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Whatever happened to the "Genesis Gap"?

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Question:  Dear Prof. Luginbill:  I am interested in knowing where the Genesis gap of 1 & 2 began to disappear from the Bible.  Arthur Pink in his book "Gleanings from Genesis" states that the word "was" in Genesis 1:2 should read "became." Pink in his book quotes a Dr. Chalmers. It is my estimate that he lived in the early 1800s as Pink 's book was published in 1922. My Hebrew training would indicate that contemporary interlinear editions erroneously translate the word "hayah" to mean "was."  I would appreciate any insight you might offer me.

Response:   The answer given below is a synopsis of the detailed argument and explanation given in The Satanic Rebellion Part 2: The Genesis Gap (to see this file, please click on the link). First of all, the verb hayah in Hebrew can and does often mean both "to be" and "to become" (just like the Greek verb gignomai which is often used in the LXX and NT to translate hayah in the latter sense). Which meaning is to be preferred is a matter of context and interpretation. The key thing in Genesis 1:2 is not the choice of vocabulary but the grammar. Specifically, here the verb does not immediately follow the connective waw, but rather the conjunction is followed by the noun phrase ha`aretz. This is technically known as a disjunction, and is used to indicate a major break in the flow of a narrative. The English "but" is a passable way to render this disjunction. To translate Genesis 1:2 leading with the word "and" completely ignores this important grammatical point. Once we accept that "but", then "but the earth was" can be easily seen to be incorrect since some change has clearly occurred, leading us to amend our incorrect first impression of the passage and translate instead "but the earth became".

So I suppose in answer to your question I would have to say that the "Genesis Gap" never dropped out of the Bible. It is right there for all to see, for all who are willing to see it, that is. As is often the case in biblical interpretation, the more information we get on a particular point of scripture, as scripture continues to inform scripture in our studies, the clearer things become. Unfortunately, for a very large segment of the Church (and especially among the academic portion of established denominations), defending traditional positions is often more important that trying to get at the truth (hence the persistence in over-riding the grammar in Genesis 1:2 because the correct translation interferes with the preferred interpretation which incorrectly posits that there is no Genesis Gap).

For, secondly, the Genesis Gap is not only right there in the grammar of Genesis 1:2 (and also in a proper translation of the Hebrew of Genesis 2:4 - see the link above), but it is also the only way to explain all that the Bible has to say about angelic kind, the rebellion and fall of Satan, the fact that the universe is not filled with light, the fact that there is imperfection throughout the cosmos (not merely on the earth), the fact that the earth was in a state of needing to be molded back into a world capable of sustaining life at the point of Genesis 1:2 where reconstruction of the earth begins (and, after all, God creates only perfect things in the first place - He doesn't need to "fix" what He has just made). In short, the overarching of creature rebellion resulting in God's judgment, restoration and replacement of everything "lost" through sin, first visible in the re-creation of the earth during those seven days, is one that runs throughout every book of the Bible and throughout human history (from the divine point of view, that is: see part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion: Judgment, Restoration and Replacement). I believe it is not too much to say that without understanding the Genesis Gap, it is virtually impossible to fully understand these things and especially how mankind fits into the plan of God. It may be argued, perhaps, that this is not so important because clearly we do fit in and understanding Christ is what really counts. To the last part I would assent heartily, but I have found that understanding why Man had to be created in the context of Satan's rebellion tells us even more about the awesome nature of Christ's sacrifice and the amazing consequences of what His incarnation means. As with all things, the more we understand the Bible, the better off we are spiritually and the quicker we come to understand even more, ever building scripture upon scripture. 

Please also see these links:

The Grammar behind the Genesis Gap.

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

Questioning the Genesis Gap

Opposition to the Genesis Gap from the Creation Research Group

Where Can I Find More Information on the Genesis Gap?

Ex Nihilo Creation

Tohu in Genesis 1:2

In Him who is our light and our truth, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

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