A Brief Response to Hugh Ross

(This originally appeared in the Summer 1999 edition of the MCOI Journal beginning on page 6)

by Thomas A. Howe, Ph.D.

Creation and TimeIn his book Creation and Time,1 Dr. Hugh Ross presents a wealth of information relative to the creation-date controversy. This respondent is not trained or equipped to address the scientific arguments and evidence which Dr. Ross amasses. However, it is within my field to address the claims and analyses of Ross in the chapter titled, “Biblical Basis for Long Creation Days.” To this end, I will present a portion of Ross’ claims and arguments according to the section divisions found in his book beginning on page 45. Below each brief paragraph taken from Ross’ book, I will address his claims and arguments in one or more paragraphs. It is advisable that the reader obtain a copy of Ross’ book and, at the very least, thoroughly read this chapter.

Let me also assert up front that I do not seek to attack Dr. Ross in any personal way. If there is anything said in my responses that may be taken as a personal attack, I humbly apologize in advance. Like Dr Ross, I am interested in discovering the truth and not in attacking a brother in Christ. The views expressed in this response are not necessarily the views held by Southern Evangelical Seminary or any other faculty members or staff. These are my own personal views and reflect my own position.

1. The length of God’s days. The same author of Genesis (Moses) wrote in Psalm 90 4. “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by or like a watch [for hours] in the night.”[NIV] Moses seems to state that just as God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55 9). God’s days are not our days2

The implication Ross is attempting to impress upon the reader is that since Moses apparently used the word “day” in Ps. 90:4 in a figurative sense, the idea of “day” in Genesis does not necessarily indicate a literal 24-hour period. However, rather than mitigate against the short-day view, this passage actually strengthens the idea that Moses understood “day” to indicate a short rather than long period. The point of the simile in Ps. 90:4 is that a thousand years are to God as a very short period of time. In fact, the text says, “For a thousand years in your eyes (is) as a day recently which passes by, and a watch in the night.”

The translation is rather awkward English, but it is translated this way to attempt to give the sense of the Hebrew sentence. The expression a day only recently which passes byis taken from the construction in the middle of the line, keyôm ’etmôl kî ya‘bor (recently which passes by): “As a day (keyôm) recently (’etmôl) which (kî) passes by (ya‘bor). The word ’etmôl, translated here as “recently” is often translated “yesterday” and indicates a time passed as recently as yesterday. The Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon indicates that the word often means “only lately.”3 The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) states the word is translated “literally ‘yesterday (and) the day before,’ idiomatically’ formerly, recently, before’ “4 This indicates Moses is comparing the long span of one-thousand years to a very short span of only yesterday or the day before.

If the word “day” in this context means “long period of time” then the simile loses its meaning. What it then would mean, would be that, to God, a thousand years is as a long period of time. But to us a thousand years is a long period of time. Why would God tell us that to Him a thousand years is a long period of time? As Ross rightly affirms, “God’s days are not our days.” Moses is trying to contrast the relation of time to us and to God. What Moses is saying is that, to God, a thousand years is as a short period of time, as yesterday or the day before that has recently passed by. This idea is strengthened by the fact that he even compares a thousand years to a specific short period, the “watch” which Ross points out is four hours.

If we should conclude that the word “day” in this context does not mean a short period of time, should we not also conclude that a “watch” does not indicate a short period of time? But this is clearly not what the use indicates here. Moses is counting on the reader to understand “day” as a short period of time in order to contrast our notion of time with God’s. To God, a thousand years is like four hours. If this is the way Moses is using the words here, then this actually argues against Ross’ assertion because it strengthens the idea that Moses understood the word “day” to indicate a short period of time.

