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Opposition to the Genesis Gap

from the Creation Research Institute et al.

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Question #1:  The link below gives a position on The Gap Theory, what do you think?  http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v10/i1/gaptheory.asp

Response #1:  My objections to this article are plentiful and begin right from the beginning. The translation given here (KJV) does not reflect some important points in the Hebrew and reflects a lack of understanding of exactly what is happening in Genesis 1:1 (original creation) and the shift of situation which occasions the creation of mankind (in Genesis 1:2). Some of these deficiencies are obvious to discriminating English readers (e.g., most people with any familiarity with scripture nowadays understand, for example, that it should be "heavens" and not "heaven"), others less so. The conventional failure to reflect these points in translation (in most popular versions) has been largely responsible for the failure to see the gap.

For one thing, there is no "the" in "in the beginning"; were this first phrase correctly translated, it might be more obvious that Genesis 1:1 is original creation and that Genesis 1:2 reflects a later development. It might also cause people to ask the obvious question of why, if there is strict sequence here as even Dr. Morris admits, once created in Genesis 1:1 the creation needs to be "fixed" in Genesis 1:2 and following. The imperfect state of original chaos is a pagan, not a Jewish or Christian idea, after all. Secondly and apropos of this discussion, "and the earth" is really an inaccurate rendering (a crucial point consistently ignored by those who dismiss the gap) since what we have here is an adversative construction (i.e., waw followed by the noun rather than the verb as we would expect in a strict addition). In an honest translation that reflects what is actually in the text, this requires something to mark the contrast the author is trying to bring out through this device (i.e., "but the earth"); next, "was" is not really acceptable as a translation because it misses the point of what is happening in the second half of the verse; "became" is a much better way to take the verb here. Verbs (or words) which admit of more than one meaning have to be interpreted by the context. In English, the word "cleave" usually means to split in two; however, we would be incorrect on that basis of percentage alone to understand the word "cleave unto one's wife" as referring to divorce ("split"). Finally, the words tohu waw bhohu are not expressing a neutral chaos (the pagan theory of pre-creation matter such as one finds in Ovid, for example), but almost always express devastation borne of judgment (Mr. Morris cherry-picks one passage and then misinterprets it in its context; see the links below for exegesis and references), and usually divine judgment at that (just what we are positing here; see the link: "The Description of the Earth in Genesis 1:2").

Once one makes these adjustments, the gap is clear enough for English readers to see:

"First, God created the heavens and the earth; but the earth came to be ruined and despoiled."

In any fair, linguistically based appraisal, this is a perfectly defensible translation, and once that is allowed, the idea that a gap "is nonsense" falls away prima facie; you might not choose to believe it, but it is difficult to say any longer that there is no evidence for it. Most expositors who oppose the idea of the gap hide behind the flimsy defense of refusing to see (and most particularly trying to prevent non-scholars from being allowed to see) what the language here can mean (and in my considered opinion does mean). The above is but a brief synopsis; for the details please see the links:

*SR 2: "The Genesis Gap"

The shape of the universe and the Genesis gap

The grammar behind the Genesis gap

Questioning the Genesis Gap

Whatever happened to the Genesis Gap

Where can I find more information on the Genesis gap?

Ex Nihilo Creation

Tohu in Genesis 1:2

When Dr. Morris says "Many people assume there is a great gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2" [emphasis added], I would suggest, based upon the above, that what we really have is not "an assumption" at all, but a very natural way of taking the language in Genesis 1:1-2, once that is properly understood and translated.

Dr. Morris further writes that "Most of these ["many people" who 'assume' a gap] do so to accommodate the geological age system . . .". In fact, the opponents of this important biblical teaching have been very effective in suppressing it over the last few decades, and the criticism launched here is rhetorical and particularly unfair since, at least in the case of this ministry, the truth is exactly the other way around. Science is imperfect and our understanding of the material world is minuscule compared to what we in our human arrogance may "believe" we know about the world based on a few hundred years of analysis and speculation. The gap may well explain much in these terms (CRI, for example, is involved in a desperate search for such "answers" in the flood rather than the gap), but that is not the point. As Christians, we should be interested in what the Bible really says, whether or not it agrees with our preconceived theories, secular or biblical. And we know as Christians by faith that "that the ages have been constructed by the Word of God, so that what we see (i.e., the material world) has not come into being from the things presently visible" (Heb.11:3). That is to say, we ought to believe what the Bible says no matter what our eyes tell us. I personally have been led to believe the gap is there because that is what the scriptures lead me to conclude, whether or not it has anything to do with the geological theory de jour about the origins of the earth. I am only interested in getting to the truth of the Word of God, and that process is, in the case of this ministry, devoid of all financial concerns. On the other hand those who have founded and run "institutes" requiring donations, who hold "conferences" for which fees are charged, who land and hold Bible school positions for which salaries are paid, and who write many books and articles for all of which activities they are financially rewarded, certainly would seem to have a conflict of interest when it comes to the existence of a gap, since all of these remunerative activities are based upon others accepting their particular geological theories which ipso facto deny the existence of the gap.

