this is too difficult. The problem is that after a little reflection, a frequently made claim about the word day in Gen 1-2 can be shown to much less certain than it was.

      No one is forcing you to do anything except think and you are quite capable of doing that.

  7. The Confessional Issue about Creation from the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 4.1 “Of Creation” as it summarizes the Words of the Living Triune God:

    IT pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,(1) for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness,(2) in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.(3)

    (1) Heb. 1:2; John 1:2,3; Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; 33:4. (2) Rom. 1:20; Jer. 10:12; Ps. 104:24; 33:5,6. (3) Gen. 1:1–31; Heb. 11:3; Col. 1:16; Acts 17:24

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