Genesis 1:2 and the “Gap Theory”

Posted By 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).

Anyway, enjoy!

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73 Responses to “Genesis 1:2 and the “Gap Theory””

  1. Gary says:

    All I have to see from the document is… “the “gap theory.” The view gained wide acceptance through The Scofield Reference Bible notes”, ….to know it is bogus. I’ll put it into the same boat as pre-millennial dispensationalism, Tim LaHaye’s “left behind”, and ID.

    • MSH says:

      I wouldn’t put ID in there (though that suffers from being an umbrella thing, composed of the real scientists who embrace it and the non-scientists who often caricature it while promoting it).

  2. Cal says:

    I thought the word could not be “was” and had to be “became” due to Isaiah 45:18 (ESV):

    http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Isaiah+45%3A18

    18 For thus says the Lord,?who created the heavens?(he is God!),?who formed the earth and made it?(he established it;?he did not create it empty,?he formed it to be inhabited!):?“I am the Lord, and there is no other.

    From what I understand in the Hebrew it says “tohu” (“did not create it ‘tohu’”) and in Genesis 1:2 it says and “the world was ‘tohu’”.

    So if it wasn’t created tohu didn’t it have to become tohu?

    I’m probably missing something with this though, so please explain if you would where I’m going wrong on this.

    • MSH says:

      First, if one takes the view that Gen 1:3 is God’s first creative act (not 1:1) then God didn’t create the material of 1:2 tohu — that was it’s condition when God began to create. But setting that item aside, Isaiah 45:18 explains its own comment — its point is that God did not create it tohu, but created it to be inhabited. The only way this would contradict what we see in Genesis is if Isaiah had said “he did not create it tohu” and ended there. In Gen 1:2 tohu we-bohu = “formless and empty” and then God proceeds to form and fill it. It wasn’t God’s intention in Genesis either to leave it unformed and unfilled. Isaiah agrees – he didn’t create it tohu to leave it empty. You have to consider the whole thought unit, not just one word in the thought unit.

  3. Cal says:

    Yes, well, I was considering the whole thought.

    Just seems like you are turning one event into two. “He did not create it empty, He formed it to be inhabited” doesn’t seem like they have to be mutually exclusive events necessarily. The only way it really would make sense your way is if it said, “He created it empty and then formed it to be inhabited”. But it says He did not create it empty, so I don’t see how it can mean anything else (regardless of what else is said after that) that He did not create it empty.

    Again, I’m probably missing something with this and happily admit it.

    Maybe it’s a Hebrew grammar thing that the English doesn’t translate well.

    Or maybe I’m just not getting it. (would not be the first time.)

    Same with Genesis 1:3. How can 1:3 be God’s first creative act if 1:1 says “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.

    How does “created” not mean a “creative” act?

    I suspect you’ve probably written about this before but I have not seen it so forgive my ignorance on this. Doesn’t that word “create” mean to literally create… or does it mean something else in the Hebrew?

    • MSH says:

      Your question on Gen 1:3 tells me you have missed the discussion on Genesis 1 — go back on the blog a few weeks and look for the video lecture I posted.

  4. Craig says:

    Great answer Mike. Its great to hear the grammar doesnt agree with the Gap Theorists.

    I’ve always had trouble understanding why people believe this nonsense because God wasnt finished with his creative work until the Gen 2:1. It is illogical that proponents of the Gap Theory apply the Isaiah 45:18 passage prior to Creation being completed. As I understand it, Creation was a process that spanned 6 days not 1 day.

    The Gap Theory is the Christian scientific community’s attempt to harmonize Creation with the psuedo-doctrine of Evolution, and that allows them to gain accredibility amongst the secular scientific community (rather than God) because it makes room in the Scripture for both theories to be true.

  5. john thomas says:

    May I invite your readers to consider G-THEORY, the revised and updated gap theory that shows the Genesis account to be scientifically accurate and literally true?

    G-THEORY, as described in “The Real Origin of Species” is totally opposed to evolution.

  6. Erasmus says:

    The ruin/reconstruction theory in not necessarily a nonsensical whim. Surely it has had champions that rely on false Biblical data (the “was”/ “became” conundrum and the “fall of Lucifer” thing), but there is some evidence from the “umbrella” verses along with a dose of ANE “myth” leads this reader to see and old earth story that is quite gappish.

    Further, there are contexts in the wisdom literature that explicate what might have happened in those gaps.

    • MSH says:

      there is nothing in the wisdom texts (or anywhere else) that says anything about a gap between Gen 1:1 and 1:2 — it is the modern reader that “sees” that in them.

  7. Erasmus says:

    I believe you are missing my point. As people are aware, Genesis 1 is not the only Scripture related to the subject of “creation” and whether the modern (or ancient) reader “sees” a gap is not as important, IMHO, as the age question and the sequence of events in “days of old” or “years of ancient times” (both archaic KJV translations, but you get the point I hope…). The prophets knew there was a time, possibly before the remembrance of anyone where God acted. Peter states that the “heavens were of old” and numerous other verses could be brought to bear on the question of the antiquity of the cosmos (as perceived by the prophets).
    Further, and Mike you know this better than most, the ANE “myths” of the creation permeate even Israelite culture and writing (I’m not of the camp though that thinks the prophets borrowed the motif from Ugarit or other Canaanite traditions, but their writings rather represent a true thread of the original tradition). This myth (I dislike Waltke’s “metaphor” option, BTW, “Having established that Leviathan in the Canaanite mythology is a dragon resisting creation, we must raise the hermeneutical question whether the inspired poets of Israel meant that Yahweh actually had a combat with this hideous creature or whether this Canaanite story served as a helpful metaphor to describe Yahweh’s creative activity. If we assume that the biblical authors were logical—and they were that and far more—then we must opt for the second interpretation of these references.” Part 1 of his 35 year old study) represents (to me) an underlying truth of the matter which you portray (quite brilliantly, BTW…I’m a major suckup…) in your writings on the divine council. There were (and are) powers in heaven (yet today) and there was a battle, which Yahweh won, and there is a celestial “sea” which also housed (and houses) certain of the combatants or even WAS the combatant…if Yamm is personified (see John Day, Mary K. Wakeman and others, of course). This “sea” of separation, as some call it (also referred to as the “great deep” elsewhere, “many waters”, the “deep”, etc.) will be no more in the new heavens and earth (even John the Revelator “saw” it – Rev. 21:1 – so it wasn’t just in the wisdom literature…).
    The battle is (was) a huge deal that no evangelical (well, almost none…there is Greg Boyd in God at War and you somewhat…) will wrestle with and the battle is easily shoehorned into the chronology of Genesis (though I’m agonizingly aware it is not in THAT record). Boyd, BTW, has written on the “gap” a bit in his tome from 1997 (pages 100-113, 163) and he isn’t nobody. In short (OK, it wasn’t that short…) there is a way to envision a time period in places in Genesis 1 that other places within Scripture speak to.

