Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony

Meredith G. Kline
Westminster Theological Seminary in California
1725 Bear Valley Parkway
Escondido, CA 92027-4128

[From Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 48:2-15 (1996)]
©1996 by the American Scientific Affiliation
[Netscape Enhanced Version]

To rebut the literalist interpretation of the Genesis creation week propounded by the young-earth theorists is a central concern of this article. At the same time, the exegetical evidence adduced also refutes the harmonistic day-age view. The conclusion is that as far as the time frame is concerned, with respect to both the duration and sequence of events, the scientist is left free of biblical constraints in hypothesizing about cosmic origins.

The opening section gives a biblico-theological sketch of the two-register nature of cosmology as presented in Scripture. The second major section shows how two-register cosmology informs and shapes the treatment of both the space and time dimensions in the Genesis prologue. It is found that a metaphorical relationship exists between the two levels; the heavenly level (upper register) is described in figures drawn from the earthly level (lower register). As for the seven-day scheme, it belongs to the upper register and is, therefore, to be understood figuratively, not literally. The point of the concluding section is that Genesis 1, on any view that identifies the narrative order with the temporal sequence, would contradict the teaching of Gen. 2:5 concerning the natural mode of providence during the creation process.

An apologia is needed for addressing again the question of the chronological 
data in the Genesis creation account. Simply put -- the editor made me do 
it. Over thirty years ago, I made an exegetical case for a non-literal 
interpretation of the chronological framework.1 In the interval, that 
approach has found increasing acceptance. Its most distinctive argument, 
derived from Gen. 2:5, has occasionally been incorporated in studies with 
similar views of the chronological issue.2 Advocacy of the literalist 
tradition, however, is as clamant as ever, and it was thought that a more 
accessible statement of my exegetical arguments could prove useful now.

In preparing the restatement another line of exegetical evidence has come to 
the fore in my thinking. It concerns a two-register cosmological concept 
that structures the whole biblical cosmogony. This idea developed into the 
main point and has become the umbrella under which the other, restated 
arguments are accorded an ancillary place here and there. My apologia 
concludes then with a claim of adding something somewhat fresh to the old 

Two-Register Cosmology

Central in biblical revelation is the relationship of God, whose dwelling 
place is heaven's glory (Ps. 115:16), to man on earth. A two-register cosmos 
is thus the scene of the biblical drama, which features constant interaction 
between the upper and lower registers.3

>From the perspective of man (more precisely, of man in his pre-Consummation 
state), the heavenly register is an invisible realm. However, heaven is not 
to be thought of as occupying a separate place off at a distance from the 
earth or even outside the cosmos. Heaven and earth relate to each other 
spatially more after the manner of speculated dark matter and visible 
matter. When earthlings experience a proleptic opening of their eyes, they 
see that the very spot where they are is the gate of heaven (Gen. 28:16, 
17), filled with heavenly chariots of fire (2 Kgs. 6:17). 
Reference to the invisible realm as “above” is simply a spatial figure based 
on a natural analogy between what is physically higher and what is more 
exalted in dignity and honor. This same analogy accounts for the designating 
of the invisible sphere by the name of the upper level within the visible 
world. Visible space is itself divided into heaven and earth (and, in 
tripartite formulations, the waters under the earth). The visible heaven 
consists of the star-studded canopy of the sky overhead, with the clouds, 
the waters that are above the earth. Taking its name from this above-section 
of visible space, supernal space (the above-section of the two-register 
cosmos) is then called “heaven.”4 Further, when the heavenly Glory is 
revealed in visible theophany, it is a manifestation in clouds and related 
phenomena. So close is the association of God's dwelling and actions with 
the visible heaven (cf., e.g., Ps. 104:2-4) that it may be difficult to 
determine in given cases whether “heaven” refers to the visible or invisible 
heaven, or both at once.5

The two-register character of biblical cosmology, relative as it is to man's 
preglorification status, is not permanent. It belongs only to the first 
stage of an eschatological movement that was integral to creation from the 
beginning and leads to a final stage of Consummation. As we trace this 
eschatological development, an important feature that emerges is the 
archetype-replica (original-likeness) relationship between the upper and 
lower registers.

>From the beginning, God's presence was peculiarly and preeminently 
associated with the invisible heaven. That was where he dwelt, the site of 
his enthronement (cf., e.g., Deut. 26:15; 1 Kgs. 8:39, 43, 49; Pss. 11:4; 
102:20 [19]; 103:19; Isa. 66:1; Matt. 5:45; 7:21). It was there that he 
manifested his Glory to the angels, the Glory that fills invisible space and 
makes it a temple, the Glory-epiphany that is itself God's temple. But 
though the invisible, upper register heaven was God's true sanctuary, the 
earth also was at the first the scene of a special visible divine presence.6 
Invisible space was the holy of holies; and visible space (visible heaven 
and earth) was a holy place. Creation was sanctified in all its spatial 
dimensions, with lower register space a replica of the upper register 
archetypal temple.

Eden was the sacred center of the earthly reproduction of the heavenly 
reality. Here in the garden of the Lord, the Spirit-Glory that fills the 
heavenly temple was visibly manifested on the mountain of God (cf. Isa. 
51:3; Ezek. 28:13 ff.; 31:8f.), the vertical cosmic axis linking heaven and 
earth. The revealed presence of the King of Glory crowning this sacred 
mountain marked the earth as a holy theocratic domain. Reflecting the 
identity of Eden as a sanctuary was the priestly responsibility assigned to 
man to guard the garden from profanation (Gen. 3:15). The sequel underscores 
this. When man forfeited his priestly role, guardianship of the holy site 
was transferred to the cherubim (Gen. 3:24). They were guardians of the 
heavenly temple throne and the extension of that function to Eden accents 
the identity of this earthly spot as a visible reproduction of the temple 

Man's fall radically affected the way the replication of holy heaven on 
earth was to unfold. As a consequence of the breaking of the creation 
covenant, the Glory-theophany was presently withdrawn and the earth, though 
still under the sovereign control of the King of heaven, was left an 
unsanctified place. Only by way of redemptive intrusion does 
theophany-centered holy place reappear in the otherwise non-holy, post-Fall 
world -- most prominently in the history of Israel.

Where sanctuary does emerge again on earth, its nature as a copy of the 
heavenly archetype is emphasized. The tabernacle and temple, restorations of 
Eden's sanctuary with a cherubim-guarded throne of God, are made after the 
pattern of the upper register temple revealed to Moses and Solomon.8 They 
point ahead typologically to the apocalypse of the heavenly temple at the 
end of the ages. At that consummation of redemptive history, prefigured by 
the Sabbath ordinance, the visible-invisible differentiation of space comes 
to an end as the heavenly Glory is unveiled to the eyes of redeemed 
earthlings, their perceptive capabilities transformed now by glorification. 
The boundary of heaven and earth disappears. All becomes one cosmic holy of 
holies. God's own Glory constitutes this final temple, the realization of 
the hope symbolized by its earthly replicas.

