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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Is the Revelational Day Theory?

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Don Stewart
Another theory understands the days in Genesis as neither a literal twenty-four hour creative period nor long periods of time. This view teaches that God revealed His creative work in a series of visions over a six day period. This is known as the Revelational Day theory. The Genesis account is not a record of what God performed in six literal days but rather records the six days in which He revealed His creative acts to Moses. Bernard Ramm, who espoused this view, comments.

We believe . . . that creation was revealed in six days, not performed in six days. We believe that the six days are pictorial-revelatory days, not literal days nor age-days. The days are means of communicating to man the great fact that God is Creator, and that He is Creator of all (italics his) (Bernard Ramm, A Christian View Of Science And Scripture, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1954, p. 151).

Consequently, each creative day recorded in Genesis would not constitute that which God created, but that which God revealed to Moses. Therefore there is no chronology of creation in the Genesis account.

Written On Tablets

There is another view which is similar to the vision hypothesis. This says that God revealed the six days of creation not by means of a vision, but rather by means of a historical narrative written on six tablets. P.J. Wiseman details the theory.

(1)The six days divided from each other by an evening and morning, do not refer to the time occupied by God in his acts and the duration of the process of Creation.
(2)The six days refer to the time occupied in revealing to man the account of creation.
(3)God rested (lit. ceased) on the seventh day not for his own sake but for man's sake, and because this revelation about Creation was finished on the sixth day, not because of that day (or period) the creation of the world was finished.
(4)The narrative of Creation was probably written on six tablets. Later, it also appears to have become the custom in Babylonia to write the story of Creation on six tablets.
(5)There is good and sufficient evidence to show that the first page of the Bible is the oldest document which has come down to us (P.J. Wiseman, Clues To Creation In Genesis, London, Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1977, p. 110).

If the days are only revelatory, then we have no indication of time in the Genesis creation account. Therefore the earth and the universe could be millions of years old or relatively young. The text simply does not comment on the matter.

Difficulties With The Revelational Day Theory

Though this view nicely avoids all the problems of attempting to ascertain whether the days of Genesis were literal or symbolic, it does have weaknesses.

1.Not Natural Reading

It is unlikely this view would have been set forth had there not been a problem with harmonizing the text of Genesis with the theories of modern science. A natural reading of the text would not make one think of these days as being revelatory, but rather one of historical narrative. There is, therefore, nothing in the text that gives any hint that this theory is true.

2.Language Of Narration

The language of Genesis is that of historical narration, not of dramatic vision. There is nothing in the context to suggest that the days were revelatory days rather than literal days, of whatever length, in which God actually created.

3.Exodus 20

Exodus 20:11 seems to oppose the idea of revelatory days by stating that God made the heavens and the earth in six days.

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in it, and rested on the seventh (Exodus 20:11).

Those holding the revelational day view translate the Hebrew verb asah in Exodus 20:11 as showed rather than made. However, nowhere does this verb have the idea of reveal or show.

4.Not Usual Way

The use of visions to record the past is not the usual way in which the Bible speaks. Daniel chapter seven would be the only other example of God using this method.

5.The Fourth Commandment

The fact that God told people to rest upon the seventh day because He rested after six days of work assumes some type of chronological sequence of creation.

Summary On Revelational Day Theory

If the revelatory day theory were true, then it would solve several problems facing us in the Genesis creation account. We could understand yom to mean literal days in Genesis 1, but still have an ancient earth and universe. This would nicely harmonize the Bible and science. Though this view is certainly possible, the evidence is scanty.

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