2. The Hebrew words yôm, ‘ereb, and boqer. The Hebrew word yôm, translated day, may be (and is) used in biblical Hebrew as it is in modern English: to indicate any of three time periods (a) sunrise to sunset, (b) sunset to sunset, (c) a segment of time without any reference to solar days (anywhere from weeks, to a year, to several years, to an age or epoch). This does not mean, however, that ydm can be interpreted as referring to an indefinite time or infinite time 5

Of course, there is no question whether the word can be so used. The question is, how is it being used in the creation narrative? The standard young-earth claim is that the word yôm always indicates a 24-hour day when attached to an ordinal (second, third, fourth). Ross’ response to this claim is that in Hos. 6:2 we find the statement,”after two days he {God} will revive us {Israeli;} on the third day he will restore us.” Since Ross understands this to be an instance in which an ordinal (third) is used with the word “day” to indicate a period not equal to 24 hours, he takes this to be a counter example to the young-earthers’ claim about the use of the word “day” with ordinals. First of all, the notion that this is not a reference to a 24-hour period is Ross’ interpretation of the passage. Simply because commentators generally interpret this figuratively does not necessarily settle the question. Perhaps it does mean literal days. It may be that this prophetic pronouncement is a reference to the resurrection. After the second day, God will revive us in the revived Messiah; and on the third day God will restore us in the restored Messiah. So, it may be that this is a prophetic reference to the literal days of the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah. Simply because Ross interprets these references figuratively does not necessarily mean they are figurative. This passage is just as problematic for Ross as it is for the young earther. Consequently, it does not shed light upon other problematic verses.

Second, it seems to be hermeneutically suspect to demand the narrative passages in Genesis 1 ought to be understood in light of a poetic usage in a prophetic book which was written several hundred years later Could Moses or his audience have been expected no anticipate the use of Hosea? But, even if Moses’ audience did understand this kind of usage, it is a dubious practice to take the figurative expressions in poetry to inform the literal passages of narrative. The figurative is built on the literal, not the literal on the figurative. We should not use the figurative expressions of poetry, assuming they are figurative, to tell us what the literal passages must mean. Poetry is predisposed toward figurative expression, while narrative passages are predisposed toward literal usage.

Third, the metaphor of the poetic passage in Hosea 6 counts on the understanding of “day” as a short period of time in order to be significant. If the word “day” in Hosea indicated a long period of time, then the force of the metaphor is lost. The reason this statement is an encouragement to the people of Israel is because it promises deliverance and redemption will come shortly—as if in only a day. If the word “day” is understood to indicate a long period of time, then the encouragement is lost: “After two long periods of time God will revive Israel; on the third long period of time he will restore us” It makes better sense in the context to understand the reference to “day” as indicating a short period of time: “After two short periods of time {even as short as two single 24-hour periods} He will revive us; on the third short period of time {even as short as one 24-hour period} he will restore us.

Fourth, in this same section Ross asserts,

Young-earthers also hold the view that the Hebrew word ‘olam (as opposed to yôm) would have been used to indicate a long time period. However, Hebrew lexicons show that only in post-biblical writings did ‘olam only refer to a long age or epoch. In biblical times it meant “forever.” “perpetual.” “lasting,” “always,” “of olden times,” or “the remote past, future, or both ” But the range of its usage did not indicate a set period of time.6

Ross has misrepresented the situation. Concerning olam, TWOT,the very work from which Ross quotes, asserts:

There are at least 20 instances where it clearly refers to the past. Such usages generally point to something that seems long ago, but rarely if ever refer to a limitless past. Thus in Deut. 32:7 and Job 22:15 it may refer to the time of one’s elders 7

Deuteronomy and Job are hardly “post-biblical writings” and the “time of one’s elders” would certainly seem to indicate a set period of time. In fact, TWOT later states that, “In Isa 58:12, 61:4; Mic 7:14; Mai 3:4, and in the Aramaic of Ezr 4:15, 19 it clearly refers to the time just before the exile.8 It would seem such a specific designation could be understood to indicate a set period of time, and TWOT goes so far as to assert that some passages of the Bible use the word “of a not-so-remote past.”9

