Preface Introduction Chapters Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Appendices Appendix I Appendix II Appendix III Appendix IV Appendix V Appendix VI Appendix VII Appendix VIII Appendix IX Appendix X Appendix XI Appendix XII Appendix XIII Appendix XIV Appendix XV Appendix XVI Appendix XVII Appendix XVIII Appendix XIX Appendix XX Appendix XXI Indexes References Names Biblical References General Bibliography
One of the remarkable things about this whole controversy has
been the extraordinary vehemence of those who oppose the concept of
a hiatus between verse 1 and 2 and it may be taken, I think, as an
index of the amount of precise knowledge generally available. In
order to give added force to their words, critics sometimes gather
together all the peripheral ideas which happen to have become attach-
ed to the central thesis which they oppose and present this hodge-
podge of miscellaneous opinions as if it were a quite essential part
of it. They then proceed to demolish this artificial construct with
the ease that one might expect. But adherents of the theory freq-
uently do not subscribe to these more venturesome reconstructs at
all. In this volume we have tried as far as possible to avoid any
but the basic issues.
One particularly recurrent phrase in the New Testament which is
often held to give strong support to our view of the significance of
Gen. 1.2 is dealt with in Appendix XIX. This is the reference to
"the foundation of the world" which may possibly be better rendered
"the disruption of the world". But I cannot under score too strongly
that such an argument is not the basis of this thesis. Interpreting
this recurrent phrase in one particular way may strengthen one's
conviction that this is indeed the true significance of Gen.l.2, but
it does not, in my view, constitute an unequivocal proof. Yet, in
set out to demolish the contents of this Appendix, thereby supposing
that he has once for all disposed of the argument! But in the mean-
time, I should like to deal briefly with the comments and conclusions
of some of those who have written against the position taken in this
In 1946, as already mentioned, two Papers were published in The
Transactions of the Victoria Institute (London), one by a Mr. P. W.
Howard and the other by Professor F. F. Bruce. Heward wrote in
favour of the thesis presented here and Bruce against it. To my
mind, both did an excellent job, neither being unfair to the other, nor
exaggerating their own claims. In the discussion afterwards,
several points were raised on both sides and answered fairly and
well. Naturally, I read Howard's Paper with greater sympathy
than that by Bruce, but I believe it is objectively true to say that there
was no exaggeration and no mis-statement in Howard's review of the
evidence. Of Bruce's Paper, which was courteous and just at all
times, I believe there are, nevertheless, two criticisms of a minor
nature that are valid. Bruce refers to Dillman's Commentary as
essentially supporting his own position. However, as we have
already noted previously, Dillman apparently changed his mind re-
garding the correct translation of  in Gen. 1.2. I am sure that
Professor Bruce was unaware of this or did not feel it really altered
Dillman's basic position, for in spite of his later admission I do not
think he wholeheartedly acceeded to the idea of a gap between verse 1
and 2. This fact makes Dillman's admission as to the meaning of
in verse 2 all the more significant and in a very real sense
nullifies the basis of Bruce's appeal to Dillman for support - at least,
in so far as verse 2 is concerned.
The other point is in connection with his treatment of Jonah 3. 3b, a
sentence which in its structure precisely parallels Gen. 1.2. Bruce
concludes that if Gen. 1.2 is to be rendered "the earth became a ruin"
after God had created it otherwise, then we must say that Nineveh
became a metropolis after Jonah entered it. But I do not believe
this is what the author intended - and neither does Professor Bruce.
However, there are (as we have shown*) numerous instances where,
* See Chapter III.
prior circumstance that bear son what is to follow. Such sentences
are best handled by translating the opening conjunction (waw) as "Now,
etc. etc.". Thus Jonah 3.3b would be rendered, "Now Nineveh
had become.. ." That is to say, the writer never intended
the reader to suppose that Nineveh became great just because Jonah
entered it, but rather that it had already grown into a very large city
by the time he arrived there. It should be mentioned in passing that
Driver admits here the propriety of "become" in this passage. This
rendering would, of course, be quite acceptable for Gen. 1.2 also -
although "But the earth had become...." would be perhaps more
appropriate than "Now the earth, etc.". I do not think Bruce's
argument is logical in this case, but these are not very serious
criticism sand certainly they are not criticisms of the style or tone
of either Paper.
