Jeremy D. Lyon's essay “Genesis 1:1–3 and the Literary Boundary of Day One”

What are your thoughts on Jeremy D. Lyon argument in “Genesis 1:1–3 and the Literary Boundary of Day One,” (The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 62.2, 2019, pp. 269-285)?

Jeremy D. Lyon, in a 2019 essay in The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society , proffered an interpretation of Genesis 1 that begins day one at the first verse. He called this “the traditional interpretation” and claimed it “reflects the grammar in the most straightforward manner” and is supported by “inner-textual commentary.” It is the standard interpretation for Young Earth Creationists (YECists), like Ken Ham and John MacArthur.

It was an overtly YEC interpretation in one of evangelicalism’s highest profile theological journals. Has it been answered yet?

Welcome John, I have no knowledge of that so eagerly await, but is this something that was used to differentiate YEC from Gap Age creationists (where some place a gap between verse 1 and 2 to account for an old earth? I can see how Ham would want to squash that like a bug as he is totally committed to a 6000 year old earth.

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That’s right. Much of the debate of YEC vs. OEC centers around the interpretation of the “days.” Often both groups over look the fact that Genesis 1:1-2 says the earth (and the rest of the universe) was created and nurtured prior to day one. The YEC tactic, then, is to argue that Gen. 1:1-2 is actually part of day one. However, the problem for them is that each day begins with “and God said” and for day one that doesn’t happen until 1:3. What is reported in Gen. 1:1-2 appears to be at an undisclosed time prior to day one. So even if we accept the YEC insistence on a literalistic interpretation of the “days”, that still doesn’t provide a basis to say that the Bible teaches a young earth.

Lyon’s article is an attempt to argue that Gen. 1:1-2 is part of day one.

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Bio here


Professor of Creation Studies
Southern California Seminary

No great surprise on his interpretation of Genesis 1:1

He’s at Truett-McConnel University (an sbc college in Georgia) now.
What’s surprising is that JETS published his article. While he has some “bells and whistles” that look impressive (like laying out the Dead Sea scrolls version of Genesis 1), the reasoning in the article is shabby. It needs to be responded to.

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Note also that claiming that modern YEC is “the traditional interpretation” is untrue. There are a range of traditional interpretations, none of which involved the claim to find modern science in the passage.

I think Lyon is saying that the interpretation that Genesis 1 begins day one at the first verse is “the traditional interpretation” and so that would require, according to him, YEC.

Here’s a link to the Lyon article, for your reference:

Thanks for the link. I enjoyed the article, though I do not agree with his literalistic interpretation, so most of his work I find irrelevant to me.
It seems that when we argue over wording and grammar in the English translation of a written language that we really do not have a good handle on the subtleties, we are in danger of missing the real bigger message. In any case, am interested in what the real Bible scholars think.

Certainly through the 1600’s and 1700’s, “formless and void” was held to be a time of uncertain duration prior to the 7 days. Many figurative interpretations have been quite prevalent from the early church; Augustine’s favoring an instantaneous creation is another example of a different idea. I doubt that his claim has any sound basis in actual consideration of the history of interpretation.

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