GENESIS 1-3 AND REVELATION 21-22: UNITED OR DIVIDED? LOCAL OR GLOBAL?
LITERAL OR APOCALYPTIC?
SAM FROST AND TIM MARTIN/JEFFERY VAUGHN
Introduction and Background To the Preterist Debate over Genesis 1-3 and Revelation 21-22
What follows this introduction from TLM, is an exchange between Sam Frost (a young earth and literal 6 day creationist view of Genesis 1), and Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn (holding to a covenant creationist view of Genesis 1-3 embracing a more poetic/apocalyptic perspective. First some comments of these men and where TLM stands on some of their other teachings.
Sam is a 5 point Calvinist and a Biblical Preterist. He has had a lot of influence upon me in the area of understanding 1 Corinthians 15 from a corporate and covenantal perspective. I also enjoy Sam’s transparent personality and humility in his lectures and interactions over the Internet and the phone. Because of this and that I have always found his articles very good, I have posted them here on TLM for you to enjoy. However, I am not as dogmatic at he is in his views that Genesis 1-2 describe a literal 6 day creation week and am open to more of a poetic apoctalp. For this I introduce the work of Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn.
Before introducing Tim’s influence upon me in Genesis 1-7, let me briefly address my disagreements with Tim.
The most notable disagreement comes from Tim’s belief that Christians can lose new covenant or eternal life. Although Tim does not classify himself as an Arminian or Calvinist (how many times have we heard that before from Arminians?), but this one point of belief alone, in my opinion, is a denial of the sovereign grace and power of God. The Bible clearly states that Christian’s “will” not go outside the gates of the New Creation and sin the sin unto death (apostasy) “nor can” they do so because they in fact have overcome the world with their God given faith (Rev. 3:12; 1 John 3:9/5:1-18; Ephs. 2:8-10).
Jeff Vaughn’s background is the Church of Christ. This concern has already been addressed in articles on this site. I believe there are “serious similarities” between what the Judiazer’s were teaching concerning a ritual justification doctrine and the alleged need for circumcision to be necessary and apart of the “salvation by grace” process; and what the Church of Christ has taught concerning their version of a ritual justification doctrine of water baptism as allegedly being necessary or “apart” of “salvation by grace.”
Just because I see Tim and Jeff perhaps being more than confused on some issues concerning the sovereign grace of God, that doesn’t mean that they can’t “connect the dots” of Scripture and come up with Biblical views. Max King was able to raid Ridderbos and others in developing and “connecting the dots” to the corporate and covenantal body theme in the N.T. Perhaps some of us (holding to sovereign grace or not) have substantially built upon Augustine, Terry, Kline, Ridderbos, Chilton, Jordan, Sailhamer, etc. in “connecting the dots” of Genesis 1-3 and Revelation 21-22.
Those such as Ed Stevens and Walt Hibbard, who have rejected these covenantal and corporate “connecting of the dots” on the consummation that took place in AD 70 have been forced to do exegetical gymnastics and have been brought into a bizarre literalism of the “literal rapture” doctrine. Perhaps those who seek to divide up Genesis 1-3 have been forced into similar exegetical gymnastics? You the reader will have to decide.
I attended a preterit conference where Gary DeMar in a private discussion recommended me reading Tim’s book and his arguments for a local flood in Genesis 6-7. I have some respect for some of Gary’s scholarship, so I bought one of Tim’s early versions of “Beyond Creation Science” books. I thought he made a compelling case especially with the tie between the Greek word ge and it’s Hebrew father eretz.
But in my personal studies, the question arose as to how far back should eretz be translated or considered local? Tim also got me reading some of my Milton Terry books that I had had on my shelf but hadn’t gotten into in a long time. Terry’s more apocalyptic and poetic understanding of Genesis was fascinating to me. The more I studied the more I learned that there was a solid Reformed tradition for not understanding the days of Genesis 1 in a literal 24 hour and chronological way. Although I didn’t agree with everything the Day Age view and Frame Work views hold to, nor to all that Dispensationalist John Saihamer has taught, I found some of what they were teaching and developing aligned itself more with the Biblical Preterist view than with what the literal young earth view (LYEV) teaches.
This coupled with some of the nagging questions I had had in my Genesis class at Bible College came back to the surface: 1) How can there be light and 3 days before the creation of the sun on the fourth “literal” “day”? 2) Where does this entire civilization of Nod come from that Cain is afraid of? 3) Did Noah really get two of every animal and insect from the globe onto the dimensions of that ark? In the past, I just wasn’t really satisfied with the standard explanations, but because I hadn’t really been presented with any other alternatives or even studied them in much detail, I had just accepted the standard explanations.
Then I was doing an article one time refuting the 5 reasons why Kenneth Gentry takes 2 Peter 3 as a future and literal prediction of the de-creation of the planet earth. One of his points is that Peter quotes Genesis 1, so this must be the creation of the “elements” that is discussed by Peter. But of course Gentry does not address that John–in Revelation 21 alludes to “the first” heavens and earth passing away is the Genesis 1 creation. This apparently doesn’t stop him from taking this text as the old covenant creation passing in AD 70. Gentry does not address that Peter in chapter 3 is writing what follows as “reminders” of what he had written in his first letter which clearly taught that all O.T. prophecy (which obvious included Isaiah 65-66) was “at hand” (1 Peter 1:4-12, 4:5-7, 17; 2 Peter 3:1). Therefore, Gentry’s appeal that the creation passing in Revelation 21 is an AD 70 event because the time texts demand it, whereas 2 Peter 3 allegedly is future because there is no time text, is bogus! Gentry apparently can’t “connect the dots” between 1 Peter 1:4-12; 4:5-7, 17 and 2 Peter 3 let alone Peter’s connections to Genesis and Isaiah. Gentry’s futurist and “expanded” literal interpretation of Isaiah 65-66 in 2 Peter 3 is inconsistent to his spiritual and imminent interpretation of John referencing the same passages of Genesis 1 and Isaiah 65-66 in Revelation 21 to pass away and be re-created by AD 70.
But back to my point. The fact that Peter and John both reference Genesis 1 was and always has been very interesting to me. Partial Preterist’s such as John Owen and Biblical Preterist’s usually go to Isaiah 51:15-16 to demonstrate that the old covenant is described as a heavens and earth and that this is what Peter and John is addressing in their writings. But clearly they are addressing the heavens and earth of Genesis 1. The other nagging text was Hebrews 1:10-12.
As I was studying for my lecture on the temple imagery in Genesis 1-4 for a Preterist conference (where both Sam and Tim were speakers as well), along with reading some other views of Genesis, I couldn’t help but see a lot of “local” land issues in Genesis 1-4 connected with Adam and Israel in the promised land being mandated by God to subdue and rule the land/nations. This coupled with the admission from many theologians on a wide spectrum that Adam was called to be much more than a gardener and even some indicating that he could have had a mandate to proclaim God’s word and revelation to other clans or people groups in the area—I found rather intriguing as well. The prophet Ezekiel does seem to give the concept that people groups and nations in Eden are represented as trees and Eden language is used in evangelism (Ezk. 31; 47).
Apparently my questions via personal email, discussion lists, and at a conference were apart of the process (not the singular one no doubt), that Tim told me “pushed him over” to be more consistent in his covenant creation view and develop more of Milton Terry’s position than he had in the past.
Tim and Jeff mention my name in their book BEYOND CREATION SCIENCE NEW COVENANT CREATION FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION, 17. However, because I was very busy at the time writing a co-author response to WSTTB with David Green and Ed Hassertt, I just didn’t have a lot of time to read the chapters they sent to me or make a lot of suggestions. The only two I made was to quote David Chilton on the 7 days of the new creation in John 1-4 (of which they did) and deal more with the ramifications of Adam possibly not being the first man but the first covenant man (which I had mentioned on a Preterist list as a possible term to use). I’m not sure this second development came, but to be perfectly honest, I haven’t still read their entire book yet so it may be in there somewhere. Hopefully when I get the time and read their entire book I will offer my own review.
But here is where I have been for about 3-4 years and where I continue to be in my studies of Genesis 1-3:
1) I don’t’ see a “gap” in time or theological content between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 like some do. Nor do I accept the concept that Sailhamer throw’s out there, that “earth” in Genesis 1:1 should be considered global and 1:2ff. should be considered the local land. These are not exegetically convincing to me. They address the same “earth/land” or they don’t. I think Sailhamer’s point that both the Northern and Southern rivers in the land of Eden are used to mark off the same perimeters as the Promised Land in the early chapters of Genesis is very significant. Both David Chilton and Sailhamer have made the same local judgment points in their description of the de-creation language of Jeremiah 4:23ff./Genesis 1:2 as local– in time–judgments. I also think that developments of men such as Levenson, Fletcher, Beal, and other’s that “heaven and earth” can be considered an “appellation” of the land of Jerusalem and her temple is also significant (cf. Isaiah 65:17-18/Revelation 21-22) in this respect. The Jew understood his land to be a “heaven and earth/land” and all the Gentile nations outside this covenant land to be in “darkness” and “wild beasts” that needed to be tamed, subdued, and ruled with Torah. When they came into the covenant community they were described as a “new creation.” Isn’t this what we see in the Gospel proclamation of Isaiah 65-66 and Revelation 21-22:17? I too think we should work within some of the same “time tested” views of the historic church on Genesis, but just add them up together in such a way ( Augustine, Terry, Kline, etc.) that best harmonizes with how Revelation 21-22 “ends” Genesis 1-3. Selah.
2) I don’t see Genesis 2:4 as a “transitionary verse” from the global heavens and earth of Genesis 1 to another symbolic or purely local one in Genesis 2, anymore than I see Matthew 24:35-36 as “transitionary verses” to defend two “ends” and two comings of Jesus in Matthew 24-25 to bring an end to the old covenant age and at the same time as alleged evidence that Jesus is also teaching an end to the literal creation. Could Sam’s distinctions between bara and asah in Genesis 1-2 be linkened to futurist’s who have attempted to prove that there are two different kinds of comings of Jesus in Matthew 24 separated by thousands of years, based upon the two different Greek words parousia and erchomai? We all have seen where those kind of arguments go–nowhere in a hurry.
3) I lean in the direction of Augustine, Terry, Ridderbos, and Kline, in that Genesis 1-3 could have much more symbolism and poetic literature involved in it, than most would be willing to accept at first glance. But the exact details of that I’m still thinking about and trying to work through. I am not as set in stone in my studies of Genesis 1-3 as I am in my convinctions on the doctrines of grace and Preterism–Gospel Eschatology. However, I thought one of Sam’s friend’s (and mine) suggestion that we get a child to read Genesis 1 to determine if the chapter should be taken literally or not was, well, not very well thought through. Should we take the same child and ask him or her to read the curse of Genesis 3:14-19 to determine what is global and literal and which isn’t? Or ask him or her to read Revelation 21-22 to determine if this person’s Preterist view of the passing of the “first” creation and being released from the curse of Genesis 3 should be taken literally or not? Should we ask the same child to read John 3:16 to determine if this person’s view of limited atonement and the bondage of the will is true? I am not interested in consulting children regarding the genre and recapitulation issues surrounding Genesis 1-3 and Revelation 21-22. However, futurists probably should consult them on the meaning of “some standing here…,” “this generation,” “soon” and “about to be.”
4) If Genesis 1-2 is not describing a literal 6 day creation of the globe, this in no way shakes my faith in the fact that Christ has redeemed me and set me before His face in the New Creation Revelation 22:4. It didn’t shake my faith to understand that Romans 8 and the book of Revelation aren’t about the end of planet earth and time either.
Is there a lot to think through in Genesis 1-3? Absolutely! Do we all have it figured out? Well, I for one don’t and proceed in the study with humility confessing I don’t have all the answers. Is it a test for fellowship? I for one don’t hold it as such. Does this debate/discussion within Preterist circles prove Preterism is wrong? Absolutely not! Futurists have struggled and debated these issues longer than we have.
But for the Preterist, we want to discover just how many “continuity” issues there are between “the two book ends”—Genesis 1-3 and Revelation 21-22. Just as Sam Frost and myself would argue that the continuity and context of Isaiah 25-27 and Hosea 13, point us to a more corporate and covenantal view of 1 Corinthians 15 than is usually seen by most at the outset; we need to be open to developing as many “continuity” issues as possible when N.T. authors quote or reference Genesis 1-3 material, than is usually seen by most at the outset—selah. What follows is a gracious attempt to do just that. Sit back and enjoy the exchange with an open Bible.
By: Samuel Frost
The following article will be a bit technical, but I will try to explain definitions as best I can as I go along. This response is to an issue that has been clouding up the horizon, in my opinion, for some time and has not yet been adequately answered from a Biblical Preterist perspective.
Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn have written a book (Beyond Creation Science: New Covenant Creation From Genesis to Revelation. Apocalyptic Vision Press, 2007) which makes the bold claim that unless Preterists of all forms accept its premises, then Preterism as we know it will simply fall apart. It claims to solve the problem of the so called “Genesis debate” concerning science and the supposed discrepancies with reading Genesis “literally.” It also makes the bold claim that those who hold to a “young earth” are naïve, ill-informed, and, as Preterists, inconsistent.
It is not the intention of this article to answer every argument the book proposes. Instead, I want to focus on a few arguments that, if found to be false, seriously damage much of the enterprise of Martin and Vaughn. This is not a happy task since 1), these are brothers in Christ; 2), they are Preterists with which I have much in common; and 3), we would all like to see unity in such matters so that the larger community can continue to grow. However, over the years of surveying Preterist conferences, letters, e-mails, etc., in spite of unity in all points of doctrine, preterism is growing all over the world – little by little.
It is my hope that those who endorse Martin and Vaughn will seriously read the following pages with an open and cautious mind. That they will consider the arguments I raise and the sources from which they are noted (Martin and Vaughn even credit me on page 18 for being critical). It is also my hope that I will be as fair in my treatment as possible, steering away from a diatribe. However, I write this with the conviction that much of the methodology found in Beyond Creation Science (BCS) is unbiblical, unsound, and goes against the founded principles of logic and biblical hermeneutics. As such, BCS, while valuable in many regards to the Preterist community as a major stride in purely fulfilled eschatological studies, is not “the future of Preterism.” It is merely one attempt at many, and that is why we should not shut ourselves off to criticism to this view – but rather embrace criticism of this view in the hopes that a synthesis will occur that we can all agree upon, that correction in each other’s approach to Genesis (and issues surrounding the role of science and epistemology) will bring about a greater understanding for all involved.
I. The Source
Milton Terry was a nineteenth century Methodist Episcopalian who graduated from Yale University. He had various pastorates before becoming a renowned teacher at Garrett Biblical Institute. In 1884 he left the pastorate and became Professor of Greek and Hebrew Exegesis at Northwestern University. It was part due to the success of his book Biblical Hermeneutics (1883) and later Biblical Apocalyptics (1898). Both of these works have played an enormous role for Preterists. I first came to read both of the first reprinted Baker Books editions in the late 1980’s and have consulted them ever since.
Terry was not a “full” Preterist, but his exegesis of Matthew 24 and Revelation as a whole was, for all intents and purposes, ninety-five percent preteristic. His view of the millennium was more or less Amillennial, in that it spoke of the entirety of the “church age.” Terry largely derived his material from J.S. Russell, a Congregationalist minister, who wrote, The Parousia (Baker Books, reprint 1887, 1985) – and he was not a “full” Preterist, either.
Terry lived in the age when science was booming. Darwinism was now permanently on the scientific scene, as well as other large “breakthroughs” in earth sciences. I mention Terry because, 1), his association with the Preterist community; and 2), the influence he has on Martin and Vaughn. If one reads the Author Index in BCS (509) one can see that next to Henry Morris, Milton Terry is quoted sixty-one times. In other words, many of the more important points BCS makes is derived largely from the material found in the two books by Terry.