Once again, it seems that Ross’ argument has served to mitigate against his own view. But there is another problem with the long-day view that is not considered by Ross or any other day-age theorist of which I am aware. This is the question of what to do with the word “night“! If the word “day” (yôm) should be taken to refer to a long period of time, should not the word “night” (layla) also be taken as a long period of time? If so, does this suddenly double the amount of time since now we not only have long days but also long nights? Additionally, why would Moses even make reference to the “night‘ if he were referring to a long period of time that included a multitude of days and nights? It seems to stretch one’s hermeneutical credulity to argue the word ‘ night” should be taken figuratively like the word “day” and yet, the long-day theorist must give account of its presence. If he argues the word “day” is figurative for a long period of time, and yet, the word “night” is not . . . this seems to require some fantastic hermeneutical gymnastics! If the word “day” in verse five, “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night ” is taken literally, why is it taken figuratively in the very same verse? Some have argued that the word “day” in the phrase is figurative even for the short day theorist, since the early part of verse five uses the word for the daylight period, while the word “day” in the phrase, “And it was evening and it was morning. The first day takes the word as a 24-hour period, not simply the daylight hours. However, an argument could be made that this is in fact a reference to the daylight hours, since God works in the light, not in the dark. The short-day theorist can account for the uses of both words “day” and “night” without doing violence to the text or to the principles of grammatical-historical interpretation. It would seem the long-day theorist cannot account for the use of the word “night” without engaging in some hermeneutical slight of hand.

3. The function of a chronology. A study of other chronologies in the Bible reveals a common characteristic: They record sequences that are both significant and discernable to the reader . For the creation days, long time periods during which increasingly complex life-forms were created, indeed, are verifiable and essential to validate the supernatural accuracy of the writer’s statements. But if all creation were completed in six 24-hour days, the most sophisticated measuring techniques available, or even foreseeably available, would be totally incapable of discerning the sequence of events. Thus a major use of the chronology would be thwarted 10

In this section, Ross seems to be arguing that if the creation were completed in six, 24-hour periods, there would be no means to verify the sequence of events since present or foreseeable technology could not discern the sequence, and what appears to be a major use of chronology would be undermined. Since the people in Moses’ day did not have technology even approaching the technology available today, and since even our modern technology would be incapable of discerning the sequence of events if the creation were completed in six, 24-hour periods, then the creation must have been over long ages. Otherwise, the major use of chronology would be thwarted.

However, this leaves open the possibility that if the technology were to be developed that could discern the sequence, then the verifiability of the chronology would be possible, and the “major use of the chronology” would be available, and this argument against short days would be eliminated. So, the argument here is not against any inherent problem with short days or with the text, but with our present and foreseeable technological capabilities to verify the chronology. Of course, the argument assumes biblical chronology has the function Ross thinks it has (a dubious assumption at best).

Ross’ own examples, however, argue against his point. He uses Dan. 11:2-35 as an example of the discernability of chronology that validates the message of God’s spokesmen:

and Daniel 11:2-35 (a prediction, since fulfilled, of the chronology of victories, defeats, and intrigues of various kings and kingdoms of the Greek and Roman eras) The supernatural accuracy of such chronologies not only proves their inspiration but also gives assurance for today and hope for tomorrow11

The problem with Ross’ point is that the people to whom the prophecy of Daniel was originally given could not possibly have verified the sequence of events since they were still future. Later generations could look back on those prophecies and the history they foretold and verify the chronological accuracy. Analogically, although the people of Moses’ time (or of our time) who cannot verify the sequence of events in a six, 24-hour-period creation week due to lack of technology, that technology may be developed in the distant future by which the chronological accuracy could be verified. Simply because the prophecy could not be verified by those who lived before the historical fulfillment does not mean the “major use of the chronology” was thwarted. It merely meant the verification was yet future. So, likewise, just because the chronology of the short creation week could not be verified in the past, and may not be verifiable in the present or foreseeable future does not mean the “major use of the chronology” has been thwarted. Rather, it may mean it will be verified at some point that is still future for us. In fact, the only way Ross can conclude the major use of biblical chronology has been thwarted is at the end of time when there is no more time left in which the chronology could be verified.

Ross’ argument goes like this:

A major use of biblical chronology is to be verified in its accuracy.

A six, 24-hour-period creation week Is a chronology that could be verified by present or foreseeable technology.

Therefore, the major use of biblical chronology is thwarted.

However, a slight alteration in Ross’ argument reveals its fallacious nature.

A major use of biblical chronology is to be verified in its accuracy.

A six, 24-hour-perlod creation week is a chronology that cannot be verified by technology, YET!

One day it will be verifiable by future technology. Therefore, a six, 24-hour-perlod creation week does not thwart a major use of biblical chronology.