    • MSH says:

      I know of know place elsewhere in Scripture that speaks to a gap between Gen 1:1 and 1:2. Greg Boyd (and he’s a friend) isn’t dealing with the text so much as trying to defend his particular explanation of evil. This view honestly has no textual merit if you care about grammar and syntax.

  8. Erasmus says:

    But Michael, while the text in Genesis 1 to you silent is to a gap philologically and grammatically, it does not necessarily frustrate a gap theologically (as I think Boyd would agree). Even Waltke buys into the fact that you have to bring theology and philosophy to bear on a question like this (as should any good handler of the plurality of Biblical texts on creation).

    And Waltke prevaricates on some points in his expose’ on the different views. In some ways you and he are dealing with straw men in the old “gap theory” adherents. Yes, there are the old devotees, but, as evidenced by Bib Sac’s review of Gorman Gray’s 2005 book, Age of the Universe: What are the Biblical Limits?, some few years ago, there are different ways to look at this. Most of the NEC’s call Gray a “soft gappist” (for what that’s worth), but his ideas parallel some of theology’s greatest stars of a former generation (E.J. Young not the least among them). Then there’s Boyd’s input.

    I’m one who stands with the Hebraists that see Genesis 1:1 as an independent clause (though not an “introductory” summary statement; as per Waltke…there’s just no way to conclusively prove that…) and verse 2 as not circumstantial to the so called “main clause” (verse 3), but it is logically attached and sequential to verse 1 and basically (merely) ahead of the next action indicated by verse 3. As Young put it somewhere, “the earth of verse 2 is the earth of verse 1” (something like that). And don’t take this as an aformation of all things Youngish, I’m a dyed in the wool dispy.

    The cosmos (the merism that IS the “heavens and the earth”), in affect the Temple of God, was created in its entirety (verse 1). Some “time” after that (if we are allowed to think in terms of time with spiritual entities??) we see the condition of verse 2. This condition, contrary to Waltke’s statement that “God destroyed the earth”, could easily be a result of (fallout from) the primordial battle that took place in the heavens (as retained in every ANE cultural history). I’m getting afield of this thread, but I think someone like you or Boyd could do a bangup job of putting all this together. Maybe you should talk… I believe that even though you wouldn’t find the classic “gaps”, you’d find a lot of “time” in those verses.

  9. Billy says:

    I personally can not understand why man debates those verses when God Himself clears up the issue. Exodus 20:11, and Exodus 31:17. God very clearly, in simple language said “six days”. God further said in those “six days” that He created heaven, earth, and everything contained in them. It is why He gave the Israelites the Sabbath day to keep, as a sign, that He did exactly what He said He did. There are far too many within christendom that have chosen to believe all the scientific theories and teachings, instead of just simply believing what God already told us. This is just one more of many examples, of the prophecy, that in the last days, many would “turn away from the truth”. I would urge everyone, to just simply, with the child-like faith, believe God, and not man. In Jesus Christ, Billy

    • MSH says:

      the reason is that “six days” in Exodus may refer to the six (literary) days of Genesis, not real time. I personally can’t understand why we have to make up things like sidereal light to explain why there is no sun until day 4 so as to get SOLAR days before the sun (!).

  10. Billy Beard says:

    I just simply accept what the text says. It says ‘six days”. The Israelites observed the “seventh” each week, so they clearly understood God was not speaking ‘literary’. My friend, I made up nothing. I simply quoted the text straight from scripture. If you will notice in the Genesis 1 account, it says ‘evening and morning’, for each individual day. That is also straight from the text. It was certainly not anything done to ‘make up things’, it is simply quoting what is there. Personally, I believe ‘evening and morning’ is put there to show clearly what is meant. God said there was ‘light’, and ‘darkness’, and He separated them, and called it the first day. Again, this is not making up anything. This, I know, is too simple for many, but it is what the text says. I will not make any further replies, as I can see this view is not accepted literally by some. I did not add a reply to enter into debate over words or meanings. I just simply believe the text mentioned. I know that many will consider this ridiculous, but it is, however we may debate it, what the verses say. I have changed nothing they said, others surely will. In Jesus Christ, Billy

    • MSH says:

      so the Israelites observed literal days when they knew God wasn’t speaking literally? The evening and morning thing, how do you get “evening and morning” before day 4 (there was no sun or moon)? And why use this argument when God isn’t speaking literally according to your last response? This just lacks coherence. The literal view makes no sense, and your use of literal phrasing while simultaneously saying the Israelites knew God wasn’t being literal is self-contradicting.

      The Sabbath angle also presumes that the Sabbath material was written after Genesis 1, which it most likely was not.

  11. Billy says:

    I am sorry, I meant that the Israelites accepted it as literal, and observed the seventh day each week, as God said. I believe history shows that they did. The text in Exo. 20:11, and Exo. 31:17 tells why, pretty clearly, to me. I got ‘evening and morning’, from Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23,31. Again, I just quoted from the text what it says. Personally, I do not read verse two as many will, unlimited time being contained within it, taken in context with what the Chapter says, along with the verses already mentioned in Exodus. I realize that makes me seem an uneducated, simple man, and rightly so, I am. I have studied the scripture themselves a lot, and other commentaries and such, along with Strongs and Vines listing of all the languages, but, I am no expert.

