Gap theory (creationism)

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The gap theory (engl. Gap theory, gap creationism ) is a hypothesis of creationism , which says that in the genesis between 1 Moses 1: 1 and 1: 2, a time gap must be seen as God according to the Isa 45.18 Created earth “not as a wasteland”. Is argued u. a. with the possible translation of the Hebrew hajtah with "became" instead of "was", with which the translation would then read: "The earth became ( hajtah ) desolate and empty ( tohu wa bohu )". Since this suggests a development process that must have led from another state (i.e. not empty) to a state of emptiness, the state of emptiness is justified with a judgment of God over unspecified beings. This would allow long periods of time that would harmonize geological knowledge about the age of the earth (around 4.6 billion years) with the Bible .

As part of old-earth creationism, the theory contrasts with young-earth creationism . In the USA in particular , the thesis is widely used and discussed under the term gap theory .

was or became ?

A question in this context is whether, according to the Hebrew wording of verse 2, the earth was or became desolate and empty ( tohu wabohu ) . As used herein the verb היה Haji (here feminine Hajta ) is depending on the exact form of the verb and the context of the German with his or be played. It would be clear if the new state were introduced with the preposition le- ( hajah le- = becomes to) as in Ps 118,22  EU ( hajta lerosch pinna = has become a cornerstone); but that's in Gen. 1.2 not the case.

Tenses or time sequences as in English or Latin, does not exist in Biblical Hebrew; instead there is a delicate system of aspects ; see section Conjugation of the article Ancient Hebrew Grammar . The form hajta used here is sufficient for the afformative conjugation, so it does not describe a process, but a state. A simple "became" is no longer conceivable. Usually a perfect form of the verb hajah , which follows the subject as here, is interpreted as a copula in a nominal sentence , so that "was" is the correct translation. However, some authors argue that it is about an already completed becoming - hence the perfect tense - that is to be translated as “had… become”. In the common German and English Bible translations, such as those represented on , verse 2 is reproduced with "war".


It is noted that nowhere else in the Bible is such a judgment written; even the catabolic (prostration) of the NT cannot be related to it. In addition, the use of tohu wa bohu is by no means necessarily to be seen as an interpretation of the result of a court, but the description of a void, both physically and mentally. It should also testify theologically questionable that before the fall of Adam should have been a fall from grace, of which the Bible nowhere says something. A consequence would also be that the creation of our world would actually not be a creation, but a restoration (therefore the doctrine of gaps is also called the doctrine of restitution ). The Bible also gives no information about the reasons for the alleged first fall or the beings who are said to have sinned there. Critics therefore believe that too little speaks for a thesis with such theological consequences. Long periods of time can be seen more easily when the term the six days of creation is viewed as six longer periods of time, as the use of the term in the Bible allows (e.g., "Day of the Lord").

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Isaiah 45 - BibleServer. Retrieved February 21, 2017 .
  2. The gap theory postulates that an indefinite span of time exists between Genesis 1: 1 and Genesis 1: 2. This time span is usually considered to be quite large (millions of years) and is also reputed to encompass the so-called "geologic ages." Proponents of the gap theory also postulate that a cataclysmic judgment was pronounced upon the earth during this period as the result of the fall of Lucifer (Satan) and that the ensuing verses of Genesis chapter 1 describe a re-creation or reforming of the earth from a chaotic state and not an initial creative effort on the part of God. (engl.)
  3. The gap theory, also known as the ruin-reconstruction theory or gap creationism, suggests that a time gap equaling millions (or perhaps even billions) of years occurred between Genesis 1: 1 and 1: 2. This theory is one of several Old Earth Creationism views. (engl.)
  4. The Gap theory, also known as the Ruin-Restoration theory, is a form of Old Earth Creationism that accepts the creation days of Genesis as being literal 24-hour days. To account for the scientific record which shows the universe is billions of years old, the theory states that there is a gap of time in between Genesis 1: 1 and 1: 2. This form of creationism gained widespread acceptance after it was included in the 1917 Scofield Reference Bible. By the 1950's, is was widely popular. (engl.)
  5. Franz Delitzsch : New Commentary on Genesis . 5th edition. Dörffling & Franke, Leipzig 1887, p. 47-53 . contains a detailed discussion of the timing of the first two verses
  6. ^ Wilhelm Gesenius , Emil Kautzsch : Hebrew grammar . 25th edition. FCW Vogel, Leipzig 1889, p. 439 .
  7. ^ Arthur C. Custance: Without Form and Void - A Study of the Meaning of Genesis 1: 2 . Classic Reprint Press, 2008, ISBN 978-1-934251-33-1 , chap. 3 . Also available online, with references, but without marking the places where they are cited.