The Gap Theory
The gap theory is a theory that there is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Simply said, in 1:1 God created the heavens and the earth, then destroyed it in 1:2.
This isn’t a wacko theory, some well known competent scholars also shared this view.
G.H. Pember touches on this on pages 26-27 of his book Earth’s Earliest Ages. Also G. Campbell Morgan shared this view, see This Was His Faith: The Expository Letters of G. Campbell Morgan page 39.
Here I’ll explain the main arguments for the Gap Theory.
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning, it doesn’t say when.
1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
The Gap theory suggests that after 1:1 and before 1:2 God destroyed the earth, hence the gap.
The word “was” in 1:2 is היה (hayah) in the Hebrew which according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible means “to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out.” So this verse could possibly be translated as “And the earth BECAME without form…”
Next we examine “without form, and void” – tohuw bohuw in Hebrew.
Tohuw means “formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness” and bohuw means emptiness, void, waste.
So now we can translate 1:2 as “And the earth became confused and wasted.”
The verse below translates tohuw as confusion.
Isaiah 34:11 But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.
Confusion implies it was once ordered.
Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I [am] the LORD; and [there is] none else.
The word vain is tohuw.
It is always interesting to see how The Septuagint translates these verses in question.
LXX Gen 1:2 But the earth was unsightly and unfurnished, and darkness was over the deep, and the Spirit of God moved over the water.
It’s interesting that LXX translates the first word in 1:2 as But. If we start to mix LXX and the Masoretic we can translate it as “But the earth became void…”
As with most of scripture we can’t just pull a random verse and translate it how we see fit. To back the gap theory lets look at other verses and see if we can support it.
II Peter 3:5 – “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:”
II Peter 3:6 – “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:”
Perished means total destruction. During Noah’s flood did everything perish? Nope.
Jeremiah 4:22 – “For My people is foolish, they have not known Me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.”
Jeremiah 4:23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, [it was] without form, and void; and the heavens, and they [had] no light.
Jeremiah 4:24 I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.
Jeremiah 4:25 I beheld, and, lo, [there was] no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
Jeremiah 4:26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place [was] a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, [and] by his fierce anger.
Verse 4:25 says there was no man, that includes Noah. However, 4:26 says that cities were broken down. When did we have cities when there was no man? I believe that Jeremiah 4:22-26 is talking about something between Genesis 1:1-2, the gap.
There are arguments on both sides of the Gap Theory. I only represented one side. I highly recommend you research both sides and form your own conclusion.