Essentially the FV states the creation week of Genesis 1:1-2:3 it a literary device intended to present God’s creative works in a topical/non-sequential manner rather than a literal/sequential one. The overall structure to this view is a scheme of six work-day frames culminating in an exaltation of a Sabbath Theology on the seventh day. These six work-day frames are detailed by eight divine announcements (“and God said”). Each day has one divine announcement, with days 3 and 6 having two announcements. Therefore, according to the FV, the eight divine announcements are symmetrically divided into two parallel units of three days. The first triad is classified as “creation kingdoms” (the creation of empty and undeveloped mass and space) and the second as “creature kings” (things created to develop and fill what was created in the first triad). The chart below will help to illustrate the view:
In this blog we are critiquing the FV only on one front. We will be looking at the Hebrew construction known as the waw consecutive (WC). I will explain what this construction means for the creation week below. This examination will greatly help us to determine whether the creation account should be taken as literal and sequential narrative or topical and non-sequential poetry.
Paul Joüon, Semitic language specialist, argues the WC may appear in poetic literature, but it is not a defining characteristic in Hebrew poetry (Joüon, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, 2:390, sec. 118c.). Simply put, the WC does not occur frequently in poetic sections. This means if the creation account in Genesis is poetry, we should not expect to find the WC often in the text. Pratico and Van Pelt, two Hebrew scholars who authored the standard Hebrew grammar book found in most seminaries, contend the WC is “used primarily in narrative sequence to denote consecutive actions, that is, actions occurring in sequence." (Basics of Biblical Hebrew, p. 192). That is, when we are reading Hebrew narrative the WC is used to show a progression in the chronological timeline. For an example, look at the list below to compare how the WC is used in Genesis (it occurs 2,107 times in Genesis, an average of 42 times per chapter).
Therefore, as we enter into the creation text of Genesis 1:1-2:3, we can keep two things in mind.
- If the creation account is poetic, we would not expect to find the WC often
- If the creation account is literal narrative, we should expect to find the WC regularly.
So what do we find? The WC appears 55 times in 34 verses of Gen 1:1-2:3. This seems consistent with the rest of Genesis’ literal-historical sequential narrative, not the poetry sections. Be careful to understand my argument. I am NOT arguing that the WC always denotes sequence, for it can occasionally represent non-sequential action; however, it seems quite certain that WC is predominantly used sequentially in narrative literature (See--Coming to Grips with Genesis, p. 217, for more information on this line of reasoning).
There is much more to be said but not enough space here. In my next blog we will discuss more on the WC, specifically how it occurs in Genesis 1:1-2:3. With the information presented in this blog post it seems reasonable to conclude the following:
- The WC frequency found in the creation account of Genesis 1:1-2:3 is consistent with how the WC is found in literal/sequential historical narrative throughout the rest of Genesis.
Furthermore, if one wants to still claim Genesis 1:1-2:3 is poetic, in spite of the evidence given above, they would have to state Genesis 1:1-2:3 is not only an A-Typical poetic section but a unique one defying normal Hebrew poetic syntax. Therefore, the onus falls even heavier upon their shoulders to present other stronger pieces of evidence for the rest of us to believe the typical literal/sequential syntax seen in Genesis 1:1-2:3 is not actually literal/sequential narrative.