II. The Problem
The problem is that Milton Terry, being virtually alone in his opinion (since he cites few to defend his view on this matter ), was, as far as I can tell, the first to suppose that Genesis 1-11 is largely to be classified as “apocalyptic” in genre. Hermman Gunkel, who wrote Schopfung und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit: Eine religiongeschichliche Untersuchung uber Gen 1 und Ap Joh 12 in 1895 (12 years after Terry) was “the first modern scholar to have seriously attempted to trace the roots of apocalyptic literature in ancient texts” (The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism: Volume 1 – The Origins of Apocalypticism in Judaism and Christianity, Ed., J. Collins, Continuum, 2003, 3). Gunkel’s work was and is a landmark, but very liberal.
The reason Terry applied apocalyptic to Genesis is not on the basis of Preterism and not on the basis of pure exegesis. He stated his reason quite plainly:
…the discoveries of science have effectually exploded the old notion of the creation of earth and the heavens in six ordinary days” (Biblical Apocalyptics, p. 40).
Terry all but repeated this earlier in Biblical Hermeneutics (Ch. 31, “Alleged Contradictions of Science”, 583-ff). Two things are to be mentioned here: 1), Terry, writing in 1889, spoke of the “old notion” of the Young Earth Creation view (YEC), yet one of the premises of Martin and Vaughn is that YEC did not exist prior to Ellen G. White. That premise alone is false, but must be explored in another article. Second, Terry was an empiricist. He believed in scientific methodology for discovering truth (and yet held to a high reverence for the Bible). Therefore, the overwhelming evidence of science became the basis for his rejection of Genesis 1-11 as an account of detailed history. If, after all, empirical earth sciences have “effectually exploded” the notion of a young universe, then it follows quite logically that Genesis cannot be talking about creation that would impact Science at all. Of course, the scientific theories in vogue during his day have been “effectually exploded” as well! Terry never heard of the little German theorist that would come on the scene in a few decades.
It may not be the case that Martin and Vaughn start with Science, but argue, rather, that they start with the Bible (in fact, they deny that they start with the word of God – instead they start with “the Trinitarian nature of God himself” – this rather problematic epistemic must be countered separately –p. 383). However, one cannot fail to mention the sixty-one times Terry is referred to in their work and the fact that Terry, Martin and Vaughn classify Genesis as “apocalyptic.” Either Terry is inconsistent, or Martin and Vaughn are – or perhaps, both parties are.
II. A. Classifying “Genre.”
Genre is defined as “A classification of a written form that is used in literature as studied in form criticism. Examples include historical narrative, didactic, prophetic, apocalypse and the like” (Pocket Dictionary for the Study of Biblical Hebrew, Murphy, Todd J., IVP, 2003,
Prose is straight historical narrative. It is a “just the facts, ma’am” approach to writing. I Kings and II Kings are prose; historical narratives. In fact, they are classified as Historical Books in the Bible. This classification is based upon two major considerations: the information the books contain, and the style of writing. In Hebrew there are marked differences of style, structure, syntax and vocabulary between Psalms, Job, Wisdom of Solomon, Proverbs and the Prophets (Wisdom Literature) and the Historical Books. Prose is “straight monologue” and “any type of writing that is not poetic” (op cit., “Prose”).
More technically, “A Hebrew narrative is typically initiated with a wayyiqtol form, often vayehiy. A succession of wayyiqtol verb forms constructs the framework or main line of the narrative” (A Workbook for Intermediate Hebrew, Chisholm Jr., Robert B., Kregal Pub., 2006. 11). What this means is that in Hebrew we see, “And David said….and David went….and David saw…then Absalom said….then Ruth went….” (this formula is called the “wayyiqtol” pattern) It is “straight monologue.” There are no breaks.
“The structure of Hebrew poetry differs significantly from prose. The backbone of Hebrew narrative is the succession of wayyiqtol (imperfect/preterite with waw consecutive) verbal forms. The dominant structure in Hebrew poetry is parallelism” (ibid., 12). A few definitions are needed here. “Parallelism” is a sentence followed by a somewhat similar sentence: “The Lord rescued me from my enemies/He delivered me from those who hate me.” It is an immediate occurrence in the text and is not to be confused with repeated patterns in a given story or stories. For example, Abraham “goes down” to Egypt; Jacob “goes down” to Egypt; Joseph “goes down” to Egypt, etc. Repetitions or parallel patterns is not the same as parallelisms. Waw is the word for “and”, “but”, “then” in Hebrew. A waw consecutive is a series of “ands” attached to various imperfect verbs (“went down”, “saw”, “ran” etc.) in a successive order. Poetry is void of this phenomenon.
What is interesting is that Terry made the same distinctions in Biblical Hermeneutics (pp. 82-106). However, “apocalyptic” can use the wayyiqtol forms though it contains the elements of poetry as well. Apocalyptic genre often occurs in poetic structures (parallelism). Psalm 18 is a fine example of both apocalyptic imagery (exaggerated image of God as a thunderous, mountain smashing, cloud riding warrior) set in parallelisms.
Secondly, apocalyptic is heavily laden with gross and fantastic symbols, often void of any absolute interpretation (interpreters tend to become lost in the details). Apocalypses have been defined as “historical” (like Revelation or Daniel) or completely otherworldly (I Enoch, even though here Enoch relates the history of Genesis). Collins wrote that it is a “genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework…disclosing a transcendent reality…” (Collins, op. cit., xiii). Now, this might sound like a definition that one could fit the narrative of Genesis in. However, marked features occur in this genre:
1. There is a mediator of the “heavenly vision.”
2. It is called a “dream” or a “heavenly vision” at the outset.
3. The recipient of the dream or vision is usually “caught away”.
4. The recipient is usually identified, so as to give weight to the visionary writing. Like, “I, John wrote the things I saw,” or “I, Daniel, was given a vision,” or “This is the vision given to Isaiah concerning,” etc.,
5. The images require interpretation which is usually given by an angel.
6. The images are often grossly fantastic and mysteriously clouded by enigma, followed by puzzlement and wonder.
7. They are a classification of Prophetic Literature, using a historical narrative frame, but largely peppered with poetical structure (parallelisms) – in other words, not straight forward, but often broken lines, independent nouns, verb-less stanzas, etc.
“Prophecy records its message in poetry; apocalyptic in narrative accounts of visions and heavenly journeys full of mystery….The events described in apocalyptic literature are often presented with literary techniques found more commonly in poetry: metaphor, hyperbole, personification, irony, numerical patterns and so forth” (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, Eds. Leland Ryken, James C. Wihoit, Tremper Longman III, “Apocalypse, Genre of”, IVP, 1998, 36).
An honest reader of the opening narrative of Genesis will find none of these elements that are so consistently found in apocalyptic literature. If only we had, “I, Moses, was carried away into thick darkness, where there was formlessness and void, to the beginning of heavens and land, and I saw and looked….” There is none of that here. There is, however, every element of “straight monologue.” In other words, historical narrative. To ignore the overwhelming definition and classifying elements that make an apocalypse what it is, and continue to insist that Genesis is apocalyptic, is mistaken.
II. B. Examples
In Genesis I will give two examples of what I mean exactly. First, in Genesis 2.18-23a we find a straight forward wayyiqtol narrative structure: “and…and…and…and…” etc. However, when we come to 23.b this feature ends:
“This! At last! Bone of my bones! And flesh of my flesh! To this will be called, “woman”! Because out of man was taken this! Therefore man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves (waw with perfect verb) to his wife and they become (waw with perfect) one flesh” (my translation).
Note the breaks. No verbs except two (“called” and “taken”) without the waw– consecutive. The verbs that have waw are perfects, not the wayyiqtol form. After this eruption of poetic intimacy, the text once again turns to straight monologue, “And both of them were naked” using the wayyiqtol form (waw with the imperfect form). This is standard Hebrew. Poetry is clearly marked off in the text.
The second example involves apocalyptic style. It is found in Genesis 15. There, from 15.1-12a we find a few waw consecutives. But, in 12b the text becomes broken into a series of different syntactical structures: “As the sun was going down (waw with imperfect) and a deep sleep fell (perfect) on Abram. And behold! Dread! Great darkness fell (perfect) upon him…” God begins to speak to him using only one waw consecutive (13-16). Then, picking up parallelism, verse 17 starts with a waw consecutive, and then moves right into poetry again: “And when the sun had gone down, and dark it was (“and” is added to the noun, not the verb)…And Behold! Fire pot! Smoking! Torch! Flaming! which passed (perfect) between the pieces.”
This irregularity continues until 16.1,2 where a new story begins and the waw consecutive continues throughout with no breaks. Why, then, is the structure in chapter 15 irregular? 15.1 tells us: “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in the vision…” Chapter 15 is a vision and the text explicitly tells us so. It shows us the recipient (Abram). It has fantastic imagery. It is given as “the word of the Lord” (a typical phrase in prophetic-apocalyptic works). Following the definition of Collins, the apocalyptic vision of Abram does indeed occur with very few waw consecutives; that is, within a narrative framework. However, the text is so marked by parallelisms and broken sentence structure that it meets the criteria of apocalyptic. It makes the point that when Hebrew wants to express apocalyptic or poetry it is so marked within the text that it is unmistakable. Genesis 1 hardly meets any of these demands (This chapter contains fifty-one waw consecutives. 1.27 being the exception of parallelism). Even where poetry occurs in Genesis, as in the example of chapter 2, it is clearly marked out within the historical narrative so that it is easily seen for what it is: poetry. Countless examples of this could be given.
III. C. Martin and Vaughn Answer
Martin and Vaughn are quite aware of the issue of “genre” in Genesis. From pages 265-306 they attempt to give a plausible reason as to why Genesis 1-11 should be taken as “apocalyptic.” I believe that some of the things that are written in this section are true and actually supports the case I make. Some of the things they write about are false, or do not follow and suffer from reading apocalyptic genre into every aspect of 1-11. In other words, in seeking to demonstrate that 1-11 does indeed contain “poetry”, “prophecy”, “symbols” and “apocalyptic” (as I have already noted that it does), this does not mean that all of 1-11 is purely symbolic or apocalyptic. It appears to me that their argument here becomes somewhat jumbled.
First off, and why I, too, began with this issue, is that they clearly demonstrate its first importance: “Our first question to answer, if we wish to understand Genesis on its own terms, is this: What kind of literature do we find in early Genesis?” (267 – bold theirs). This is drawn from a quotation given by Terry. There can be, then, no argument that this is the first issue to deal with, and if this first issue “determines” (Terry) how Genesis is to be interpreted, and if this first issue they delineate is wrong, then what follows from this is not necessarily true, either. In the words of the philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, “Ich darf mir nicht den Ast absagen, auf welchem ich sitze” (“I must not saw off the branch on which I am sitting”) – (Philosophical Investigations Germ. and Eng. trans. Oxford: Blackwell 2d ed. 1997, sect. 55). The “branch” that Martin and Vaughn sit on is that Genesis 1-11 is apocalyptic.
First, drawing from David Chilton (Days of Vengenace, Dominion Press, 1987 – 29), they note the “presence of prophecy in Genesis 3.15” (268). I have already noted the presence of poetry in Genesis 2. Remember the definition of Collins: a “genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework…disclosing a transcendent reality” (see above). No one is denying that apocalyptic literature contains narrative frameworks. Poetry, prophecy, symbolism, etc. can be contained within a historical narrative. This does not mean, however, that all of that narrative is non-historical or purely symbolic.
For example, citing Genesis 3.15, we find waw-consecutives throughout 3.1-14 – straight forward historical narrative, then, as we should expect, if 3.15 is “prophetic”, it will be marked within the framework as being such. And it is. 3.15 begins with a conjunction (waw) and a noun followed by a verb (“And enmity I will put between you and between the woman and between your seed and between her seed. He shall bruise (imperfect, no conjunction) you. Head! And you (conjunction with noun) shall bruise him (imperfect, no conjunction). Heel!” (my translation). This proves my point above about the nature of Biblical Hebrew. It marks out poetry, prophecy within a historical narrative so that we understand this is not necessarily literal, but could be metaphorical at this spot. The syntax here is notably broken from the flow of the waw consecutive narrative.
What Martin and Vaughn want us to conclude, however, is false. They move from this verse and conclude that the whole literary style of Genesis 1-11 is apocalyptic! This is just bad logic. In logic, Some A is B does not mean that All A is B. We are not to conclude, and there is no textual reason to conclude, that just because 3.15 introduces poetry (in this case prophecy) and symbolism (“head” “heel” “seed”) that Adam, Eve, Serpent, Tree of Good and Evil, Garden of Eden and the command not to eat were not real, historical events (Martin and Vaughn do not argue that Adam was non-historical, but we must deal with that issue later below).
Luke 3.37 traces the genealogy of Jesus to Adam, which means that Jesus was indeed the “seed” of the woman, Eve. They really existed. Symbolically Jesus did bruise the head of Satan (notice Paul, alluding to this prophecy, wrote, “and soon he shall crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16.20). Paul does not say, “the serpent” but “Satan.” The serpent was Satan, not just a non-historical symbol for “man’s evil conscience”. Paul is clearly alluding to 3.15, and interpreting it. For metaphor to work, there must be a concrete and tangible object that it is representing. If not, then it is a metaphor for nothing.
Next, Martin and Vaughn take on the definition of apocalyptic genre given above and attempt to use Chilton to prove their point (269-270). The distinction Chilton makes between “apocalyptic genre” as defined by modern scholarship and “biblical apocalyptics” as he defined it is not due to the description given above. It is due to Chilton’s postmillennialism (which he adhered to when he wrote Days of Vengeance). Typically, intertestimental apocalytpics and even second century Christian ones, foretold of doom and destruction. For Chilton, God’s judgment in A.D. 70 served as a gateway for postmillennial victory over the earth. Of course, then, Chilton would make such a distinction! What Chilton does not express, and what he does not get into with detail, is that the description of apocalyptic material, whether biblical authors or pseudepigraphal ones, matches. Of course, the main difference between them is that the biblical authors are inspired, whereas the others are merely fictional works.
I Enoch (and most pseudepigraphal writings) follow the pattern of the biblical apocalyptic prophets. They make their name known, “I, Enoch, was caught away…” or, “I, Daniel, had a dream…” or “I, John, saw a vision…” They generally have an “angel” interpreting their visions. They interweave historical reality with poetry. Secondly, I Enoch does not end in doom. It ends with a new heavens and a new earth. It ends with victory – just not postmillennial victory. This follows simply because of the fact that the pseudepigraphal authors copied the style of the biblical apocalyptic authors. The biblical authors came first and set the standard for what would be termed “apocalyptic” so that we would expect similarities. To state that modern criticism of apocalyptics, and the definition afforded by that criticism, is off limits as to what constitutes biblical apocalyptics is unfounded.
Martin and Vaughn have to make this accusation because they know that Genesis 1-11 does not meet the 7 fold criteria given above, and this virtually explodes their argument as a whole. I firmly believe that some aspects contained within a historical narrative are poetic. No Hebrew scholar would deny this. But to make all of Genesis 1-11 “apocalyptic” because there are some elements of poetry, prophecy, etc., is a logical leap that cannot be made.
Martin and Vaughn, it appears, do not even follow their own advice. On pages 249-252 they spend a good deal of time trying to convince us that “day” is a symbol for an “undefined amount of time”. But, why is this the case? If apocalyptic, why can’t “day” be a simple 24 hour period of time? It is, after all, a symbol, right? It is not a literal 24 hour day. This would be like saying the “sun” is a symbol for an unspecified amount of heat and light! It would be more in keeping with saying something along the lines like, “the 24 hour day and week days of Genesis 1 do not represent what literally took place. It is a symbolic Worship Week, ending in Sabbath. By this common representation (for every school boy knows what a “day” is), God is saying that he ordered creation in terms of Worship, regardless of how many eons it took for God to really make the universe.” If “day” is symbolic of “unspecified time”, then Martin and Vaughn have fallen into the same trap as the “day-age” theorists, who do believe that Genesis is speaking in terms of a scientific cosmogony (that is, they try to fuse Genesis 1 with science)!
They should, rather, follow Terry’s advice, who did not seek to take “day” as the “day-age” theorists did in his own time. It’s a “day” defined by the number, “1” and further delineated by the phrase, “evening and morning.” You cannot get any more specific than that. It’s not an “age”, and if Genesis is not at all concerned with the origins of the universe in a real, historical, scientific sense, there would be no harm whatsoever in taking “day” as a 24 hour period, symbolically speaking, of course.