Redemption is a way of achieving the original telos of creation despite the 
Fall. A successful probation by the first Adam would have led through a 
cosmologically two-register history to an eschatological climax at which 
Eden's Glory would have been absorbed into the surpassing heavenly Glory. At 
the dawning of the eternal Sabbath for humanity, all space, without 
distinction any longer of upper and lower cosmological levels, would have 
become a consummate revelation of the Glory of heaven's King. Because of the 
Fall, that eschatological omega-point had to be won by the second Adam.

Two-register cosmologies left their imprint on the form of ancient graphic 
and literary materials in a variety of ways. A quite literal case of the 
two-register format is seen in graphic representations like the Assyrian 
reliefs that picture the king in a lower register, whether driving forward 
in battle or returning triumphantly,  and in a higher register the god in a 
matching stance.9 The Book of Job offers a clear instance of the shaping of 
a piece of literature by the two-layer cosmology. In the prologue, heavenly 
scenes (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6) alternate with closely related earthly scenes 
(Job 1:1-5, 13-22; 2:7-10). A similar movement from the upper to the lower 
register is found throughout the Book of Revelation. Each series of visions 
of happenings on earth is introduced by a disclosure of the heavenly control 
center of the universe, where the earthly judgments are decreed and from 
where their executive agents descend. With its characteristic opening of the 
heavens, the apocalyptic genre is a place we naturally expect to find the 
formative impact of two-register cosmology on literature. Another such place 
is a cosmogony like the Genesis prologue.

Cosmology of the Genesis Prologue

The creation prologue (Gen. 1:1-2:3) presents a theological mapping of the 
cosmos with space and time coordinates. Both these dimensions exhibit the 
biblical two-register cosmology, a construct that functions as an 
infrastructure of the entire account. And this, we discover, has a decisive 
bearing on the interpretation of the chronological data.

The Space Coordinate
Two-Register Space

Genesis 1:1. What this opening verse states is that God, in the beginning,10 
created both the upper and lower spatial spheres. “The heavens and the 
earth” is not just a merismus, a pair of antonyms which as a set signifies 
totality. The phrase rather denotes concretely the actual two components 
that together comprise all of creation. That does indeed amount to 
everything, but in translating, the separate, specific identity of each of 
these two components must be preserved. One thing demanding this is that 
verse 2, resuming “the earth” of verse 1, treats it by itself as a distinct, 
individual sphere.11

More precisely, what Gen. 1:1 affirms is that God created not just the 
spatial dimensions immediately accessible to man, but the heavens too, that 
is, the invisible realm of the divine Glory and angelic beings. This 
interpretation is reflected in the apostle Paul's christological exposition 
of Gen. 1:1, declaring that the Son created “all things that are in heaven 
and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or 
dominions, or principalities, or powers” (Col. 1:16; cf. John 1:1-3). 
Similarly Nehemiah, reflecting on the Genesis creation account, finds a 
reference there to the invisible heaven of the angels (Neh. 9:6), and the 
only possible referent is “the heavens” of Gen. 1:1 (and the reference to 
that in Gen. 2:1, if the latter summation does in fact include Gen. 1:1, not 
just 1:2-31).12

Moreover, in the context of Genesis 1 itself, the visible “heaven” or 
“firmament” (v. 8) is derived from what is called “earth” in verses 1 and 2. 
Hence, the “heavens” that are distinguished from that “earth” in verse 1 
must be the invisible heavens. This would not necessarily be the case if 
verse 1 were a summary heading for the entire account. But what Gen. 1:1 
says about “the beginning” cannot be summing up the entire process of 
creation, for the allusions to the berešît of Gen. 1:1 in Prov. 8:22, 23 
identify that “beginning” as prior to (not coextensive with) the 
developments traced in Gen. 1:2ff. Though it is an independent statement, 
Gen. 1:1 is, therefore, not a heading but a declaration concerning the 
initial phase of creation history.

Some oppose construing Gen. 1:1-2 as I have because, they insist, the phrase 
“the heavens and the earth” always signifies the finished product, the 
well-ordered, occupied universe, and hence “the earth” that appears in that 
phrase in verse 1 cannot be the unfinished, uninhabitable place called 
“earth” in verse 2.13 But contrary to this often repeated claim, in other 
appearances of the phrase “(the) heavens and (the) earth” in Scripture, the 
idea that these realms were finished and inhabited is not what is  signified 
by this phrase itself but would have to be supplied by the context. Even if 
all references after Gen. 1:1 happened to be to a heaven and earth in such a 
finished state, that would not be determinative for the Gen. 1:1 context, 
which deals with the very process of developing the product from an empty to 
a furnished condition.14 In fact, it may well be that in all the appearances 
of “(the) heavens and (the) earth” (over half of which are allusions to the 
creation account, acknowledging the Lord as the maker of heaven and earth), 
the phrase signifies precisely the invisible and the visible realms, and 
thus the whole two-register world. 

There is, therefore, no reason to resist the clear direction of Prov. 
8:22-23 for the interpretation of Gen. 1:1 as referring to an earlier 
juncture, not to a later stage when the earth had become habitable for man. 
In point of fact, though the visible realm, the “earth,” was not completed 
until the end of the creation “week,” completion of the invisible heavenly 
realm (with its angelic hosts) had evidently been accomplished “in the 
beginning.” Job 38:7 indicates that the celestial sons of God existed at the 
point in earth's development described in Gen. 1:2ff. Thus, in view of the 
close allusive relationship of Job 38 to Gen. 1, Job 38:7 also furnishes 
independent support for the interpretation of “the heavens” in Gen. 1:1 as 
the invisible sphere of the angels of God.

Gen. 1:1, therefore, states -- and how eminently fitting is this affirmation 
for the opening of the canonical Scriptures — that God in the beginning made 
the whole world, both its upper and lower spatial registers, both its 
invisible and visible dimensions, heaven and earth, all.

Genesis 1:2. Both invisible and visible space, introduced in Gen. 1:1 as 
“the heavens” and “the earth” respectively, appear again in verse 2. 
Focusing on the lower register, this verse describes the earth at an early 
inchoate stage (v. 2a and b). But it also prepares for the following account 
of how this uninhabitable world was transformed into a paradisiacal home for 
man by pointing to the God of the invisible heaven, present above the 
darkness-enshrouded waters of the earth below (v. 2c). This creative 
Spirit-Presence is depicted in avian metaphor15 as hovering in fostering 
fashion above the world. As shown (for one thing) by the striking echo of 
Gen. 1:2 in Deut. 32:10, 11, the “Spirit” here refers to that heavenly 
epiphany which is known in its manifestation within the visible world as the 
Shekinah, the theophanic cloud of glory.16 Including as it does then the 
Spirit-Glory of the temple in heaven along with the earth below, Gen. 1:2 
carries forward the two-register cosmology contained in verse 1.

