Book Review



"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1

"For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy." Exodus 20:11

Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth

* * * * *
Coming to Grips with Genesis:
Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth

Terry Mortenson, Ph.D.
Thane H. Ury, Ph.D.
Copyright 2008 by Master Books
(A Division of New Leaf Publishing Group)
P.O. Box 726, Green Forest, AR 72638

Paper Back. 486 pages
ISBN 13: 978-0-89051-548-8
ISBN 10: 0-90-51-549-4

Chapter 2: A Brief Overview of the Exegesis of Genesis 1-11: Luther to Lyell.

Written by David W. Hall, M. Div.; Ph.D.



The Protestant Reformers

From Calvin to Ussher

Continental Reformed Theologians (1590-1690)

British Puritan Exegetes

Summary on Westminster Assembly

Wesley and Early 19th Century Commentaries



There are Christian scholars who have made statements about the history of creation in the church which is not accurate. "One of the many examples is Walter Kaiser, who states that the 'day-age view has been the majority view of the church since the fourth century.'" (p. 53). According to Hall, this is manifestly untrue. He states further, "To say that most Bible interpreters from Luther to Lyell held beliefs compatible with a 14-billion-year-old cosmos constitutes revisionist history to an embarrassing extreme" (p. 55). Contents.

The Protestant Reformers

"Martin Luther's [1483-1546] view is so explicit as to largely go uncontested. Numerous citations could be assembled, showing that he clearly and firmly  held to literal days, no death or natural evil before the Fall, and a global Flood." .... Robert Letham confirms that Luther 'without ambiguity adopts the interprestation that the days of creation are of twnety-four hours duration, at the same tia arguing that the earth is only six thousand years old.'" (p. 55)

"Just prior to Calvin, we can find the testimony of Anglican bishop Hugh Latimer (1485-1555), who expressed what he believed was the representative view held by the Christian world of his time. His comments take for granted a literal view of Genesis 1." (p. 55)

"Howard Van Till, among others, has claimed that John Calvin (1509-1564) held ideas that were quite compatible with the discoveries of modern science. Upon scrutiny, however, that is as equally untrue as the distorted handling of the patristic literature by old-earth advocates. Calvin had a consistent view of creation, affirming, for exammple, that 'God, by speaking, was Creator of the universe.'" (p. 56)

According to Hall, speaking about Calvin,

He consciously rejects Augustine's view, and shows that in his mind Genesis is not simply a literary framework   for teaching theology, but records the "works" of God on those days. Furthermore, elsewhere in the commentary he affirms (1) that light was created before the sun and the moon, (2) that the gathering of the waters on day 2 was a miracle, (3) that He created the stars on the fourth day, (4) that Adam was made literally from the dust  of the earth, (5) that the Flood was global, and (6) that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 were strict chronologies (with no gaps). Thus we conclude that Calvin represents a consistent view on this subject, and it stand in strong contrast to modern attempts to fiy millions of years into the Genesis account. (pp.  58-59).

Again, according to Hall,

Calvin's lieutenant, Theodore Beza (1519-1605), stated his views clearly and succinctly as well. He affirmed that Hebrews 11:3 taught creation ex nihilo.

Hall continued, "After consulting the writings of the early Protestant leaders, Calvin, Beza, and Luther, we can summarize their views as follows: (p. 59)
  • Genesis 1-11 is intended to be understood as literal history
  • These men employed a normal hermeneutic
  • They concluded that the universe was less than 6,000 years old
  • They held to literal days. Contents.
From Calvin to Ussher

Hall begins this section as follows:

During the century after Calvin's death (1564), various Reformed t heologians addressed questions that aqre often presented  today as if they are insuperable barriers to embracing the traditional interpretation of Genesis 1-11. This apparent insuperability is most likely attributable to contemporary theolgians being unacquainted with how well our exegetical forefathers already dealth with objections that became more pertinent after modern scientific revolutions. The following questions to be examined underscore alleged difficulties which, many feel, necessitate exegetical revision: (p. 59)

  1. Did the Reformers address the issue of light being created on the first day with the sun not created until the 4th day?
  2. Did they posit ordinary providence or mediate agencies as the primary means of creation?
  3. Did they define what they meant by "day"?
  4. Did they allow for long periods of creation?
  5. Did they uniformly commit themselves to a particular chronology?
  6. Did their writings reflect merely personal views about creation or was there an orthodox interpretation on Genesis for this period? (p. 59)
According to the 1562 Annotations from the Geneva Bible, we glean this commentary on Genesis 1:3: "The light was made before either sunne or moone was created; therefore we must not attribute that to the creatures that are God's instruments which only appertaineth to God." (p. 60) Hall concludes, "The onus is upon modern old-earth accommodationists to prove that these annotations in the Genevan Bible were anything but the accepted position of the day." (p. 61)

Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1563), praised by John Calvin, "consistently interpreted the days [of Genesis 1] as natural days." (p. 61)

Continental Reformed Theologians, 1590-1690

British Puritan Exegetes

Summary on Westminster Assembly

Wesley and Early 19th Century Commentaries


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Chapter One

Chapter Six

Updated September 23, 2023