While I am on this matter of “day” the exegesis given by Martin and Vaughn in other passages is not too impressive. In fact, it violates the rules of grammar that are uniformly in agreement. They want to make the phrase “evening and morning” mean and “undefined amount of time” (251). They ask the question, “How do you have a literal evening and morning without a sun?” Ask God. The fact that “light” was separated from “darkness” should answer that question – and time is determined by God. But this wades into matters no scientist can answer. Let us stick with the text (as if the author of Genesis never wondered if anyone would catch his goof!).
First, they use Ex 27.21. Well, they quote only part of that verse. “In the tent of meeting outside of the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons, from evening to morning shall tend it before the Lord – a statute for ages, throughout their generations…” It is an instruction of what Aaron and his sons are to do daily (tend) for ages and generations (lots of days). How they get that “evening and morning” here means “undetermined time” strains the credibility of sound exegesis. Rather, the phrase can be dynamically understood as “every day you shall tend in the Tent of Meeting.”
Moving on, they go to Ps 90.5-6. First off, we are in poetry (a simile is used). Men are like grass which grows and flourishes in the morning and fades in the evening and withers. Martin and Vaughn want us to think that “grass” here is one lawn, so that the grass in your lawn grew up in one morning, then fades again that very evening. “Does grass grow up to maturity in one day 24-hour day (sic)?” (251). The psalmist does not say “grow up to maturity” – it says “flourishes” and “is renewed.” That’s what dew does to my lawn in the morning. But, I can point to another lawn that was green in the morning, and brown by the next day. I live in Florida. The psalmist lived in the desert. Nonetheless, this is poetic and a simile – either way, it does not prove that “evening and morning” in Genesis 1 means unspecified time.
Ps 55.17 does not support their case, either. The text reads, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray.” Their exegesis: “David refers to constant prayer and petition before God. He gives no defined time statement of 24 hours” (251). Again, this psalm explains what David does on each given day (every day): evening, morning, and noon. Are we seriously to believe that “noon” is not a specific time? How much more specific can David be? Daniel prayed “three times a day”. How would they define that symbolic day and the number three?
The above examples are easy to dismiss, but some may be convinced by the next example found in Da. 8.26. They offer very little exegesis to prove their point. The verse reads, “The vision of the evenings and the mornings which has been told is true…for it pertains to many days.” Now, the Hebrew here has “evening and morning” as singular, but most translations give the plural rendering. Martin and Vaughn try to make that case that since “days” is plural and “evening and morning” is singular, then evening and morning refer to an unspecified amount of time. They offer no exegesis, no grammatical reason, no footnotes.
However, as one that is familiar with Hebrew, their conclusion here violates a well known rule. In 8.14 we have 2,300 “evening and morning” (singular). The number 2,300 is actually three Hebrew words: 2,000 (dual noun) – 3 (adjective construct) – 100 (plural noun). The number is adjectival (an adjective describes a noun – which in this case is “evening and morning) and occurs after the singular phrase “evening and morning.” Rule: “the absolute number is used is used with a singular noun” (Biblical Hebrew Syntax – Bruce K. Waltke, M. O’Connor, Eisenbrauns, 1990, 277). This is an adjectival use of a number. The plurality of the number transfers to the singularity of the noun, therefore, the translations, “evenings and mornings” (plural) are grammatically correct.
We see the same in Genesis 46.27. “And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob that came into Egypt were seventy.” Good translation. But, see the words “persons”? The word is “nephesh” (soul) and it is singular: “two person…and all the person…” is the literal Hebrew. The same rule applies as above: the absolute number is used with a singular noun. If Martin and Vaughn were correct, “two soul” would mean that one soul could be two people since they reason that one “evening and morning” can be 2,300 hundred days! I do not point this out to be overbearing, but this is just incorrect Hebrew exegesis, plain and simple.
IV. Alleged Contradictions: Genesis 1 and 2.
Another major point in the work of Martin and Vaughn is that there is a contradiction between the sequence of creation events in Genesis 1 and chapter 2. No small amount of ink has been spilled over this concern in the past and this paper is certainly not going to solve all the issues involved. However, Martin and Vaughn provide no real material that proves their case; that because there is contradiction, the texts at hand demonstrate that Genesis’ early chapters are to be read as an apocalypse. In fact, it actually hurts their case and helps make mine.
First, to be fair, Martin and Vaughn will be quoted: “Young-earth creationism implies that Genesis 1 literally contradicts Genesis 2.” Martin and Vaughn note the order of creation in Genesis 1 and quote a fair portion of Genesis 2, concluding, “Notice the order of creation is entirely reversed in Genesis 2. Man was made first. Then a garden was planted for him…Then the Lord God formed “every beast of the field” and “every bird of the air.” If both passages were meant to be plain literal historical narratives, they reveal a direct contradiction. Literalism pits Genesis 1 against Genesis 2” (254-255 – ital. theirs).
They offer no real meticulous exegesis of the Hebrew text. They quote one solution to the apparent contradiction from Dispensational author Dick Fischer, which in itself is inept and rightly deserves to be dismissed. But this is a straw man. One is lead to believe that this is all there is to the matter. A blatant, obvious contradiction –plain and clear to anyone – occurs between 1 and 2. They say it is there, so it must be there! However, Martin and Vaughn are not the first ones to notice these two chapters.
Secondly, there is no contradiction when one considers the Hebrew text itself (which I shall). Third, they seek to resolve the contradiction by making both 1 and 2 “apocalyptic”. But, this does not do away with the contradiction at all. “Speaking scientifically, this order in Genesis 2 contradicts the order of Genesis 1. Either God made the animals first (Gen. 1), or he made man first (Gen. 2): it cannot be both. If Genesis 1 is a historical narrative , then Genesis 2 cannot be (or vice versa)…The truth is that neither account is plain historical narrative. Apocalyptic is known for repeating the same ideal picture in a different order…” (295). They give no examples for this assertion, and I can find none. The fact of the matter is that the contradiction is not resolved by making both chapters apocalyptic. In fact, their own logic would dictate this. If a contradiction arises by making both chapters historical (“they cannot be both”), then how does making both apocalyptic resolve the contradiction? It is still a contradiction! In Genesis 1 man is created before the animals, and in 2, he is not – it cannot be both regardless of how one classifies the text. This assumes that contradictions are not real contradictions in apocalyptic literature – that is, they are contradictions, but contradictions are perfectly valid in apocalyptic literature! I point the reader again to the fact that they provide no example of contradictions occurring in Daniel, Revelation or any other universally designated texts that are styled after the apocalyptic.
It is of utmost importance that I maintain the inerrancy of Scripture and that the Bible contains no contradictions whatsoever. The Bible does use paradox which is defined as a seeming contradiction, but can be straightened out with a little logical elbow grease. “He who seeks to gain life, must lose his life.” This is a paradox. “Life” is defined in two different ways. The first “life” is eternal life. The second is “worldly life”. This resolves the seeming contradiction. Several examples like this occur in the Bible.
IV. A. Exegetical Considerations between Gen 1 and 2.
Genesis 2 is an expansion of 1. This is typical in biblical literature. Chapter 1 is a bold, universal stage of the universe – all that we see around us – as far as the eye can see. The author does not use the language of modern science (thank God!), but this is not to say that the author is not aware of the universe and world around him. It is also not to imply that the biblical authors are “pre-scientific” – less dim in thinking than us modern sophisticates. The author was a man, and since the dawn of man, we have sought to understand the origins of the world – how we got here – what it all means. Most major cultures have cosmogonies – ancient accounts of how it all began – and Genesis is no different. I will discuss this more further in the paper.
First, it is supposed that the order between 1 and 2 is “entirely reversed.” Gen 2.4b begins with the toledot (“this is the account”), which I follow the majority of critical scholars as meaning both a reference back to and a reference forward (Eds., A. Beck, A. Bartelt, P. Raabe, C. Franke, Fortunate the Eyes that See: Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman, Eerdmans, 1995 – Joseph Blenkinsopp, “P and J in Genesis 1:1-11:26: An Alternative Hypothesis” – pp.5-ff). “The toledot formula is followed either by a genealogy or by a narrative account” (Childs, Brevard S., Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, Fortress Press, 1979 – pp. 145-ff). “Thus, a genealogy is introduced in 5.1; 10.1; 11.10; 25.12 and 36.1(9), and a narrative in 2.4; 6.9; 11.27; 25.19 and 37.2” (ibid., 145). Finally, “The role of the toledot formula in 2.4, which introduces the story of mankind, is to connect the creation of the world with the history which follows” (ibid., 148). Childs, for those who may not know, is a noted Hebrew scholar (Yale).
Toledot as a word has been subjected to much scholarly scrutiny. In the Dead Sea Scrolls is it found as meaning “generations” or “origin” (Dam., IQM and IQS, respectively). A genealogy is a history of sorts, or an “account” of a family line. However, as Childs has shown, it precedes narrative as well. This means that this word functions according to the context and what lies at the heart of the meaning is an “account” of something (see Koehler & Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, vol. 2, 1699, 1700). Fuerst listed it as, “an account, a history (of the rise or development of a thing)” (Fuerst, Julius, A Hebrew & Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, trans. Samuel Davidson, 1867). This is in keeping with the lexical consensus.
Martin and Vaughn do not spend much time on defining this term. They do quote from Hugh Ross, who makes an unwarranted point that because the plural form is used (toledot is always in the plural form, like “elohim” is for “God”) it means, “multiple generations have passed” by the time we get to Genesis 2.5 (257). He is defining the term exclusively by human generations, and this the context does not warrant. The plural “these” points to what is explicit, whereas the supposed “generations” are strangely omitted! Does that not strike the reader as odd: “generations” or a genealogy that mentions no genealogy or account of “multiple generations” that have passed?
The Septuagint (LXX) translated 2.4 as, “This is the book of the generation…” using the singular form of the word “genesis”. Martin and Vaughn try to link this word to the other Greek word found in the phrase, “this generation,” but that word is genea. They both have the same stem, “gen”, but they are two different words. The Hebrew translators of the LXX knew better. The word genesis means, “origin” or “birth.”
Even if the plural is granted, 2.4a refers back to the Creation account, which is certainly an account of the origins (plural) of things and man. For me to give a complete account of Genesis 2, I must first give a translation:
“These are the origins of The Heavens and The Earth in their being created. When the LORD God made an earth and a heavens:
These two sentences refer to two acts (Skinner, Speiser, NEB, JB, GNB). The first sentence, as the NIV rightly notes, ends with “created” and refers back to the narrative of chapter 1. The second sentence looks forward. This is noted because of the textual inversion of “heavens and earth” to “earth and heavens.” The emphasis in the first sentence, which has the article “the” on both nouns, is The Heavens and The Earth, using the verb bra with the prefixed preposition b. In 1.1 we find, “in beginning (b preposition attached), God made (bra) The Heavens and The Earth…” At the end of this account we find the same structure and vocabulary, forming an inclusio (the thing at the beginning is the thing at the end). Thus, 1.1-2.4a forms one unit.
2.4b starts another narrative, a narrative not about The Heavens and The Earth, but earth and heavens. It is an account of when God made an earth and a heavens distinct from The Earth and The Heavens. By the syntactical unusualness, the Hebrew text is pointing that something different is taking place here (see Blenkinsopp article cit. above). When we read the account of the Garden of Eden (“garden” in the LXX is “paradeisis” or “paradise” – God made a paradise on earth) we find that “shrub of the field” is used, not “shrub of The Earth” as used in Genesis 1. We find “beasts of the field” not “beasts of The Earth” as in 1. Other scholars have noted this as well: “…the following narrative does not deal with the heavens and the earth but only with the earth, and one bit of it in particular” (ital. mine, op. cit. Blenkinsopp, 7). The commentary of Keil and Delitzsche also made similar notes (Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1, The Penteteuch, Eerdmans, 1981). This “one bit” in particular is Paradise on The Earth. A heavens that mirrors the true heavenly abode of God – and which will later match the description of the Tabernacle and Solomonic Temple (and Herodian Temple, for that matter).
Preterists have long drawn off of the scholarship that has noted the similarities of the Paradise of Eden and the Tabernacle/Temple. These are types of the true heavenly abode of God. This is where God comes down and dwells with man. In the first instance, it is the Paradise of God. There are beasts of the field, shrubs, rivers of water, gold, onyx, etc. In the Mosaic Tabernacle we find the same items occurring. Only, in the Paradise of God, no animals of the field are required to be slain. This does not happen until Adam and Eve sin. And, note, the animal that is slain for their sins is slain inside the Paradise of Eden not outside. This follows, as much does, that the animals were brought into the Tabernacle area to be slaughtered, not outside.
2.5-ff relates the “making” (ash) of an earth and a heavens, not the “creating” (bra) of The Heavens and The Earth. There was “not a man to serve the ground” (not Earth – eretz –but “ground” adamah). As noted Hebrew scholar Keil remarked, “The creation of the plants is not alluded to here at all, but simply the planting of the garden in Eden” (op. cit. Keil, 77). This is a specific making of the Garden within the domain of The Heavens and The Earth. Therefore, the “plants of The Earth” had already been made, but shrubs for the field, the Garden, had not – and no man was in the Garden to serve it.
God makes the Man (adam) on day six and “puts him” in this specifically “made” (not “created”) Paradise/Temple. The verb used of man “serving” the ground is the same Levitical term for service in the Temple. God’s Temple/Paradise is the first “coming down” of God out of The Heavens to The Earth; it is the first occurrence of on earth as it is in the Heavens.
It is here that we find the making of two specific trees (not “every tree of The Earth”). The commandment is given to God and mirrors, again, the Torah (Law) that enforced Temple duties. Man is confronted with Law, Evil, Good and Service. In the service of the Paradise/Temple the Man needed a helper.
It is here that another supposed contradiction occurs. Many translations have, “now the LORD God made out of the ground all the beasts of the field.” Several notes are to be made. First, it is “beasts of the ground” not “beasts of The Earth.” Second, the NIV has “now the LORD GOD had formed out of the ground…” The translators use the pluperfect which is an aspect of the imperfect verb that means a previous action (Biblical Hebrew Syntax, op. cit., 33.2.3); Gesinius, Hebrew Grammar, 111.a-q). Keil agreed (87). There are several examples of this in the Hebrew Bible: I Kings 7.12-ff cf. to 6.9-ff; Num. 1.47-49; Ex 4.11-12, etc. Hebrew verbs are very fluid in aspectual nuances, and context determines their function syntactically. Here, unless we are to submit an obvious contradiction (which we cannot allow), the beasts of the field were already made before the creation of the Man.
Genesis 2, therefore, is not an entire reversal according to Martin and Vaughn. It is not a recapitulation of chapter 1. It is not a retelling or a different version of chapter 1. It is the specific formation (not creation) of the Paradise of God on The Earth on the sixth day. It is God’s capstone achievement at the end or last day of creating – heaven coming to earth/God dwelling with Man – the Glory of the Lord coming down on the last day to raise man from the dust and place him in His Temple/City/Paradise followed by a rest from works.
This Paradise had specific animals (note the fish are not mentioned – the Levitical sacrifices did not have fish offerings, but they did have “birds” and various “animals”). We are not to suppose, then, that every single genus of the first animals and fish entered into this Garden – and neither are we to suppose that this was the case with Noah’s Arc. The arc also is a type of “coming in” from the “outside” with “clean and unclean” animals – after all, it called an arc – a word used solely for the Arc of the Covenant.
The Hebrew Bible uses the word “all” or “every” either logically or rhetorically, more often the latter. Context determines. The Literalists, as Martin and Vaughn correctly point out, make too much of a case with these adjectives. However, that does not mean that the events in Genesis 1,2 are non-historical.
