We read in Genesis 1:1-2

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 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.

Does this mean that God initially created the heaven and the earth in a chaotic state? This is contrary to all creative processes that we find either in nature or that are the results of man's actions. Therefore should we understand Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 as sequential events that occurs one after the other in time or would that mean there is a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 and that during that time the earth's state degraded and God reshapedit to make it a suitable home for Adam and Eve?

Thank you for any help on this.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. This question is off-topic and does not fit into one of the Types of questions that are within community guidelines If possible, edit this question so that it better fits into one of those question types. Essentially, it depends on who you ask.
    – fгedsbend
    Mar 22 '15 at 21:40
  • I am not sure that your question will be best answered on a Christian site. The 'chaos/potential' theory is part of some forms of Kabbalism - not so much Christianity. Mar 23 '15 at 13:27
  • @gideon marx, I am not interested in theories but in a simple interpretation of what I am reading. I believe in a God of perfection and love, and I can't accept that what he created was originally chaotic, this is my motivation for the question.
    – alainlompo
    Mar 23 '15 at 13:45
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    @fredsbend thank you. I just read the community guideline. I will be more cautious in wording my questions according to the guideline next time.
    – alainlompo
    Mar 23 '15 at 13:54
  • Why do you say that chaos is contrary to nature?
    – Andrew
    Mar 24 '15 at 1:52

Most English-language Bibles begin with "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth," although the first three Hebrew words of Genesis are: "בראשית ברא אלהים" (B'reishit bara Elohim). There is no definite article and the grammar is complex, if not confusing, but there is a general consensus among scholars that this can not be translated correctly as "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth" - for example, Leon R. Kass, The Beginning of Wisdom, page 27. Some believe the earth was pre-existing, and the beginning of God's creation was the firmament that separates the waters above from the waters below. In the 'Gap theory', others see God as creating the earth and then, for some reason, allowing a time gap before beginning to create other things. Apart from this, the creation story in Genesis 1:1-2:4a seems orderly and unchaotic, although the precise order of creation would be surprising to a scientist.

Digressing for a moment, we find that other cultures in the ancient Near East did believe that chaos accompanied the creation and that chaos monsters had to be conquered, especially Leviathan. Othmar Keel and Christoph Uehlinger, in Gods, Goddesses, and Images of God, page 43, explains that Baal was acclaimed in Canaan as victor over Litanu / Leviathan. In the Book of Job, we find that God was the victor over Leviathan. These creation fragments in Job (and in Psalms 74:14, 104:26) do not invalidate the creation account in Genesis chapter 1.

The creation story in Genesis chapter 1 need not be regarded as a literal story and indeed was not seen this way by some of the early Christian Church Fathers, who regarded it as an allegory. For example, Origen (De Principiis, Book 4.1.16):

... as even these do not contain throughout a pure history of events, which are interwoven indeed according to the letter, but which did not actually occur. Nor even do the law and the commandments wholly convey what is agreeable to reason. For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? and again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that any one doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally...

  • I like your comments. However Origen's commentary lacks the knowledge of the power of God, since we can assume that he knew the scriptures. The two reason people err are lack of knowledge of the Word of God or God's power (Mathew 22:29). God's actions are done at the level of God and may or may not suit our reasoning abilities. Also a study of the Hebrew word used in Genesis 1:2 for was is from 'hayah' which really means 'to become'. As for the whole story being an image or figurative and not litteral, I don't see what allows such a conclusion
    – alainlompo
    Mar 22 '15 at 22:06

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