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    James Jordan’s Creation in Six Days (Post the First)

    July 1, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    Siah and I have been slowly reading through James Jordan’s Creation in Six Days: A Defense of the Traditional Reading of Genesis One. Emphasis on slowly. The book isn’t exactly what I expected. The first few chapters are responses to various other books, of which neither my husband nor I are familiar. Because of this, I occasionally have the feeling that I’ve walked into the middle of a conversation. It can be both uncomfortable and confusing.

    Ahem.

    Did you notice the subtitle of this book? A Defense of the Traditional Reading of Genesis One. Guess what else I was expecting?

    That’s right.

    I was expecting Jordan’s views to be…traditional.

    Now, he is traditional, in the sense that he believes that creation took place in six literal twenty-four hour days. But now and then, Jordan throws in other, off-the-wall (in my opinion) details that are not at all part of the traditional reading, and yet the way he integrates them gives the impression he believes these details to be part of the traditional reading.

    And they aren’t.

    At least, I don’t think they are. I feel like I should know the traditional reading. I mean, I went to Christian college, right? Seminary, too. I took a year of Old Testament Survey from Dr. Pierce (yes, I know he’s liberal on gender), and I also spent an entire semester studying Genesis under Dr. Talley (wonderful professor…highly recommended). This doesn’t make me an expert, but it does seem to me that I’d be able to identify the “traditional view” after all that.

    Anyhow, it’s gotten so bad that it’s become a joke in our house. Let’s go read what crazy thing Mr. Jordan has to say today. It’d be much easier to read if he would simply draw lines between where the traditional view stops and his own details begin.

    Let me give a few examples (and, for the record, I am not even going to judge whether he’s right or wrong, only that the stated view is not part of the traditional view). First, we have Jordan putting a lot of symbolism into the order of the creation of plants. If you are unfamiliar with the order, fruit-bearing trees and grain are the only plants mentioned on Day Three of creation. On day Six, God is said to have made the “shrubs of the field.” Because vining plants like grapes are not explicitly mentioned on either Day Three or Day Six, Jordan assumes that they are made after the Fall of Man (also a nontraditional assertion), when the earth also brings forth weeds, thorns, thistles, and the like. So here is the symbolism part:

    William notices that in the second feast of the Israelite year, Pentecost, two loaves of leavened bread were raised up before Yahweh (Lev. 23:17). At the third feast, at the end of the year, wine was celebrated (Deut. 14:26). Moreover, William notices that priests (“palace servants”) came before kings in the biblical narrative; Israel had priests for nearly five hundred years before she had a king. He notices that priests ate the bread of the sanctuary (Lev. 24:9) but were forbidden to drink wine at the sanctuary (Lev. 10:9), while kings in the Bible are pictured drinking wine quite often (Gen. 40:5; Neh. 1:11; Esther 1:7; 3:15; 5:6; 7:1; etc.). He notices that in celebrating the Lord’s Supper, the bread comes before the wine. Thus, William finds that the later narrative of the Bible confirms his suspicions about the created order of oil, bread, and wine.

    To which my husband said, “What?”

    This is part of Chapter 1. I found it to be distracting from the “traditionalist” interpretation I was expecting, and though I think Jordan wanted it to sound like you could be a traditionalist and still get deep into the Scriptures, instead of appreciating that, I was put on my guard. I found myself reading with a more critical eye because he threw such a curve ball early on, even though I didn’t necessarily disagree with him.

    Speaking of critical, perhaps now is the time to offer my editing services to Canon Press, if anyone from there is reading this first post. The book is riddled with typos and overall awkward writing moments, and for a reasonable fee, I’m willing to clean it up for you and make it more respectable.

    I’m just saying.

    Plus, I need the decorating funds.

    Ahem.

    Moving on to Nontraditional Example Number Two.

    Apparently, there is some sort of controversy out there among Genesis readers because God dared to do His own thing and create light (and evenings and mornings) a few days before He created the sun. I’m pretty sure the “traditional view” is that God did just this. The world was new. He was getting things going. He made light. So what? He’s the Almighty. He can do whatever He wants.

    But some folks, among them Bruce Waltke (according to Jordan), can’t accept this and so declare that the sun must have been created in the beginning, even though the Bible doesn’t say so, because you can’t have light without the sun, moon, and stars. And here is Jordan’s response:

    We are clearly told that the Spirit of God was hovering over the earth on the first day, and then that light came forth. Rather obviously, the light came from the Spirit, who frequently appears in a Shekinah glory of light in the Bible.