Now, Martin and Vaughn wrote that it would be impossible for God to have accomplished all of this in one ordinary day – day six in this instance. But, they give absolutely no reason why other than an appeal to common sense empiricism. James Jordan has shown most rationally how such things in Genesis 2 could have occurred on day six (Jordan, James B., Creation in Six Days: A Defense of the Traditional Reading in Genesis One, Canon Press, 1999, 47). Perhaps a coincidence, but Martin and Vaughn, who reference this book in BCS, make no note of Jordan’s rather brilliant answer. There can be no objection to it other than an appeal to empiricism: things like that just don’t happen. Well, we are dealing with God, right? How long does it take God to make a tree?
There is much more that can be said concerning the supposed “contradiction”. There is no contradiction whatsoever. There is no reversal of order. It has not been proven by Martin and Vaughn, and, in fact, their view still leaves one with the supposed contradiction!
IV. B. II Peter 3 Considered.
One of the more glaring contradictions, I believe, is found in how Martin and Vaughn lay another foundation of why they consider Genesis 1-11 as apocalyptic. Textually considered, it can be shown that their methodology here is quite impossible.
“An important question to ask is simply: “What is the first heaven and earth that John saw passing away?” The answer seems obvious enough. John’s vision makes reference to the first biblical mention of heaven and earth” (ital. theirs, 343). This is a bold leap. This boldness, however, runs right into a destructive contradiction.
Martin and Vaughn move right into the text of II Pe 3.5-7 and note, “Notice how Peter references the original creation when he says the heavens existed and the earth, ge, was formed…” Further, [the Flood] destroyed this covenant world” (346 – ital. theirs). But this is precisely what creates the problem. If the first heavens and earth is Genesis 1.1, then what “heavens and earth” was destroyed in Noah’s day? Would that not logically demand that Noah’s destruction was the first destruction? This is an inescapable conclusion. Rev 21.1 cannot, then, be a reference to Genesis 1.1, because, according to Martin and Vaughn, the 1.1 heavens and earth was “destroyed” according their own exegesis!
Not only is the Greek text of II Pe 3 difficult, but commentators have stumbled greatly as to what to make of its meaning. The text itself reads:
“For this is concealed from them willingly: that a heavens were of old and an earth by water and through water, having been held together by the word of God, through which things the then world being inundated by water perished, but The Now Heavens and The Earth by the same word are kept in store reserved for fire…”
Peter then states, “be not ignorant” which is the same word he used for “concealed.” “Do not let this stand concealed to you, brothers….” The meaning of “this is concealed from them” is something they forget to notice – something in the text escapes them. Peter then alludes to the Noachic story. Several problems occur at this point.
What we have here is 1), the then heavens and earth. 2), the Now heavens and the earth. 3), the new heavens and the new earth (3.13). Now, if the first heavens and earth is the Genesis 1.1 heavens and earth, then, clearly, it did not “perish” if the meaning is the Universe. The same sun Noah saw is the same sun we see. However, Peter clearly states that it “perished” or was “destroyed.” The Literalists have a hard time with this because they are following the same line as Martin and Vaughn: the first heavens and earth is the Genesis 1.1 heavens and earth.
What has deliberately been concealed is that God made a heavens and an earth upon The Heavens and The Earth. Peter’s Greek is right in line with the Hebrew text: that a heavens were of old and an earth by water and through water, having been held together by the word of God…” We discussed this at length above concerning the lack of the article in Genesis 2.4b. There are two heavens and earths in the Genesis account, just as there must be two heavens and earths in Peter’s account. The Paradise of God is what “perished” in the flood: the Garden, the Tree of Life, the gold, the East Gate all “perished” and was “destroyed.”
Further, the Paradise of God was not the “first heavens and earth”, either. If we went by numerical order, Genesis 1.1 would be the first, the Garden would be the second, the Temple/Tabernacle would be the third. But, this is far too much. The Garden of Eden is what “perished” during Noah’s day, and the heavens and the earth that “now” existed in Peter’s day was the first heavens and the first earth that was reserved for fire. The same heavens and earth that were reserved for fire is the same as in Rev 21.1 – and Peter clearly does not identify that with Genesis 1.1
The Garden of Eden was formed “out of” water. The LXX reads, “and there arose a fountain out of the earth (ek tes ges) and watered the face of the earth” (Gen. 2.6). “The earth” that is spoken of here is the Paradise of God – it was formed by four rivers, a midst, and a fountain of water – it was formed by water and through water: “and a river flows out of Eden to water the Paradise…” This description of the formation of an earth – Paradise – continues with the four rivers that form the Garden (2.8-14). We can, therefore, by all means conclude that this heavens and earth was certainly destroyed and perished. But, as we have seen above, this earth and heavens is not the same The Earth and The Heavens of Genesis 1.
What, then, is the first heavens and earth? As I have already noted, Paradise was a type of heaven on earth, and as such, mirrored the true heavenly tabernacle in The Heavens. However, Adam did not enter into a blood covenant with God for the establishment of Paradise. Paradise was given to him as a gift of God. When we come to Moses, though, the “gift” of the Tabernacle/Temple is through blood covenant. Moses’ Tabernacle/Temple is the first covenantal Temple/Tabernacle/Paradise on earth. It is the first attempt of God to restore the relationship God naturally had with Adam in the original Paradise through blood. It is the first attempt to rebuild what had been “destroyed” through the waters of Noah’s day.
The New Testament bears this out in the letter to the Hebrews. In theology there are two covenants that manifest the one, eternal covenant. The author of Hebrews draws from the Prophet Jeremiah (31) where he exegetes this idea from that text. Jeremiah spoke of two covenants: “I will make a new covenant…it will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers…” (31.32). Thus, the author concludes, “In that he says a new covenant, he has made the first covenant old…” (Hebr 8.13, see also 8.7). This “first” and “second” designations continue throughout (9.1; 9.8; 9.15; 9.18 and 10.9). 9.8 specifically identities “the first tabernacle” and confirms the idea that the Paradise of God was not the first in the order of covenants.
The Paradise of God, to reiterate, mirrors the heavenly abode of God, as the Tabernacle mirrored the Paradise of God. The Tabernacle was the first covenantal “heavens and earth.” When we put all of this together, II Pe 3 makes complete sense:
1. They were ignorant of a previous heavens and land (surely Peter is not suggesting that they were ignorant of Noah’s Flood! But, notice their accusation: “all things continue on since the beginning.” Peter counters this by bringing up a destruction of a heavens and an earth – the Paradise of God, which by all means was totally eradicated.
2. Peter speaks of a “now” heavens and earth which is reserved for fire and this, rightly so, Martin and Vaughn would see as the Temple in Jerusalem.
3. The Temple in Jerusalem is explicitly called “the first tabernacle” as it is related to the “first covenant”. It’s demise would be a destruction by fire – a destruction of heavens and earth, covenantally speaking. It is this “first heavens and first earth” that John saw as “passing away.”
4. The New Heavens and New Earth is the true abode of God in Christ by which man now has access to the very throne of God Himself in righteousness by faith. It surpasses the Paradise of God on earth and surpasses the First Tabernacle under Moses. The dwelling of God is no longer in a covenant of types and shadows, gardens and temples, rivers and bowls of water (“the Sea” in Solomon’s Temple). It is in the true reality of the things these merely pointed to.
Therefore, what we have is this:
1. Genesis 1.1 – The Creation of the Universe, of all there is in its original genus.
2. Genesis 2.4b – The formation of Paradise on The Earth where God dwells with Man and Man with God.
3. The Law – The First Tabernacle/First Heavens and Earth through which God reestablished “heavens on the land” through a covenant by which Man can dwell with God.
4. The New Heavens and the New Earth – the real, invisible realm of God the Father dwelling in righteousness with Man on The Earth – the ultimate goal between Man and God.
Number 1 is where all of this takes place: the universe. Number 2 was “destroyed” by waters. Number 3 is the first heavens and first covenanted land (Israel) and was destroyed by fire in A.D. 70. Finally, number 4 is the Age to Come realm in Christ wherein we dwell with him in righteousness.
By this, we can see that the universe is the created stage upon which all these things occur. It maintains the integrity of Scripture in that Genesis 1.1 is certainly speaking of the Universe. The scheme of Martin and Vaughn leads to a violent contradiction and hopeless confusion as to the identification of heavens and the land. The Hebrew and Greek syntax actually bears out the fact that a heavens and an earth within The Heavens and The Earth is the case of the matter.
The Universe was never promised destruction. In this way the Preterist can easily point out the contradiction even the Literalists face when they, too, try to compare Rev. 21.1 to Genesis 1.1. As it fails for Martin and Vaughn, it also fails for futurists! They cannot reconcile the “destruction” of heavens and earth in Noah’s day with the word “first” since, obviously, the same moon, stars, earth, sun, etc. were not “destroyed” in Noah’s day! They are forced to take the phrase in Peter’s letter as something else, for what was destroyed in Noah’s day cannot be the Universe of Genesis 1.1! This, coupled with John’s mention of “the first heavens and earth” utterly bankrupts a futurist eschatology.
Now, it is here that much good can be extracted from Martin and Vaughn. Their understanding of covenantalism as it relates to how the Bible sometimes uses the heavens and the earth imagery is right on target. I think, however, that it is misapplied, or applied too much when taken to the extreme of making Genesis 1-11 as some sort of covenantal code book. I have argued that these texts are written in the style of the Historical Narrative. This view outlined above is a synthesis of Martin and Vaughn. It understands the covenantal aspects and symbolic aspects of Genesis without surrendering the conviction that what we have here is, indeed, a divinely revealed cosmogony. The history of the covenants in the Bible takes place within the Universe, or Stage of God’s Creation – and this includes the new heavens and the new earth.
Finally, by noting the distinction between the physical creation of God as the Stage upon which redemptive history occurred, we are forced to note that this planet is distinguished from the true heavenly reality of what the Bible calls the “new heavens and new earth.” The Kingdom of God is spoken of in the Bible as “eternal.” It always has been. The earth has always been subjected to God’s Kingdom. After all, the judgment in the Fall of Adam was God’s judgment – issued from His bench (Rom. 8.18-ff – God subjected creation). The new heavens and new earth is God’s eternal kingdom. The newness of it is the fact that Man has now truly come into the very presence of God – into His Kingdom. Adam and Eve dwelled with God on earth in a shadowy type (the Garden) that reflected the invisible Kingdom of God. Adam and Eve did not dwell with God as we do in Christ. God’s people today, because of the cross and resurrection of Christ (and the accomplished parousia) covenantally dwell with God without any enmity – apart from shadows and types – but in reality – spiritual reality. In Martin and Vaughn, the physical earth is not much of a topic in the Bible since it has been excluded from the opening pages of the Bible – dismissed as symbolic – but never addressing at all the purpose of God creating it. In my view, this earth has a purpose for being created: to set the Stage upon which God would ultimately bring his created Man into full and complete unity through His Eternal Son – by bringing the true Heavenly, Spiritual, Invisible Tabernacle to the earth and by this bringing Man into what the Garden, the Arc, the Tabernacle, the Temple ultimately symbolized – Dwelling in the Presence of God in uninterrupted righteousness forever. Before, heaven was typified as on earth; now, heaven is on the earth in Christ.
I did not deem it as necessary to explore the issues of science and epistemology. I follow the philosophy called Presuppositionalism (Byl, Cheung, Clark, Reymond, Crampton – to name a few). It exposes the errors of Inductivism and Empircism – and many honest atheistic scientists are very aware of this and freely admit to it. The goal of science is not to discover “absolute truth” since inductive reasoning can never do this, logically speaking. One would have to reinvent Logic – presumably starting with Aristotle.
What this means is that science is a useful tool for dominion. It is a God given tool in that Man’s imagination can be used to form and manipulate creation through combinations of elements – combinations that, much by accident, lead to hitherto fortunate results. However, as in the Fall, Eve’s being drawing away by her sensations, and then twisting her rationale to “fit the data” is precisely the meaning of Man’s problem. His sensations would now become used to facilitate the vain reasoning of his mind – now he could justify himself and create a worldview entirely apart from God’s word. The power of this ability has wreaked havoc on the world and only through the revelation of God’s word can it be forcefully checked.
Science displays the highest sense of Man’s reasoning powers. Man now claims to know the vastness of the universe, its origins, its age, its rotations – all apart from God’s word. I believe that the opening chapters of Genesis are historical. There is not a shred of scientific “proof” that can deny this. However, the Creation Scientists commit the same error as do the scientists: using empirical methods to “prove” the age of the earth. It simply cannot be done on both sides of the issue. “To be sure, they are problems that arise only when one persists in putting to the Bible scientific questions, while failing to see the questions it asks us to confront”(Bright, John, The Authority of the Old Testament, Twin Brooks Series, Baker Books, 1975, 155). The question these chapters ask me to confront is, is the worldview contained therein look anything like the worldview that dominates the scientific scene today? Why not?
In Presuppositionalism, there is no clash between “science and religion” precisely because science is limited in what it can discover. Martin and Vaughn, in all appearances, state that they are not trying to bring science into the picture, but one cannot fail to see that “science” permeates their book. By taking Genesis as “covenantal” the case for scientific theories that are currently in vogue can now be believed by the Christian. Evolution? No problem since Adam was not the first man (they never answer where he came from, and one adherent to BCS simply and candidly stated that he did know where man came from). It may be another way of getting there, but the bottom line is the same: Christians do not have to look like buffoons now because we have removed the “problem” of Genesis.
Bright is correct: Genesis confronts us with an opening story that is at complete odds with our senses. Science has done everything it can to show it up as mere mythology – something so stupid that only a complete moron with no “scientific” training would believe. By hammering this for centuries, many Christians have forgotten the awe: the God that creates in ways that completely escapes our imaginations. The God that speaks and in an instant: it is. This blows our minds. In fact, it cannot be true it must mean something else: God really didn’t do it that way, did He? That is the question that confronts us: it is a question of faith.
Martin and Vaughn have made many valuable points, but in the end, I do not believe that this is the end all be all on the matter as they have presented it. There are serious flaws in their Hebrew exegesis (well, there is no real scholarly exegesis presented). There are serious flaws that Hebrew scholars would have with their presentation of the material and until their work can be seriously footnoted in regards to Hebrew syntax, their case will remain seriously open to question. Finally, I have noted a few glaring contradictions in their approach that are not remedied in the book. This leaves open room for debate. Until a credible Response can be given, the issue is open. I look forward to a Response instead of further polarizing the “sides” that have been taken on this matter. It is my hope that a greater synthesis will happen – a greater unity – or at least a charitable attitude of agreeing to disagree occurs.
Response to Sam Frost’s Critique of Beyond Creation Science
We would like to thank Sam Frost for his recent critique of Beyond Creation Science. Frost’s article, “A Brief Analysis of Beyond Creation Science: Some Preliminary Concerns,” covers a lot of ground. We thank Frost for his generous spirit in (1) acknowledging that we have been true to Milton Terry’s approach, (2) agreeing that Genesis 2:4b-ff is covenantal, not global, (3) offering a new argument for a local flood that matches this covenant context in Genesis 2:4b-ff, and (4) illuminating key differences between the Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 creation accounts.
It appears that Frost has met us half-way with his “synthesis” on the creation account in Genesis. We may need further clarification on the finer details of Sam’s alternative to Covenant Creation as presented in BCS, but we will interact with it to the best of our ability.
We understand Frost’s creation model as a “partial Covenant Creation” view of Genesis creation. He argues that “There are two heavens and earths in the Genesis account” (p. 17). Genesis 1:1-2:4a is a literal record of the creation of the physical universe and Genesis 2:4b-ff is a covenant creation of a local Garden that does not deal with all animals, trees and plants on planet Earth. Frost suggests that Genesis 2:4 is a “transition text” that switches subjects from the beginning of the physical universe (Gen.1-2:4a) to the beginning of a heavens and earth connected to man’s relationship to God (Gen. 2:4b-ff). Thus Frost offers a “both-and” approach to creation that ostensibly preserves the belief that the Bible describes the beginning of the physical universe in precise, literal detail and provides a plain narrative of the origination of God’s covenant relationship with man. According to Frost, these are two separate creation accounts that cover completely separate topics. He ends his presentation by stating that the “full Covenant Creation” view presented in BCS is covenantalism “applied too much” or “taken to an extreme” and makes “Genesis 1-11 as some sort of covenantal code book” (p. 19).
