Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Devastating Critique of the Framework Hypothosis


Paulin Bedard, In Six Days God Created, Xulon Press, 2013

Reviewed by Dr. Benjamin Shaw

This is a very fine book. As a quick look at the table of contents will tell you, it is a critique of the “framework hypothesis.” For those of you who don’t know what the framework hypothesis is, it is a way of reading Genesis 1-2 which sees the material as set out in a framework fashion. That is, Days 1-3 of Genesis 1 parallel Days 4-6. The days are not ordinary days, nor are they entirely figurative (depending on which framework author you read). The result is that Genesis 1-2 is considered as not having anything to say about how God created, but rather make the point that God did create. The material is exalted poetic narrative, rather than historical narrative, hence it cannot be read literally, according to this theory.

The book is divided into three sections. The first is, “The Literal Interpretation is Satisfactory.” The point of this section is to argue against the view of many framework proponents, who propose that there are a number of problems with taking Genesis 1-2 literally that are solved by the framework hypothesis. Bedard does a commendable job of addressing the issues, showing that the supposed problems are more imaginary than real.

Section 2 is “The Framework Interpretation is Problematic.” In this section, Bedard shows the many exegetical problems of the framework hypothesis. Some framework proponents attempt to deal with the problems, others seem to deny that the problems exist. However, by fairly presenting the arguments of the framework proponents in their own words, Bedard succeeds in demonstrating that the problems are real, they are serious, and that framework proponents have not successfully addressed them.

The final section is “The Framework Interpretation is Dangerous.” Here again, Bedard is careful not to misrepresent framework proponents. But he does demonstrate a number of serious consequences to the framework hypothesis. Not all framework proponents have followed their views into these consequences, but some have. Some of these dangers are: the rejection of the historicity of some events (including a historical Adam and Eve); a false view of the doctrine of God’s accommodation; the lack of clarity in the Scriptures, particularly regarding fundamental issues; the pervasive influence of modern secular science. With regard to this last, many framework proponents argue that their view arises from a strict exegesis of the text, not from an attempt to accommodate the long age of the earth that is the standard view in modern science. Bedard recognizes this, because he has carefully studied these authors. But it is also clear that a large number of framework proponents are driven to find an explanation of Genesis 1-2 that will accord with modern scientific views. Bedard allows these men to speak for themselves.

This is a devastating critique of the framework hypothesis. It is especially so because Bedard has been careful to accurately represent the views of framework proponents. Not all who hold to the framework hypothesis agree in all the particulars, and Bedard is careful to note that. Bedard allows them to speak in their own words, and he has carefully cited the views he presents. I would recommend this work first to all proponents of the framework hypothesis, that they might see the exegetical and theological difficulties of the view. I would also recommend this book to all those who have an interest in what the Bible has to say about the origins of the earth. Does the Bible speak plainly, or does it speak in frameworks?


Paulin Bedard is the pastor of Reformed Church of Saint-Georges, Quebec. Dr. Benjamin Shaw is associate professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Greenville Seminary.