The remaining points the article tries to make are at a fairly low level of depth in terms of scholarship, and you will find all of them addressed in some detail at the links above. One exception, new to me here, is the "death before sin" argument which is rather odd because Morris has gotten the logic completely wrong. The gap posits divine judgment as a result of Satan's sin; so Satan's fall would precede the cataclysm and the gap which reflects it. I would be happy to respond to any questions you might have about any of the above, but the main point I would wish to leave you with here is that the assertion by Dr. Morris that his position is "a simple and straightforward, literal interpretation of the biblical record [sic]" is misleading on every level. On the other hand, his statement to the effect that his interpretation "will satisfy all the real facts of geology" says quite a lot. For while no one will ever know all the "real facts" of geology this side of heaven (as Heb.11:3 assures us), the idea that somehow we need to "satisfy" the objections of the scientific community rather than believing scripture is particularly dangerous. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to put our Lord and His Word above anything science may say, and do so without apology (regardless of remuneration or the lack thereof).

In our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #2:  I really appreciate your insights on the "gap" in Genesis 1:1-2. This is something that has always intrigued me, and I have never been quite comfortable with the more extreme conclusions of my brothers in Christ at the Creation Research Institute in San Diego.  God is clearly characterized in Scripture as Creator God who is actively involved with His creation and continues to create. It has never appealed to me, the idea, that God created everything 6,000 years ago and that prior to that time, He has been sitting around with his arms crossed doing nothing (yes, I was actually told this by someone representing CRI doctrine).  I also find it very suspicious that, while there is mention of camels, goats, sheep, etc. in Genesis, there is, for all intents and purposes, no real mention of the colossal, fearsome beasts so abundantly represented in the fossil record... you'd think they'd merit some serious representation, yes?   Thank you for your perspective on these matters.  In Christ,

Response #2:   I think the fact that so many of our brothers have so much invested in their rather odd ideas makes them unlikely candidates for a change of heart, however. I get more "heat" over my [I believe biblical] position on this issue than almost anything else. Certainly, the nastiest e-mails I've received from Christians are on this subject.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hi again, Dr Luginbill,

I read your thoughts on the Genesis gap (http://ichthys.com/sr2-copy.htm) and posted it on a message-board I frequent. The Administrator thought you decided to change the word "and" beginning verse 2 to "but", and could not find a credible enough reason in your answer for doing so. She looked it up in her Hebrew to English translation, which used the word "now", making it even more confusing for her. I attempted to explain the argument, but the administrator has concluded that you are arbitrarily adding to the scriptures to support your revelations, and thinks it is dangerous, so she says she will no longer read anything from you because it will poison her mind. If there is anything I stated incorrectly, or if it can be better stated, please help, but I'm thinking that perhaps she won't be convinced anyway, and that it isn't something that I should continue to pursue. Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again!

In Jesus,

Response #3: 

Thank you for your sharing your posting. Translating the adversative waw as "now" in English is entirely acceptable, although in terms of translation, that it taking somewhat greater liberty for the sake of smoothness than using "but" instead of "and". I don't have a problem with that. I chose "but" because this is a teaching ministry and so I tend to put things in ways that put clarity before elegance (and many people would not understand that "now" in English, in addition to being a temporal adverb, can also be an adversative conjunction, as in the case of the translation you cite). I do think it important to point out, however, that saying that I "changed" something is a real mistake. Genesis is in Hebrew and neither the KJV or NIV or RSV or NASB or whatever version a person prefers is inspired by God. They are all translations too (and since you can only translate what you understand in the way you understand it, are all interpretations of a sort). My translation is also based upon the original Hebrew text and is no more a "change" than "and" or "now" or whatever choice [within the range of acceptability] may have been made in other translations. The word in question, waw, is the most common word in the Hebrew language and admits of a variety of translations into English as we use a much larger number of conjunctions and the like in similar circumstances. But "but" is certainly not an uncommon way to render the word, especially when it introduces an adversative clause as is the case in Genesis 1:2 (as any good Hebrew grammar or lexicon will attest).