Frost’s methodology might seem vaguely familiar to many of our readers. Partial preterists argue that biblical prophecy is divided between both the end of a covenant world and the end of the physical universe as we know it. These partial preterists often complain that full preterism is covenantalism “applied too much” or “taken to an extreme” and makes Revelation “some sort of covenantal code book.” We will examine Frost’s partial covenant creation model in detail later in our response. Following the order of his article, we will first deal with the issue of Milton Terry and the question of hermeneutical principles used to interpret Genesis creation.
Frost is correct that we are indebted to Milton Terry for the Covenant Creation model. He goes on to suggest that Terry was “virtually alone” in his opinion that Genesis 1-11 is “largely to be classified as ‘apocalyptic’” (p. 2).
This may or may not be true, but there were many Hebrew scholars in Terry’s day and many since then who have argued that Genesis creation is poetic, not intended to be taken as a plain-literal, scientific record of the creation of the physical universe. A. Berkeley Mickelsen, a 20th century Hebrew scholar and noted authority on biblical hermeneutics, taught a similar hermeneutic approach to creation in his landmark book on hermeneutics titled Interpreting the Bible (Eerdmans, 1963). Mickelsen devoted a whole chapter, “Descriptive Language of Creation and Climax,” to his conviction that there is an intimate connection between the figurative language of creation and prophecy. It is not hard to see Milton Terry’s work in the background.
Debates over Genesis creation are as fluid on the contemporary scene as debates over prophecy. Current approaches resemble the Covenant Creation view in some ways. The ANE (which stands for Ancient & Near East Cosmology) view of creation (John H. Walton) understands Genesis as a polemic against the creation myths and temple dedications of Moses’ day. This view suggests a covenant purpose and context for Genesis creation. The Literary Framework view (Henri Blocher and Meredith Kline) sees a theological focus in the creation account that does not translate into a literal, sequential account of God’s creation of the universe. Minor views like the Analogical Days interpretation (William G.T. Shedd, Herman Bavinck, and C. John Collins) and the Days of Revelation interpretation (P.J. Wiseman and Donald J. Wiseman) rely on the connection between the language of creation and prophecy. The Covenant Creation view shares many key elements with a wide stream of scholarly interpretations of Genesis.
Frost dismisses any and all competing interpretations of creation as merely the effect of compromise with modern science. Note how Frost argued that Terry applied “apocalyptic” to Genesis creation for one reason and one reason only:
The reason Terry applied apocalyptic to Genesis is not on the basis of Preterism and not on the basis of pure exegesis. He stated his reason quite plainly:
… the discoveries of science have effectually exploded the old notion of the creation of the earth and the heavens in six ordinary days (Biblical Apocalyptics, p. 40) (pp. 2-3)
From this snippet of Terry, Frost makes this sweeping assertion.
Therefore, the overwhelming evidence of science became the basis for his rejection of Genesis 1:11 as an account of detailed history. (p. 3)
Is that true? Frost quoted only a small portion of Terry’s statement and offered absolutely no context. Here is the full paragraph:
It has from ancient times been felt by the most devout and thoughtful interpreters that much in the earlier chapters of Genesis must be understood in some other than literal sense. St. Augustine spoke of the “ineffable days” of creation, and all the common readers since his time have wondered that light should have been separately created three days before the sun. But the discoveries of science have effectually exploded the old notion of the creation of the earth and the heavens in six ordinary days, and for more than a hundred years expositors have been striving to adjust the statements of the first chapter of Genesis to the well-ascertained facts of geology and astronomy.
Does Terry’s statement not appear quite different from what Frost presented? Note that Terry never offered science as the “one and only” reason for his approach (as Frost charged). Frost also failed to mention that Terry viewed his own hermeneutic as building on the ancient symbolic approach to creation common in the early church. Frost’s statements above are deceptive. Terry says his symbolic approach is in line with ancient church teaching (particularly Augustine). Terry spent much of his book arguing against any method of interpreting Genesis creation in terms of modern science. In the following chapters, Terry argued against those very same expositors who strove “to adjust the statements of the first chapter of Genesis to the well-ascertained facts of geology and astronomy”! Frost has not dealt honestly with Terry on this point.
Next Frost conscripts his abbreviated quotation from Terry as “proof” that the modern YEC (young earth creationism) view does not spring from Ellen G. White and the Adventists:
Terry, writing in 1889 [sic – 1898], spoke of the “old notion” of the Young Earth Creationist view (YEC), yet one of the premises of Martin and Vaughn is that YEC did not exist prior to Ellen G. White.
Our chapter which documents the role of White and the Adventists in developing the modern YEC movement is available online. Frost is simply mistaken. We did not argue no belief in a young earth existed before White. We did show how the modern system popularly known as YEC comes directly from the visions of White and writings of George McCready Price. It is this form of YEC, held by millions of conservatives today that we target in BCS. Ironically, a few years ago Frost acknowledged the “unprecedented” role Adventists played in modern views of Genesis:
My step-father, rest in peace, was a Seventh Day Adventist. Say what you will about them (my dad was a godly man), their work on Genesis is unprecedented.
Our historical investigation merely confirms Frost’s comment. The “old notion” of creation in six ordinary days in Terry’s statement is likely an allusion to the shift that took place at the Reformation. Luther broke tradition with the church fathers before him by insisting that the days of Genesis 1 were intended to be interpreted literally as 24-hour days. In Luther’s own words:
We must understand that these days were actual days (vero dies), contrary to the opinion of the holy fathers. (What Martin Luther Says: A Practical In-Home Anthology for the Active, Concordia, 1986, p. 1523; see BCS pp. 246-248)
Luther’s Reformation brought widespread popularity to the plain-literal, 24-hour day view of Genesis 1. Luther wrote more than 300 years before Terry, plenty of time for his literal days approach to be considered an “old notion” by Terry. The 24-hour day view is old, from Terry’s perspective, but Terry’s symbolic approach is ancient.
Frost’s confusion is compounded in that he does not seem to realize that, historically, literal days alone cannot be automatically equated with YEC views. Many conservatives held the Gap Theory in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They accepted 24-hour days as part of their old-earth beliefs. This approach continues today with the work of John Sailhamer who holds an old earth view while advocating a 24-hour day interpretation. It was the widespread acceptance of Adventist teaching on Genesis that made 24-hour day interpretation synonymous with YEC on the contemporary scene. Bernard Ramm was quite clear on this matter. In 1954, the conservative church held a variety of views, but young-earth creationism was unknown outside the Adventist Church.
Frost next makes a curious statement:
It may not be the case that Martin and Vaughn start with Science, but argue, rather, that they start with the Bible (in fact, they deny that they start with the word of God – instead they start with “the Trinitarian nature of God himself” – this rather problematic epistemic must be countered separately – p. 383)…. Either Terry is inconsistent, or Martin and Vaughn are – or perhaps, both parties are. (p. 3)
Frost references chapter 19 of BCS titled “The Test of Truth.” The subject of that chapter is not our views of creation, interpretation of Genesis, or prophecy, but “The Test of Truth.” How Frost rips that statement out of the context of that chapter (at the back of the book under a heading titled “The Ultimate Source of the Test of Truth” no less!) and applies it to our entire approach to Genesis baffles us. Readers may agree or disagree with our presentation in chapter 19, but we made a biblical case for our conclusions regarding Genesis creation, as did Terry before us. Frost brings in matters of philosophy and modern science when he should focus on the biblical case we presented all through the book.
The next section is the most technical part of Frost’s article. Frost explains the difference between biblical genres including prose (“just the facts, ma’am” – p. 3), poetic (which use Hebrew parallelism – p. 4), and formal apocalyptic (involving seven marked features – pp. 4-5). Frost’s criticism of BCS is that Genesis creation can only be considered plain historical narrative because the grammar (waw consecutive) of the Hebrew is “straight monologue” (p. 5). Frost then summarizes his argument:
An honest reader of the opening narrative of Genesis will find none of these elements that are so consistently found in apocalyptic literature…. There is, however, every element of “straight monologue.” In other words, historical narrative. To ignore the overwhelming definition and classifying elements that make an apocalypse what it is, and to continue to insist that Genesis is apocalyptic, is mistaken. (p. 5).
The problem is that Frost is working from a formal and narrow definition of apocalyptic. Terry acknowledged that his wider definition was not the standard in his day, but that it was useful for the internal study of Scripture. In his own words:
Apocalypse is to be understood especially of a heavenly disclosure, in the reception of which the man is comparatively passive… He who receives an apocalypse sees, hears, feels, realizes in some way that the “hand of God” is upon him, making known within his soul what was not thus known before. (BA, p. 12)
The ideal character of Gen i, 1-ii, 3, may be quite naturally inferred as much from its artificial symmetry of structure as from the peculiar style of its contents. The six days are set over against one another in two sets of triads, the first day corresponding noticeably with the fourth, the second with the fifth, and the third with the sixth…. [T]he narrative may be of the most simple prosaic style, and yet present an ideal picture [emphasis ours]. (BA, pp. 43-44)
It is as truly a sevenfold revelation of a beginning as the Apocalypse of John is a mystic revelation of an end. (BA p. 44)
Terry did not argue his approach from the grammar (see BA p. 44). He made his case from the character of the text and contents found within the text. We explained our similar approach in BCS:
We use the term “apocalyptic” in this book in a wider, more general sense than the technical definition applied by modern scholars to Jewish writings of the intertestament period. (BCS p. 271)
That Frost does not agree with our definition of apocalyptic is irrelevant to our case that symbolic images and details are prevalent in early Genesis. Note that Frost said nothing about the parallel structure ordering the days of Genesis 1 in a double pattern. Days 1-3 clearly relate to Days 4-6 (see BCS p. 283). This is a poetic, chiastic structure with conceptual parallelism. Frost agreed with Hebrew authorities that: “The dominant structure in Hebrew poetry is parallelism” (p. 4). Hence, on Frost’s own terms, the claim that Genesis 1 is poetic is legitimate. The literary structure of Genesis 1 indicates something very different than “just the facts, ma’am” kind of writing.
In fact, Frost never dealt with any of the details we examined that indicate the text communicates through symbolism. Frost did not mention, for example, the creation source for biblical prophecy, the connection between the seven days of Genesis creation and the matching de-creation week in Revelation. Nor did he struggle with the fact that cherubim mentioned in Genesis 3 are found only in prophetic texts or symbolic/typological texts elsewhere in Scripture. Another detail we presented is the long life-spans in the early chapters of Genesis which follow a numerological pattern and match long life-spans in prophecy.
Frost would dismiss this investigation of the contents of early Genesis and their relation to the rest of Scripture because the grammar does not match his formal definition of apocalyptic. This is a bad argument for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Genesis pre-dates the formal apocalyptic writings by many hundreds of years (see BCS, pp. 237-239). It is an anachronism to force that narrow definition back on Genesis which, in our view, introduces all the symbolic elements of biblical prophecy. Secondly, Frost agrees that the early chapters of Genesis contain apocalyptic! He agrees with us that Genesis 2:23b is poetic/apocalyptic (p. 6). He also agrees that Genesis 3:15 is poetic/apocalyptic (p. 7). Yet, neither of these texts fit the seven-fold criteria standard for formal apocalyptic! Frost believes this is acceptable because of a recognizable change in Hebrew syntax. But what about the recognizable elements in Genesis that connect to prophetic portions of Scripture? It seems that Frost has completely ignored our case.
Let us consider the text from his perspective for a moment. Can Frost’s approach work? The very fact that Frost agrees with us (as well as David Chilton and Milton Terry) that Genesis 3:15 is apocalyptic creates a major problem:
For example, citing Genesis 3.15, we find waw-consecutives throughout 3.1-14 – straight forward historical narrative, then, as we should expect, if 3.15 is “prophetic”, it will be marked within the framework as being such. And it is. 3.15 begins with a conjunction (waw) and a noun followed by a verb (“And enmity I will put between you and between the woman and between your seed and between her seed. He shall bruise (imperfect, no conjunction) you. Head! And you (conjunction with noun) shall bruise him (imperfect, no conjunction). Heel!” (my translation). This proves my point above about the nature of Biblical Hebrew. It marks out poetry, prophecy within a historical narrative so that we understand this is not necessarily literal, but could be metaphorical at this spot. The syntax here is notably broken from the flow of the waw consecutive narrative. (p. 7)
We suspect that Frost knows he must grant some symbolism in Genesis 3 to defend his preterism. Taking the curse “literally” (like he insists we should take the rest of the account) would mean that physical thorns and thistles began at the fall (3:18), as well as human sweat (3:19) and biological death (3:19). Taking Genesis that literally would imply that God’s redemption has not yet been completed in Christ because biological death, physical sweat, thorns and thistles are all still very much with us!
Frost is also aware that Daniel prophesied a resurrection of “those who sleep in the dust of the earth” (Dan. 12:2). Frost agrees that Daniel 12 does not refer to “casket” resurrection, a biological resurrection of physical corpses. Yet Daniel draws from the language of Genesis 3:19: “For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” A literal reading of Genesis 3:15-18 would refute preterism.
Readers should understand that Frost’s YEC preterism requires a severe interpretive tension. Frost needs to take the text “literally” in order to defend his YEC beliefs, but immediately demands a covenant/spiritual symbolic interpretation at points where raw literalism would contradict preterism. Thus Frost presents a partial-apocalyptic interpretation to force his YEC and preterist beliefs to co-exist. How will this ever be convincing to millions of YEC futurists who are futurists precisely because of their consistent literalism in Genesis 3?
Now consider the problems Frost’s method creates. Eve’s temptation by the serpent and the sin contain the waw-consecutives, but the punishment does not. According to Frost we have literal details recorded in a plain historical and physical account followed by an apocalyptic curse; a literal man and woman receive an apocalyptic punishment in Gen. 3:16-19; a literal serpent is replaced with an apocalyptic serpent in Gen. 3:15. Can the text really be divided like this?
Frost has a physical serpent at the start of the narrative, yet turns God’s judgment of the serpent into a judgment of something else in v. 15 This partial-apocalyptic approach disjoints the story and leads to confusion in determining who or what is being judged (something other than what Gen. 3:1-14 account is about?!). Though we do not doubt the irregularity of the Hebrew, Frost’s method is impossible because this serpent introduced in Genesis is the subject of prophecy in Revelation. John reaches all the way back into Genesis when he says:
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan… (Rev. 12:9 NKJ)
The problem with defining everything in Genesis by grammar, as Frost insists, is that grammar does not take into consideration wider connections in Scripture. Frost is so focused on the grammar trees that he appears to miss the symbol forest in Genesis. An inspection of the grammar alone is far too narrow to determine the nature of creation texts. Consider this “grammar-only” approach to interpreting Genesis offered by Answers in Genesis, a leading YEC organization:
It is true that Adam and Eve didn’t die the exact day they ate the fruit (Genesis 5:4–5) as some seem to think Genesis 2:17 implies. So, the options are either God was in error or man’s interpretation is in error. But God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), so then fallible humans must be making the mistake. Let’s take a look at where the confusion begins to arise. The Hebrew phrase in English is more literally:
The Hebrew is “die die” (muwth—muwth) with two different verb tenses (dying and die), which can be translated as “surely die” or literally as “dying you shall die,” indicating the beginning of dying—an ingressive sense—and finally culminating with death. At the point when they ate, Adam and Eve began to die and would return to dust (Genesis 3:19). If they were meant to die right then, God would have used muwth only once, as is used in the Hebrew to mean dead, died, or die, not beginning to die or surely die as die-die is used in Hebrew. Old Testament authors understood this and used the terms appropriately, but sometimes we lose a little during translation.
Phew!! Perhaps we should all end this conversation because the grammar in Genesis refutes full preterism! But the article quoted above offers no consideration for the covenant context of the death introduced in Genesis. Nor is there any investigation of how the rest of Scripture (including the New Testament) references this death. The grammar alone settles the question for these young-earth creationists. Too bad for us full preterists!