Ross begs the question when he says, “For the creation days, long time periods during which increasingly complex life-forms were created, indeed, are verifiable and essential to validate the supernatural accuracy of the writer’s statements.”12 Long time periods and the creation of increasingly complex life-forms are only “essential to validation of the supernatural accuracy of the writer s statements” if one assumes the validation must have been done in the past, or must be done in the present or in the foreseeable future. Perhaps the validation awaits some distant future time when the technology for such verification is available, just like the prophecies awaited their fulfillment in history before they were chronologically verifiable.

Additionally, Ross seems wrongly to assume sequences are only significant and discernable to the reader if their chronology can be verified. The sequence of events can be significant to the reader for reasons other than their chronological verification. This is true for us as we read passages that prophecy events which are yet future. They are significant, because the point of the chronology has a meaning apart from its verifiability. Ross’ appeal to Acts 6 is a case in point. Concerning Acts 6 Ross asserts.

Recorded events not intended to be time discernable to the reader are presented without the use of sequence markers For example, in Acts 6 Luke does not indicate the order in which the first seven deacons of the church were chosen He lists the names in random order because there was no special significance to the order of their selection.13

Ross assumes that because he cannot discern a significance to the sequence in the list, there must not be one. How does he know these names are listed in random order? Luke does not say he listed them in random order, and there may be a special significance to the order that no commentator has, as yet, discovered. To illustrate this point, consider the observation made by one commentator on 1 Corinthians. Hans Conzelmann claims that there is no discernable significance to the order of chapters 12, 13, and 14.14 Because he cannot see the special significance to the arrangement, he assumes there must not be a significance. However, the significance is there, it has merely escaped Conzelmann’s notice. Chapter 12 delineates and describes some of the gifts in the church and encourages each member to be content with the gift the Holy Spirit has given Chapter 14 describes the proper way of exercising the gifts in the church, and the gifts to which the church ought to give priority. Chapter 13 comes between 12 and 14 in order to delineate the proper motive for exercising gifts in the church, namely love. The sequence is discernable and significant. Ross, like Conzelmann, has confused “discerned” with “discernable.” Although the sequence may not be discerned as yet, does not mean it is not discernable. So, even without specific sequence markers, a sequence may be significant and discernable in itself, but not to us as yet. So also with the short creation week. The sequence may not be discerned by us, but that does not mean it is not discernable in itself. The “major use of the chronology” is not thwarted merely because I am deficient in my ability to discern it.

4. The unusual syntax of the sentences enumerating specific creation days. Looking at the word-for-word translation of the Hebrew text, one finds this phraseology: “and was evening and was morning day X.” The New International Version phrases the time markers this way: “And there was evening, and there was morning— the Xth day” The word arrangement is clearly a departure from simple ordinary expression. It creates ambiguity. If “day X” were intended as the noun complement for the one evening and morning together, the linking verb should appear just once, in plural form (as the King James Version renders it): “And the evening and the morning were the Xth day ” We would expect the literal Hebrew to say, “and were evening and morning day X.” But it does not This syntactic ambiguity does not constitute a proof However, it does suggest that “day” here is to be taken in some unusual manner.15

When Ross says the “arrangement is clearly a departure from simple ordinary expression,” what standard is he using to measure what is “simple” and “ordinary”? It may be a departure from simple ordinary English expression, but that does not mean it is not simple and ordinary Hebrew. Ross also asserts, “We would expect the literal Hebrew to say, and were evening and morning day X.’ But it does not.”16 The problem with this and the above statement is that Ross is imposing expectations of English syntax upon the Hebrew language. Although Ross may be “expecting” the literal Hebrew to be expressed according to English syntax, Moses cannot be expected to employ such expressions.