    Frankly, though, not being derogatory, just being honest, even among the scholared, this subject is viewed very differently. There are many six-day scholars and scientists. So, even among the most intelligent, it is debated, showing that some take Exo. 20:11, Exo. 31:17, and the Genesis 1 account, as literal regarding six-days. Sorry, I just believe the Biblical text very much supports it. I respect those who will disagree. Sorry for the self contradiction, I didn’t mean to. Hope I cleared it up. Thank You for allowing my input. God Bless, In Christ, Billy

  12. Erasmus says:

    Billy,
    The “six days” are “six days”, but I don’t know if “evening and morning” necessarily point to our 24 hours. You are familiar, I’m sure, with Genesis 2:4, where the prophets states, “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” Now here, the “literal” interpretation would be that God did it ALL in “the day”, not “six days”. You are, I am quite sure, familiar with the Biblical phrases such as “the Lord’s day” or “man’s day” whereby the prophet invests more time than a single day. I’m further certain that you are not allowing that same extension in Genesis 1, so what you do with Genesis 2:4?

    Now, you have also not delved into the Hebrew of Exodus 20:11 where the term “in” (in the phrase “in six days”) is not IN the text (and Michael, I don’t care whether the LXX or other translations have it or not…, it’s not in the MT). Further, the prophet here says, “heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is”. Why are we not talking about that added little phrase, “the sea”? It points to the activities of the six days, but the import is reflective of another portion of the Hebraic (and ANE) “universe”. Why is it that “the sea” never seems to be discussed by YEC’s in connection with creation? Would you like to entertain the idea now?

  13. Vigilant1EB says:

    Simce you have proven that Genesis 1 is not about the original creation doesn’t that remove the necessity for the gap theory to have the word became in verse 2. Since the creation was already established but not dealt withn in verse 1, there could also have been a fall that has taken place some time in the past that caused the earth to be barren and a waste land in verse 2 as opposed to just being unfinished.

    What is you take on this observation?

    • MSH says:

      the “pre-creation chaos” view does away with any need for a gap. But be advised that the Gap theory didn’t work anyway. I blogged on that in relation to Genesis 1.

  14. Vigilant1EB says:

    My point is that, could it be possible that after God created the angels but before He created mankind there was some type of rebellion that caused God to pronouce judgement which brought in the barren & waste land as well as the darkness that was over the surface of the deep? So God comes in to not only create mankind but also restore His tainted masterpiece that was already established befoe the judgement of this previous rebellion that perhaps took place within the divine council.
    Man is told to have dominion over everything upon the earth & this impies that someone or something will try to usurp man’s authority, which we know that the devil did do.

    Or should we just take for granted that Genesis 1:2 was merely work that was uncompleted & this is why it was barren and waste.
    I can’t why a God of light would need darkness in order to complete His creation unless there was some type of judgement that took place. The bible is consistent in that darkness follows God’s judging of sin/

    I would like your view on this if you don’t mind & thanks for the forum, it’s needed!

    • MSH says:

      it’s not possible if you care about attaching the Bible to it. There is simply no biblical evidence for it. That’s my view. I won’t repeat what I noted in the posts here in comments.

  15. Vigilant1EB says:

    can you direct me to where you’ve dealt with this subject because I’ve read through all of the post and I don’t recall seing this dealt with.

    Thanks

  16. Just looking-about on the way out, (Came in on the Sumerian articles)…

    1. GEN 1 is the explanation of the existence of the Earth and biological-life thereon… It is told as 7 day-types after the initial condition… Modern geophysicists fill volumes for this…

    2. GEN 2 is the beginning of the first-lineage family development in the Sumerian area, parallel with the rest of the family in Egypt, (Ra, though first-lineage as were Ptah et al, was so old he wouldn’t have been siring except for a siring gap of 9 (rule of vengeance) before they arrived… Shw was 2nd-most-senior-sire, so he subrogated for Ra with Mwt. (Clarified: Mwt was Shw’s own mother, so Ra wouldn’t sire Adam himself, but Shw did.)

    3. Adam and his birth-twin-sister Eve were the first Earth-children, (You got that right–? Adam’s rib was born at the same time as the rest of Adam… well, just go read Jub.) He wasn’t the Creation: but that came later when Marduk took the genitals of dead Quingu, and inseminated some aboriginal females (Really, They weren’t good-looking ’til several generations later; the gods were so inspired by Marduk’s success, they began trying all kinds of animals– ‘Oh, the wickedness of it all’) and so Marduk took Abel’s title, H’-Bel.

    Well, It’s an interesting site nevertheless, Thank you.

    Cordially, sincerely, yours,

    Ray.

  17. P.S. Satan or Seth-An was one of the sons of An, Anu, Enos, oft referred to as an angel of the lord, the ‘An’, (cf Kh’An is definitively THE-LORD as-in Khonsu Lord-Shw aka Yhw), But it should be recognized therefor, that, Satan WAS-NOT one of the first-lineage sons, and therefore not the father of the Jews whom Jesus so-ridiculed in the temple…

    Satan or Seth-An was a second-son of An, Anu, Enos, not first-son who was Cain-An, (You recognize the reduplicated order of names: Cain-of-An, Mahalaleel aka Bel-of-An, Seth-of-An, just like grandfather Adam named his sons, Cain, H’Bel, Seth)…

    The angels were given the ‘nice’ job of delivering messages up-and-down (An Anu) Enos’ mountain-heaven … They rode big white horses, (big for them), and their carpet-saddles flapped in the wind as they raced across the landscape, whence the allusion of “wings”.

    NIce to visit… Have a perfect(ed) day….

    Ray.

  18. Patrick says:

    I think Professor John Walton’s new book, “The Lost World of Genesis 1″ deserves consideration.

    Quick read, he believes the text indicates a functional and not material creation. Material creation happened earlier and is not detailed for us.

    His case seemed compelling to me.

