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A Brief Defense of Literal Days in the Creation Week

November 1, 2012

Among Bible scholars, there is a debate over the interpretation of days in the creation week. Some argue that the word day in Genesis 1 is figurative (a non-literal day), whereas others say it is literal (a 24-hour day). I personally believe that the word day in Genesis 1 must be understood as a regular day, rather than an extended period of time.  I therefore reject theories such as the gap theory (which suggests that there is a gap of time before and between the days of creation), and the day-age theory (which teaches that the term day in Genesis 1 refers to a long period of time). I also dismiss the so-called literary framework view of Genesis 1, which insists that Genesis 1 should be interpreted poetically rather than historically. Advocates of this view maintain that Genesis 1 simply informs us of the fact that God created everything in this world including human beings without giving us chronological details of God’s creation. Nevertheless, a careful study of Genesis 1 favors the literal interpretation of days in the creation. First, although the Hebrew word for day (yom) can mean an extended period of time (Gen. 2:4), in the Old Testament it primarily means a literal day. Second, when the Hebrew word yom is modified by a numerical adjective (e.g., “first” day), it usually refers to a 24-hour day (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). Third, the phrase “And the evening and the morning” in the first chapter of Genesis shows a 24-hour day-night cycle. Finally, the words of Exodus 20:8-11 validate the literal reading of the creation days. If the creation days were not literal, the point of Exodus 20:8-11 would not make sense.

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