The second thing to point out here is that Genesis 1:2 does in fact begin with the word waw, which I am translating "but". That is to say, if a version begins translating Genesis 1:2 simply with "The earth was . . .", that would be overlooking the word waw entirely. So the word is there in Hebrew, and in that is very important (especially in its particular context). The question is, how to translate it. What I attempt to explain in this study (SR2: "The Genesis Gap"), albeit this is perhaps a bit confusing for those who don't have any Hebrew, is that in Hebrew syntax when the waw is followed by a noun or other substantive, that always produces a strong contrast or adversative construction, that is to say, a "but", and not a simple addition, that is to say, an "and". The use of "now" in English represents this, but not as clearly as "but". Using "and" in Genesis 1:2 is really does a disservice to the translation in my view, because to the non-Hebrew reader it fails to make a distinction between the relatively rare and striking adversative construction found here and the far more common situation in which the next verb follows the waw. In fact, in Hebrew, the occurrence of a non-verb following the waw is always jarring – it can't help but get your attention because it only occurs this way perhaps one out of a hundred times. So the word order here is highly significant, and to overlook this fact by translating "and" is really to engage in mistranslation. The reason why so many versions ignore, overlook, and deliberately downplay the actual Hebrew text here is precisely because they fail to see the gap or wish to obliterate evidence of the gap (because it doesn't agree with their preconceived theology).

Finally, don't be surprised at the reaction of your moderator. In my observation and experience, moderated fora tend to homogenize the truth out of everything. The most blatant example of this is Wikipedia ("Wicked-pedia") where if anything true or truly helpful is ever posted, it will eventually be erased by people who have satanically secular agendas. Secondly, the Genesis gap is one of those "litmus test" issues in the Bible which separate people who are really trying to find out what the Bible says from those who really aren't interested. It is a very important teaching, because without it so much of the supernatural conflict of the Satanic Rebellion and God's construction of the ages as the framework for human history is impossible to understand. I have always been amazed at the level and the intensity of the hostility I receive from seemingly straight-laced Christians on this issue, but, as I say, I have become used to it. I think the fact that your moderator is unwilling even to listen to a reasonable explanation of the interpretation speaks volumes. There are certain things that the devil is really unwilling to have people consider, because if and when they do they are likely to begin understanding scripture better, growing spiritually, and producing for the Lord. Here are some links which explore the phenomenon just discussed in more detail:

The Grammar behind the Genesis Gap.

The Shape of the Universe, Hominids, and the Genesis Gap.

Questioning the Genesis Gap

Whatever Happened to the Genesis Gap?

Where Can I Find More Information on the Genesis Gap?

Ex Nihilo Creation

Tohu in Genesis 1:2

Thanks again for your interest in this ministry - keep on fighting the good fight of faith.

In Him who is our only truth, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.


Question #4:

I have a question about the seven days of creation. On which day were the angels created?


Response #4:
 

The seven days of Genesis 1:2 and following are days of re-creation, not original creation. Genesis 1:1 gives the original creation, which was ex nihilo (i.e., from nothing) and instantaneous, whereas Genesis 1:2 and following describe a process and God working with a heaven and earth which are already there. This is not obvious from many English versions which mis-translate Genesis 1:2, which should read "but the earth came to be ruined and despoiled . . . This judgment came as a result of Satan's attempt to displace God, an event that occurred well before the seven days (possibly even many millennia). Angelic creation belongs to the period before the judgment which followed original creation, not to the seven days of re-creation.

This is a very important issue and also one that is misunderstood by the majority of evangelicals. Please do read the following study: part 2 of the Satanic Rebellion series: "The Genesis Gap". Without an understanding of the Genesis gap, the entire process, meaning, and course of the devil's rebellion, along with the reason and purpose for mankind, are very difficult to grasp, and one's understanding of all things eschatological likewise becomes very muddied.

In Jesus,

Bob L.