Genesis 1:3-2:3. The several creative fiats by which visible space gets 
fashioned into a habitable world in the course of the six days (Gen. 1:3ff.) 
are sovereign decrees. They clearly evoke the throne of the King of Glory, 
the King invisible, the only God, dwelling in light unapproachable (1 Tim. 
1:17; 6:16). Each such fiat, therefore, signals the continuing presence of 
the upper register sphere in the panoramic scenario of the creation 
narrative. That these fiats emanate from the invisible heavens is indicated 
with particular clarity in the account of man's creation in God's image. For 
there (Gen. 1:26) the divine fiat takes the consultative “let us” form that 
reveals the setting to be the angelic council,17 the judicial assembly which 
is a regular feature in disclosures of the heavenly reality denoted “Spirit” 
in Gen. 1:2.

Another index of the continued inclusion of the heavenly register in the 
scene is the motif of the divine surveillance and judgment found in the 
refrain: “and God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). 
For repeatedly conjoined with statements that the invisible heaven is the 
site of God's temple-throne is the declaration that from there he engages in 
a judicial scrutiny of the world. From that throne “his eyes behold, his 
pupils try the sons of men” (Ps. 11:4c). It was from his throne in heaven 
that the divine Builder looked down, saw the unfolding work of his hands, 
and pronounced it “good,” that is, in perfect accord with his master plan 
(cf. Prov. 8:30, 31).

Further, the full two-register cosmology comes to expression in the 
fiat-fulfillment format, which is the basic structure of each of the six 
day-stanzas. While the “let there be” is uttered at the upper register, the 
“and it was so” occurs at the lower register. The fiat of the Logos-Word 
above is executed by the Spirit in the earth below.18

Again, and quite directly, God's throne in the upper section of the 
two-register cosmos is alluded to in statements about the Creator's seventh 
day rest, which is his heavenly enthronement (Gen. 2:2b, 3b). The earthly 
register is also included in the day seven section, for along with the 
Creator's Sabbath of royal resting above, it also contains the appointment 
of the Sabbath ordinance for human observance on earth below (Gen. 2:3).19

Table 1. Two-register Space in Genesis Prologue

                        Verse 1     Verse 2     Days 1-6        Day 7
Upper              heaven           Spirit        fiats         God's

Lower              earth             deep       fulfillments    Sabbath

The summary chart of the space dimension theme in the Genesis prologue 
(Table 1) shows that two-register cosmology is present not only as a concept 
but as a pervasive factor in the organization of the composition. Additional 
evidence of its influence on the literary structure of the passage will be 
noted below.

Replication Relationship of the Two Registers

The lower register relates to the upper as replica to archetype. Before 
seeing how that comes to expression in the creation account, we must call 
attention to how the six days fall naturally into two triads, one dealing 
with creation kingdoms and the other with the creature kings given dominion 
over them. As frequently noticed, the two triads run in parallel with 
obvious correlation of their successive members.20

The earthly products of the first three days mirror one or another 
characteristic of the invisible heaven, the above realm, the realm of light 
and overarching Glory (Gen. 1:2). The day-light called forth on day one was 
a replica of that Glory-light. The bright firmament-vault of day two was so 
much the likeness of its archetype that they shared the same name, “heaven” 
(Gen. 1:8). The lofty trees, the climactic fruit of day three, are used in 
Scripture as an apt figure for the cosmos (cf. Dan. 4:10-12). With their 
high spreading branches a realm for the birds of the heaven, they are 
comparable to the firmament-heaven in which the birds fly (Gen. 1:20), a 
towering image pointing to the overarching Spirit-heaven above.

Moving on from copies of the heavenly kingdom to images of the heavenly 
King, the second triad of days presents creature kings whose roles in the 
hierarchy of creation are earthly reflections of the royal rule of the 
Creator enthroned above. Royal terminology is explicitly used for the 
luminaries of day four. In that they regulate the cycle of light and 
darkness, they are said to “rule over” the kingdom of day and night produced 
on day one (Gen. 1:16; cf. Ps. 136:8, 9). God's blessing-mandate to the 
creatures of day five closely resembles the dominion mandate afterwards 
given to man. In each case royal occupation of the assigned domain is to be 
accomplished by being fruitful, multiplying, and filling (Gen. 1:22, 28). So 
the birds and fish would exercise their rule over the sky and sea, the 
kingdom realms of day two. Incidentally, the birds of day five and the 
luminaries of day four — both associated with the “firmament of heaven” 
(Gen. 1:14, 15, 17, 20) — are like the King of heaven in other ways besides 
their ruling function. The birds' overshadowing of their nests (Deut. 32:11) 
and the luminosity of the sun and moon become biblical figures for the 
Glory-Spirit as a protective covering, the heavenly Sun and Shield (cf. Ps. 
84:12 [11]).21 Culminating the series of earthly replicas of the 
Creator-King is the final creature of day six, man, the image of God and his 
holy angels (Gen. 1:26). In this earthling, made like unto the Glory-Spirit 
with respect to the threefold glory of royal dominion, moral excellence, and 
(in eschatological prospect) visual luminosity,22 creaturely reproduction of 
the heavenly King of kings is perfected.

The replication motif emerges distinctly on day seven in the Sabbath 
ordinance, designed to call man to the imitation of the divine sabbatical 
pattern. Discussion of this will be deferred, however, until we are dealing 
with the time coordinate of the Genesis cosmology.

As a final illustration of replication in the spatial dimension, we turn to 
the way the two-register pattern of the total cosmos, visible and invisible, 
is repeated within the visible, lower register by itself in its subdivision 
into an upper realm (heaven) and a lower realm (earth). This secondary, 
replicated two-register structure is highlighted by the arrangement of the 
contents of the two parallel triads of days according to their upper or 
lower location.

The first members of each triad are related to the upper level, the heaven: 
the light of the sky on day one and the heavenly luminaries on day four. The 
third members belong to the lower level, the earth: the land and its 
vegetation on day three and the land animals and man on day six. And the 
second members are strikingly designed to serve as links between the first 
and third members. For these middle units of the two triads each combines 
both upper and lower levels: the sky and the sea in day two and the birds of 
the air and fish of the sea in day five.

