We are introduced to the account of the creation of the earth in Genesis 1:1-2: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep."
The original Hebrew wording, combined with a comparison to other passages of Scripture, has led some to conclude that a considerable time Interval Is indicated between these two verses. If such an interval is Indeed Intended, there Is no discrepancy between the Bible record and scientific determinations that the earth Is up to several billion years old. If, on the other hand, there Is no such gap, then the earth itself must be only around 6,000 years old—which most scientists consider an Impossibility.
Do other passages, as well as history, shed any light on this question?
Some scholars propose that Genesis 1:2 can or should be translated "Now the earth became without form, and void . . ." as opposed to the common rendering "The earth was without form, and void . . ." Others dismiss this Idea entirely. They assume the original Hebrew word hayah must be translated "was" and then assume the earth was originally created In this disorderly way.
However, as can be seen from many Bible helps, both translations of the term are possible. Only the context of the chapter and book can determine which one Is correct. Gleason Archer, professor of biblical languages, comments: "It should be noted in this connection that the verb was In Genesis 1:2 may quite possibly be rendered 'became' and be construed to mean: And the earth became formless and void.' Only a cosmic catastrophe could account for the introduction of chaotic confusion Into the original perfection of God's creation. This Interpretation certainly seems to be exegetlcally tenable . . ." (A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 1974, p. 184).
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