Actually, Ross’ literal translation, “and there was evening and there was morning—the Xth day,” is inaccurate. The word hayah is not an impersonal verb like yêš, (there is). If the verb were “there was,” one might expect yêš to have been used. A more accurate translation of the passage is, “And it was evening, and it was morning, day Xth.” So, Ross’ expectation that there should have been a plural copula does not make sense at all. Why should we expect “the literal Hebrew to say, and were evening and morning day X’.” If “evening and morning” are understood collectively as parts constituting the whole, then we would not necessarily expect a plural copula. In fact, Hebrew syntax would not expect a written copula at all. Hebrew regularly omitted the verb in sentences that have the simple idea of “is.” An English equivalent to the Hebrew might be, “And it was evening, and it was morning. This was the first day.” The syntax does not, in fact, suggest the word day is to be taken in an unusual manner.

5. The uniqueness of the seventh day. Of the first six creation days Moses wrote: “There was evening, and there was morning — the Xth day ” This wording indicates that each of the first six creation days had a beginning and an ending However, no such wording is attached to the seventh creation day, neither in Genesis 1-2 nor anywhere else in the Bible Given the parallel structure marking the creation days, this distinct change in form for the seventh day strongly suggests this day has (or had) not yet ended 17

Once again, I think Ross has employed an argument that mitigates against his own view. It is precisely the lack of temporal markers that indicates the uniqueness of the seventh day. The other six days do have temporal markers, so we should conclude they are not like the seventh day. Therefore, they must have been short periods of time in contrast to the seventh day which indicates a long period of time. But, if the seventh day is supposed to be unique in that it was a long period of time, what would be unique about it if the other six days were also long periods of time? Additionally, the seventh day, in fact, is not a “creation” day. It is a day of rest in contrast to the creation days. Nevertheless, the uniqueness of the seventh day does not argue for the meaning of the word “day” in the other instances precisely because the wording associated with the other six days is not used in reference to the seventh day. It is because the seventh day was unique that the repetitive expression, “and it was evening, and it was morning, day Xth,” is not used. One reason the seventh day is unique is its spiritual significance The lack of temporal markers indicates the rest of God never comes to an end. Moses may have deliberately omitted the literal references in order to allow for this spiritual application.

Another point to consider is the age of Adam when he sinned in the garden. If the days of the creation week were long periods of time, then Adam must have been several thousand years old before he sinned. Adam could not have sinned during any of the seven days of the creation week because 1) he was not created in the first five days: 2) the description of the events of the sixth day do not recount a fall (Gen. 2); 3) it was after the end of the sixth day that God pronounced all things “very good”; 4) it could not have been on the seventh day that Adam sinned, since this was the day of rest. It must have been after the seventh day that Adam and Eve sinned. Now, if each of the seven days of the creation week were long periods of time, then Adam could not have sinned until at least after the end of the sixth day, and most probably after the end of the seventh day. But, if the days were long periods of time, then in order for Adam to live through the sixth and seventh days, he must have been several thousand years old before he sinned in the garden. But this is clearly unbiblical.

6. The events of the sixth day. Genesis 1 tells us that the land mammals and both Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day. Genesis 2 provides further amplification, listing events between Adam’s creation and Eve’s First, God planted a garden in Eden, making “all kinds of trees to grow out of the ground.” Then Adam, after receiving instructions from God, worked and cared for the Garden of Eden. After that, he carried out his assignment from God to name all the animals… 18

Ross goes on to talk about Adam s supposed interaction with the plants and animals such that “Adam has sufficient interaction”19 to discover he needed Eve. Of course, the text does not say Adam discovered he needed Eve. The text clearly says God was the one who said “It is not good for man to be alone.”

Again, another problem is Ross’ interpretation of the text. First of all, the text does not say God caused plants to grow up from seeds. Rather, it says He planted a garden Competent gardeners can plant a garden in a single day with full-grown plants. Could not God have created plants full-grown and planted a garden with mature plants? In fact, this would seem to be necessary, otherwise Adam would have had no food while waiting for the plants to grow.

Second, the text does not say Adam actually “worked and cared for the Garden.” Assuming this is even an accurate translation, the text simply says this was why God put him there. It does not say whether he had actually begun to do any gardening.20

Third, Ross’ claim that Adam and Eve received instructions “still later on the sixth day”21 is clearly a case of eisegesis. The text does not say anything about God instructing Adam and Eve “in their responsibilities in managing the plants, animals, and resources of the earth.” After God brought the animals to Adam to name them, verses 19-20, God put Adam into a deep sleep and formed Eve from Adam’s rib, verses 21-22. Verse 23 records Adam s response to Eve and verse 24 records the proverb about the relationship of the man and his wife. Verse 25 simply says, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Chapter three begins with the introduction of the serpent and the events leading to the Fall. There is no verse that says anything about further instructions given to Adam and Eve; and the events beginning at 3:1 could not have taken place on the sixth day, since this would indicate the Fall took place on the sixth day, before the day of rest, and before God pronounced all things good. Ross is reading into the text information that simply is not there.

