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From the desk of Mr. Pilliod

Framework Hypothesis

May 08, 2017
By Mike Pilliod

Hello there…Next in the series on origins is what is called the “Framework Hypothesis.”  So let’s dive right in and look at this particular view of biblical origins!

I will begin with the reason for the Framework Hypothesis.  Let me show you what Meredith Kline said about the reason for this theory.  Meredith Kline, so you know, is the one who popularized this view in the United States…and this view seems to be one of the most widely taught views of the creation week.  Here is what he said:

“To rebut the literalist interpretation of the Genesis creation week propounded by the young-earth theorists is a central concern of this article.”

That should fascinate you!  He literally comes out saying that one of the chief concerns for his writing about the Framework Hypothesis is to simply rebut the straight-up interpretation of Genesis.  Oh, but it gets worse, he finishes with the following:

“…The conclusion is that as far as the time frame is concerned, with respect to both the duration and sequence  of events, the scientist is left free of biblical constraints in hypothesizing about cosmic origins.”

Wow!  So the purpose of the Framework Hypothesis is two-fold according to Meredith Kline. 

  1. To rebut the literalist interpretation
  2. To free you from biblical constraints. 

I don’t know about you, but I thought one of the points of being a Christian was to constrain oneself to the Bible.

So what is this Framework Hypothesis view?  In general, it is a view that attempts to classify Genesis as something other than historical narrative.  Proponents attempt to point to language in Genesis that they view as semi-poetic, and therefore it merely shows that God created but gives us no indication whatsoever as to how God did it.  That’s the attempt.

But so you can see or hear aspects of this view when it comes up in conversation or when you see it in your study notes in your Bible, let’s look to some of the particulars.  Since proponents take a poetic view of Genesis, they are free to say whatever they like about the events described especially in chapter 1 concerning the creation week.

Firstly, let me very briefly state that Genesis is not written as poetry.  Genesis is written in the Hebrew language and in Hebrew they have some very specific grammatical nuances that just are not present in Genesis.  For example, Hebrew poetry is written in SVO (Subject Verb Object) order instead of the narrative VSO (Verb Subject Object) order.  Psalms is for sure poetic because of the SVO style it is written.  Genesis is not poetic…it is clearly written in VSO format.

Also, Hebrew poetry uses what is called parallelism.  There are two basic types of parallelism and they occur in either couplets or triplets (2 or 3 phrases).  In one type of parallelism the two phrases or lines of poetry essentially say the same thing.  Like Psalm 2:4:

He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.

They say the same basic thing about what God’s response it towards those who plot against Him.  Then the other basic type of parallelism is when the two lines say the opposite thing.  Take Proverbs 15:2 for example:

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable,
But the mouth of fools spouts folly.

Anyway, there actually isn’t any of this sort of parallelism in Genesis chapter 1 at all.  So the basic foundational premise of the Framework Hypothesis (FH) is completely without merit.  But let us look at some of what the FH has to say.

First, the FH views the 6 days of creation as occurring in 2 sets of triads where the first three days mirror the second three days.  In other words, proponents of the FH will tell us that there is a correspondence between days 1 and 4.  And also there is correspondence between days 2 and 5, and then finally 3 and 6.  And they normally look at it as the first triad of days being the creative act of forming and the second triad as the creative act of filling.






Dark and light


Stars and planets


Heavens and water


Birds and water animals


Seas, land, vegetation


Land animals, humans, food

Looks great, right?!  And proponents of the FH view will tell us that because of this there is no actual timeframe involved at all.  And even the sequence isn’t necessary as it’s all poetic anyway.  But please read on as there are many problems with this view.

For example, when was water really made?  According to the chart above, it was Day 2.  But that isn’t the case at all.  Water was around on Day 1.  Notice the words in Genesis 1:2 “The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”  And in the reality of Scripture, this means that water was around BEFORE there was even light, which of course also goes directly against what FH proponents are claiming (see chart above where light occurs before water).

Also, what about the stars from Day 4?  If days 1 and 4 were basically the same event, then the stars were formed and placed into…into…into what?  There’s no place to put the formed stars on the combined Day 1-4 because the heavens were not created until the combined Day 2-5.  So it’s a bit odd, yes?

There are other, interesting, tidbits that proponents of the Framework Hypothesis believe about the first 2 chapters of Genesis, but this should be enough to give you pause.  When you hear this, don’t just take it as true without study.  Look into it!  Read the Scriptures!  Does the language demand an allegorical interpretation?  Does the language in this particular section of Scripture demand it to be read figuratively?

I call myself a biblical literalist:

  1. Literally, in places, the Bible was written as historical narrative and we should interpret it that way
  2. Literally, in places, the Bible was written as metaphorical and we should interpret it that way
  3. Literally, in places, the Bible was written as prophetic and we should interpret it that way
  4. Literally, in places, the Bible was written as figurative and we should interpret it that way

So read critically.  Pray hard.  And trust God!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Posted in Apologetics

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