I was soon disappointed for I didn’t hear a reasoned defence of their position but merely a statement that Packer himself finds the framework position to be the best and that “I for one find it irresistibly convincing. See book Henri blosch . A Conservative Calvinist. ‘In the beginning’ a picture of a weeks work celebrating the fact of creation.”
Packer does lay out in general the three common views towards Genesis 1. Of the third view he says:
The third view is the way almost unanimous by OT scholars today Roman Catholic or protestant, liberal or conservative. Take view that this account is on the face of it a quasi liturgical celebration of the fact of creation rather than science in disguise. The argument for this – is from its literary form, it’s literary genre, a narrative of celebration where literary repetition contributes to it’s effect. “And God said, morning and evening, let there be” etc. also the parallel between days 1,4; 2,5;3,6.
Well, that’s very schematic, formal, it doesn’t read like allegorical science but rather like a hymn with choruses, [ here taking phrases as choruses gw ] it is a prose passage of course but seems fair from literary standpoint that it’s a prose poem. Those who understand it this way, 6 days are just part of the picture, as is the other bits, it is just speaking of the fact of creation, pictured as a weeks work, the thrust is to teach proper attitude to God because of creation, thanks and praise, so “meet the creator” not how created. it’s as if Moses, and I will take it as Moses until better instructed, [Jesus said it was as did Paul - gw] has a strategy of putting it as a week of work is so it [ fits ] the exodus commandment of Sabbath. This view of how to read Gen 1 used to be called framework, but now called literary hypothesis. I for one find it irresistibly convincing. See book Henri blosch . A Conservative Calvinist. ‘In the beginning’ a picture of a weeks work celebrating the fact of creation. Genesis seems to have no interest in giving a scientific account as we know it. Just the fact to rejoice in.
Let’s unpack what Packer says here:
First, he doesn’t say that his hermeneutic is putting genre as the deciding criteria of the meaning of a passage above the grammatical historical investigation which provides the basis for deciding upon the genre in the first place. We need to be aware that this is exactly what he is doing here. See his statement “a quasi liturgical celebration of the fact of creation rather than science in disguise. The argument for this – is from its literary form, it’s literary genre”.
Secondly, I thoroughly agree that Genesis 1 doesn’t read like allegorical science. However after agreeing it is a prose passage he calls it a prose poem. This would need careful argument and those that propose it don’t succeed in justifying it. All I have read agree it is not Hebrew poetry, and I would merely ask you to compare Gen 1 with clear Hebrew poetry of two Creation passages Job 38:8-11 and Psalm 104:5-9 in the bible to see the standout differences. To mention repetitive phrases does not mean they are strophe’s of poetry. And the suggested parallelism between Days 1/4 2/5 3/6 fails on matters of material correspondence. By which I mean that the created concerns of the different days actually overlap into other days as well.
I don’t deny that Genesis 1 declares God as Creator and ought to be thanked and praised and adored. However that doesn’t mean God is not teaching us things we need to adhere to. Even those with different interpretations of Genesis 1 assume this. For example some see in Genesis 1 statements that reject the worldview and beliefs of those pagans in the Ancient Near East. Such as plurality of gods, the religion of pantheism etc. And to this I would agree. Further I think it’s a false dichotomy to say that it is about “meet the Creator”, not “How He created”.
Lastly, it is strained to say that Moses’ strategy was to place creation in a 6 day frame so as to fit the Sabbath commandment of Exodus. It is to not seriously deal with the argument of the Sabbath since it requires a literal 24 hour day for the Sabbath commandment to work. Of course I recognise the quick rejoin that the framework of 6 days in Genesis 1 are merely a literary device for that Sabbath argument, however that argument relies upon accepting the genre argument of Genesis 1 as true to begin with and this has not in my opinion be sustained.
PS - I value much of what J I Packer has written elsewhere, it's just that on this tape on Genesis I think there are serious problems with his limited argument.
To God be the Glory