 7. The wording of Genesis 2:4. This verse, a summary statement for the creation account, in the literal Hebrew reads, “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created in the day of their making.” Here the word day refers to all six creation days (and the creation of the universe that took place prior to the first creation day).22

This objection is without substance seeing that we have already shown the use of the word “day” with ordinals. This is a case in which the word “day” is used figuratively. No one disputes the fact the word can be used figuratively and is so used in certain places in Genesis However, just because it is used figuratively in certain instances, does not mean it must be taken as figurative in every other instance. Merely because it is used figuratively in Genesis 2:4, it does not mean it is figurative in Genesis 1.

Once again, Ross has made a point that actually argues against his own position. The fact the summary describes the creation week with the word “day” rather than a word that would normally indicate a longer period of time, such as ‘olam or ‘ad (which is used in Job 20:4 to refer to the period of time since the “establishing of man on the earth”), implies the creation week was a short period of time. God created the heavens and the earth in a period of time that can be characterized by the use of a word that in its normal, grammatical, historical use indicates a short period of time. In fact, the figurative use of the word “day ” would naturally imply the period of time referred to would be characterized as a short period of time. For example, the “day of the Lord” is not a period of judgment that lasts thousands of years. Rather, the period of God’s judgment is a short period of time, perhaps lasting only a few months or a few years (maybe only VA years). The period of time which the old-earthers would seek to pack into this word would necessarily involve hundreds of thousands, perhaps, millions of years. The word “day” is totally inappropriate for such a characterization.

Additionally, this is in fact a summary statement, not a literal description of the events of creation. Like the first summary statement in Gen. 1:1, the word “heavens” does not literally mean only heavens, but it is a figurative use for the universe as distinct from the earth. Additionally, it is a misinterpretation of the passage to say that the universe was created before the first creation day. If the universe was created before the first creation day, then the first creation day wasn’t the first creation day Either verse one is a summary statement, or the creative acts of verse one are included in the first creation day.

8. Biblical figures of speech for the earth’s age. In describing the eternity of God’s existence, several Bible writers often compare it to the longevity of the mountains or the “foundations of the earth . “The brief span of a 3,000-year terrestrial history (in the context of the wisdom literature) seems an inadequate metaphor for God’s eternality The fact that the Bible does consider the antiquity of the founding of the earth a suitable metaphor for God’s eternality suggests the biblical view of a very ancient earth.23

Even if this were true, this still does not address the idea of long creation days. It could be the case that God created the heavens and the earth in six, literal, 24-hour days a long, long time ago. However, the operative term here is “seems.” The question is, to whom does the metaphor “seem” or not “seem” to be adequate? Is what seems to be inadequate to Ross the measuring rod of what kind of metaphors the Bible must be allowed to use? A 3,000-year terrestrial history might certainly have ‘seemed” an adequate metaphor to these ancient people! Our modern, temporal references are not an appropriate measuring rod by which to measure what would and would not have been adequate for these ancient people. However, from where does Ross get this “3,000-year terrestrial history”? This is a straw-man argument. Young-earthers do not hold this view, and it is not a necessary concomitant to a young earth position. Ten-thousand years is young in comparison to the millions and billions of years of evolutionists, but such a time does not mitigate against a young-earth position, and it seems to me to be quite an adequate metaphor I am not advocating a 10,000-year terrestrial history, I am merely saying young-earthers are not committed to a three- or four-thousand-year-old earth. One-hundred thousand years would be young in comparison to the millions and billions of years advocated by evolutionists and old-earthers.

