Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part I: The Genesis 1:1-2a "Gap Theory" Issue
  1. Introduction
    1. The Apostle Peter calls us believers to be ready to give reasons for our Christian beliefs, 1 Peter 3:15.
    2. Since evolutionary thought counters Biblical creationism, applying 1 Peter 3:15 to the creation-evolution debate means God calls us to be ready to defend our faith in God's special creation versus evolutionism.
    3. Now, some who promote theistic evolution, saying God used evolution to create, say the fossil record is explained by a "Gap" of eons of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2a. We examine this view as follows:
  2. The Genesis 1:1-2a "Gap Theory" Issue:
    1. We consider the "Gap Theory" position itself as follows:
      1. The "Gap Theory" is presented and based upon the following considerations:
        1. This view holds the Hebrew verb for "was" in Genesis 1:2a may be translated as "became," meaning what verse 2 describes occurred after an initial creation mentioned in Genesis 1:1.
        2. The Hebrew words for "without form and void" (KJV) in Genesis 1:2a, being tohu wa bohu, are used in Jeremiah 4:23 and Isaiah 34:11 to describe the results of divine judgment.
        3. Hence, this view holds that after an initial Genesis 1:1 creation, that creation which included the life we see in the fossil record was ruined and destroyed when Satan fell into sin. Genesis 1:3 thus begins a second divine creation account coming after the fossil record was in existence!
      2. However, this position has problems when viewed in light of Hebrew grammar and syntax as follows:
        1. The Hebrew letter, waw introducing Genesis 1:2a is NOT a waw consecutive that describes later activity, but a waw conjunctive giving new information, B. K. Waltke, Creation and Chaos, p. 21f.
        2. Also, the words tohu wa bohu in Jeremiah 4:23 and Isaiah 34:11 describe a dismantled state that happens to exist following judgment. Since the Genesis 1 context is silent on the issue of judgment, the Genesis 1:2a tohu wa bohu STATE would describe only the disorder existing before creation!
        3. Other Ancient Near Eastern accounts of origins, or cosmogonies (Sumerian, Indian and Akkadian) omit any idea of a "Gap," so it is fair to say the author of Genesis did not have such a theologically significant "Gap" in view at Genesis 1:1-2a in keeping with usual Semitic thinking on origins!
    2. We consider the "No Gap Theory" position that Genesis 1:2 merely describes how God began to create:
      1. Waltke views Genesis 1:1 as a broad introductory statement with verses 2 and 3 expounding that introduction with circumstantial clauses to reveal how God addressed what was formless (tohu) and (wa) void (bohu) by His first forming and then fill what He had formed with life. (Op. cit., p. 35)
      2. This position is readily supported from the Hebrew text of Genesis 1 and from ANE contexts as well:
        1. This view fits the grammar of the Hebrew waw conjunctive beginning Genesis 1:2a, for then the verse would read: "Now the earth was formless and empty, and . . ."
        2. This view fits the absolute form of the Hebrew word for "beginning" written in Genesis 1:1.
        3. This view fits the pattern of other Ancient Near Eastern cosmogony formats where a circumstantial clause describing a negative original state before creation exists, Ibid.
    3. The "Gap Theory" proponent and the "No Gap Theory" proponent rebut each other's views as follows:
      1. Those defending the "Gap Theory" say Isaiah 45:18 states God did not create the earth as tohu! Thus, since the earth was created ex nihilo, or "out of nothing," God's creating it at first tohu wa bohu as the "No Gap Theory" defenders propose would make Genesis 1:2a contradict Isaiah 45:18!
      2. However, this rebuttal can be countered by the "No Gap Theory" position as follows:
        1. It is true that God did not finish His creation with a "formless" product which is God's theme in the context of Isaiah 45:17-18; however, the days when God was forming and then filling what He had formed would have described a universe that was less than perfectly formed and filled as Genesis 1:2a describes! Thus, there is no contradiction between the "No Gap Theory" and Isaiah 45:18!
        2. Hence, Genesis 1:2a is a stage just as day 2 or 4 is a stage in God's forming and filling works!
Lesson: Hebrew grammar and syntax do not permit a "Gap" between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2a to explain the existence of a fossil record formed by evolutionary processes. The fossil record must be explained in some other way (such as the Noahic Flood) instead!