    • MSH says:

      There are problems with seeing bara as *only* functional, but Walton is just preferring that role alongside the creative meaning. He would not deny bara’ means to create, but he’d argue that’s not primarily what it means in Genesis (and other places).

  19. totedati says:

    well for me, as an cristian orthodox Gen 1:1 to Gen 1:3 can be interpreted as:

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

    heavens = 0 where 0=? as an infinite emptiness
    yes! in the first act of creation even the infinite empty space need to be created!

    earth hebraic word can be stretched/interpreted as simple matter? the 1, the separate thing from 0|?? an infinite sea of separate atoms?

    earth=1|?

    so, genesis 1:1 can be translated to:
    in the beginning good created 0|? and 1|?

    Genesis 1:2

    2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

    if we keep earth as simple matter, all universal simple matter in a big ball of mud not a simple earth planet but a huge planet filling all empty space created in genesis 1:1 genesis 1:2 is not at all mysterious, all universe is a big ball of dark matter without form and void where void means unstructured like a dark ball of water … the only 1|? hovering over this dark matter ball which is like a water unstructured ball is the spirit of good … right now god is the only observable being in the universe

    this means Genesis 1:2 explain how God in Genesis 1:1 created not only this universe but even him in this universe! a necessary and unavoidable logic contraption because God in uncreated, beyond this world ….

    and then with him alone and a lot of mud to play with, the second move of creation is

    Genesis 1:3

    3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

    light = move

    is simple like that! moving that infinite ball of mud without form and void God begin to move himself, that mud is God!, creating all structures of this universe from subcuantic quarks to cluster of galaxies! this is why every part of this universe is the blood and flesh of God!

    the key is the earth word … earth as a planet? or can be used/extended/interpreted as earth=matter? what an antic hebrew bible scholar can tell to us about this earth word?

    so for me, like you, is no gap between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:3, no lost worlds only steps of creations … because, at least for me, that first earth is not our planet earth is the entire universe!

    this means that our planet earth IS the first planet of entire universe!

    Gen 1:4 to Gen 1:5 go on and explain what means this light and how when you have light=movement you also have darkness=the lack of movement, the lack of light!

    Genesis 1:6 + 1:7
    6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”
    7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.

    where that ball of water is filling all universe! ball of water without form and void who after Gen 1:3 begin to move but is still without form

    God make first planet, our earth, separating the mud from above by the mud from below with a layer of expanse … 1 -> 2 … first act of separation/multiplication/nucleation!

    but because in this entire universe is only one ball of water|mud, this first planet earth is not only a planet but also the first real atom! both layers of interpretation is valid because how you measure an infinite ball of water|mud without any meter? any real meter means more separate atoms and until now is only two objects, the mud|water from above, the rest of entire universe, and mud|water from below, OUR EARTH! both simple undifferentiated balls of mud! that first ? is also a simple 1! a simple atom!

    Genesis 1:6 and Genesis 1:7 is only
    1|? -> 2|?

    Genesis 1:8
    8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

    now this is really deep! because that expense that separate the ball of water|mud from above by our young earth, which is the water|mud from below, is the heaven not other balls of mud nucleated from the mud from above! heaven is located in this empty space not on other planets!

    the water|mud from above keep shrinking and nucleating/diferentiating until all other celestial bodies is created from quarks, atoms, molecules to planets and galaxyes! all this time the heaven, empty space from above is grooving and grooving, expanding and diferetiating/nucleating all celestial bodies … but from Gen 1:8 the bible is focusing on this young earth further evolution and less to heaven + water|mud from above evolution

    we do not know much about water|mud from above evolution from bible … only that from Gen 1:14 to Gen 1:19 water|mud from above is structured futher in the greater lighter, the little lighter and all other stars:

    Gen 1:14 to Gen 1:19

    14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,
    15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
    16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.
    17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,
    18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
    19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

    and no, is no contradiction that sun begin to shine above the earth only on the fourth day! not an all!

    in the first day was no young earth and in the second and third day the egg-yolk earth separated from the entire universe only by a small expanse, where water|mud from above its egg shell, is illuminated only by its own radiation! light=move and in that young hot earth is a lot of termodinamic atomic movement not so? is so simple! jupiter is still not shining! only a little more mater and maybe sometime in future will begin to shine! like we can see and understand in Arthur C. Clarke 2010: Odyssey Two

    in this egg-universe where young earth is his single yolk if we accept Gen 1:11 to Gen 1:13 literally this means that vegetation, plants with seeds and fruit trees is all created in the third day before sun creation! with light=movement to nurture this paradise life only from earth radiation!

    Gen 1:11 to Gen 1:13

    11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so.
    12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
    13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

    insane? surreal? impossible? but when humans will begin to make galactic travelings carring in our galactic spaceships all necessary life environment to sustain spaceship astronauts life who will feed all that paradise trees and plants? a sun? not likely! simple lamps radiating light is enough!

    light=movement!

    ;-)

  20. Matthew Norton says:

    I am hard pressed to find any other alternative than the Ruin-Reconstruction model that fits with all of Scripture. I base this on my study of “without form and void.”

    Firstly the word for formless (Strong’s Number 8414) simply means “From an unused root meaning to lie waste; a desolation (of surface), that is, desert; figuratively a worthless thing; adverbially in vain.” Now forgive me for being blunt but isn’t that exactly what those who hold to the ruin reconstruction are saying? The Earth was laid waste. I have searched for the other places that this word is used in the Bible. Nowhere can I find that it should be translated as shapeless or formless and in most cases it is followed by judgement or will bring judgement.

    Secondly the word for void (Strong’s Number 922) simply means “From an unused root (meaning to be empty); a vacuity, that is, (superficially) an undistinguishable ruin.” Now again we are not disputing this meaning of the word. The earth was a ruin in Genesis 1:2. This word is only used two other times in the Bible and both times it is in conjunction with 8414 and both times it is as a direct result of God’s judgement. We are simply saying that based on this the first time it occurs it should be understood to be as a result of God’s judgement.