Question #5:

Could you please respond to something written about the Genesis Gap? Here it is:

"The Gap Theory is false because, in the context of Genesis 1:2, there is no justification for translating the verb "was" (hayetha) as "became." Gap theorists insist that the Earth became "waste and void" after Satan's rebellion. Yet usage of the verb hayah argues against the translation, "The earth became waste and void" (Genesis 1:2). Ramm has noted: The effort to make was mean became is just as abortive. The Hebrews did not have a word for became but the verb to be did service for to be and become. The form of the verb was in Genesis 1:2 is the Qal, perfect, third person singular, feminine. A Hebrew concordance will give all the occurrences of that form of the verb. A check in the concordance with reference to the usage of this form of the verb in Genesis reveals that in almost every case the meaning of the verb is simply was. Granted in a case or two was means became but if in the preponderance of instances the word is translated was, any effort to make one instance mean became, especially if that instance is highly debatable, is very insecure exegesis (1954, p. 139, emp. in orig.). The verb hayetha of Genesis 1:2 is translated "was" in all the standard translations because that is its meaning. Surely it is significant that none of the Old Testament linguists felt compelled to translate hayetha to suggest that the Earth became waste and void, as gap theorists propose. We reject the Gap Theory because tohu wabohudoes not mean only "something once in a state of repair, but now ruined."

Gap theorists believe that God's "initial" creation was perfect, but became "waste and void" as a result of Satan's rebellion. Whitcomb has responded: "Without form and void" translate the Hebrew expression tohu wabohu, which literally means "empty and formless." In other words, the Earth was not chaotic, not under a curse of judgment. It was simply empty of living things and without the features that it later possessed, such as oceans and continents, hills and valleys—features that would be essential for man's well-being. In other words, it was not an appropriate home for man.... [W]hen God created the Earth, this was only the first state of a series of stages leading to its completion (1973, 2:69-70)."

Thanks in advance!


Response #5:
 

This person is using an English concordance, which probably means he/she doesn't know Hebrew. What I have written is, to the best of my ability, the truth, and to my mind it stands solidly on its own feet (i.e., nothing in this rambling tirade against "Gap theorists" is particularly applicable to the arguments made). The verb hayah can and does mean "become" many places (check any Hebrew lexicon) – that is just a fact. How you are to understand a word is not determined by mathematics but by context.  And even if a person wants to translate the verb here as "was", the gap is still there: i.e., the earth "was" created; but it Gen.1:2 it somehow, at that later time, now "was" in a state of destruction following perfect original creation (on account of God's judgment). Whitcomb's work may be dismissed out of hand because is based upon using the Greek Septuagint version's translation of the Hebrew as his main evidence (and in doing so only re-commits the mistakes of the LXX – and as every LXX reader knows, it is full of mistakes as these ancient translators were in the dark about many Hebrew words). In any case, there is really little question what the Hebrew words in question mean: tohu waw bhohu always refer to devastation as the result of some catastrophe, almost always caused by divine judgment: precisely what is being posited here.

When God creates things, He always creates them perfect; therefore the describing the creation of the world in verse one, then the world as imperfect in verse two is meant to be something that all who understand God's character will "get", namely, that something has happened. The idea that God would create an imperfect mass then "work on it" till He "gets it right" is the pagan idea of cosmogony – and completely blasphemous where the real God is concerned. The natural explanation that any believer would be led to when confronted with the contrast of a God-created world followed by a devastated world is that some major event had happened in between. Indeed, the collocation of these two verses only makes any theological sense when one posits a divine judgment in "the gap" between them. Since we are given absolutely no information in Genesis about the origin of the angels or the rebellion of Satan, it should not come as a complete surprise that neither are we given the "back-story" of the devil's revolt and the subsequent divine judgment on the universe.

Furthermore, God made the heavens and earth out of nothing in verse one, and in verse two they are already there. If they are there in verse two, then verse two cannot be original creation; it has to be describing a follow on act by the Lord (something unnecessary unless we are talking about a re-construction and re-creation, which we are). And none of these folks who are so apoplectically opposed to the gap has ever deigned to answer the argument about the adversative clause construction that begins verse two. That is very important because, in my opinion, the Hebrew of Genesis 1:2 makes the gap very clear to anyone reading closely in the original language. The fact that English translations miss this is an error on their part, not a virtue, and certainly not an argument.

This is an important teaching, as I say, without the understanding and accepting of which eschatology becomes, for those intent on keeping the blinders on, a closed book in many important respects.

In our Lord Jesus who is the truth,

Bob L.

 


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