Table 2. Location of Triads' Productions

First Triad     --    Level    --    Second Triad 
day one         --    upper    --      day four 
day two         {               }      day five
day three       --    lower    --      day six

Here again we see that the two-register cosmology construct was a decisive 
factor in determining the literary shape of the Genesis prologue.23

The Time Coordinate

Space and time, the cosmological coordinates, are correlative. Interlocking 
of the two is pronounced in God's seventh day rest, a temporal concept that 
connotes the spatial reality of the holy site of God's enthronement. Also 
indicative of their correlation is the giving of the temporal names “day” 
and “night” to the spatial phenomena of light and darkness (Gen. 1:5). It is 
inevitable then that the two-register structuring of the spatial dimension 
will also be found in the temporal dimension, and with it the 
archetype-replica relationship between the two registers. We have seen that 
by reason of this replication relationship earthly things are a rich source 
of metaphor for the realities of the invisible heaven. God is portrayed as 
hovering like an eagle over its nest and as resting like a man after his 
work is done (cf. Ex. 31:17); upper register space is designated “heaven” 
after the upper level of visible space; etc. We naturally expect then that 
in the case of time, as of space, the upper register will draw upon the 
lower register for its figurative depiction. Therefore, when we find that 
God's upper level activity of issuing creative fiats from his heavenly 
throne is pictured as transpiring in a week of earthly days, we readily 
recognize that, in keeping with the pervasive contextual pattern, this is a 
literary figure, an earthly, lower register time metaphor for an upper 
register, heavenly reality.24

Lower Register Time

Twin Record. Earthly time is articulated in the astronomical phenomena that 
measure off and structure its flow. It is the astral-solar-lunar 
relationships of the earth that define the units, the years and the days, in 
which man experiences (lower register) time. They produce the sequence of 
light and darkness that marks the days. They arrange the signs in the sky 
that announce the seasonal round of the years. Time is named, its meaning is 
expressed, in this system of calibration. The establishing of this 
regulatory order by which lower register time is defined and in which it has 
its being is recorded in the creation account. Twice in fact: once at the 
beginning of the first triad of days (Gen. 1:3-5) and a second time at the 
beginning of the second triad (Gen. 1:14-19).

Temporal Recapitulation. The non-sequential nature of the creation 
narrative, and thus the non-literal nature of the creation “week,” is 
evident from the recording of the institution of lower register time in both 
the first and fourth day-sections. This point must be developed here because 
of its importance as an independent argument against the solar-day and 
day-age views and because the exegesis involved is preparatory to other 
arguments below.

The forming and stationing of the sun, moon, and stars are attributed to day 
four. Their functions with respect to the earth are also stated here, first 
in the fiat section (Gen. 1:14, 15) and again (in reverse order) in the 
fulfillment section (Gen. 1:16-18). They are to give light on the earth and 
to rule by bounding light/day and darkness/night, as well as by demarcating 
the passage of years and succession of seasons. These effects which are said 
to result from the production and positioning of the luminaries on day four 
are the same effects that are already attributed to the creative activity of 
day one (Gen. 1:3-5). There too daylight is produced on the earth and the 
cycle of light/day and darkness/night is established. In terms of 
chronology, day four thus brings us back to where we were in day one, and in 
fact takes us behind the effects described there to the astral apparatus 
that accounts for them. The literary sequence is then not the same as the 
temporal sequence of events.

To avoid this consequence, alternative interpretations of day four have been 
sought. According to one proposal, the luminaries (though unmentioned 
previously) were in existence before the point in time dealt with in day 
four and were indeed present at day one as the source of light spoken of 
there.25 Day four describes simply their coming into sight, not their 
creation. Any such view is falsified by the language of the text, which is 
plainly that of actual production: “Let there be … and God made … and God 
set (lit., gave).” The attempt26 to override this language cannot be passed 
off as just another instance of phenomenological description. The proposed 
evasive tactic involves a very different notion -- not just the general 
denominating of objects according to their everyday observed appearance at 
any and all times, but the relating of a specific event at a particular 
juncture in the creation process as though witnessed by an observer of the 
course of events, someone who at the moment reached on day four is supposed 
to catch sight of the luminaries, hitherto somehow hidden, perhaps by 
clouds. Disclaimers notwithstanding, this proposal is guilty of foisting an 
unwarranted meaning on the language affirming God's making and positioning 
of the luminaries. In the accounts of the other days, everybody rightly 
recognizes that the same language of divine fiat and creative fulfillment 
signifies the bringing into existence of something new, not just a visual 
detecting of something that was there all the while. There is no more excuse 
for reducing divine acts of production into human acts of perception in day 
four than there would be elsewhere.

Some advocates of the controverted approach to day four acknowledge more 
forthrightly its distinctiveness and develop more fully its peculiar feature 
of the seer figure.27 An attempt is made to explain the precise sequence of 
the entire creation narrative by the exigencies of the visual experience of 
the hypothesized human spectator, as he is conducted through all the 
successive scenes. Besides the basic objection that it is belied by the 
language of origination used for the day four event, this form of the 
observer hypothesis is beset with a special problem of its own. Its 
suggested guided-tour perspective is a feature of apocalyptic visions, and 
there the presence of the seer figure is plainly mentioned. He is the one 
who narrates the visions unfolding before him. No such figure is introduced 
in the creation account; the alleged human spectator is a fiction imposed on 
the text contrary to its non-visionary genre.

Recognizing that the actual making of the luminaries is related in day four, 
but still trying to avoid the conclusion that the narrative order is 
thematic rather than sequential, some would subordinate the statement about 
the making of the luminaries (vv. 16, 17a) to the statement about their 
purpose or functions (vv. 17b, 18a), alleging that the only distinctive new 
development of day four is that these functions then become operational. But 
the primary declaration that the luminaries were made cannot be eliminated 
as a day four event in that way — no more so than the statement in the day 
two account that God made the firmament may be reduced to the idea that a 
previously existing firmament began to perform its stated purpose of 
dividing between the waters above and below (Gen. 1:6, 7). Moreover, this 
minimalist view of day four would share the fatal flaw of all views that 
eliminate the forming of the luminaries from the happenings of day four: it 
would leave day four with no new contribution, for all the functions 
mentioned there are already said to be operative in day one.28

Also entailed in the minimalist interpretation of day four is the pluperfect 
rendering of the verbs expressing the making of the luminaries in the 
fulfillment section (vv. 16, 17), introduced by “and it was so” (v. 15b). If 
adopted, the pluperfect could not be restricted to these verbs. For 
consistently in Genesis 1, what immediately follows the fiat and the “and it 
was so” formula that answers to the fiat is a detailing of what God 
proceeded to bring into being in execution of the fiat. In day four then the 
verbs of fulfillment in verses 16, 17 cannot be pluperfect with respect to 
the fiat of verses 14, 15a. Temporally they follow the fiat, which means the 
fiat would have to be put in the same pluperfect tense as its subsequent 
fulfillment, yielding the translation “And God had said.” That is, day four 
as a whole would have to be cast in the pluperfect, and that with reference 
to the time of the events in the preceding days. Ironically, such a 
translation would make explicit the non-chronological sequence of the 
narrative, the very thing the pluperfect proposal was trying to avoid.29

Understandably dissatisfied with the contrived nature of these attempts to 
avoid acknowledging that the act of making the luminaries was a day four 
event, other opponents of the non-sequential view of the creation narrative 
have been driven to seek a solution in a reinterpretation of day one. They 
would account for the presence of light and the cycle of day and night in 
day one by positing for this point in time some light source other than the 
one whose origin they admit is assigned to day four and which (according to 
their commitment to the temporally sequential order of the narrative) did 
not, therefore, exist until three days (or ages) after day one.

Some speculate about a supernatural light source, a manifestation of divine 
glory in space. But that distorts the eschatological design of creation 
history, according to which the advent of God's Glory as the source of 
illumination that does away with the need for the sun awaits the 
Consummation.30 Indeed, the assumption of such a supernatural mode of 
ongoing providence during the creation week is contradicted by the 
assumptions that inform Gen. 2:5ff.31

No more satisfactory is the suggestion that the hypothetical lighting system 
was some natural arrangement. That would raise questions about the wisdom of 
the divine procedure. Why would God create such a vast cosmic order only to 
discard it three days (or ages) later? Why create a replacement cosmos to 
perform the very same functions already being performed perfectly well by 
the original system?32 Like the gap theory of Gen. 1:2, this scenario, with 
its mid-course cosmic upheaval and starting over, would introduce a jarring, 
discordant note into the simple, stately symphony of the cosmic 
house-building — planned, performed, and perfected by the all wise master 

Any such approach that disconnects the luminaries of day four from the light 
of day one, denying the cause-effect relationship of the two, violates the 
overall thematic scheme of the creation narrative. As we have seen, the 
successive members of the first triad of days correspond to the successive 
days of the second triad, the relationship of each matching pair being that 
of creation kingdom (theme of the first triad) to creature king (theme of 
the second triad). The correspondence is especially close in the day one-day 
four pair. It is clearly the light phenomena (kingdom) of day one over which 
the luminaries (kings) of day four rule, producing and regulating it. 
Temporal recapitulation most certainly occurs at day four and hence there is 
no escaping the conclusion that the narrative sequence is not intended to be 
the chronological sequence.

Upper Register Time

The Beginning. As observed above, the allusions in Prov. 8:22, 23 to the 
berešît of Gen. 1:1 show that this “beginning” precedes the situation 
surveyed in Gen. 1:2ff. It stands at the head of the creation days. While 
belonging to the creation week,33 it marks the interface of precreation and 
the space-time continuum, pointing back to what is signified by “was” in the 
identification of God as the one “who is, and who was, and who is to come” 
(Rev. 1:8). In Gen. 1:1 the “beginning” is peculiarly associated with God 
himself. Similarly, echoes of berešît in the Scriptures focus on divine acts 
and intratrinitarian relationships back of creation. Equating the beginning 
with a stage “before the earth was,” Prov. 8:23 asserts that the personified 
divine Wisdom was present with God at the beginning (cf. Col. 1:17). The 
prologue of John's Gospel identifies “the beginning” in terms of the 
relationship between God and the Logos, who was God and made all things 
(John 1:1-3), the one who identifies himself as “the beginning of the 
creation of God” (Rev. 3:14; cf. Rev. 21:6; 22:13; Col. 1:15-18) and speaks 
of the glory he had with the Father “before the world was” (John 17:5).

All indicators tell us that “in the beginning” belongs to the upper 
register, where Father, Son, and Spirit act together in sovereign purpose, 
word, and power to create the world. “In the beginning” is a time coordinate 
of invisible space. Entry into the six days that it is, “the beginning” 
serves to identify them as also belonging to the invisible cosmological 

The Seventh Day. God is present at the beginning of creation; he is “the 
beginning.” He is also “the end,” for he appears at the completion of 
creation as the Sabbath Lord. The seventh day has to do altogether with God, 
with the upper register. The divine rest which characterizes the seventh day 
is the reign of the finisher of creation, enthroned in the invisible heavens 
in the midst of the angels.34 It is precisely the (temporary) exclusion of 
man from this heavenly Sabbath of God that gives rise to the two-register 
cosmological order. At the Consummation, God's people will enter his royal 
rest, the seventh day of creation (Heb. 4:4, 9, 10), but until then that 
seventh creation day does not belong to the lower register world of human 
solar-day experience. It is heaven time, not earth time, not time measured 
by astronomical signs.

Not only the identification of the Sabbath rest with God's royal session on 
high, but the unending nature of that seventh day of creation differentiates 
it from earthly, solar-days. Consisting as it does in God's status as the 
one who has occupied the completed cosmic temple as the King of Glory — a 
status without the possibility of any interruption or limitation — the 
seventh day is in the nature of the case unending. This is confirmed by the 
treatment of the theme of God's “rest” in Hebrews 4. That rest is identified 
in verses 3 and 4 as God's seventh day of Gen. 2:2 (which is quoted). The 
passage then expounds God's rest as an ongoing reality, entrance into which 
is the eschatological hope of God's people (see esp. vv. 10, 11; cf. John 
5:17). If the seventh day were not an unending Sabbath-rest for God but a 
literal day, would the next day be another work day, introducing another 
week of work and rest for him, to be followed by an indefinite repetition of 
this pattern? Are we to replace the Sabbath-Consummation doctrine of 
biblical eschatology with a mythological concept of cyclic time?35 In the 
Genesis prologue the unending nature of God's Sabbath is signalized by the 
absence of the evening-morning formula from the account of the seventh day.

The Six Days. Under consideration here is the series of six numbered days 
and the accompanying evening-morning refrain. This refrain is not to be 
connected with the solar time phenomena of days one and four, for it is not 
confined to those two contexts but is included in all six day-sections and 
in every case is immediately conjoined to the numbered day. The imagery of 
the evening and morning is simply a detail in the creation-week picture. 
This refrain thus functions as part of the formularized framework of the 

The question whether the references to the six days (with their evenings and 
mornings) describe lower register time phenomena or whether they belong to 
the upper register is answered in favor of the latter by the interlocking of 
the six days on both sides with upper register temporal features. Certainly 
the six days are part of the same strand as the seventh day, and the 
“beginning,” as suggested above, is to be taken as the threshold of the 
creation week. Psalm 104 reflects this by similarly bracketing its treatment 
of the works of the six creation days (vv. 5-26 or 30) with upper register 
scenes of God in heaven, before (vv. 1-4) and after (vv. 27 or 31-35).

The six evening-morning days then do not mark the passage of time in the 
lower register sphere. They are not identifiable in terms of solar days, but 
relate to the history of creation at the upper register of the cosmos. The 
creation “week” is to be understood figuratively, not literally — that is 
the conclusion demanded by the biblical evidence.

Replication: The Sabbath Ordinance

Rounding out the series of acts of spatial and temporal replication in the 
Genesis prologue is the reproduction of the pattern of the Creator's time in 
the instituting of the Sabbath ordinance.36 This ordinance superimposed a 
special temporal grid on the calendar of days and seasons marked by 
astronomical sequences. The Sabbath was designed for symbolic purposes 
within the covenant community, as a sign calling to consecration and the 
imitation of God and as a seal promising consummation of the kingdom to the 
covenant keepers.37 By this promise the Sabbath reminds us that lower 
register history as a whole is patterned after upper register time in that 
it is a Consummation-directed eschatological movement. The weekly scheme of 
the Sabbath ordinance portrays this overall seventh-day-bound design of 
lower register time while it symbolically mirrors the archetypal heavenly 
creation week itself.