    Thirdly one can find evidence of a gap in the Bible when no grammatical reason exists for such a gap. And that is the gap between the first and second coming of Jesus in Isaiah 61:1-2. God does not need there to be a grammatical reason for a gap of thousands of years to occur.

    I do believe that the Ruin-Reconstruction view is more consistent with the bible. If you can show me that the world in Genesis 1:2 was not a judged earth from additional examples I would appreciate that very much. If you cannot then perhaps you need to consider that if the earth was in a judged state in Genesis 1:2 than there must have been a corresponding judgement and reason for said judgement. Since this is not mentioned in Genesis 1:1 there must be a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 2. This is a logical argument and would be understood even if the there is no grammatical reason for a gap.

    Regards,

    Matthew Norton

    • MSH says:

      if the roots are unused why are they used in the OT? (Sorry, sometimes it’s easy to pick on Strong’s).

      The gap theory view violates everything known securely about the normalcy of Hebrew syntax. It is not decided on the basis of a word study, especially something like Strong’s. It’s about grammar and syntax (the relationship of the clauses). I can’t change that for the sake of the discussion. The syntax of the Hebrew informs us that we do not have an unbroken linear sequence of events from verse 1 through verse 3.

      The syntax requires that the text be read that the earth *was* in the condition described, not that it became that way. Even if we weren’t dealing with a phantom judgment event about which Scripture is silent the clause structure would not change.

      Bohu is used three times, not two (Gen 1:2; Isa 34:11; Jer 4:23). Where is the judgment in Gen 1:2? At *best* that has to be read back into the passage from the other two passages. This is poor method. You assume it is empty in Gen 1:2 for the same reason it’s empty somewhere else. The context of one verse cannot be assumed to be the context of another verse. The wife of husband A could have left him because he cheated. That doesn’t mean the wife of husband B left him for the same reason. She could be the one who cheated. Your method could be illustrated as flawed a thousand ways. Each verse has *its own* context … and so I ask you to point us to the judgment in Gen 1:2. Where is it?

      The third argument is another example of flawed analogy. Why would we assume the two items are supposed to be analogous? Frankly, you *do* need the text to tell you what to believe (if you care about inspiration, that is). You are actually basing your argument on what *isn’t* in the text as opposed to what is — and then finding another thing that *isn’t* in the text to support the other absent thing. So your argument is based on two instances of something not being present. Think about that.

      For me, I like biblical theology since it derives from what is in the text, not what isn’t.

      • Matthew Norton says:

        I am not disputing what you are saying about the syntax and the clauses. You are far more knowledgeable in that area than I am. That is precisely the point of my third argument. God does not require grammar and syntax for there to be a gap in the Scriptures. Isaiah 61:1-2 has no gap yet Jesus only fulfilled a portion of the prophecy. I am not basing my argument on what is not in the text. I am basing my argument on what is elsewhere in Scripture.

        And there is certainly value in doing a study on how the words are used throughout Scripture. Scripture sheds light on Scripture. God is consistent even if we are not. That is the point I am making. And of course Bohu occurs three times! That was the point! I didn’t refer to the first time in Genesis 1:2 because that is the one we are debating. My point is that the only other two times that Bohu is used in conjunction with Tohu it is describing a state after God’s judgement. If there was a case where those two words were used together (apart from the one being debated in Genesis 1:2) that described that state not being as a result of judgement the argument would fall apart. But you cannot find such an example.

        Scripture is not silent on the judgement of the earth prior to Genesis 1:2, it’s just not mentioned in Genesis. Isaiah 14 however says that Satan laid the Earth to waste. Granted, we don’t have much information about this prior judgement. There is certainly a lot of inferring that is not warranted. But to assume that the Genesis account is a complete account of everything that God has ever made would be an error. Genesis doesn’t tell us about when He made the angels. We know that they existed when the earth was made. We are also not told when Satan fell in Genesis but he is introduced as already fallen. If you look at the Genesis account in chapter 1 you will see that all the days start with God speaking. If you follow that logic then day one starts with God speaking “Let there be light.” There is therefore inferred from the text that Genesis 1:1-2 is an introduction to the six days.

        I like biblical theology too. For what is in the text. But you need to look at the whole text, the Bible. There is additional information in the Bible that leads me to conclude that there was a gap in Genesis between verse 1 and 2. I don’t think that everything that has been said about this gap is true. God doesn’t tell us everything. But you don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water.

        Regards,
        Matthew

        • MSH says:

          What Jesus decides to quote in a prophecy has no relationship to the gap issue. Gen 1:1-3 isn’t a prophecy awaiting fulfillment — that is, it has no consideration of future time. Apples and oranges.

          Isaiah 14 has nothing to do with Satan. The word never occurs in the passage, and that passage never refers back to creation — in fact, it gives no time reference at all.

          This is just reading one’s theological wishes back into the text. I owe you an honest answer, and that’s why I say that.

          • Matthew Norton says:

            Thanks for the honest reply.

            I didn’t say Genesis 1:1-3 is a prophecy, but that there is a gap in Isaiah 61:1-2. It demonstrates that there is at least one gap in Scripture. And that you cannot ascertain that gap through grammar and syntax.

            I also did not say that Isaiah 14 mentions a time but it simply says that the earth was laid waste. It is understood that although the king of Babylon is named it starts speaking to the spiritual authority behind him, which is translated Lucifer in the KJV. Hence it is talking about Satan even though it does not say Satan. Ezekiel 28 is another passage that is talking about Satan even though it mentions the king of Tyre. In Daniel 10 the angel Gabriel says that the prince of Persia withstood him 21 days until Michael was sent to fight for him. Clearly this is talking about an angelic being.

            I do not intend to read my own theological wishes back into the text. I am merely staying open to the possibility that I don’t understand it all. The Bible is not done speaking to us. The Bible has always been proven right however it does often require us to give up our prejudices. There are many doctrines out there that need serious reworking. And I can guarantee that should the Word show me something different I will embrace it with all my heart.