The thematic, motif, and symbolic connections between Genesis and prophecy call for consistent interpretation. These connections between Genesis and prophecy are well-known. Here is another example Frost ignored. We spoke about “light without the sun” as a connection between Genesis and Revelation in BCS pp. 291-294. Consider how YEC advocates are consistent:
The traditional understanding is that on the fourth day the sun, moon, and stars simply replaced the primordial light of day 1, which was light of the Spirit and glory of God. Eventually, the sun, moon, and stars will be gone, because the firmament-boundary between heaven and earth will be gone and the light of the Spirit of Christ will return as the light of the cosmos (Rev. 21:23). In the meantime, the firmament stands between us and God while we live out the course of history by faith and not by sight, “under the sun,” as the book of Ecclesiastes tells us. (Jordan, Creation in Six Days, pp. 165-166)
Thus, William reasons, the luminaries in the firmament are only temporary. They were not there in the beginning, and they will not be there at the end. He remembers that this is just what Revelation 21:23 and 22:5 say. (Jordan, Creation in Six Days, p. 16)
Covenant Creation is rooted in the belief that the “traditional” YEC-futurist view has the framework exactly right. We work within the framework of well-tested, widely accepted theology. We are convinced that Christian theology has rightly understood an inescapable connection between the beginning and the end. We say “stick with the framework.” The real error is the physical-universe definition of both creation and new creation held by majority views of creation and prophecy.
In order to maintain his YEC view of Genesis with his full preterist view of Revelation, Frost must argue that there is no real connection between the details of Genesis 1 and what we find in Revelation 21-22. Frost says Genesis 1 is dealing with the physical universe. Revelation is talking about “new heaven and new earth” which is not a new physical universe. Frost provides a “partial Covenant Creation” model and then declares any attempt to integrate Genesis 1 with the consummation at the end of Revelation “off limits” by definition.
Frost divides Genesis 1 from Revelation, yet John is clearly writing with Genesis creation in mind. Are we to believe the resemblance (light without sun and moon) between the “beginning” and the “end” is pure coincidence? No. John drew his imagery directly from Genesis 1. If Frost’s YEC views are right, then John utilizes thematic elements of Genesis creation in a way that the original plain-meaning of Genesis 1 never intended. Wouldn’t it be much better to say that John worked with a symbolic or covenantal-spiritual understanding of Genesis creation because that is precisely the nature and focus of original creation? Terry taught that the Bible is a self-interpreting book. That means we must pay close attention to how the biblical writers use the creation accounts in their writings.
A narrow, grammar-only critique of our symbolic-apocalyptic interpretation, though it might fit the academic work of the liberal German scholar Hermann Gunkel, completely misses how the details in Genesis creation are used throughout the rest of Scripture. The reason Terry came to the conclusions he did was because he was dead serious about letting Scripture interpret Scripture, a lesson most modern scholars have yet to seriously put into practice. Yet Frost wants to define textual issues according to their terms!
This section of Frost’s article continues with more confusion. Speaking on our discussion of evening and morning in Genesis 1 Frost states:
If “day” is symbolic of “unspecified time,” then Martin and Vaughn have fallen into the same trap as the “day-age” theorists, who do believe that Genesis is speaking in terms of a scientific cosmogony (that is, they try to fuse Genesis 1 with science)! (p. 8)
We are baffled. Our whole point of presenting Covenant Creation in BCS is that the creation text is not speaking literally about the creation of the physical universe. Frost’s point above applies only if we claim Genesis speaks about the physical universe, the very point we deny in BCS. How we get lumped in with Day-Age methods because of our non-literal view of the creation days is beyond us.
The final criticism of this section is related to Daniel 8:26. We argued that the Hebrew in Daniel 8:26, “evening and morning,” is identical to the phrase used in Genesis 1. This not only connects the language of Genesis 1 to another text that is widely accepted as apocalyptic, it also draws a link between original creation and the subject of the prophecy in Daniel 8 – the new creation. Frost complains:
However, as one that is familiar with Hebrew, their conclusion here violates a well known rule… This is an adjectival use of a number. The plurality of the number transfers to the singularity of the noun, therefore, the translations, “evenings and mornings” (plural) are grammatically correct.
We do not know Hebrew, but what we find interesting is that, apparently, some renowned Hebrew scholars know nothing of this “well known rule.” We quoted the KJV which translated “evening and morning” as singular, just like Genesis 1. Note how James Jordan translates the passage in question:
And he said unto me, “Until evening and morning two thousand and three hundred; and a sanctuary will be vindicated.” (Dan. 8:14 – Jordan, Handwriting on the Wall, p. 411)
And the vision of the evening and morning that has been told: it is true. And as for you, seal up the vision, because it belongs to many days. (Dan. 8:26 – Jordan, Handwriting on the Wall, p. 413)
Jordan’s translation highlights our point. Is Jordan not familiar with Hebrew? It seems odd that Jordan would miss such an elementary detail if Frost’s claim is the whole story on Hebrew grammar. Another Hebrew scholar who “missed it” according to Frost is Eugene Peterson:
The other answered, “Over the course of 2,300 sacrifices, evening and morning. Then the Sanctuary will be set right again.” (Dan. 8:14 – The Message)
This vision of the 2,300 sacrifices, evening and morning, is accurate but confidential. (Dan 8:26 – The Message)
Consider how translations as diverse as the old King James and the new Message as well as scholarly work on Daniel all confirm our case in BCS pp. 284-285.
Regardless of the translation point in question we see a recurrence of the same problem in Frost’s criticism. Frost’s narrow focus on Hebrew grammar, again, distracts him from a much bigger issue we raised in the book (BCS p. 284). From where did Daniel’s language of “evening and morning” originate? That Hebrew phrase, “evening and morning” comes directly out of Genesis 1! Preterists understand that Daniel refers to the time that God would create “new heavens and a new earth” (Is. 65:17). Why would Daniel’s prophecy allude back to creation? We suggest it is because the subject of the prophecy is the time of the new covenant, a new creation. “Evening and morning,” a rare phrase in Hebrew, would bring the reader’s mind back to original creation. Frost needs deal with the wider connection between Genesis creation and eschatology we find sprinkled throughout Scripture.
Alleged Contradictions: Genesis 1 and 2
Next Frost argues against a section on p. 254 in BCS titled “Genesis 1 vs. Genesis 2, Literally.” From this section, barely over one page in length, Frost writes:
Another major point in the work of Martin and Vaughn is that there is a contradiction between the sequence of creation events in Genesis 1 and chapter 2. (p. 10)
We sense a bit of exaggeration here. We made a “major point” in our book in barely 1 page of text? This minor section in the introductory chapter on Creation titled “The Great Creation Debate” was not presenting our views of the relationship between Genesis 1 and 2. It was intended to challenge our audience on an issue rarely discussed in YEC material.
Modern YEC advocates usually understand the scope and detail of both accounts as global. They sometimes say that Genesis 2 deals with the specific location of Adam and Eve on planet Earth, but they teach that Adam named all the animals God created in Genesis 1, not a few domesticated animals that God might bring inside the Garden! And certainly not merely sacrificial animals used in the Tabernacle/Temple (as Frost suggests later in his article). According to the modern YEC view, Adam names representative kinds of all the animals that he had been given dominion over in Genesis 1:28.
These same YEC advocates also insist, following Adventist doctrine, that the entire world was a garden before the fall. They teach that biological death did not exist before the fall anywhere, not just in the Garden, but across planet Earth. (This is why they insist that the fossil record must have been created during the flood, since no biological death could exist on planet Earth before Adam and Eve sinned). They teach that the account of the fall, which took place in the Garden, resulted in changes all across the world. These are the common conceptions of Genesis 1 and 2 which we were challenging in that section (BCS p. 254). And our points apply in this dual global context given modern YEC assumptions about Genesis creation.
Frost uses this section in BCS to launch into his charge that our view introduces a contradiction in Scripture. However, he did not read our material very carefully. We agree with his point that Genesis 1 and 2 are distinct, non-contradictory accounts. We explained this in later sections that presented our view of creation:
Recapitulation takes a theme or subject already introduced and expands on the important or leading feature. Recapitulation zooms in for a closer look…. The double pattern is manifested in the two accounts of creation, Genesis 1:1-2:4 and Genesis 2:5-25. (BCS p. 282)
You would never know this by reading his article, but our material on creation presented a general view of two distinct but related accounts of creation. Consider the similarity of our quote from BCS above to what Frost wrote:
Genesis 2 is an expansion of 1. This is typical in biblical literature. (p. 12)
Yes, it is typical in apocalyptic portions of Scripture. Take Daniel for example. The sequence of four kingdoms is introduced in Daniel 2 and the rest of the book is given over to prophecies expanding on the details of this sequence from various points of view. At one point in Daniel Greece is a leopard (Dan. 7:6). In the next chapter Greece is a goat (Dan. 8:5-12, 21). Same Greece. To the logician’s mind this would be a contradiction. Is Greece a leopard or is Greece a goat? What about the law of non-contradiction? Frost’s stated concern about “contradiction” in apocalyptic results from a failure to appreciate the artistic and poetic flexibility demonstrated by the biblical writers. The same type of introduction – expansion is common in the book of Revelation as well. The wider implications of these kinds of structural details in Genesis are not evaluated in Frost’s critique of BCS.
Frost missed our point in this one-page section (BCS p. 254) under the heading “Genesis 1 vs. Genesis 2, Literally.” It appears he is not aware of the assumed global context of our intended audience’s views, which we were challenging. If he had read carefully a little further he would have seen how our approach recognizes that there are two distinct accounts in creation and there is no contradiction between them. As it is, Frost mounts his war horse to attack the well-documented views of his modern YEC allies.
Exegetical Considerations between Gen. 1 and 2
This section in Frost’s article is given over to his explanation of the two accounts of creation and introduces his view that these two accounts are separate and reference two different heavens and earths.
2:4b starts another narrative, a narrative not about The Heavens and The Earth, but earth and heavens. It is an account of when God made an earth and a heavens distinct from The Earth and The Heavens. (p. 13)
Frost’s model has Genesis 1:1-2:4a as a literal record of God’s creation of the physical universe and Genesis 2:4b-ff as a literal record of as the formation of a covenant world manifested in the local Garden scene. According to Frost, Genesis creation is partially about the creation of the physical universe and partially about the formation of a covenant world in relationship to God. Genesis 2:4 is a “transition text” between these two separate subjects.
There are many details in this section with which we agree. Frost shows that there is Tabernacle/Temple background involved in Genesis 2 (p. 14). The genius of this insight is that it places the context where “the death” originates inside the inner courts of God’s Tabernacle/Temple dwelling place. That is, spiritual life and spiritual death is in view in Genesis 2. Frost also makes a remarkable observation about the creation week in terms of redemptive history. Speaking of the man’s creation he writes:
It is God’s capstone achievement at the end or last day of creating – heaven coming to earth/God dwelling with Man – the Glory of the Lord coming down on the last day to raise man from the dust and place him in His Temple/City/Paradise followed by a rest from works. (p. 15)
This example from Frost would fit perfectly in our chapter titled “The Prophetic Creation.” It is a great insight into Genesis 1. In fact, this is a profound application of a point we made that “There is a sense in which all covenant history is prophetically bound up in the creation week” (BCS p. 283). Frost’s example, however, points to a covenant purpose and focus for the creation week that is quite different than his supposed plain-literal explanation of the origination of the physical universe. Frost’s insight demonstrates how the creation week is focused on covenant history.
Frost also noted that paradise has no reference to sea creatures:
(note the fish are not mentioned – the Levitical sacrifices did not have fish offerings, but they did have “birds” and various “animals”). (p. 15)
We agree with his insight regarding the Temple/Tabernacle context of Genesis 2. We are also in general agreement with Frost that a contrast exists between the two accounts of Genesis creation. To his distinctions we would add that that the land “rose up” in Genesis 1:9-10, whereas the water “rose up” in Genesis 2:6. Another contrast is the name of God is different in the two accounts. Elohim, the name of God used by Gentiles in the OT, is present in Genesis 1 and Yahweh, the covenant-name of God revealed to Israel, is present in Genesis 2.
The emphasis is different in the two accounts; that much is clear. But does this imply, as Frost insists, that there are two separate “heavens and earths” involved? Is Genesis 2:4 a “transition text” that takes us from the subject of the physical universe to a separate, covenantal heavens and earth?
Frost makes his initial argument based on, again, the grammar of Genesis 2:4 which he translates as:
These are the origins of The Heavens and The Earth in their being created, When the LORD God made an earth and a heavens: (p. 13)
Frost notes the inversion of the order (heavens and earth, earth and heavens) as well as the presence of the article “the” before the two nouns “heavens” and “earth.” Frost capitalized the first set along with the articles but did not capitalize the second set to highlight his distinction. Of course, the capitalization is not in the Hebrew text but supplied by Frost.
The first problem is that the Septuagint (LXX) explicitly contradicts Frost’s model:
This is the book of the origin of heaven and earth, when it originated on the day that God made the heaven and the earth. (Gen 2:4 LXX NETS; emphasis ours)
Notice the various “heaven and earth” phrases. Concerning the article “the,” the LXX has the phrases exactly reversed from Frost’s translation above. The LXX also duplicated the order, “heaven” and then “earth” in both parts of 2:4. These are major problems for Frost. He even cited Genesis 2:4 (LXX) when he made an argument against a point in BCS and claimed “the Hebrew translators of the LXX knew better” (p. 13). Well, the Hebrew translators knew nothing of Frost’s distinction of two heavens and earths differentiated by the article and arrangement! We find it difficult to believe Frost did not notice these problems when he consulted the LXX on Genesis 2:4. Why didn’t Frost tell his audience that the LXX explicitly contradicts his model?
Frost’s entire review starts from the presupposition that Genesis creation can only be plain historical narrative. We believe that this presupposition causes him to miss something very important in the Hebrew. Consider another way to look at Genesis 2:4:
Genesis 2:4 has an interesting literary structure in Hebrew, a structure that we find very often in the Bible. The structure is called a chiasm or palistrophe, and is characterized by parallelism arranged in a sandwich pattern, like ABCBA, or ABBA, or ABCDEFFEDCBA, etc. Here is Genesis 2:4 as we find it in Hebrew:
A. These are the generations of the heavens
(James Jordan, Trees and Thorns: Studies in Genesis 2-4, 2005, p.5)
Chiastic structure is a well known feature of apocalyptic, and this structure points to more parallelism in the creation account. But if the structure of 2:4 is poetic, then the two references to “heavens” and “earth” in this arrangement preclude the possibility that two entirely different subjects are in view. Chiasm works by “rhyming” unified subjects. The poetic structure is not compatible with the notion that the account switches subjects from one “heavens and earth” to an entirely separate “heavens and earth.”
Frost’s next line of argumentation for his “two heavens and earths” view is based on contrasting the Hebrew verb bara against asah. Frost seems to understand bara as a reference to “creating” and asah as a reference to “making” or “forming” out of what already pre-existed:
2.5-ff relates to “making” (ash) of an earth and a heavens, not the “creating” (bra) of The Heavens and The Earth. (p. 14)
Genesis 2, therefore, is…. the specific formation (not creation) of the Paradise of God on The Earth on the sixth day. (p. 15)
Once again, Frost has overlooked major textual problems. Bara is used in Genesis 1 in reference only to the “heavens and earth” (1:1), the creatures of the sea (1:21), and man (3 times in 1:27). Following the logic of Frost’s argument here, nothing else in Genesis 1 was “created”! For example, the luminaries were not “created” (bara) but were “formed” (asah) on the fourth day in Genesis 1:16.
The predominant Hebrew word used for God’s creation in Genesis 1 is not bara, but asah (1:7, 11, 12, 16, 25, 26, 31). This raises an obvious question. Why would Frost insist that these examples must be understood as “creation,” but the same word in Genesis 2 should not be understood as “creation”? The grammar does not bear this out. Frost’s partial Covenant Creation view employs an arbitrary and inconsistent method. He requires asah to reference “forming” or “making” in terms of covenant purposes of something already “created” in Genesis 2, and yet demands that the details in Genesis 1, which also use asah, speak of original creation! The use of bara and asah in Genesis 1-2 does not even remotely fit Frost’s model.
