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Time Tensions – Part 1

Was the First Week the First Week?

John Collins, who was the Old Testament chair on the translation committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible notes that “The normal use of the perfect in the opening of a pericope is to designate an event that took place before the main storyline got underway.” For example:

  • Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. (Genesis 3:1, ESV)

  • Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:1, ESV)

  • After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 15:1, ESV)

  • Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. (Genesis 16:1, ESV)

  • The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. (Genesis 21:1, ESV)

  • Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there.(Genesis 39:1, ESV)

  • Now the famine was severe in the land. (Genesis 43:1, ESV)

In each of these cases, we are given background information to that pericope. The main storyline then utilizes the wayyqtol form to advance the narrative. Therefore, “Genesis 1:1-2 are background, representing an unknown length of time prior to the beginning of the first “day”:

verse 1 is the creatio ex nihilo event, while verse 2 describes the conditions of the earth as the first day commenced. Length of time, either for the creation week, or before it or since it, is irrelevant to the communicative purpose of the account.

This is not the gap theory, but it is suggestive of time before the first “day” of the creation narrative. This proves nothing on the length of the days – it is just interesting.

The Third Day

On the third day God gathered the water to produce the land. One should keep in mind that God created during the day and rested at night. So for God to finish the work of day 3, he had to plant plants before nightfall. Thus, there was less than 12 hours from when the land was underwater to the last possible time to create plants.  The point on earth that is furthest from the oceans is the Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility (or “EPIA”) in China’s Xinjiang region. This places it about 1,644 miles from the nearest ocean. In order for the land as we know it to emerge from under the water in 12 hours it would have to travel at 137 mph. But assuming that we had a straight line from the center point to the sea, and assuming the center point was as high as mount Everest to get the steepest slope, the average water velocity would be only 50 mph. This is far below what is needed for the 24 hr day view. If we take the average landmass elevation above sea level this is only 15.2 mph. It would therefore take 108 hrs (or 4.5 days) for water to drain to the sea.

This is not a big issue though, because God can do anything. If he wanted to gather the waters together in 30 nanoseconds, he could easily do it. Therefore this does not disprove the calendar day view. This is only to say that if things ran normally it would take longer than a day.

2 Responses to “Time Tensions – Part 1”

  1. John Goodell says:

    Hey bro, As a calender day guy this seems pretty simple: God said, “‘let dry land appear.’ And it was so.” Yes, it happened that quick. God who created by His Word makes it happen by His Word.

    Then he speaks vegetation into existence.

    No time tension for me 🙂

    • Brett says:

      True. That is one way to resolve it. Like I said;
      “This is not a big issue though, because God can do anything. If he wanted to gather the waters together in 30 nanoseconds, he could easily do it. Therefore this does not disprove the calendar day view. This is only to say that if things ran normally it would take longer than a day.”