            Regards,
            Matthew

            • MSH says:

              You still don’t see the apples and oranges hermeneutic you’re using. Oh well.

              If you look at the quotation in Luke closely, it actually does not match Isa 61:1 (at least the Hebrew text). Luke adds something about the blind recovering their sight and deletes binding up the broken-hearted. Can you tell me why?

              Lucifer is Latin (the term comes from the Latin Vulgate) translation for the Hebrew in Isa 14 – Helel ben Shachar. The word “satan” is nowhere in the text of Isaiah 14. Same for Ezekiel 28. If you have Bible software, you can search the entire Old Testament and you’ll find that the word “satan” is never used of the serpent of Gen 3, either (not once). “satan” is also never called a prince in Daniel or anywhere else in the OT. In fact, it isn’t until the last book of the NT (Revelation 12) that the Bible uses the terms “serpent” and “satan” in the same verse. I’m not trying to rattle your cage here; I’m just very familiar with the text. It is what it is and says what is says (or not).

              I appreciate the last paragraph, but you are actually doing what you are seeking to distance yourself from (letting your prejudices influence how you see certain passages). It’s not a sin, but you should see that you’re doing it and go from there.

              • Matthew Norton says:

                I obviously haven’t explained myself clearly enough then. I will try one more time.

                I’m not actually referring to Jesus’ reading of Isaiah. And it’s certainly not the only time that the New Testament quotes the Old Testament slightly differently. I will study that out a bit more, that is interesting. But as I said I’m not actually referring to Jesus’ reading of it. I am referring to the fact that the text (in Isaiah) describes the first and second coming as one single event. It is however two events. Jesus will return to complete the prophecy. So I am not using Isaiah and Luke together but only the text in Isaiah. If that is apples and oranges you’ll have to explain it to me.

                I already knew that Lucifer is from the Latin Vulgate. And that it means light bearer. But are you saying that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 are not talking to the angelic powers behind these figures. That’s pretty hard to justify with terms such as “anointed cherub that covers” and “son of the morning.” “Morning stars” and “sons of God” are equivalent in Job and refer to Angels. So just because the Bible doesn’t mention the name Satan throughout until right at the end doesn’t mean it’s not talking about him. Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 are talking about an angel that rebelled. You’re certainly not rattling my cage. I agree with you the text is what it is and says what it says (or not).

                I do not believe (in this particular instance) that I want to uphold my prejudices. You obviously feel that I am. That’s OK I can handle that. My opinions and interpretation has not been reached simply because someone taught it to me. It’s not a rash decision. I have meditated and thought about these scriptures for a long time. The Bible needs to be read as a whole, I’m sure you’ll agree with that. I will start a new post below with some additional information. We are running out of room!

                Regards,
                Matthew

                • MSH says:

                  It’s clear. You’re saying: “hey, there must be a gap in Isa 61:1-2 and its elements.” Then you are reasoning: “Since a gap exists in one passage, it must exist in Gen 1:2.” THAT is the flaw. A text means what it means IN ITS OWN CONTEXT – not in the context of some other text. There is no gap between Gen 1:1-2 because the OT was written in Hebrew, and that interpretation violates everything known about biblical Hebrew syntax. It isn’t any more complicated than that. Your interpretation is based on (1) flawed logic and (2) invalid Hebrew syntax. If you want that interpretation, be my guest. I don’t think it’s bogus – I know it’s bogus.

                  • Matthew Norton says:

                    To be fair I was only demonstrating that gaps can exist in scripture apart from grammar and syntax.

                  • MSH says:

                    this tells me you still don’t understand the problem. I don’t believe I can make it any clearer, unfortunately. The fact that grammar and syntax does not forbid a gap one place does not overrule another place where grammar and syntax say it cannot.

                  • Matthew Norton says:

                    OK Then. Thanks for clearing that up.

  21. Matthew Norton says:

    I think we need to start again. I have been looking to see what else you have to say on this with regards to creation. I have just seen your presentation on Genesis and creation. I really like your interpretation. It harmonises Scripture very well. It’s like someone turned on the lights.

    Thank you!!

    Regards,
    Matthew Norton

  22. Louis says:

    Hi Mike

    I’m a big fan of your teaching and logic and honesty.

    I hear what Matthew Norton is saying regarding instances where for example Satan is not mentioned, but it clearly refers to him.(The same as you referred to in one of your teachings on the identity of the pillar of light for example. It does not state who it was, yet it could logically be deduced, as you have proven)

    I was a believer in the Gap theory, as it was the only way that the rule of Satan(Lucifer) and Dinosaurs etc made sense for me, but I accept that your knowledge on the Hebrew syntax etc makes the gap theory impossible.

    I was also under the impression that Satan ruled on earth, and that God destroyed his rule here. I do not believe that the earth is only 6 or 7 thousand years old, so now it does not make sense to me anymore. Somewhere in time those things must have happened. If you could point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it.

    I SO wish you would set up a forum where I(we) could ask you questions, as I have a bucket-load full of those. I do however not have the resources or time to learn Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic at my age. I have to depend on what I can learn from E-Sword and the Strongs, and It seems to be a hit and miss at best. :-P

    • MSH says:

      on the forums – the simple reason I don’t set them up is that I’ve never have time to contribute.

      On the others: The Bible is silent on any “satanic rebellion” largely because there are no instances in the OT where the word “satan” is a cosmic enemy of God. See: http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/2010/02/the-absence-of-satan-in-the-old-testament/

      God’s enemies are the “serpent” (nachash), the gods of the nations (Psa 82; Deut 32:8-9), that sort of thing.

      The reason people look for a “rebellion of Satan” (or presume one, or make one up) is to explain how the serpent (who is never called satan in the OT) could have done wickedly in the garden, which was a perfect environment. The answer to that is because God created the other divine beings of his heavenly host with the freedom to rebel (note the “they have become as one of us” language in Gen 3:22 — which speaks of the freedom to make moral choices — and for those beings who are not the one true, pre-existent God, such ability to choose includes the option to transgress God’s will). The Israelites would never have thought that such beings had no free will or that everything had to be predestined. Those are concepts brought to the text by moderns.