    Rather obviously? I wouldn’t say it’s all that obvious. God says, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Nothing other than that is explained. What is obvious is that there is light, not that the Shekinah glory appeared. Even if Jordan is right, this is not the traditional view, and his book is a defense of the traditional view. Moreover, he doesn’t explain this further (okay, the chapter titles hint that maybe he does explain it further, but it is many pages in the future), and so I’m left with a husband making Holy Spirit light bulb jokes, and I can’t blame him.

    For my third and final example, we get to Jordan’s insistence that thorns, thistles, weeds, and grapes (of all things) were created on a day after the Fall:

    Genesis 2:5 says that “no shrub of the field was yet in the earth.”…We can conclude that “shrubs” probably includes all plants that do not produce food in the form of grain or fruit. Some are indeed edible, but they are not the staple form of diet, and they are not included as sanctuary food (bread and oil, and later, wine). These plants did not exist until after the six days of creation week were over. Their creation was suspended until after man was made, for a reason implied in Genesis 3:18. God waited until He saw whether man would sin or not. If man did not sin, the shrubs would have been one kind of plant; since man sinned, they grew up as “thorns and thistles.” (emphasis mine)

    The traditional view is that God is omniscient, in case you were wondering.

    In all, I wish that Jordan would either stick with a simple traditional view, or admit when he is embellishing with his own view. Instead, it seems that he presents his own view as The Traditional View, even when it clearly is not. I don’t mind reading other views, but the presentation feels a little underhanded.

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    8 Comments

  • Reply Steven Opp February 5, 2013 at 2:53 am

    Well I’m a huge fan. I highly suggest keeping at it if it interested you at all. It’s like watching a movie: if you can suspend disbelief for a bit and enter the world of James Jordan, after a while it feels like home and things start to click, at least that’s how it was for me.

  • Reply Steven Opp February 4, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Have you read “Through New Eyes” or “Primeval Saints?” My two Jordan favorites!

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts February 4, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      This is the only Jordan I have read so far. Mystie–the commenter at the top–has read that first one, though. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Steven Opp February 4, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Oh, gotcha. I didn’t realize it said “Traditional Reading.” So I see what you’re saying.

  • Reply Steven Opp February 4, 2013 at 3:15 am

    I think what he is doing is defending the traditional view that the earth was created in six days, but with some nontraditional insights, so the title does work because it refers to the traditional view, not method.

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts February 4, 2013 at 5:18 am

      It’s been almost three years since I read the book, but I’ll have to maintain that I still agree with myself. πŸ™‚

      When someone titles their book as a “traditional reading” the expectation is that it is a traditional interpretation {creation in 6, 24-hour periods} using a traditional hermeneutic, which he didn’t. He could have said “defending a traditional *interpretation*” if he wanted to leave room for a nontraditional hermeneutic…

      At least, that’s my opinion. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts July 10, 2010 at 2:26 am

    I am so glad you don’t think I’m crazy. I kept thinking, “Maybe THIS is REFORMED?” Like you all had this level of symbolism with which I am wholly unfamiliar. I “get” typology–we studied basic types in Old Testament Survey in college–but this was beyond that, in my opinion. The clip from D. Wilson helped me a lot–we can agree with the method, but disagree with the conclusion. Good distinction.

    I agree with you: we miss a lot because our modern mindset lacks depth.

    I, too, doubt any sort of post-day-six creation events.

  • Reply Mystie July 2, 2010 at 3:09 am

    Heh, heh, heh. I’ll get started on this soon, too. πŸ™‚ I’m not surprised at all. He’s an odd duck. I read “Through New Eyes” last year with a friend. Her pastor and church is very heavily influenced by Jordan’s typology, so she wanted to read it along with someone who could tell her, “No, actually, that’s really quite bizarre.” I ended up telling her that with practically every page. πŸ™‚ But yet I still came away thinking it was a fascinating book. I came away from it recognizing that even if I didn’t always agree with the meanings he assigned to things, he is probably right in that there is a lot more meaning loaded in the Old Testament than we moderns recognize.

    When Matt and I were in Moscow, Jordan came and spoke and we went. We hadn’t heard of him before. I can’t remember now what it was he spoke on but Matt and I both came away thinking, “What?!?!”

    This might be helpful, too: http://www.canonwired.com/ask-doug/typological-interpretation/

    But, you’re right, in every other thing I’ve read or heard from Jordan, he simply assumes his views are correct and speaks from them without ever clarifying or mentioning how non-traditional they are.

    I am fairly skeptical about anything being created after Day Six. I guess I’ll have to start the book. πŸ™‚

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