It is with some surprise, therefore, that one finds a reference to
these two Papers in a work by F. A. Filby entitled Creation Rev-
ealed, where a footnote tells us that while Bruce's Paper is a
scholarly piece of work and conclusively against our view, the Paper
by Heward "contains a number of statements which are only partly
true, interspersed with much padding and special pleading". I
wonder which were the "partly true" statements? And I cannot find
any evidence of "special pleading": but I suppose this depends upon
one's initial bias.
In his book, Filby opens his summary review of the 'gap' theory
with a general statement to the effect that it is to be attributed to
"the Scottish Preacher, Dr. Chalmers", a statement which is far
from the truth, as we have seen. He then sets forth the theory as
he understands it and concludes that it is without foundation:
"The contention that the verb in verse 2 means 'to become'
waste and void rather than it 'was' so has been examined by
scholars, and the judgment of the best Hebraists is that the
text is most naturally translated 'was'."
So the subject is summarily dismissed with the observation:
"The gap-theory is then unscriptural, unscientific, and
unreasonable, and - rejecting it completely - we can return
to the simple (sic) study of verse 2."
Recently, I had occasion to see a small Paper by a Christian
writer, well known and of some stature, entitled, The Length of the
Creative Days, in which the issue is again given cursory notice and
equally summarily dismissed. The author, referring to it as a
"theory which we reject", says:
"Our objections to this theory are (1) that it rests upon
not one single grain of evidence, and (2) that it was invented
in order to harmonize geology with Scripture and not simply
to interpret Scripture as it stands."
Subsequently, he adds:
"It is true that the verb 'to be' in Hebrew is sometimes
used to mean 'became' if the context demands it, but the verb
as it stands is 'was' as anyone (sic) who has studied Hebrew
will testify. There is not the slightest hint in the context
that the unusual (my emphasis) meaning 'became' should be
read. In fact, we should either find the preposition 'to'
(  ) before the descriptive adjective or noun if the word is to
read 'become' (see Gen. 2. 7) or else we should find from the
context that 'was' has some such meaning as 'was potentially'.
Neither of these is the case."
In the light of what has been shown of the facts in this volume, it
seems hardly necessary to make any comment on these observations.
Another very unfortunate effort at criticism of this view appeared
in the Annual Volume of The Creation Research Society for 1965.
Since this is a Journal which I have consistently found to be most
valuable and which is always carefully documented, the article seems
to me to have been even more out of character. Here the theory
has very short shrift at the hands of one author who informs the
"It is true that there are six instances in the Pentateuch
where the verb is translated 'became' (Gen. 3.22; 19.26;
21.20; Exod.7.19; 8.17and 9.10). In each of these cases,
however, the context clearly shows that a change of state has
occurred.... Because Gen. 1.2 lacks contextual support
for translating this verb 'became' no English version of
Genesis has ever translated it this way."
One continually runs into this appeal to the absence of "contextual"
bias of the reader? It is, after all, only the second verse of the
Bible. Can one establish a "context" in such a situation?
As for the statement that there are only six instances in the Pent-
ateuch where the verb  is rendered "became", one can only hope
that this was a printer's error. There are at least seventeen cases
where  is rendered "became" in Genesis alone according to the
Authorized Version (for a list of these, see page 55). Other English
Versions, such as the Revised Standard Version, etc., increase
this total. So it is difficult to know how this list of six occurrences
was arrived at. In any event, it is apparent that even this mis-
count is based on only a single translation, and an English one at
that. What of other translations whether in English or any other
language? What of the Vulgate with its thirteen occurrences in
Genesis Chapter One alone: and what of the Septuagint with its twenty-
two occurrences in Genesis One, and with some 1500 in the Old
Testament as a whole? It is sincerely to be hoped that the real facts
of the case will in time become more common knowledge so that
statements like this will not pass unchallenged, even by a Christian
editor not trained as a Hebraist.