      Since the word “satan” means “adversary,” it eventually became used of the serpent figure (during the 2nd temple era and the NT). Due to his role in the fall of humankind, that figure came to be seen as God’s adversary “par excellence” (meaning a lot of the blame for human behavior can be traced to what he did, which resulted in humanity’s being driven from the presence of God. An end to that situation (the “rule” of satan/the devil) began (in NT theology) with the first coming of Christ. Its overturning is cast as happening gradually, in concert with the advance of the kingdom of God (the Church) and will be consummated in final form at the return of Christ.

      That’s the short summary anyway.

  23. Matthew Norton says:

    Dr. Heiser.

    Do you have an issue with the ruin-reconstruction or just the gap?

    Do you refute everything that the ruin-reconstruction theory says?

    I think that the need for the gap arises from peoples understanding of the fall of the Serpent put together with their understanding of In tthe beginning.”

    I still would argue for a pre Genesis 1 destruction of the earth due to the use of formless and void and Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. I believe that is the true baby in the bath of the ruin-reconstruction theory. The gap is really part of the bath water. That is why I called it ruin-reconstruction.

    Regards,
    Matthew Norton

    • MSH says:

      I don’t know of any sound exegetical argument that *compels* ruin-reconstruction, which is basically married to a gap theory. The grammatical-syntactical issues are why many scholars went to a “pre-creation chaos” view (along with that view’s general consistency with other ancient Near Eastern creation cosmologies).

      No idea what you are talking about with the formless and void in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, Neither tohu nor bohu (the words in Gen 1:2) appear in either chapter – ??

      Here are the verses in which tohu appears:

      20 hits in 19 verses
      Gen 1:2
      • The earth was without form* and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
      Deut 32:10
      “He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for* him, he kept him as the* apple of* his eye.*
      1 Sam 12:21
      And do not turn aside • after • empty things that cannot profit or • deliver, for they are empty.
      Job 6:18
      The caravans turn aside from their course; they go up into the waste and perish.
      Job 12:24
      He takes away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth and makes them wander in a pathless waste.
      Job 26:7
      He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.
      Ps 107:40
      he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
      Isa 24:10
      The wasted city is broken down; every house is shut up so that none • can enter.
      Isa 29:21
      who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and with an • empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.
      Isa 34:11
      But the hawk and the porcupine shall possess it, • the owl and the raven shall dwell in it. • He shall stretch the line of confusion over it, and the plumb line of emptiness.
      Isa 40:17
      All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than* nothing and emptiness.
      Isa 40:23
      who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as • emptiness.
      Isa 41:29
      Behold, they are all a delusion; their works are nothing; their metal images are empty • wind.
      Isa 44:9
      All • who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. • Their witnesses • neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame.
      Isa 45:18
      For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is • God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.
      Isa 45:19
      I did not speak in • secret, in • a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right.
      Isa 49:4
      But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.”
      Isa 59:4
      No one enters suit justly; • no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, • they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
      Jer 4:23
      I looked on • the earth, and behold, it was without form and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light.*

      and the same for bohu:

      3 hits in 3 verses
      Gen 1:2
      • The earth was without form* and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
      Isa 34:11
      But the hawk and the porcupine shall possess it, • the owl and the raven shall dwell in it. • He shall stretch the line of confusion over it, and the plumb line of emptiness.
      Jer 4:23
      I looked on • the earth, and behold, it was without form and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light.*

      Hope those came through. Never tried to paste a search into the comments here before.

      • Matthew Norton says:

        Sorry for not being clearer. I thought that because we had just had a ding dong match you might of understood what I meant. If you study out the tohu occurences it is most often an emptiness or vanity of being in opposition to God. And often paired with God’s judgement. And as you mentioned there are three occurences of tohu and bohu together. Both examples outside of Genesis 1:2 are describing the state of God’s judgement.

        That is my point. It is just too provocative. If God wanted us to understand it as just empty why would He not use the same two words together to describe somethintg that was not empty because of His judgement. If it was just tohu you would have a weak argument. It comes down to how you interpret formless and void.

        Regards,
        Matthew

        • MSH says:

          I don’t understand what you’ve written here.

          • Matthew Norton says:

            Well I’m not sure how to be clearer. Genesis 1:2 has the distinct flavour of being post God’s judgement.

            • MSH says:

              I don’t care about your taste buds; I care about Hebrew grammar and syntax.

              If we really believe the text was inspired in Hebrew, by Jewish writers who were not illiterate, and inspiration extends to words, then we must care about grammar and syntax. We don’t get to extract “meaning” from a passage when the extraction requires violating Hebrew grammar and syntax. That makes inspiration a useless, unnecessary concept — one separated from exegesis.

  24. Matthew Norton says:

    That would be “In the beginning.” Sorry for the missing parentheses and double t.

  25. bboyJeda says:

    Dr. Heiser, i just wanted to ask you if you heard Dr. Gerald Schroeder’s theory/ideas about Genesis and if so , what do you think of it?

    • MSH says:

      haven’t read much of them. Since someone writing in the second millennium BC isn’t writing about modern science and cosmology, it doesn’t seem worth the time.

  26. MSH says:

    It appears you misunderstand the material. Having Gen 1:1-3 not be the initial creation of MATTER is not denial of Yahweh’s existence prior to the creation of matter.

  27. MSH says:

    I’m not going to waste my time with this one. Please go read the literature (maybe you have access to academic commentaries – NICOT [Hamilton]; NAC [Matthews]; or Anchor-Yale [Sarna]). I could email you the sections in various commentaries if you don’t have them. It’s just too much for this space to reproduce pages of grammatical and syntactical notes on gen 1:1-3 for you.

    I know resh’it is a noun. The prepositional phrase be-reshit functions ADVERBIALLY in relation to the verb bara’. I hope you know what that means.

