One of the issues that trigger a contention in the contemporary world is the account of the days of creation. Christians and pagans deride the concept of “God creating the world in six 24-hour days” (Harrison, 2002, p. 14). For years, Christian intellectuals have tried coming up with a connection between the evolution theory and the biblical creation theory, found in the book of Genesis.
Presently, many evangelical commentators on the book of Genesis try to align their interpretations with the concept of evolution. This paper seeks to analyze the commentary by Victor Hamilton. It will evaluate the reasons why Hamilton does not take the days of creation plainly.
Review of Hamilton’s commentary
Victor Hamilton is one of the commentators that have come up with commentaries regarding the biblical creation story. With respect to the first chapters of Genesis, Hamilton posits, “… the battle lines are drawn between the interpretation of the creation story and scientific knowledge about the origin of the earth and mankind” (1990, p. 53). Sorry to say, like Wenham, Hamilton introduces a phony impasse between the bible and science.
Wenham posits, “Historical and scientific questions were probably not in the author’s mind, but were problems for the modern reader, therefore, the text should be read on its own terms and not ours” (1987, p. 53). The creation story found in Genesis 1, and the scientific evolution theory have nothing in common, neither is there a conflict between the two (Wenham, 1987).
The existing clash between the two accounts of creation emerges from the people’s anti-biblical suppositions used to account for modern scientific phenomena. According to Hamilton (1990), the term “day”, used in the Hebrew Bible, refers to the normal day of a single week.
Hamilton posits that the role of confirming that the modern days are not similar to the days referred in the creation story lies on those individuals that are against yom; the term used to refer to days in Hebrew Bible. He argues that the Hebrew depict yom as comprising of the evening and morning, just like the modern day (Hamilton, 1990).
By this argument, Hamilton presents two conditions that oppose a modest indulgent of yom. He has the fervor that, this elucidation is neither biblical nor religious and, hence, it is not essentially preferable. Nonetheless, the dilemma does not arise because the understanding is not religious but because it is not biblical, and it does not echo sound elucidation.
On the other hand, Hamilton contends, “Conservative reading of Genesis 1 does not always produce a conservative conclusion” (1990, p. 53). Hamilton contradicts James Barr’s supposition that the writer of Genesis referred to the basic days.
He terms the effort by scientists to demonstrate that it is hard to create the world in one week as baseless and unfounded. Hamilton argues that, to understand the story of creation; one ought not to treat the “day” as the 24-hour cycle, but to perceive it as a correspondence of God’s ingenious doings.
Hamilton misunderstands Barr’s assumptions concerning the creation story found in Genesis 1. Concisely, Barr posits that, upon sound interpretation of the biblical passage, including the writer’s anticipated message, one deduces that the author refers to the contemporary 24-hour day.
Since Hamilton perceives “science” as depicting this as illogical, he chooses the literary outlook of the “day” and paves the room for people to assume the unembellished meaning of the “day” or otherwise. According to Genesis chapter one, all the activities of creation took place within six days. The author arranges the activities in a systematic manner to demonstrate the order in which creation took place (Kay, 2007).
One might argue that Genesis 1:1 does not account for the events that took place during the first day of creation. Instead, the verse acts as an opening passage of how the creation process occurred. The fact is that, Genesis 1:1 is an autonomous clause, which accounts for the initial stage of creating the world.
Exodus 20:11 also states that it took God six days to create the earth. There is a connection between this account and the creation story in Genesis 1. The two accounts demonstrate that, by God creating the earth in six days and taking a rest on the seventh day; he intended to establish a trend for the people to adopt (Waltke & O’Connor, 1990).
Hamilton posits that the story keeps on repeating the phrase vis-à-vis morning and evening to demonstrate that a day started from sunrise and ended at sunrise. Nevertheless, the verses that Hamilton uses to present his arguments are subjective, and they do not support his opinion relating to the interpretation of the morning and evening. The Old Testament treats a day as the interval between sunrise and the subsequent sunrise.
Nonetheless, this does not imply that the interval between sunset and the subsequent sunset cannot represent a day. The terms “morning” and “evening” appearing in Genesis 1 aim at helping the reader discern the duration that God took to complete one creative activity and when he embarked on the next activity (McCabe, 2000).
The commentary by Victor Hamilton has significantly altered my perception vis-à-vis the creation theory. In the past, I had never taken the time to analyze the issue of creation with respect to the duration that each creative activity took. Moreover, I had never considered how God operated during the creation period. Initially, I thought that God only worked during the day and, I did not consider the night hours.
Conventionally, when individuals claim that they are taking a day off from work, they imply resting for the hours they spend at work. Unless one works at night, these hours fall during the daylight. Night hours are not considered as the working hours. The same applies to the creation theory. At first, I believed that God worked persistently during the daytime for six days and opted to rest on the seventh day.
However, after factoring in the phrase that touches on “evening” and “morning”, my perceptions about the creation story changed. I started seeing the creation process as though it continued even at night, hence, the emphasis of the “morning” and “evening” throughout the creation story.
One thing that is particularly appealing in this commentary is the attempt by Hamilton to establish a correlation between the creation theory and the scientific theory of evolution. The scientists fail to understand how there could be day and night without the sun.
Interestingly, Hamilton moves away from the scriptures and try to analyze the creation story based on his own understanding, as well as, the scientific happenings, which are not related to the creation activity in any way. Hamilton shows how scientific and historical perceptions can affect the interpretation of the creation story.
Hamilton’s commentary that, the creation story pokes holes in the scientific elucidation of the origin of the world and humanity did not surprise me. For many years, scientists have tried to contradict the creation theory by coming up with theories that seek to explain the origin of the universe and humankind.
Nevertheless, they have never managed to support their arguments. Therefore, the sentiment that the creation theory arouses a battle between the biblical and the scientific position, with regard to the origin of the earth and humanity is not a new issue. It has been there for many years.
The commentaries by Hamilton and Wenham agree that scientific interpretations play a significant role in understanding the creation story.
Many people apply scientific knowledge and discoveries in their interpretation of the creation story, a move that makes it hard to understand how God could create the entire universe within such a short period. To understand the creation story, people ought to interpret it the way it is without referring to historical or scientific discoveries.
The contention about the length of the day referred in the creation theory emanates from the concept of scientific evolution. Majority of the scholars agrees that the book of Genesis is compiled as a chronological account and that the term yom refers to a day made up of 24 hours.
Nevertheless, the scholars depict the world in a scientific way without paying attention to the explanations that the scientific perspectives give. While a majority of the scientific explanations keeps on changing, the biblical explanation has always been steadfast.
Hamilton, V. (1990). The book of Genesis chapters 1–17: The new international commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Harrison, P. (2002). The Bible and the rise of science. Australasian Science, 23(3), 14–15.
Kay, M. (2007). On literary theorists’ approach to Genesis 1: Part 2. Journal of Creation, 21(3), 93–101.
McCabe, R. (2000). A defense of literal days in the creation week. Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal, 5, 97–123.
Waltke, B. & O’Connor, M. (1990). An introduction to biblical Hebrew syntax. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns.
Wenham, G. (1987). Word biblical commentary, Vol. 1: Genesis 1–15. Mexico City, Mexico: Thomas Nelson.