The same writer proposes that "became" is only proper for the
Hebrew  when it involves a "change of state". Who is to say
with any certainty that verse 2 does not indicate a change ? This
is really the whole point at issue. I believe there was a change, a
breakdown in the originally created order. The writer's argument
has no force whatever, for it simply begs the issue....
One of the earliest critics of this view was Professor M. M.
Kalisch who had no sympathy with the ideas held by such scholars as
Delitzsch, or Kurtz, or any other continental scholar of like mind.
In his Historical and Critical Commentary of the Old Test-
ament published in 1858, he says: "It is inadmissible to translate
Gen. 1.2 'But afterwards the earth had become...' " Presumably
he had Dathe in mind, for this was Dathe's rendering. But he states
his opinion of those who shared Dathe's views as to the implications
of Gen. 1.2 in no uncertain terms. He says:
"Now most of the modern followers of this opinion believe
that an indefinite interval of time elapsed between the creation
of matter recorded in the first verse and the formation of the
world in its present admirable order, a period sufficiently
extensive to account for the various and repeated changes
both in the condition of the earth and the sidereal systems.
the globe at all. But the supposition is absolutely untenable
for the following reason: verse 2 evidently stands in very
close connection with verse 1 which it qualifies and defines .
The connecting particle 'and' (waw) expresses here necess-
arily immediate sequence....; It is utterly impossible to
separate the first two verses and to suppose between them
an immense period of time."
His "proof text" is Exod.20.11. He assumes that this passage
records the whole creative process as being completed in six days.
He thus holds that since the sun was not "created" till the fourth
day, the world as a scene of living things could not have existed
He is, however, overlooking the fact that Exod.20.11 does not say
that God created the world in this period of six days, but only that He
appointed it (  , 'asah) in a period of six days.
The verb used here is rendered "make" on numerous occasions
of course, but it often has the sense of "appointing", just as the word
is so used in the Greek of Heb.6.20, "made a High Priest"; or the
English phrase "made a judge", for example. The work of the six
days need not have involved the creation of the sun and stars at all.
They were probably already in existence. See further on Exod. 20.11
in Appendix XX.
He is also ignoring the fact that "and" (  ) often opens a sentence
* With this pronouncement one may contrast Driver's
conclusion in his Hebrew Tenses (p. 84); where after giving
a number of instances in which the usual Hebrew word order
is departed from (as it is in Gen.1.2) in order to express
a pluperfect, he says: "And each of these passages., by
avoiding waw consecutive (the usual way to express contin-
uing action, ACC) the writer cuts the connection (Driver's
emphasis) with the immediately preceding narrative, and so
suggests a pluperfect". Obviously Driver and Kalisch can
hardly both be right. And in view of the fact that Driver's
statement not only occurs in a scholarly but classic work on
the Hebrew verb but is in this case based on a series of
illustrative examples, I am inclined to accept. Driver's word
against the rather dogmatic statements of Kalisch.
whatever with what went before. Ezekiel opens with it, for example!
With what does it here have a "necessary" connection? A new
section, in I Chron. 11.1, is begun after a seven year interval, and
in Ezra 7.1 after an interval of 58 years.... Further illustrations
will be found in Appendix XIV. That the word is often dis-junctive
must have been known well enough to Kalisch, so that one wonders
how he can say that it must necessarily be interpreted conjunctively.