  28. MSH says:

    Just email some commentary notes to you. I would also recommend this short treatment of Gen 1:1-3 by Rob Holmstedt, a doctoral classmate of mine whose specialty is Hebrew linguistics (Rob now teaches at the Univ of Toronto).

    http://ancienthebrewgrammar.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/genesis-1-hebrew-grammar-translation/

  29. Jason says:

    Dr. Heiser, I was wondering if you could elaborate on the usage of hayah and it’s translation ‘became.’ Specifically your seach of this word and it grammatical contruction as being like Gen.1:2. Maybe you can post the results with some elaboration. I know it is besides the main point regarding other syntactical issues surrounding this section but it would be nice – Thanks!

  30. Jason says:

    I was wondering, in your opinion, if Jonah 3:3 is a good analogy, grammatically and syntactically, to Gen.1:2. Specifically the the phrase ‘Now Nineveh was…’ and as a parenthetical. It seems to fit nicely? And what is with the word Elohim in this verse?

  31. MSH says:

    I reject it because it ignores all rules of Hebrew syntax (and the OT was written in Hebrew). There’s no argument that excuses that.

  32. Erasmus says:

    I’ve recently been in conversation (electronically, BTW) with Francis Andersen (of linguistic renown (Andersen-Forbes, etc.) regarding the translation of “hayah” in Genesis 1:2. He was/is-now-again good friends with my mentor in Hebrew Edward Campbell Jr. (They were both colleagues at Johns Hopkins under Albright). He has maintained, since his seminal work The Sentence in Biblical Hebrew (1974), that it should be handled a bit differently than you, Rob Holmstedt, Waltke and others handle it.

    Let me say, however, that I agree with Holmstedt’s understanding of verse 1 (“stage-setting prepositional phrase, providing a temporal frame of reference only for what follows” (VT 2009 article, “The Restrictive Syntax of Genesis 1:1″) and Andersen does nothing but concur (“The first verse is strictly not a clause because it does not contain a finite verb. Verse 1 is a temporal prepositional phrase consisting of the preposition “in” and a noun phrase (the rest of the verse.”).

    But Andersen goes a bit further into verse 2 (which, of course is not Holmstedt’s focus in the VT article…) to describe the “temporal aperture (verse 1) and the first event (verse 3)”. He says, regarding the temporal aspect of verse 2,” In the coherence of the three-clause sentence, the coordination of these three clauses by “and” brings them under the sway of the first clause, giving the common tense of the sentence as a discourse unit. But the tense of the first clause in v 2 is problematic. In classical prose, the expected translation of “the earth became tohu wabohu” would use the waw-consecutive construction wayehi in first position, making it an eventive clause. The use of the “perfect” verb hayah (in second position) has bewildered readers for ages. To be in coherence with the following two clauses, the verb must have the aspect option of a Hebrew perfect verb, portraying a present state that is the continuing outcome of a previous event. The earth had come to be in a state of tohu wabohu.”

    Further, he gave me his paraphrase for the first three (3) verses:

    (Verse 1) When God began to create heaven and earth
    (Verse 2) and (when) the earth had become tohu wabohu,
    and (when) darkness [is] over the surface of the deep,
    and (when) God’s Spirit [is] sweeping over the face of the water — (Then) God said …

    Not for nothing, I’ve been YEC and OEC and through and out the other side of the Gap theory, but for my money, his paraphrase of these verses fits not only the linguistics, syntax and grammar of the latest research/ writing in Hebrew (in it’s ANE milieu), but further points to God’s battle with the proverbial Monster (cf. – Wakefield, Day and many, many others) at the cusp of creation (another “mythic” situation that, to coin a certain person’s phrase, might be “true”). It’s a theological indicator and certainly not a grammatical one, but it’s not a blind conclusion arrived at by someone not familiar with the ANE and at home only in a concordant theology.

    Mike, you’ve said (and we must read and agree) that it’s not the Luciferian dude (He, IMHO, doesn’t “fall” until the “day of the Lord” – cf. – Isaiah 13 and 14), but a Leviathan/ Rahab character fits the bill. Now, there are other places in the Christian writings that relate to the subject of this time slot (“when God began to create…”) such as 2 Peter 3: 5,6 (“world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” – not Noahic, BTW, that’s in chapter 2) and Romans 8:20. 21 (“creation subject to frustration” then “liberated from the bondage of decay”), but again this would take things out of the grammar, syntax and linguistics of Genesis 1:2. However, if one wants only to have tunnel vision on grammar of one verse he;ll loose perspective. It’s not like we don’t know who the “sons of God” were/ are and it takes multiple contexts to finally put that theological concept into proper perspective.

    Erasmus

    • MSH says:

      I certainly wouldn’t divorce the grammatical-syntactical issues from the wider picture – from biblical theology. For me, the languages have always been a means, not an end.

      I don’t see anything in Frank’s paraphrase that a “non-Andersen” take on 1:1-3 – i.e., one that isn’t a linear chronological reading – could not affirm.

      Thanks!

  33. Erasmus says:

    Mike, can you unpack that last paragraph of yours for me a little? Maybe give your take on the “To be in coherence with the following two clauses, the verb must have the aspect option of a Hebrew perfect verb, portraying a present state that is the continuing outcome of a previous event. The earth had come to be in a state of tohu wabohu.”

    Waltke balks at the pluperfect in a vociferous way and I have never had a problem with it (I actually think Waltke misrepresents it in his 1975 article in Bib Sac…). Also, I’d like you to (eventually) start a thread on Rahab/ Leviathan and your take on their relationship to the whole mythic/ truth thing. I have your PDF book and chapter 1 does go into it a little, but I’m wanting you to bring your fresh perspective to the ANE concept of the celestial sea and the creatures in that sea. I think you probably have a lot to say.

    E

    • MSH says:

      I’ve done a little bit of what you ask in some other things, but not here (as memory serves). I’m debating on whether to do that in the Myth That is True draft.

      My point in the paragraph is the disjunction created by the waw in 1:2. The tensing (there is no “pluperfect” tense per se in Hebrew, as you likely know) is really only an issue if 1:1-3 forms a sequence, but the disjunction argues against this pretty strongly.

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