 9. Explicit statements of earth’s antiquity. Habakkuk 3:6 directly declares that the mountains are “ancient” and the hills are “age-old.” In 2 Peter 3:5, the heavens (the stars and the universe) are said to have existed “long ago”24

The appropriate response to this assertion is, So? It is certainly unfortunate Moses* audience did not have Habakkuk and 2 Peter as grids through which to interpret Genesis 1 The terms “”ancient,” “age-old” and “long ago” are relative to the writers of these biblical passages, not to the assumptions and world view of the modern, empirical scientist. To the ancient Hebrews. 10,000 years might have seemed “ancient,” “age-old,” and “long ago.” That is equally true to us today. We often refer to materials which were written 1.000, 2,000 or more years ago as “ancient” writings. This does not imply that we believe them to be millions or billions of years old. Just because 10,000 to 20.000 years seems to be a short span of time in light of modern science and technology, that does not mean the ancient Hebrews had this perspective. Once again, Ross is imposing his modern perspective upon the biblical text.

Conclusion

Contrary to Ross’ conclusion, several of his arguments do not “come from Bible passages directly addressing the length of the creation day.” Rather, they come from Ross’ misinterpretation of these passages. Several of his arguments actually mitigate against his own position. Interpretation is always done from the assumptions and presuppositions of the interpreter, and Ross is no exception He has come to the text with his old-earth perspective and imposed it upon the text, sometimes reading into the text in order to make it fit with his assumptions.

There is no doubting or questioning his sincerity and his orthodoxy. Ross is attempting to defend the accuracy of the biblical text and the truth of Christianity against the attacks of evolutionists and atheists, and his scientific arguments are formidable and beyond the expertise of this author. However, his handling of the biblical text is woefully inadequate and fraught with errors The implication that holding a voung-earth position requires one to “sacrifice his rational mind,”25 and the charges of being “anti-intellectual”26 and “distorting the gospel”27 are out of sync with his claim to desire a meeting of the minds in the “spirit exemplified by the Jerusalem council” which, Ross says, “refrained from humiliating and rejecting those who promoted error.”28 Ross needs to look more carefully at the various textual elements. Contrary to Ross’ claims, the actual Bible text seems to point to a young earth.Ω

The Journal would like to thank Thomas A. Howe, Ph.D. for his contribution in this issue. Dr. Howe is Professor of Bible and Biblical Languages at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina.

© 2015, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

  1. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994)
  2. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 45
  3. Francis Brown. S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1980). 1070 Hereinafter referred to as BDB
  4. R. Laird Harris. Gleason L. Archer. Jr.. and Bruce K Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago Moody Press. 1980). 973. Throughout the remainder of this paper, the Theological Wordbook will be referred to as TWOT. In An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, the authors include a footnote in which they assert, “The phrase never has the supposed ‘literal’ sense yesterday (‘tmwl) or the day before (šlšwm, lit., the third day ago {counting today})’.” Bruce K. Waltke and M. O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake. IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990),39.3.1 h n44. This is not an assertion the word etmol by itself is never literal, but that the phrase etmol silsolm never is used to literally refer to the “third day ago,” but it is always figurative and is translated “previously” or “formerly”
  5. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 46
  6. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 47
  7. TWOT, 672
  8. TWOT,672
  9. TWOT, 673
  10. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 47-48
  11. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 47
  12. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 48
  13. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 48
  14. Hans Conzelmann, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians. trans James W Leitch (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975), 217ff
  15. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 47
  16. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 47
  17. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 48-49
  18. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 50-51
  19. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 51
  20. John Sailhamer makes a convincing case that the words normally translated “work it and keep it” should not be so translated. The problem is, the word “it,” which is a pronominal suffix on the ends of these two verbs (ah), is feminine while the word garden (gan) is masculine. Since a pronoun must agree with its antecedent in gender, the two words “it” cannot be referring to the word “garden.” Sailhamer goes on to argue that the words should be translated “worship and serve.” God did not put Adam in the garden to work, since the whole notion of the garden is a place of rest. Rather. God put Adam in the garden to worship Him and to serve Him. See John H. Sailhamer. The Pentateuch as Narrative A Biblical-Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), l00ff
  21. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 51
  22. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 52
  23. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 52
  24. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 52
  25. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994),160
  26. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 165
  27. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 162
  28. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994), 162

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