Is there unanimous consent (as described here and here) among the Fathers of the Church who wrote on the interpretation of Genesis that the order of events of creation actually occurred in the order Genesis describes them?

I know yom (Hebrew word for "day") used in Genesis must refer to a duration of time, be it 24 hours or some other duration (cf. the 1909 PBC decisions), but there is not unanimous consent among the Fathers on whether all the days are (or are not) one day.

For example, St. Augustine, as St. Thomas says, "differs from other expositors" and thinks that "all the days that are called seven, are one day represented in a sevenfold aspect." Augustine's view is not clear to me. Does he say the 6 days' events were all in one instant or just in one day? The former view seems to deny the 1909 PBC's statement that yom must be a duration of time (instants aren't durations). For example, I can say my awaking in the morning today and my going to sleep tonight are simultaneous events because they occur in the same day, but they are not instantaneous; thus, they are ordered chronologically.

  • I think if you mean all the church "fathers" prior to Augustine, then yes. If you're including the late "fathers", after the Roman Empire took over the church and made it political, then no. Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 1:14
  • @davidbrainerd: Yes, Augustine was different, believing that all the works of the 6 days were simultaneous, occurring in one day (temporally ordered or not in that day?), yet he still believed there was a succession or ordering "in the things produced" (could be called an "ordering of dependency"). I didn't know St. Augustine was the first to break with the pre-Augustine Fathers on this issue.
    – Geremia
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 2:12
  • 2
    Please define "the fathers of the church".
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 4:38
  • @curiousdannii: At least Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, and Saint Jerome, but also the Doctors of the Church
    – Geremia
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 5:58
  • The Fathers of the Church
    – user13992
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 8:47

1 Answer 1


cf. The Church Fathers list on the New Advent.

From Creation and Genesis | Catholic Answers it states:

The following quotations from the Fathers show how widely divergent early Christian views were.

Yet there is no evidence from the quotations that they disagreed on the order of events as described in Genesis actually occurred in the order Genesis describes them.

From Concerning the Historical Character of the First Three Chapters of Genesis | The Replies of the Pontifical Biblical Commission On questions of Sacred Scripture | Translated by E. F. Sutcliffe, S.J., it appears that the Church has affirmed the historicity of the First Three Chapters of Genesis and therefore it is not permitted to a good son [or daughter] of the Church to disagree that order of events as described in Genesis actually occurred in the order Genesis describes them.

What the Pontifical Biblical Commission said as regards the six days

VIII : In the designation and distinction of the six days mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis may the word Yom (day) be taken either in the literal sense for the natural day or in an applied sense for a certain space of time, and may this question be the subject of free discussion among exegetes?
Answer: In the affirmative.

The Catholics Answers link above and the OP both state Church Fathers held divergent views and Catholics are at liberty to believe that creation took a few days or a much longer period, according to how they see the evidence, and subject to any future judgment of the Church (Pius XII’s 1950 encyclical Humani Generis 36–37).

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