The Days of Creation
David Heddle over at He Lives has asked the question about where Hosea 6:1-2 breaks the oft mentioned Young Earth Creationist (YEC) claim that every place in the bible outside of genesis 1-2 that uses the hebrew word for day 'yom' with an ordinal number has it refering to a literal 24-hour period. As a Young Earth Creationist, I reckon I should respond.
Hosea 6:1-2 is sort of an exception, but I think it is more due to a berevity of speech. The Hosea passage is an example of a poetic parellelism (x/x+1) (see amos 1:3,6,9 and Proverbs 6:16, 30:15,18 and job 5:19 for other examples). So it has an additional poetic context that seems to differentiate it from every other mention of yom with an ordinal number in the bible.
As such, I still feel it is very strong claim to say that because everywhere that yom is used in the same context (410 times) as in genesis 1-2 (i.e. with morning/evening and ordinal numbers), it refers to a literal day, that we can conclude that genesis 1-2 references to yom in that context refer to literal days.
David also has a most worrying statement, depending on his meaning
Even if Ham and other YECs are correct, that all instances of yom with an ordinal number outside of Genesis 1 refer to 24-hour days, it does not prove that the use of yom with ordinal numbers in Genesis 1 must refer to 24-hour days. Perhaps it is just more likely to have occasion to use first day, second day, etc. than first age, second age. The use in Genesis is then a rarely needed construction rather than a violation of ancient Hebrew grammar. It is simply more likely that we should discuss a sequence of days rather than ages—indeed Genesis 1 may be the only place where, even potentially, an ordinal sequence of ages appears. I can’t think of another in the Old Testament.This amounts to special pleading. Instead of arguing from what we know about hebrew grammar, David is arguing from the idea that we do not have exhaustive knowledge of hebrew grammar, so it 'might' be possible that they refer to sequential series of ages. This same line of reasoning could also be used to justify ANY interpretation of ANY verse in the bible, because we cannot prove it has to mean anything in particular.
Of course, all the talk of long-ages ignores the important question of how the original audience would have read the document. Without our current scientific theories or pagan notions of instantaneous creation being brought into the interpretation, the clear meaning would indeed be literal days.
In the comments, David mentions a church fathers beliefs and Augustine.
David comments that
As for the views of the experts, the writings of the early church fathers show almost none (with the possible exception of Ambrose) held to a 24-hour view. Mostly for two reasons:This is just wrong. For a full account of the early church fathers beliefs, check out Answers in Genesis' review of Genesis, Creation and Early Man by Father Seraphim Rose which details the beliefs about genesis of the early church fathers. From this review we are told that
1) Some believed the sun, coming on day four, brought "time" along with it--that is there was no such thing as time before there was a way to reckon it, so at least the for the first three days it is meaningless to speak of duration.
2) To reconcile that Adam did not die within 24 hours after he sinned, but God said he would surely die, they decided that this was a case of a day being 1000 years to God (2 Pet. 3:. Thus some viewed creation as spanning 6000 years.
Rose helpfully explains and documents that the ‘Holy Fathers’ interpreted Genesis (and other Scriptures) both literally and symbolically. That is, they believed the text was literal history, but that it also had a mystical meaning related to the spiritual life of the individual believer or the whole church. It is for this reason that superficial readers of these ancient writings can find passages, which appear to support their non-literal, old-earth views. Among the details of Genesis 1–11 that the ‘Holy Fathers’ (even the most mystical ones) clearly took literally are these: length of days (24-hours), order of Creation events (e. g. earth and plants before the Sun), instantaneous creation of living things with maturity (e. g. Adam being created as an adult not an infant, plants with fruit on the branches, etc.),and continues on saying
They were not dogmatic about the precise age of the earth since the Greek text of the OT (Septuagint (LXX)—preferred by Orthodox theologians) and Hebrew (Masoretic) text disagreed (which didn‘t bother the ‘Fathers’),6 but they placed it approximately at 5500 BC . However, it is important to note, the ‘Holy Fathers’ were equally explicit that in the literal history of Genesis (as elsewhere in the Bible) the anthropomorphic language describing God was not literal (pp. 87, 198, 247, 277, 404).So David's misunderstanding of the early church fathers beliefs is understandable based on an incomplete investigation into the fathers ideas of scripture.
Regarding Augustine, he felt that the creation of the universe and life was instantaneous. But Augustine was not a hebrew scholar but was a member of the Alexandrian school which fancifully allegorized almost all Scripture, hardly a sound hermeneutic. (As a side note, Augustine was influenced by neo-platonic philosophy, just as many christian's today are influenced by scientific theory about the unobservable past)
Clearly, the most sound interpretation of genesis 1-2 would be to conclude that the creation days were literal 24 hour periods, and this interpretation was indeed supported by the early church fathers.