The next problem for Frost is how biblical prophecy speaks about “new heavens and new earth”:
For behold, I create [bara] new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. (Is. 65:17 NKJ)
Can it be any more obvious that Isaiah draws from Genesis 1:1? The order, “heavens” and “earth,” is identical to 1:1. Even more remarkable is the fact that Isaiah used the same Hebrew verb for “create” (though future tense) as we found in Genesis 1:1: bara. If Frost were to consistently apply his method, then he would conclude that a physical fulfillment of Isaiah 65 remains in our future.
Of course, Isaiah 65 is not talking about a new physical creation in any sense. Isaiah speaks of a new covenant creation. The parallel between Genesis 1:1 and Isaiah 65:17 shows the end result of Frost’s YEC commitment. Frost is, again, forced to resort to a partial Covenant Creation method to argue that Genesis 1:1 refers to the origin of the physical universe, but Isaiah 65:17 refers to a new covenantal heavens and earth even though the language is identical.
In the wider picture, Frost’s model is impossible for another reason. Genesis 1 is as integral to biblical prophecy as is Genesis 2. The sea (which Frost agrees is nowhere in view in Genesis 2 – p. 15) is a prominent theme in Revelation.
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first earth had passed away. Also there was no sea. (Rev. 21:1 NKJV)
Note how the elements listed draw from Genesis 1 viewed through Isaiah 65. (Isaiah 65 implies no sea would exist in the new heaven and new earth; the sea is absent.) Genesis 1 is where God created the “heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1) and “the sea” (Gen. 1:9-10, 20). The immediate context before this passage in Revelation describes the Great White Throne judgment of “earth and heaven” (20:11) and “sea” (20:13). John works directly from the full context of creation as he goes on to write about the holy city in Edenic imagery drawn from creation.
Frost claims that the background for Genesis 2 is the Tabernacle/Temple. He noted that there are no fish involved in this covenant context:
(note the fish are not mentioned – the Levitical sacrifices did not have fish offerings, but they did have “birds” and various “animals”). (p. 15)
If the Tabernacle/Temple is the background, then Frost has a major problem. The architecture of the Tabernacle/Temple included the sea! Yet there is no sea in Genesis 2. Where is the background of the sea in Genesis creation? That background is found only in Genesis 1 which tells us about God’s creation of the sea and creatures of the sea.
What Frost has missed with his model is that the contrast between Genesis 1 and 2 is not between two separate heavens and earths, the physical universe and the covenantal heavens and earth in some sort of partial Covenant Creation scheme. Both creation texts relate to the one “heavens and earth” of God’s creation from two perspectives. Genesis 1 corresponds to the outer courts of the Tabernacle/Temple, including symbolism related to the Gentiles (hence the use of Elohim), whereas Genesis 2 is focused on the inner court and holy of holies, correlating to the Garden (hence the use of Yahweh). The Tabernacle/Temple motif lies not merely behind Genesis 2; it also lies behind Genesis 1.
The text tells us this in Frost’s own terms. We mentioned above that the luminaries were “formed” [asah not bara] on Day 4 (Gen. 1:16). The text explicitly gives a worship background as introduction to the “forming” of the sun, moon, and stars: “let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years” (Gen. 1:14). This relates to old covenant worship in the old creation:
The sun and moon were to function for man for seasons. By an analysis of the usage of the word seasons Maunder indicates that it means religious seasons, not the four seasons of the year. The position of the sun indicated the various times for daily sacrifices, and the position of the moon for monthly sacrifices. Seven was very important in the whole Jewish economy and it figured in their astronomy and religious seasons. (Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, p. 97; see also BCS p. 293-294)
Stars are for signs primarily. Festival times in the Old Creation were governed by the moon (first month, fourteenth day, etc.). The sun determines days and years. (Jordan, Creation in Six Days, p. 212)
By suggesting that the Tabernacle/Temple is the background of creation in Genesis 2, Frost has unwittingly affirmed the full Covenant Creation view. His partial Covenant Creation view (applied only to Gen. 2:4b-ff) is impossible because it presents only one segment of the Tabernacle/Temple scene, the inner courts and holy of holies. Genesis 1 completes the full picture. Here we find the sea (corresponding to the outer courts of the Gentiles); this is the “big picture” of the worship system (involving animal sacrifices, etc.) that God ordained for the entire old covenant age, the old covenant creation.
The subject of Genesis 1 is as clearly God’s covenant people formed in worship as is the subject of Genesis 2:
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished (Gen. 2:1 NKJV)
Note how the “host” is associated with the “the heavens and the earth.” English translations interpret “host” in a variety of ways, but the underlying Hebrew word for “host” is a common Hebrew word which is used often in reference to all of God’s people. Israel came up out of Egypt a mixed multitude, as a “host” (Ex. 12:51)—the same Hebrew word found in Genesis 2:1. Another four examples can be found in Daniel’s prophecy regarding the persecution of all God’s people in the last days (Dan. 8:10-13, 19). The subject of the creation account is the “host”—God’s army—which is a holy people. The universal picture (covenantally speaking) of Genesis 1 anticipates, as did the Tabernacle and Temple architecture, united Jew and Gentile worship around the One true God.
All of creation is covenantal. The prophets and apostles made no distinction between two supposed “heavens and earths” in Genesis. The details of Genesis 1 and 2 are both referenced as covenant context in such passages as Deuteronomy. 32:1, 10-11, Isaiah 51:13-16, and Jeremiah 4:23ff (see BCS pp. 328-330). Only the full Covenant Creation view can explain the sea-context so prominent at key points like Revelation 20:13 and 21:1. What Genesis 1-3 does, Revelation 20-22 undoes, because God created “a new heaven and new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea” (Rev. 21:1 NJK). The entire old creation was dissolved at the consummation, the full manifestation of the new creation. Covenant Eschatology demands Covenant Creation.
This final section in Frost’s review is very difficult to follow from a casual reading. We need the reader to grasp clearly what Frost has concluded in order for us to effectively interact with his criticism of BCS.
Frost’s view of 2 Peter 3 is absolutely central to his entire model. Along with a few other preterist critics of BCS, Frost believes that 2 Peter 3 says “a” heavens and earth was destroyed by the flood. Frost goes on to suggest that another completely separate heavens and earth was awaiting destruction by fire in Peter’s day. That is, covenant history is broken up into a series of heavens and earths. The last of these heavens and earths in the old covenant age was, in Peter’s day, slated for destruction by fire. This concept of a series of heavens and earths forms the wider context for Frost’s conclusions.
Frost’s fundamental belief, to be defended at all costs, is Genesis 1 is a literal account of the creation of the physical universe. Frost’s unique YEC view rests entirely on that foundation. However, Frost’s series of heavens and earths means there must also be “a” heavens and earth to be destroyed by the flood. Since the physical universe (as everyone, including the futurist, agrees) was not destroyed by the flood, Frost needs to demonstrate the existence of another heavens and earth between Genesis 1 and the flood recorded in Genesis 6-9. As we have seen, Frost finds this second, distinct “heavens and earth” in Genesis 2 with the description of the Garden; Genesis 2:4, the supposed “transition text,” takes us from “the” heavens and earth (physical universe) to “a” heavens and earth (local-covenantal). Frost’s YEC beliefs, combined with his series of heavens and earths drawn from his reading of 2 Peter 3, force him to claim “There are two heavens and earths in the Genesis account, just as there must be two heavens and earths in Peter’s account.” (p. 17).
Frost’s model provides “a” heavens and earth that, physically speaking, could be destroyed in the flood. That is, “a” heavens and earth that is completely separate from “the” heavens and earth of Genesis 1. What was destroyed by the flood according to Frost? He has only two choices available by the time of the flood: the physical universe (Genesis 1) or the Garden (Genesis 2). Frost picks the local option from his own model:
We can, therefore, by all means conclude that this heaven and earth was certainly destroyed and perished. But, as we have seen above, this earth and heavens is not the same as The Earth and The Heavens of Genesis 1. (p. 17)
It is Frost’s “two heavens and earths” model that leads him to his “Garden View” of the flood.
We are not to suppose, then, that every single genus of the first animals and fish entered into this Garden – and neither are we to suppose that this was the case with Noah’s arc. (p. 15)
The Paradise of God is what “perished” in the flood: the Garden, the Tree of Life, the gold, the East Gate all “perished” and was “destroyed.” (p. 17)
Frost views the flood destruction in the same context as the Tabernacle/Temple scene of Genesis 2, which Frost earlier stated is not global. (Frost argued for a local context of Genesis 2 to avoid any conflict with his supposed physical-universe context of Genesis 1- see Frost, pp. 12-15). The above comments surprise us because Frost has defended a global flood for years. Yet, with no fanfare he now appears to accept a local flood judgment related to a covenant context, roughly paralleling the views expressed in BCS pp. 111-187. (Frost’s review has no critical comments of the portion of BCS that develops the case for a local/covenantal Genesis flood.) If the animals that entered the ark were not the same as all the animals of God’s original creation in Genesis 1, then the flood was limited to a covenant context. This should be a newsflash. Frost has affirmed a local flood in Genesis!
We want to take a moment to thank Frost for this concession. Genesis teaches a local flood. We hope our readers, as well as advocates in the modern YEC movement, will notice something very significant here. Full Preterists, both YEC and OEC, now teach publicly that the Genesis flood was not a global judgment, but a covenant judgment related to a covenant context. Frost has vindicated a local flood view similar to what was presented in BCS. Frost’s model would lead preterists who embrace his views to abandon (and argue against) the global flood view at the heart of the modern YEC movement. Preterism refutes a global flood according to Sam Frost.
We expect many readers will find Frost’s presentation odd as they think through the implications. The Tree of Life destroyed in the flood? Yes. Frost maintains a “literal” view of Genesis 2, so that physical garden scene must be removed to make room for a “spiritual” garden to come later. (Yet Frost believes “spiritual death” is the nature of punishment for Adam’s sin in the Garden.) The East Gate destroyed in the flood? That implies the cherubim guarding the way were also destroyed by the flood. Would Frost affirm that the flood destroyed the literal snake in the Garden? (Remember Rev. 12:9 references the same serpent “of old” in prophecy.) Frost’s Garden view of the flood leads to even stranger conclusions. Frost claims that the physical Garden scene was the heavens and earth destroyed by the flood, but no one lived in the Garden during Noah’s day! This last point alone should alert the reader that something is terribly wrong with Frost’s model and presentation.
Another serious problem arises for those who think carefully about Frost’s model. Frost’s series of heavens and earths creates a covenantal “gap” between Noah and Moses:
Moses’ Tabernacle/Temple is the first covenantal Temple/Tabernacle/Paradise on earth. It is the first attempt of God to restore the relationship God naturally had with Adam in the original Paradise through blood. It is the first attempt to rebuild what had been “destroyed” through the waters of Noah’s day. (p. 17)
Frost’s view requires a huge gap in covenant history, the entire period from Noah to Moses. The same problem is repeated in his concluding summary listing:
2. Genesis 2.4b – The formation of Paradise on The Earth where God dwells with Man and Man with God. [Which was destroyed in the flood]
3. The Law – The First Tabernacle/First Heavens and Earth through which God reestablished “heavens on the land” through a covenant by which Man can dwell with God. (p. 18)
There is a problem here. Was there no covenantal heaven and earth between Noah and Moses? What about covenant history during this “gap”? Noah inherited a (covenant) world by faith. He dwelled with God by faith through his pleasing sacrifice made after the flood. Abraham received a covenant of circumcision and promises which were passed down to the patriarchs, Joseph, and the children of Israel in Egyptian bondage. Are we to conclude that Abraham and the patriarchs did not dwell with God? Frost’s gap stretches from the flood, past all these people and events, to Sinai. How can it be possible that the “heavens and earth” were destroyed at the flood, but the “The Law” is where God “reestablished ‘heavens on the land” (p. 18)? That would leave Noah, Shem, Terah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph (among many others) without any covenant standing. Frost needs to offer more explanation about this inadvertent “gap” between his supposed destruction of the “heavens and earth” during the flood and the “reestablished ‘heavens on the land’” of the “first tabernacle” which he associates with the Sinai covenant (p. 17-18). It seems Frost has left father Abraham completely out of the scene of covenant history.
We believe that Frost has made a fundamental oversight regarding what 2 Peter 3 actually says. This oversight affects his entire presentation and criticism of BCS. As already noted, Frost assumes that Peter said “a” heaven and earth was destroyed by the flood:
Peter counters this by bringing up a destruction of a heavens and an earth – the Paradise of God, which by all means was totally eradicated. (p. 18)
Frost’s entire model is built on his notion of a series of heavens and earths. The problem for Frost is that Peter does not say that the flood destroyed “a heavens and an earth”? Let us examine the passage closely:
But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth [ge] was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world [kosmos] of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:5-7 NIV)
Note how verse 5 speaks of the existence of the heavens and the forming of the earth [ge] out of water which alludes to Gen. 1:9-10. Peter references the first heavens and the first earth of Scripture. Consider what Peter says next. By these waters the kosmos, the “governing order” or “arrangement,” was destroyed. Nothing is said about the heavens being destroyed. The Greek words for earth [ge] and world [kosmos] are different words entirely! Peter refers back to the corrupt “ancient world” he mentioned back in 2 Peter 2:5 “… bringing in the flood on the world [kosmos] of the ungodly.” Nowhere does Peter say that the flood destroyed “a” heaven and earth as Frost and some other preterist critics claim, but rather the waters destroyed the “world” or governing order of that time. The flood destroyed a wicked system of men who apostatized from the covenant faith, not a physical garden where no one lived. We presented this context of the flood in BCS as the line of Seth (Gen. 5) who “began to call on the name of the Lord” (Gen. 4:25). The covenant people had become corrupt (like the Jews in the first century) with the exception of righteous Noah. The wicked, not the old heavens and old earth, were destroyed by the flood.
The heavens and earth of 2 Peter 3:5 (reaching back into Genesis 1) is a reference to the entire old covenant creation. The old heavens and earth existed before the flood as well as after the flood. Animal sacrifices were accepted as the ordained way to worship God back in Genesis 4. Abel offered sacrifices from “the firstborn of his flock” (Gen. 4:4) just as Israel was required by the Law (Deut. 12:6). Clean and unclean distinctions were made before the flood (Gen. 7:2) as well as after. The seventh-day Sabbath is rooted in Genesis creation (Ex. 20:11). Yet all of this was reserved for destruction by fire at the end of the old covenant age, the termination of old creation. We sometimes forget that Peter lived in the same old covenant creation as Abel. The New Testament demonstrates over and over how Jesus and the apostles viewed the coming end as the terminus of what began in the earliest chapters of Genesis (e.g., Matt. 23:35; Heb. 12:24). Peter says the world [kosmos] of the ungodly was destroyed by water in Noah’s day, but the heavens and earth [ge] were, at that time, reserved for fire.
Consider another passage that cannot be reconciled with the flawed concept of a series of heavens and earths. (Frost makes no mention of this text in his entire review even though the passage is pivotal for Covenant Creation; see BCS pp. 350-351 and 353-355):
You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but You remain… (Heb. 1:10-11a NKJ)
Where does the Bible talk about what God made “in the beginning”? The language is explicitly drawn from Genesis 1. Yet the writer says that heavens and earth “will perish” – in the future tense. As preterists we know this took place in AD 70, but notice that the author of Hebrews is teaching the same thing as what Peter taught in 2 Peter 3. The heavens and earth, that which was made “in the beginning,” was about to perish. Like Peter, the author of Hebrews makes an explicit link back to Genesis 1. Hebrews 1:10-11 allows no series of heavens and earths in old covenant history. Frost cannot make sense of the passage within his own model! If he were to apply Hebrews 1:10-11 to his supposed “heavens and earth” of Genesis 2, then Hebrews could not refer to its destruction in the future. Frost says that heavens and earth was destroyed in the flood, which would be the distant past from the perspective of Hebrews.