Kalisch is fully persuaded that the ideas of people like Delitzsch
and Kurtz, who sought to supply the details of the events in the interval
from other parts of Scripture, are quite worthless in themselves and
unbecoming to scholars. He is quite ungracious in his references
to them. On the other hand, Delitzsch was a man of very different
temperament, gracious in his reference to those who disagreed with
him and unhesitatingly giving credit to their soundness of scholarship
(where this was due) even in his detractors. Delitzsch, as we have
seen, held very firm and quite elaborate views respecting the cir-
cumstances surrounding the condition described in Gen. 1.2 – but he
did not base his views on the linguistic evidence, never actually
agreeing that 'became' would be a more correct translation. This
latter opinion of his is not infrequently quoted as proof of the un-
scholarliness of the "gap" theory (as it has been by Dr, Henry Morris)
but those who refer thus to Delitzsch's opinion are often not aware
that he actually supported the view strongly, even though he did not
base it on Gen. 1.2.
Driver was much impressed by Delitzsch, both as a scholar and
as a commentator,* and while in his Lexicon and in his Hebrew
Tenses, Driver rendered Gen. 1.2 as "and the earth was..." when-
ever he referred to it, he nevertheless frankly acknowledged that the
view supported by Delitzsch and Pusey and others, though in his
opinion improbably, was "exegetically admissible".# Like Kalisch,
Driver felt that since the sun had not been "created" until the fourth
* Of Delitzsoh, Driver wrote (Hebrew Tenses, p.xi, xii)
"And by sobriety, fullness of information, and scholarship
combined, Delitzsoh has succeeded in making his commentary
indispensible to every student of the Old Testament."
# Driver does not always follow his own "rules". Thus
although he wrote at length on both the use of   as
meaning "became" and the changed word order as signifying a
orted the higher forms of life in a world without sunlight. This
objection is based on a misunderstanding which again results from
confusing the two verbs bara and 'asah, "to create "and "to appoint".
Driver's liberal views were shared by John Skinner who, while
holding that the Bible was a remarkable enough document of antiquity,
felt no qualm sin challenging its accuracy. Skinner contributed the
volume on Genesis in The International Critical Commentary of
which Driver was one of the editors. In this volume. Skinner dis-
misses our interpretation with aplomb! Thus he writes: "This view
that verse 1 describes an earlier creation of heaven and earth which
was reduced to chaos and then re-fashioned, needs no refutation".
As F. F. Bruce rightly remarked when referring to this observation
in his Paper in The Transactions of the Victoria Institute, this is
"an excessively cavalier dismissal of a view which has been supported
by men of the calibre of Pusey, Liddon, etc.". It is indeed.
The curious thing is that Skinner virtually concedes the point he
is dismissing here when, later on, he comes to deal with the words
tohu wa bohu in his comments on Gen. 1.2. He refers to Jer. 4.23 f.
where the words recur, but he is at pains to assure the reader that
there is no real parallelism here. In a way, I agree. Jer. 4.23
does not read in the Hebrew, "the earth became tohu wa bohu but
"the earth was.....", for the verb   is omitted. Unlike the
situation in Gen. 1.2, its use is not required since evidently we have
a copulative sentence here. Apparently Skinner did not observe
this fact. However, having said that no light is thrown upon the
words tohu wa bohu as they appear in Gen. 1.2 by their use in Jer-
pluperfect, he did not always commend his own views by adopt-
ing them himself to translate his own biblical illustrations.
It seems that more often than not he gave the reference which
was appropriate but merely reproduced the Authorized Version
rendering as being most familiar (or accessible) to his read-
ers. Thus in dealing with the pluperfect, he chides Kalisch
for rendering Gen. S. 2 as a pluperfect (p.23), arguing that
it is not an example, but then giving it elsewhere in the
same work he renders it as one (p. 22)! It appears that he
has merely reproduced the Authorized Version in such cases.
His rendering of Gen. 1.2 as "was" may really be nothing more
than another example of the Authorized Version being quoted
"Our safest guide is perhaps Jeremiah's vision of chaos-
come-again which is simply that of a darkened and devastat-
ed earth, from which life and order have fled" (my em-
One wonders how more precisely he could have supported our view
of the implications of Gen. 1.2. Yet apparently he did not see the
significance of his own words.
In his Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek, Thorlief Boman
writes at length and, to my mind, most convincingly to the effect
that the Hebrew verb  seldom, if ever, appears as copula. Yet
he still holds that it is copulative in Gen. 1.2, though in a special way.