Exod. 20:11 brings out explicitly that the continuing earthly pattern of 
sabbatical weeks is a human copy of a divine original. Within the 
two-register cosmology of the creation account with all its replications of 
upper register realities in the lower register world, all of them 
reproductions with a difference, there can be no doubt about the figurative 
nature of the relationship of the Sabbath ordinance to God's upper register 
creation week. The gratuitous insistence of literalists that the terms of 
the Sabbath ordinance in Exod. 20:11 demand that the creation week be one of 
literal solar days is contradicted by the metaphorical character of the 
whole series of creational replications to which the original Sabbath 
ordinance (Gen. 2:3) belongs. Like man's nature as image of God, man's walk 
in imitation of God's sabbatical way is not a matter of one-to-one 
equivalence but of analogy, of similarity with a difference. Like all the 
other lower register replicas, the sabbatical week of the ordinance is a 
likeness of its original, not exactly the same; it is an earthly metaphor 
for the heavenly archetype.

The Genesis prologue thus concludes with the record of the instituting of 
the lower register phenomenon that provides the figurative chronological 
framework on which this literary composition has itself been constructed, 
the seven-day metaphor for the time dimension of God's creating the heavens 
and the earth.

Cosmogony and Providence

Our argument for the metaphorical nature of the creation week has included 
evidence that the narrative sequence of Genesis 1 is determined by thematic 
factors and is not intended to correspond to the actual temporal sequence, 
as maintained by both the solar-day and day-age views. For further light on 
this issue we now turn to Gen. 2:5-7.

The Genesis 2 Context

After the prologue, Genesis divides into ten sections with a refrain formula 
(“these are the generation of N.” [lit.]) serving as the heading for each.38 
In keeping with the uniform meaning of this formula, Gen. 2:4 signifies that 
what follows recounts not the origins but the subsequent history of the 
heavens and the earth. Gen. 2:5ff. is thus identified as a record of the 
sequel to the world's creation, not as a second account of creation. This 
section does, however, pick up the story within the creation period (as does 
the next section at Gen. 5:1ff.). In doing so, it incidentally reveals 
something about the nature of divine providence during the creation week, 
something that cannot be accommodated by strictly sequential interpretations 
of Genesis 1.

Genesis 2 fixes attention on the lower register and, more precisely, on Eden 
as it sets the stage for the covenant crisis of Genesis 3. Here again the 
arrangement of the narrative is thematic rather than strictly chronological. 
At the beginning (vv. 5-7) and end (vv. 18-25) the man and woman, the human 
principals in the probationary crisis, are reintroduced (cf. Gen. 1:27). The 
middle of the chapter describes the site of the dramatic event (vv. 8-14), 
calling attention to the two critical trees in the midst of the garden (v. 
9). It reports the covenant stipulations on which the decisive testing was 
based (vv. 15-17), here too emphasizing the probation tree (vv. 16, 17). 
Thus the scene with its major features — the man, the woman, and the 
judgment tree — is set for the fateful action related in Genesis 3.

>From this overview of Genesis 2 it is evident why,  in the narrative of 
man's creation (vv. 5-7), the origin of vegetation (and thus of trees) is 
intertwined with his. Also, looking back at Genesis 1, we can now appreciate 
the artful designing that brought the first triad of days to a climax in 
trees and the second triad in man, so anticipating the crucial connection of 
the two unfolded in Genesis 2 and 3.

Exegesis of Genesis 2:5-7

To bring out the sovereign lordship of Yahweh-Elohim in establishing the 
covenantal order of man in the garden, under probation with its demands and 
promises, both represented by trees, the account takes us back to a time 
before there was a man or a garden and trees. It tells us how the Lord 
proceeded to form the man, plant the garden, and make its trees grow.

Gen. 2:5a says that at a certain time and place within the creation process 
vegetation did not yet exist. The language allows that the earth as a whole 
is referred to but the area particularly in view might be the Eden region, 
on which the following narrative focuses. Absent then were all plants, 
whether belonging to the unpeopled wilderness or to cultivated areas.

Gen. 2:5b explains why Yahweh-Elohim had not yet produced the vegetation. 
Rain is needed for the preservation and growth of plants, and God had not 
yet initiated the rain cycle. Of course, man can compensate for the local 
lack of rainfall by constructing an irrigation system, but man was not on 
the scene either. It is the assumption underlying this explanation for the 
timing of the creation of vegetation that confirms the conclusion that the 
Genesis 1 narrative is not chronologically sequential. To this we shall 
presently return. 

Gen. 2:6 tells of the provision of a supply of water, the absence of which 
had previously delayed the appearance of vegetation. Whatever the meaning of 
the Hebrew 'ed (traditionally “mist”), this verse cannot be describing 
another circumstance adverse to plant life (like chaotic flood waters), for 
the effect of the 'ed was beneficial watering, such being the consistent 
meaning of the verb saqa.39 Verse 6 must then be relating a new development, 
not something concurrent with the situation described in verse 5. For 
otherwise verse 6 would be affirming the presence of the supply of water 
necessary for the survival of vegetation at the very time when verse 5b says 
the absence of vegetation was due to the lack of such a water supply. The 
context thus demands the translation: “but an 'ed began to rise,” an 
inceptive meaning that is agreeable to the usage of the imperfect form of 
the verb employed here.40

The 'ed in verse 6 answered to the previous lack of rain in verse 5b. If the 
'ed does not refer to rain but to some satisfactory alternative, the 
previous absence of that alternative should have been included in verse 5b 
in the listing of the missing sources of water. Indeed, if the 'ed solution 
is not equatable with the rain whose absence was the problem, the citing of 
the absence of rain in verse 5b would itself be stranded as an irrelevance. 
These considerations argue in support of the identification of the Hebrew 
'ed with the Eblaite i-du, “rain-cloud.”41 Also, the one other context where 
'ed is found is all about rain-clouds. That passage, Job 36, extols the 
greatness of God, who spreads the clouds abroad and sends down showers on 
man, so giving food in abundance (vv. 26-33). Verse 27a speaks of God's 
drawing forth the drops of water and then, repeating the image, the parallel 
clause in verse 27b adds the source from which the rain is distilled, namely 
the 'ed, apparently the rain-clouds. Similarly in Genesis 2 the originating 
of the 'ed as a watering system (v. 6) is implicitly attributed to 
Yahweh-Elohim by virtue of the previous tracing of the absence of that 
provision to his determination (v. 5b). Another Joban echo of this is heard 
in Job 38:25-30. Challenging Job's knowledge of storm phenomena, the Lord 
illustrates his own creation-wide sovereignty by the example of his 
provision of rain and vegetation, not just in agricultural areas but in the 
wilderness where no man is.

The springing forth of plants (at least the wild plants that need only the 
rain, not man the cultivator) is taken for granted in Gen. 2:6 as a 
consequence of the provision of the prerequisite water, a consequence 
occurring before the creation of man (v. 7). Even the Lord's planting of the 
garden with its trees (v. 8) is not to be located after the creation of man, 
since the form of the verb for planting can express the pluperfect.42 In the 
absence of rainfall, man can dig irrigation ditches to bring the necessary 
water to his cultivated land,43 and therefore, to round out the explanation 
of the absence of vegetation in Gen. 2:5b, the absence of man was added to 
the absence of rain. But once God had caused it to rain, the Eden-garden 
could be planted without man being yet present.