We believe, based upon 2 Peter 3:5-7, Hebrews 1:10-11, and Revelation 21:1 (which all parallel each other), that the old heavens and earth, the original creation, what God made “in the beginning,” entirely passed away at AD 70. Furthermore, the timing of the passing away of the old heavens and earth tells us the nature of the Genesis 1 creation; if the physical universe did not pass away in AD 70, then Genesis 1 speaks about Covenant Creation. The old covenant creation does not merely go back to Sinai. It goes all the way back to the Genesis 1 creation.
Once the reader grasps the fundamental error at the heart of Frost’s critique, we can untangle his main criticism. Frost uses his own flawed view of a series of heavens and earths as an argument against BCS:
Martin and Vaughn move right into the text of II Pe 3.5-7 and note, “Notice how Peter references the original creation when he says the heavens existed and the earth, ge, was formed…” Further, [the Flood] destroyed this covenant world (346 – ital. theirs). But this is precisely what causes the problem. If the first heavens and earth is Genesis 1:1, then what “heavens and earth” was destroyed in Noah’s day? Would that not logically demand that Noah’s destruction was the first destruction? This is an inescapable conclusion. Rev 21:1 cannot, then be a reference to Genesis 1:1, because, according to Martin and Vaughn, the 1:1 heavens and earth was “destroyed” according to their own exegesis! (p. 16)
We see once again how Frost’s case is based on his own view of a series of heavens and earths. Note how Frost thinks we argue from 2 Peter 3:5-7 that the flood destroyed the entire heavens and earth of Genesis 1:1! We never argued that in BCS. Frost cut off our explanation in his fragmented quotation above and misrepresents us. Here is what we actually said:
Notice how Peter references the original creation when he says the heavens existed and the earth, ge, was formed out of water by water. That is a reference to the creation week of Genesis 1, particularly Day 3 (Gen. 1:9-10). Peter then included the flood in his comparison; a flood which destroyed this covenant world with the exception of righteous Noah and his family (who became the new covenant “world” at that time by receiving a “new” covenant). (BCS p. 346)
We stated explicitly that Peter references Day 3 (Gen. 1:9-10). Nowhere did we argue that Genesis 1:1 is in view in Peter’s text. The world of the ungodly was destroyed by the flood, leaving Noah and his family as the remnant who entered a new order (see BCS p. 169). If Peter meant to say that the “heavens and earth” was destroyed, we suggest that he would have said that the “heavens and the earth” was destroyed by the flood. Peter said no such thing. The kosmos was destroyed, not the heavens and the earth. The heavens and earth was reserved for fire at the end of the old creation when God would create a new heaven and new earth, the new covenant.
Frost’s entire model is predicated on a simple, most basic oversight regarding 2 Peter 3. This error leads to some key mistakes in his personal translation of 2 Peter 3:5-7:
For this is concealed from them willingly: that a heavens were of old and an earth by water and through water, having been held together by the word of God, through which things the then world being inundated by water perished, but the Now Heavens and The Earth by the same word are kept in store reserved for fire… (p. 16)
Frost’s translation looked odd to us when we first saw it. What is being “held together”? The heavens? The earth? Both? Frost implies that Peter says both “heavens” and “earth” are “held together by the word of God.” But the Greek text does not say that at all. The word for “having been held together” is a feminine participle that modifies “earth” [ge], a feminine noun. Frost’s translation disconnects the participle from the noun so that both “heavens” and “earth” are viewed together, but that is not the case in Greek. It is the earth [ge] that was “held together.” Peter is talking specifically about the “land” being “held together” or “standing out of water.” Frost’s faulty translation is driven by his preconceived “two heavens and earths” model. Note the difference between Frost’s translation above and these accurate translations:
For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded by water… (2 Peter 3:5-6 NKJ)
[F]or this is unobserved by them willingly, that the heavens were of old, and the earth out of water and through water standing together by the word of God, through which the then world, by water having been deluged, was destroyed. (2 Peter 3:5-6 Young’s Literal)
A related issue is that Frost did not use “standing” in his translation. Instead he used the less common “held together.” Peter referred to the earth [ge] “standing” out of the water by God’s word. In other words, Peter wrote that God’s word spoke the land into existence out of the water. Technically, “held together” works as well because God’s word brought the dry land “together” in Genesis 1. As commentaries unequivocally point out, Peter makes an explicit reference to Day 3 of the creation account (Gen 1:9-10). The land that rose up out of the water (or “gathered together” out of the water) was flooded by water. This is a specific portion of God’s covenant creation that matches the inner courts of the Tabernacle/Temple architecture. The land [ge] is symbolic of the covenant people of God (see also Heb. 6:7-8). There is nothing in 2 Peter 3:5-7 about the destruction of the heavens or the destruction of the sea and sea creatures at the time of the flood (or at Sinai). The comprehensive renovation of all creation was reserved for the time of the end: “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens’” (Heb. 12:26 NIV).
Accurate translations of 2 Peter 3:5-6 reveal why Frost needed his own translation of 2 Peter 3. Peter is drawing from Genesis 1! This violates Frost’s YEC model which requires Genesis 1 to speak of the physical universe. Frost argues that neither the universe nor planet Earth were “destroyed” by the flood. “… [C]learly, it did not ‘perish’ if the meaning is the Universe (p. 16).” Therefore, Frost’s literalism requires him to redirect Peter’s statement toward details in Genesis 2 rather than Genesis 1 to avoid the problem:
The Garden of Eden was formed “out of” water. The LXX reads, “and there arose a fountain out of the earth (ek tes ges) and watered the face of the earth” (Gen. 2.6) (p. 17)
Note the sleight of hand in the above statement. Frost says the Garden of Eden was formed “out of water,” and then proceeds to quote Gen. 2:6 which says that a fountain came “out of the earth”! But Day 3, and only Day 3, matches the detail in Peter’s text. Like we mentioned in BCS, Peter references the rising of the land out of the water on Day 3 as described in Genesis 1:9-10. Contrary to Frost’s model, Peter refers to Genesis 1:9-10 not 2:6.
Why is Frost forced into such shoddy handling of the text? The problem is not essentially different than futurist exegesis. Frost makes his model drive his interpretation rather than allowing sound interpretation to drive the model. Frost simply must have 2 Peter 3 reference Genesis 2 rather than Genesis 1. If Peter points to Day 3 in Genesis 1, then Frost’s model is completely invalidated. As it is, Peter’s link matches Covenant Creation perfectly, a specific part of the Genesis 1 creation, the corrupted land, was destroyed in the flood.
The problem for Frost goes deeper, however. If Peter points to Day 3 in Genesis 1 as what was “destroyed” by water, then the flood-destruction of the land [ge] tells us something about the nature of the “land” created on Day 3 in Genesis 1! The destruction of the “land” is the destruction of ungodly people; Peter is informing us that the “land” in Genesis 1:9-10 is not planet Earth, but a reference to God’s people who once lived in covenant relationship with God. That perspective matches Paul’s concept of “the creation” as God’s people in Romans 8:19-23.
Frost’s final pages need brief comment. Frost makes an emotional appeal against Covenant Creation by saying:
In Martin and Vaughn, the physical earth is not much of a topic in the Bible since it has been excluded from the opening pages of the Bible – dismissed as symbolic – but never addressing at all the purpose of God creating it. (pp. 19-20)
We never addressed the “purpose of God creating” the physical earth? Frost has confounded a description of the creation of the physical universe with God’s purpose for the physical universe. Frost’s claim is that if the Bible does not have a physical description of creation, then the physical universe has no Divine purpose. This is a fallacious argument. We already dealt with this sort of confusion in BCS (one example is pp. 217-236). We believe that all of Scripture models a Divine purpose for the physical universe, irrespective of whether or not Genesis describes how God made the physical world in the first place. In Chilton’s words:
[A]ll creation is primarily symbolic. All creatures reflect the glory of God, and are images of some aspect or other of his nature. God’s personality is imprinted on everything He has made.
Why do we have to take Genesis 1 “literally” in order to believe that? Scripture teaches that perspective consistently (e.g., the metaphorical Psalms, the parables of Jesus, creational imagery in Revelation, etc.). Furthermore, the physical world is a lot more than a “… the Stage upon which God would ultimately bring his created Man into full and complete unity through His Eternal Son…” (p. 20). The entire Bible, including Jesus’ own teaching, shows how the physical world teaches us about God and his kingdom; it was made to “reflect his covenant relationship with his people” (BCS p. 358). We believe there is a profound purpose for the physical universe, and we said so in our book.
Ponder how futurists make a similar argument against preterism as Frost made above. After all, preterists believe that the physical earth is not much of a topic in biblical prophecy, having been excluded from the closing pages of the Bible! Or consider the issue of heaven. Do preterists believe that the Bible teaches the reality of heaven for God’s children after they die? Yes, we do. But do Preterists believe that the Bible gives a “literal” description of what heaven will be like including auto-luminescent cities, streets of gold, and many mansions? No, we believe the Bible was not given for that purpose.
Why doesn’t the same principle apply to the physical origin of the universe? Do those who hold Covenant Creation believe in the reality that God created the physical world? Yes, we do. Do advocates of Covenant Creation believe that the Bible gives a “literal” description of how God created the physical world? No, we believe the Bible was not given for that purpose (BCS pp 358-359).
The reader should understand that Frost intends to make his own particular literal interpretation of Genesis 1 a matter of faith (see BCS p242-245):
The God that speaks and in an instant: it is. This blows our minds. In fact, it cannot be true it must mean something else: God didn’t really didn’t do it that way, did he? That is the question that confronts us: it is a question of faith. (p. 21)
This kind of innuendo regarding BCS never ceases to amaze us. However, this approach is commonly encouraged by the modern YEC movement. Some of us now believe that Covenant Eschatology has profound implications for Genesis. From the very first edition of BCS released in 2001 by Tim Martin, the goal has always been to reach a better understanding of what the Bible teaches about the creation and the flood. We can deal with Frost’s criticism by asking a simple question of our own: How much faith does it take to believe that God created the physical universe even if God never tells us how? It seems that if Frost is not told all about God’s original creation in precise order and literal detail, then he finds it hard to believe!
The irony is that, sooner or later, YEC advocates will inevitably ask Frost the same questions. It is only a matter of time before someone dedicated to an even more “literal” reading of the earliest chapters of Genesis confronts Frost on the same point. The questions will sound like these:
- Didn’t God say that death entered the world by sin?
- Didn’t God curse the earth with thorns and thistles, and increase physical pain in childbirth.
- Don’t we sweat today because of Adam’s sin?
- Isn’t all human pain a result of God’s curse for sin?
- Why doesn’t Frost believe in a “mind-blowing” global flood?
- Why does Frost believe that “God didn’t really do it that way”?
- Why doesn’t Frost have faith in God’s Word?
The simple fact of the matter is that tens of millions of YEC supporters don’t see much difference at all between the views of Martin, Vaughn, and Frost when it comes to Genesis. If Frost (top of p. 21) wants grab the Evolution club to use on us (even though we made our views on Evolution clear in BCS, pp. 83-92), then perhaps he should consider that millions in the modern YEC movement will be happy to do the same to him. Consider the diagrams below and ask yourself what they say about Frost’s view of Genesis… and Revelation:
Belief in evolution and/or millions of years necessitates that death has been a part of history since life first appeared on this planet… In this system of belief death, suffering and disease will continue on into the unknown future. Death is a permanent part of history.
From a perspective of the literal history of the book of Genesis, there was a perfect world to start with—described by God as ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31)….The death of man and the animals was not part of the original creation.
In reality, the battle between Creation and evolution, between young Earth and old-Earth views, is in fact a battle between two totally different histories of death.
For the Christian, which history of death you accept has major theological implications.
However, if a Christian accepts the history of death as given by a literal reading of the Genesis account, then this history can be represented by the following diagram:
Where does Frost’s view of the past and future fit in those diagrams? Will the tens of millions of YEC Christians who define their worldview by those beliefs consider Frost as a young-earth creationist or an evolutionist? How will Frost convince them that preterism and YEC beliefs do not conflict? How will Frost convince them of a local flood that matches his partial Covenant Creation model?
Frost’s attempt at a “synthesis” on this issue has been a very fruitful exercise from our perspective. We explained clearly what we intended with Beyond Creation Science:
We will argue against the three pillars of modern young-earth creationism from the perspective of a preterist view of New Testament prophecy. We believe that preterism offers a refutation of: (1) the belief that the Genesis flood was global; (2) the belief that no biological death existed before the fall; and (3) the belief that Genesis 1 is a literal record of God’s creation of the physical universe over six 24-hour days. (BCS p. 109)
Frost now agrees that pillars (1) and (2) have been refuted. His “synthesis” is a last-ditch effort to preserve pillar (3) together with preterism. Frost’s partial Covenant Creation model was designed to preserve pillar (3) at any cost. However, synthetic approaches (like partial preterism for example) tend to be inherently unstable. The details outlined above demonstrate why Frost’s “synthesis” will not survive careful examination.
Again we would like to thank Frost for his generous review, his acknowledgement that we have accurately developed Milton Terry’s view, his adoption of a local flood, and his development of the partial Covenant Creation approach. For many of us in Covenant Eschatology today, partial preterism was a way station, a rest area or bridge from futurism to a consistent, fulfilled eschatology.
Sam Frost has now provided that service for the creation account.
(Editor’s Note: Tim and Jeff can be reached through their website, www.beyondcreationscience.com)
 John Sailhamer, Genesis Unbound: A Provocative New Look at the Creation Account (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996)
 A detailed examination of these details, along with many others, can be found in BCS pp. 281-359.
 As we will see below, Frost’s model goes counter to the entire framework of historic Christian theology. Frost’s view of the relationship between the beginning and the end overturns the entire table. His approach dumps the puzzle pieces on the floor and constructs a novel framework which relies on an untested approach to Genesis creation (see also BCS pp. 351-354).
 see http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2002/1112animals.asp and http://www.answersingenesis.org/e-mail/archive/AnswersWeekly/2007/0127.asp and http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v3/n4/bara-what
 Frost proposed something like this in a recent article available online at: http://preterism.ning.com/profiles/blogs/a-proposal-an-end-to-history. In Frost’s words, “This, of course, could take millions of years…. Isaiah 65.17-ff literally fulfilled as it is already spiritually fulfilled.” The irony here is that Frost denies a million years passed during God’s original creation of the physical universe. Yet he suggests that the new creation (in a physical sense) will be completed over a million years! (see BCS pp. 287) What is the root problem? Frost’s insistence of a physical-universe creation as the topic of Genesis is spilling over and forcing a supposed “literal” fulfillment of Isaiah 65.
 We could state the matter a different way. If Frost were to place the flood into the “universal” context of Genesis 1, then his partition between two heavens and earths as two separate subjects, Genesis 1 and 2, utterly fails, for then we would have “universal” destruction. Frost’s model does not allow Genesis 1 to be in view anywhere in the flood account; Genesis 1 must speak about a different heaven and earth, and Frost maintains that Peter says “a” heaven and earth was destroyed! Furthermore, Frost’s model requires him to oppose a global flood, for a global flood would bring a universal context to the garden scene in Genesis 2! Frost has sacrificed the global flood doctrine in order to defend a YEC-preterist synthesis.
 It is interesting to note Peter lists both the flood and the fiery judgment of Sodom together as an example of the day of judgment coming upon the unrighteous in Peter’s day. See BCS pp. 465-468.
 Notice that the author of Hebrews goes on to speak of “the removing of what can be shaken – that is created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain” (Heb. 12:27 NIV). What is being finally removed at AD 70? “created things”!
 Every commentary we have seen acknowledges the explicit link to Genesis 1:9-10.
 “Two Histories of Death” by Ken Ham. Full article available online at: http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/450/ or http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v24/i1/history.asp
 We expect that the future growth of old earth creationism will play a major role in the demise of partial preterism. The big hang-up for most partial preterists is a biological resurrection which is inescapably tied to a biological view of the fall, a central pillar of modern YEC doctrine. Old earth creationism demonstrates powerfully that the fall had nothing to do with biology, and if the fall is not biological, then neither is the resurrection. Old earth creationism is preterism applied to the curse and preterism is old earth creationism applied to biblical eschatology.