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Don Stewart :: What Is the Literary Framework View?

Don Stewart
Another way of looking at the Genesis creation account is what is known as the literary framework view. This view holds that the days are not meant to be understood chronologically but rather logically. The days are not sequential but are rather written in a literary framework. The writer of Genesis was not intending to tell us about either the length or the order of creation.

Corresponding Days

The first three days correspond to days four through six. The first three days are days of forming while the next three days are day of filling. The comparison is as follows.

Day 1 God separated the light from the darkness. On Day 4 God placed the sun, moon, and stars in heaven.

Day 2 The sky and the waters were separated. On Day 5 God filled the water with the fish and the sky with birds.

Day 3 The dry land and the seas were separated. God also made the plants and trees. On Day 6 God made the land animals and man and woman.

Consequently the arrangement of the six days is not a chronology of what happened but rather a literary device that teaches God created all things.

Fits With Science

Since there is no chronology in the Genesis creation account, there is no need to harmonize it with modern science. There was no intention of the author to give the reader any scientific information.

Disharmony In Text

The literary view sees problems in the chronology in the Genesis account. They see a disharmony in the sequence of events in Genesis. Genesis 2:7 seems to says that God made man before He made the plants (Genesis 2:8) and animals Genesis 2:19.

Difficulties With The liteerary framework view

There are numerous problems with this view. They are as follows:

1.Not Natural Reading

The main problem with this theory is that the natural reading of Genesis is that of a chronological sequence. There is a natural build up in the account moving from the simple things to the more complex. The dry land, waters, and sky are first made and then filled with fish, birds, animals, and finally humans. This is a natural chronological progression.

Genesis 1 also gives a series of numbers with each day (Day 1, Day 2, etc.). The natural reading of this would be consecutive days.

Therefore, we find no hint that it is merely a literary device that lists creation in logical rather than chronological order.

2.The Sabbath Pattern

When God commanded humanity to work six days and then rest upon the seventh it was based upon His pattern of work.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep in holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God . . . For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day (Exodus 20:8-11).

People are supposed to imitate God by working six days and then resting on the seventh. To make any sense of this commandment, God must have worked six days and then ceased working on the seventh.

3.Days Do Not Exactly Correspond

The days do not exactly correspond as the theory is stated.

There is no exact parallel-l between Day 1 and Day 4. The lights created on Day 4 (the sun, moon, stars) are placed in the expanse that was created on Day 2, not Day 1. The expanse is not even mentioned on Day 1 but it is stated five times on Day 2 (Genesis 1:6-8). Therefore there is no parallel between Day one and Day 4 with respect to creating the expanse and then filling it.

The parallels between Day 2 and Day 5 are also a problem. The preparation for the fish and birds comes on Day 3, not Day 2. It is on the third Day of creation when God gathers the waters together and calls them seas (Genesis 1:22). On Day 5 He fills the seas with fish.

Likewise there are problems with the parallels between Day 3 and Day 6. Nothing was created on Day 6 to fill the seas that were gathered together on the third Day of creation.

Consequently, there is no precise correspondence between the first three days of creation and the last three. The literary framework is not there.

4.Try To Accord The Bible With Science

This theory, like so many others, seems to be an attempt to harmonize the Bible and science. Like other theories, it is held because of a belief in an ancient earth and universe, not because the Bible clearly says the earth is old.

5.Text Does Harmonize

This theory assumes the account of creation cannot be harmonized as it stands. However if Genesis 1 is understood as a general account of creation, while chapter two is seen as filling in the details of this general account, then there is no disharmony in the text. Genesis two does not say that man was created before the plants and animals - it is merely filling in the details previously revealed. If chapter two is understood as supplementing the information already revealed in chapter one, then there is no contradiction between the two chapters and no need to find some literary answer.


While the literary framework view allows Scripture to harmonize with the views of modern science with respect to the age of the earth, there are too many problems with the theory to make it acceptable.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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