When, therefore, the creation of man is narrated in Gen. 2:7, this act is 
not subordinated to the theme of the production of vegetation. However 
symbiotic the relationship of man and the cultivated plants, man was not 
made for the plants but the plants for man. The report of man's creation (v. 
7) stands apart as an independent statement announcing the presence of the 
main party in the upcoming probationary crisis to take place in connection 
with the trees of the garden — the theme of the following narrative.

Genesis 2:5 and the Creation “Week”

What was the nature of divine providence during the creation “week?” More 
specifically, by what means did God preserve such things as he had brought 
into existence? Embedded in Gen. 2:5 is an answer to that question that has 
decisive implications for the interpretation of the chronological framework 
of the creation account.

Whatever uncertainty may perplex the exegesis of various details in Gen. 
2:5-7, the point I am now making does not depend on the adoption of a 
particular interpretation of any of these details. It rests on — indeed, 
consists in — the simple, incontestable fact that Gen. 2:5 gives an 
explanation, a perfectly natural explanation, for the absence of vegetation 
somewhere within the creation “week.”44 Gen. 2:5 tells us that God did not 
produce the plants of the field before he had established an environment 
with a watering system, the natural, normal precondition for plant life. The 
assumption underlying Gen. 2:5 is clearly that a natural mode of divine 
providence was in operation during the creation “days.”

Acts of supernatural origination did initiate and punctuate the creation 
process. And had God so pleased, his providential oversight of what he had 
created might also have been by supernatural means during that process. Gen. 
2:5, however, takes it for granted that providential operations were not of 
a supernatural kind, but that God ordered the sequence of creation acts so 
that the continuance and development of the earth and its creatures could 
proceed by natural means. This unargued assumption of Gen. 2:5 contradicts 
the reconstructions of the creation days proposed by the more traditional views.

The scenario conjured by the literalists' solar-day interpretation is, in 
fact, utterly alien to the climate and tenor of Gen. 2:5. Within the flurry 
of stupendous events which their view entails, each new cosmic happening 
coming hard on the heels of the last and all transpiring within a few hours 
or days, the absence of vegetation or anything else at any given point would 
not last long enough to occasion special consideration of the reasons for 
it. Within that time-frame such a question would be practically irrelevant. 
Gen. 2:5 reflects an environmental situation that has obviously lasted for a 
while; it assumes a far more leisurely pace on the part of the Creator, for 
whom a thousand years are as one day. The tempo of the literalists' 
reconstructed cosmogony leaves no room for the era-perspective of Gen. 2:5.45

And in specific contradiction of the disclosure of Gen. 2:5, both the 
solar-day and day-age theories must assume that God used other than the 
ordinary secondary means in the providential sustaining and further shaping 
of what his creative word had called into being.
We have already seen that any view that insists day four presents events 
chronologically later than those in day one must posit some means other than 
the sun, moon, and stars of day four, something extraordinary or even 
supernatural, to account for the effects of light and the day-night cycle 
mentioned in day one. It would also have to be by some such means that the 
vegetation whose production is described in day three was sustained apart 
from the presence of the normally prerequisite sun of day four. Likewise, on 
any strictly sequential interpretation of the narrative, the existence of 
all flora (day three) before any fauna (days five and six) would include 
extraordinary means of preservation in those symbiotic situations where the 
survival of a particular kind of vegetation is dependent on the activity of 
animal life. And of course the existence of the earth itself on day one 
confronts the traditional approaches with a gigantic exception to normal 
providential procedure. For according to them the earth would have come into 
existence by itself as a solitary sphere, not as part of the cosmological 
process by which stars and their satellites originate, and it would have 
continued alone, suspended in a spatial void (if we may so speak) for the 
first three “days” of creation. All the vast universe whose origin is 
narrated on day four would then be younger (even billions of years younger) 
than the speck in space called earth. So much for the claimed harmony of the 
narrative sequence of Genesis 1 with scientific cosmology.46

In short, if the narrative sequence were intended to represent the 
chronological sequence, Genesis 1 would bristle with contradictions of what 
is revealed in Gen. 2:5. Our conclusion is then that the more traditional 
interpretations of the creation account are guilty not only of creating a 
conflict between the Bible and science but, in effect, of pitting Scripture 
against Scripture. The true harmony of Genesis 1 and Gen. 2:5 appears, 
however, and the false conflict between the Bible and science disappears, 
when we recognize that the creation “week” is a lower register metaphor for 
God's upper register creation-time and that the sequence of the “days” is 
ordered not chronologically but thematically.47

