Posted By MSH on September 28, 2010
Blogging has been a bit tough lately. This post (like everything else I’m working on presently) is overdue.
Some have asked for some comments about the validity of the gap theory – the idea that Genesis 1:1 speaks of the initial creation, while Genesis 1:2 describes the destruction of that creation by some evil cataclysmic event (the fault of Satan) that happened between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2 (in the “gap” there). I know of know scholar who holds this view, though it had its defenders a century ago.ďż˝ Typically this view is put forth in more popular Christian circles, sometimes (but not always) in an attempt to explain the fossil record in the context of a literalist view of Genesis.
Here is an article that deals in fairly simple terms with this view by Hebrew scholar Bruce Waltke. Note that Waltke refers to the gap theory as the “Restitution Theory.”
In a nutshell, the theory is overturned by Hebrew grammar — specifically the fact that we have a classic waw-disjunctive beginning Gen 1:2 (Hebrew conjunction waw prefixed to a noun instead of a verb, which mars any narrative sequence). This is basically why no Hebrew grammarian defends the view. It matters not that one can find ONE (count it) other example of the verb hayah (“to be”) in an identical grammatical construction that could be translated “became” (a key idea in the gap theory) precisely because the waw disjunctive that begins 1:2 forbids a linear sequence of events. (And the fact that a search for the identical construction with hayah in Gen 1:2 where the meaning can be “became” only yields one result should also tell us something about the grammatical merits of the gap theory).