Thus he says that the verse should not be rendered "the earth became"
but "the earth was...."
Now his argument is a little difficult to summarize briefly but in
essence it is thus. In such a sentence as, "the altar is wood", the
verb is is quite redundant because the altar and the wood are equated.
"The one inheres in the other", as he puts it. Similarly, in the
sentence, "God is graciousness", the verb is not needed because
graciousness inheres in God. And so on. Yet I am not sure that
he is really right. Not all altars are wood, and certainly there is
plenty of wood that is not in the form of an altar. Perhaps gracious-
ness and God do inhere, yet sometimes graciousness is found in man
too - where it certainly does not inhere. The trouble is that the
principle can be applied specifically, but cannot be stated as a gen-
eralization. He concludes that the verb  is omitted where
inherence is involved, but it must be introduced where it is not.
Hence he argues that in Gen. 1.2 the verb is required because other-
wise the earth and chaos are inherent in one another, ie. , the earth
is chaos. But then he says that earth is the scene of human civil-
ization, which to the Greek mind was the definition of Cosmos. And
since Chaos and Cosmos cannot co-exist, the earth cannot inherently
be identified with Chaos - for it is identified with Cosmos. Of
course, in the New Testament the word for Cosmos is rendered
"world" for this reason, because the earth is the habitation of man.
Thus he says, because Chaos cannot inhere in the word "earth", we
must introduce the appropriate form of the verb  . As he puts it;
"Here tohu va bohu (chaos) does not inhere in 'the earth'
for the latter is always the region of civilization and humanity,
predicate could not be equated in this sentence directly with
the subject for that would result in the impossible meaning
that chaos and cosmos are identical concepts."
But there is no need to say that the earth was both Chaos and
Cosmos at once. It is quite sufficient to take the text to mean that
what was created a Cosmos had now become a Chaos. It is hard to
see why Boman objected to this so strongly. The text is then
"satisfied" both conceptually and linguistically. Indeed, how else
than by adopting the wording that exists could the Hebrew writer have
expressed such a thought? By Boman's own reasoning, had the
writer wished to say simply that the earth was a Chaos, he would
have omitted the verb.
Indeed, this is precisely what Jer.4.23 does. Jeremiah's vision
was a vision of a moment. He saw the earth as a Chaos. More
than this, he saw a Cosmos as a Chaos, for he actually says that the
evidence of civilization lay in ruins.... , men and cities had been
overwhelmed. He was not concerned in reverting to the past in
order to say that this scene of devastation had come about over a
period of time by such-and-such a process. He merely says that
when he saw it, it presented to his mind's eye a scene of devastation.
It is almost as though the Author of Scripture had given us this passage
in order to assist us in our understanding of Gen. 1.2 which so nearly
parallels it while at the same time differing from it in such an im-
portant detail - the introduction of  . At any rate, Jer.4.23
demonstrates clearly that Chaos can be equated with a scene which
was once a Cosmos. And Boman's case, therefore, fails to stand.
I think Boman's work is most valuable, and my criticisms of his
reasoning here does not make his study any less valuable. Yet it
suggests that for some odd reason whenever the subject of Gen. 1.2
comes up for study, normal vision becomes distorted. Somehow
Gen. 1.2 must be made to mean that when God created the world He
began the process with a Chaos!
Those who happen to disagree are apt to have even their intellect-
ual integrity challenged! Thus Professor J. Barr, in his Semantics
of Biblical Language, says;
"It would be quite perverse (my emphasis) to insist on
the meaning 'become' (in Gen. 1.2)."
His argument is that the verb  must be accounted for in this
but is no longer so". Thus it is proper to use the verb only when a
situation be ing described was a temporary situation which has since
been changed. Since the verb is used here, this must be the author's
only reason for employing the verb  in this case.
But I think it very questionable that this is the author's meaning.