1“Because It Had Not Rained,” The Westminster Theological Journal 20 (1958): 
2Cf. H. Blocher, In the Beginning (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1984); C. E. 
Hummel, The Galileo Connection (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1986); R. 
Maatman, The Impact of Evolutionary Theory: A Christian View (Sioux Center: 
Dordt College Press, 1993).
3Theological differences aside, the cosmology of mythology is analogous. 
Indeed, mythology may be defined formally precisely as a portrayal of human 
affairs in terms of a dynamic interrelating of divine and human realms.
4Similarly, the depths of the sea or subsurface earth metaphorically signify 
the infernal realm.
5“Heaven of heavens” (cf. Deut. 10:14; 1 Kgs. 8:27; Neh. 9:6; Pss. 115:16; 
148:4) apparently distinguishes a “higher” heaven, possibly the clouds of 
heaven (the waters “above the heavens,” cf. Ps. 148:4) or the invisible heavens.
6For elaboration of this theme see my Kingdom Prologue (privately published, 
1993), pp. 31, 32.
8The tabernacle and temple were so designed that both in their horizontal 
and vertical sectioning they also portrayed the visible register of the 
cosmic temple with its corresponding partitioning. Cf. my Images of the 
Spirit (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), pp. 39-42 (hereafter, Images).
9This example thus contains the additional feature of the likeness of the 
lower to the upper phenomenon. Comparison of these reliefs with literary 
accounts of warfare as a two-level affair involving earthly conflict of 
nations below and divine or angelic contention in the heavens (cf. Dan. 
10:12, 13, 20, 21; Zech. 9:13, 14) illustrates how these cultural media can 
be mutually illuminating.
10For a discussion of berešît, see below.
11See further W. P. Brown, Structure, Role, and Ideology in the Hebrew and 
Greek Texts of Genesis 1:1-2:3 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993), p. 102, n. 12.
12The same question arises in Exod. 20:11. On this, see the discussion of 
the phrase “the heavens and the earth” below.
13If one does so insist, then recognition of what Proverbs 8 reveals about 
berešît in Gen. 1:1 would compel adoption of some variety of the discredited 
gap theory to account for the earth in Gen. 1:2.
14Cf. the observations of A. Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis (Chicago: U. of 
Chicago Press, 1963), p. 91.
15On the common use of avian imagery for deity in the ancient Near East see 
my “The Feast of Cover-over,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 
37 (1994): 497, 498 (hereafter, “Cover-over”). Cf., e.g., in pharaonic 
nomenclature the Horus (or serekh) name.
16For an extensive treatment of this see my Images.
17Cf. Images, pp. 22, 23.
18This alternating sequence of heavenly and earthly scenes is similar to the 
pattern of the prologue to Job. The similarity is not just formal, for in 
each case what takes place in the lower register is determined by the 
sovereign word of God revealed in the heavenly council.
19Space and time are conceptually correlative in the Sabbath. In our 
analysis of the time coordinate of this cosmological charting the Sabbath 
will be given closer consideration.
20This will be spelled out in our discussion of the replication relationship 
of the two registers. Evidence will appear there for preferring the 
kingdom-king analysis of the themes of the two triads over something more 
general, like regions and their occupants or habitations and inhabitants.
21Cf. my “Cover-over.”
22Cf. my Images.
23These data also attest further to the parallelism between the successive 
members of the two triads of days.
24Following nineteenth century theologian W. G. T. Shedd, C. J. Collins 
identifies the creation days as an anthropomorphism, part of an extended 
anthropomorphic portrayal of the Creator as the worker-craftsman; cf. “How 
Old Is The Earth? Anthropomorphic Days in Genesis 1:1-2:3,” Presbyterion 20 
(1994): esp. 117, 118 (herafter, “How Old”). As over against the 
literalists, this is moving in the right direction. But the explanation 
needs adjustment, for not all the metaphors used of God are anthropomorphic 
(cf., e.g., the avian image in Gen. 1:2) and some of them refer to heavenly 
realities other than God. It is rather a matter of two-register cosmology 
and an archetype-ectype relationship between the entire two registers in 
both their spatial and temporal dimensions.
25I would agree that this is in fact a correct view of the day one 
situation, but not that that situation was before day four.
26For a recent example, cf. Collins, “How Old,” p. 123, n. 55.
27A recent case is D. L. Roth, “Genesis and the Real World,” Kerux 9 (1994): 
28The role of ruling cannot be isolated as a new function distinct from 
those mentioned in day one. In Gen. 1:18 ruling the day and night is 
explicated as dividing the light from the darkness (equivalent to dividing 
the day from the night, v. 14).
29A pluperfect rendering of the wayyiqtol-form introducing this section is 
grammatically defensible, precisely because it begins a paragraph, and that 
would bring out the true temporal relationship of Gen. 1:14ff. to what 
immediately precedes. But though this would establish my thesis without more 
ado, I would retain the translation, “And God said (v. 14) … and God made” 
(v. 16) in order to preserve the picture of seven successive days, leaving 
it to the other available evidence to demonstrate the figurative nature of 
this picture and the dischronologized sequence of the contents of the days.
30Note also that the presence of this divine Luminary puts an end to the 
cycle of day and night instituted on day one (Rev. 22:5).
31On this, see below.
32Indeed, in line with the anthropic principle, the original system would 
necessarily have been virtually the same as its replacement. Cf. R. Maatman, 
The Bible, Natural Science, and Evolution (Sioux Center: Dordt College 
Press, 1970), p. 111; A. Lightman, Ancient Light (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard 
U. Press, 1991), pp. 117-121.
33This conclusion is required by Exod. 20:11, particularly if the “heaven” 
it refers to as being made during the “six days” includes the invisible 
heavens, whose formation, unlike that of the earth, was exclusively within 
“the beginning.”
34Cf. my Kingdom Prologue, pp. 22-25.
35The issue of creation-consummation eschatology is theologically crucial, 
for bound up with it is the Bible's doctrine of the covenant with its 
decisive probationary crisis and the principle of federal representation.
36For a discussion of the Sabbath as a creation ordinance, see my Kingdom 
Prologue, p. 50.
37Ibid., pp. 51, 52.
38Cf. ibid., pp. 6, 7.N
39Ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies contain the motif of an absence of water 
that is subsequently remedied, with fruitful fields resulting. Examples are 
the Sumerian myth of Enki and the World Order and the Akkadian Myth of Anzu. 
For discussion see R. J. Clifford, Creation Accounts in the Ancient Near 
East and in the Bible (Washington, DC: The Catholic Biblical Association of 
America, 1994), pp. 34f., 84.
40See the discussions of preterital yiqtol in P. Joüon and T. Muraoka, A 
Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1993), pp. 
368-9 and of incipient past non-perfective in B. K. Waltke and M. O'Connor, 
An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 
pp. 503-4. Cf. S. R. Driver, A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebew2 
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1881), pp. 27, 36ff. Suggested examples, besides cases 
involving stative verbs, include Gen. 37:7; Exod. 15:5, 12, 14; 2 Sam. 15:37 
(cf. 16:15); 1 Kings 7:7, 8; Jer. 6:14.
41Cf. M. Dahood, “Eblaite ì-du and Hebrew 'ed, `Rain Cloud,'” Catholic 
Biblical Quarterly 43 (1981): 534-38. Other suggested etymologies for 'ed 
produce meanings like flood or subterranean rivers, which break through and 
water the surface. On such interpretations (and on the rain-cloud view too) 
the 'eres from which the 'ed ascends could be the deeps beneath the earth 
(cf. Exod. 15:12).
42Compare the similar grammatical-compositional situation in Gen. 2:19, 
which surely does not intend to suggest that the animals were made after the 
creation of Adam and his experience in the garden described in verses 7-18.
43This is a function of mankind featured in the ancient cosmogonies.
44One thing showing that the situation described is within the six-day era 
is that man was not yet present. My essential contention is not affected 
whether the lack of vegetation mentioned be earthwide or local (the Eden 
area) and no matter to which “day” the vegetationless situation pertains.
45Endorsing my argument as originally published, H. Blocher examines the 
criticism of it by E. J. Young (Studies in Genesis One [Philadelphia: 
Presbyterian and Reformed, 1964], pp. 58-65) and concludes that Young 
“misses the main point” (In the Beginning, p. 56, n. 56).
46Some of these problems of sequence (but not the major one involving days 
one and four) would be resolved by a variation on the day-age view which 
allows that the days may overlap. The idea is that while what is described 
as happening on a given day must have begun to happen before the next day's 
developments began, the completing of the earlier day's creative work would 
have overlapped the activity of subsequent days. This contrived 
interpretation not only fails to salvage the chronological sequence even in 
the compromised overlapping form proposed, but it actually amounts to a 
virtual acknowledgment that chronological sequence yields to thematic 
interests in the ordering of the days.
47In this article I have advocated an interpretation of biblical cosmogony 
according to which Scripture is open to the current scientific view of a 
very old universe and, in that respect, does not discountenance the theory 
of the evolutionary origin of man. But while I regard the widespread 
insistence on a young earth to be a deplorable disservice to the cause of 
biblical truth, I at the same time deem commitment to the authority of 
scriptural teaching to involve the acceptance of Adam as an historical 
individual, the covenantal head and ancestral fount of the rest of mankind, 
and the recognition that it was the one and same divine act that constituted 
him the first man, Adam the son of God (Luke 3:38), that also imparted to 
him life (Gen. 2:7).