Saturday, December 21, 2013

Is there a real literary framework behind the Framework View?

The Framework View on creation days is an acceptable view within the OPC. That does not mean that it is beyond critique. Tolerable error is still error after all. And the best way to actually critique a view is to look and see whether the text of Scripture actually supports the view.

The Framework View's purported strength is its perception of the literary parallels within the creation account itself. Framework proponents such as Henri Bloecher and Meredith G. Kline call attention to the seeming parallels between the two triads of the creation days: Days 1-3, and Days 4-6. The two triads supposedly parallel each other in literary form, as follows:

On the surface, the days of Genesis 1 do seem to lend itself to support the Framework view. Thus, it seems that the framework idea is proven, for how can one argue against what seems to be actually present in the text of Scripture? The Framework view also does not preclude someone from holding other views, so technically one can be Framework and YEC, or Framework and Theistic Evolutionist, so what's the big fuss anyway?

It is here that we take a closer look at the actual text of Scripture, and especially in the Hebrew. Once we start looking deeper, all manner of problems begin to emerge. It must be remembered that the claim made by the Framework proponents is that there is a literary framework of the 2 sets of triads. "Literary" refers to words, and it must be a neat fit. One cannot claim a literary framework then suddenly there are lots of exception clauses to the parallels founds in them.

In a critique of the Framework View, perhaps the strongest critique I have read so far is by Andrew Kulikovsky, and he has placed his critique online here. The first problem with the Framework view is that Day 5 does not actually parallel Day 2. The birds of Day 5 are flying על פני רקיע השׁמים (Gen. 1:20), which is literally translated as "upon the face of the expense of the heavens." In other words, the birds are not actually in the raqi'a, the expense. Yet in Day 2, it is the expense that is mentioned, not just its face. How can the birds be said to "rule" over the expense, if they are not even in it?

The parallels between "kings" and "kingdoms" thus so far have one glitch. If we speak concerning the expense, the only thing(s) stated as being in the expense are the luminary bodies (sun, moon and stars) so the parallels should actually be Day 2 (expense) to be mapped onto Day 4 (luminary bodies in the expense).

But wait, the problems with the triads have just begun. The sea creatures in Day 5 are to populate the waters of the seas, in contradistinction to the dry land. But the seas are only created in Day 3, not Day 2. So now we have another different mapping, that of Day 3 (seas) to Day 5 (sea creatures). The next glitch in the triad scheme is that of Man, who are to rule over the land animals (Day 6), the land (Day 3), the birds (Day 5) and the sea creatures (Day 5). How can Man in Day 6 be merely mapped to Day 3 land, and not also the birds and lan and sea creatures? If it is objected that the land implies all that are on them, then what about the birds, which the Framework proponents linked with the expense? So in the triads (assuming the mapping of birds to Day 2), dominion over the birds would map Man in Day 6 not just to Day 3 (Dry land and seas) but also the expense of Day 2!

The close analysis of the biblical text therefore has shown us too many "exceptions" and cross-mapping of the elements of the various days of creation. As such, the two sets of triads cannot be seriously maintained. It is an artificial construct, an appearance of parallels that proves to be a mirage. Now, that of course does not mean that the Genesis 1 account has no literary elements, but only that the major supposed literary elements claimed by the Framework view are arbitrary and non-existent. The real literary element of Genesis 1 is not some contrived sets of triads, but rather the framing of each single creation day of God's creative word bringing about fulfillment. To the question of the title therefore: No, there is no real literary framework behind the Framework view.

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