Yet, as we have already seen in Chapter II, there are numerous
occasions upon which a clear intention to this effect does not employ
the verb. It will be recalled, for instance, that Job tells his
"friends" that he was (once) a father to the fatherless, sight to the
blind, and so forth.... He is clearly not one of these things now,
at the time of speaking. If there was a straightforward rule such
as Barr implies, this would assuredly be the place to apply it, and
the verb  should be inserted. But it isn't. By contrast, it is
often found where in the nature of the case there can be no "change"
intended. Thus very frequently we find the phrase, "so-and-so
was 150 years old and he died". The author does not mean that he
was once such an age, surely? But the verb is inserted. The
simplest and surely the most satisfactory explanation is to assume
that the man in question had become so many years old, ie., had
reached this age when he died. If Professor Barr is serious in
making this suggestion, he should have given a few unambiguous
illustrations. But he has not done so. His use of the word
"perverse" is unfortunate.
We meet with the same odd insistence in Raymond F. Surburg's
contribution to the volume, Darwin, Evolution, and Creation. As
he puts it;
"Although held by many Christians today, this theory can-
not be substantiated from the Bible.... The Hebrew text
does not say the earth became, but the earth was waste and
void. Even if it were possible to render Hayetha as 'be-
came', the words 'waste and void' indicate an unformed state
and not one resulting from destruction. In his Survey of
Old Testament Teaching, J. Walsh Watts asserts 'In Gen.
1.2a the verb is a perfect. It indicates a fixed and com-
pleted state. In other words, original matter was in a state
of chaos when created: it came into being that way'."
To say that 'waste and void' means unformed in the sense of the
Greek concept of Chaos might be reasonable if the Old Testament
was a reflection of Greek mythology. In this case, the Septuagint
late Tohu. But they chose not to do so. It is, however, fairly clear
that wherever the words "waste" and "void" occur elsewhere in
Scripture they do NOT indicate an unformed state, they indicate
something more positively undesirable. In many cases, especially
when they occur together as in Jer.4.23, they mean a situation
"resulting from destruction" and brought about by divine judgment.
Would it not have been more accurate to state frankly that elsewhere
the normal sense of the word here interpreted to mean "unformed"
would be better rendered de-formed" or "desolated"? In blanket
statements like this, most readers are at the mercy of the writer
unless they are very familiar with the Old Testament and are aware
of how these descriptive terms are employed in other passages.
Bernard Ramm is also rather cavalier in his treatment of the
subject. He describes efforts to harmonize Geology and the Bible
by this method as "abortive". He then says:
"The effort to make was mean became is just as abortive..
The Hebrew did not have a word for became but the verb
be did service for to be and become."
In point of fact, the reverse is much more nearly so. They did
not need a word for "to be" in the simple sense, so made their word
for become serve for to be and become. The modern lexicons bear
this out by giving the meanings of  as "to become" (in various
paraphrastic ways), and then also - and finally - as "to be". "To
be" is not its primary meaning. Ramm continues:
"The form of the verb was in Gen. 1.2 is qal, perfect, third
person singular, feminine. A Hebrew concordance will give
all the occurrences of that form of the verb. A check in the
concordance in reference to the usage of this form of the verb
in Genesis reveals that in almost every case the meaning of
the verb is simply was.
Again, after what has been set forth of the evidence thus far,
comment is hardly necessary. It may be helpful, however, to recall
that in a great number of cases, 1500 out of 3000 or more, the Sept-
uagint substitutes the Greek "became" (in the appropriate tenses, of
course), and that in another 25% of the cases the verb is used in the
sense of living or existing, and is not copulative at all - and finally,
that for every case where the verb is inserted in the original and
cases where the copulative "was" is omitted entirely in the Hebrew.
As we have seen, this is sufficient indication in itself that the Hebrew
did NOT use  for "was" in the simple English sense. They
actually felt no need for such a verb at all. Only when the sense
was something other than the simple "was" did they insert a verbal
form. Ramm's treatment of the subject is, therefore, in the final
analysis, unworthy of a man of his scholarship.
His emotional involvement here is revealed by his next comment:
"Granted in a, (my emphasis) case or two (1) was means
became, but if in the preponderance of instances the word is
translated was, any effort to make one instance mean became
especially if that instance is highly debatable, is very in-
Allowing his premises, what he argues is perhaps not unreason-
able. But his basic premise is surely in error. One does not
need to "make one instance mean became"; one actually has to do
the very reverse if the evidence presented in this thesis is sound.
And I do not know how else one could approach the problem, nor how
one could arrive at any other conclusion in the light of the facts than
that the truth is really quite the reverse.
The Septuagint normally translated  (with or without the  ) by
the Greek  and not by the Greek  . And it is therefore
important to note, as Thayer has done, that  cannot be
equated with  . Since, therefore,  obviously cannot be
equated with both  and  , then  must be equated
with  and must have the primary sense of becoming.
Again, Ramm observes:
"This whole matter was debated in the Journal of The
Victoria Institute (London). P. W. Heward defended the
Pember-Scofield-Rimmer interpretation of Gen. 1.2 and F.
F. Bruce defended the traditional interpretation. To the
author, Bruce is easily (my emphasis) the winner of the
Easily - in what sense I wonder? Ramm quoted E. K. Gedney
who wrote to twenty Hebrew scholars in the United States asking them
if there were any exegetical evidences justifying the interpretation
of Gen. 1.2 as having reference to a ruined earth. They replied
unaminously in the negative. But J. R. Howitt did much the same
with respect to the meaning of the word "day" in Genesis Chapter One.
Unaminously the answer was "a period of 24 hours". Would Ramm
accept this as final, I wonder? So what really is proved by this kind
of "appeal to opinion"? Can one be sure that any of these men who
were questioned were aware of the background information that is
now available on the matter? They would, however, (as United
States residents) presumably be reasonably well acquainted with the
Fundamentalist position on the matter. And on this account, human
nature being what it is, they may have simply dismissed the subject
as quite unworthy of serious study. And in the matter of the meaning
of the word "day", Ramm himself says, "The case for the literal day
cannot be conclusive...." So whether "weight of authority" is
"conclusive" or not depends on one's own particular bias. Sub-
sequently, Ramm observes:
"We reject the literal interpretation (involving days of 24
hours) because by no means can the history of the earth be
dated at 4004 B.C...."
Thus in the final analysis the issue is really being decided for
Ramm, not by exegetical methods at all, but by Geology, the Geology
of "majority opinion".
I have been for years reading on both sides of the issue. I have
accumulated a substantial (and very valuable) research library in
order to give some "edge" to this reading. I have yet to see a really
sound counter-argument to the view presented in this volume, but I
have read innumerable attacks upon it, and the arguments presented
in these attacks are atrociously repetitious. Few, if any, of its
critics have really taken the trouble to study the evidence adequately.
It is an unfortunate situation. When Surburg says that the Hebrew
text does not say "the earth became...."but "the earth was....", he
is speaking imprecisely. The Hebrew says  . The
Hebrew is Hebrew, not English! To say that it says "was" is simply
begging the question: he is merely making it say "was". The
reasoning is circular. If I render it "became", I could as easily
prove I was right by pointing to my own translation! This kind of
argument contributes nothing to our real understanding of the Word
of God unless one says why one is rendering it in this way as opposed
to either of the alternatives "became" or "had become".
Altogether, I do not find that any of the objections raised carries
weight. They can all be answered either from the statements of
objection on linguistic grounds that the verb  only rarely means
"became" is patently incorrect. But once it has become fashionable
to dismiss a piece of evidence, it usually happens that the dismissal
becomes more and more dogmatic as the writer has less and less
factual knowledge of the evidence. Knowledge usually leads to
caution - the hallmark of scholarship. It is ignorance that en-
courages dogmatism and it is usually in direct proportion to it. Let
us hope that a spirit of open mindedness will yet prevail to permit a
more dispassionate reconsideration of the matter.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved