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Creation or Catastrophe
Genesis 1: 2
We assume, in this series of brief notes, that the reader is acquainted with the
arguments put forward to substantiate the translation of Eph. 1: 4 "Before the overthrow
of the world" and the arguments and evidences to prove that the condition "without form
and void" (Gen. 1: 2) is the "overthrow" referred to. In this series of one page notes a
few subsidiary evidences will be brought to the reader's notice, but if the matter should
be new and strange, a fairly exhaustive treatment will be found in Volume XXXVI,
pages 61, 81, 101, 121 and 141 to which he is referred . . . . .
In the present study our attention is limited to the meaning of the Hebrew conjunction
vav, generally translated "and". It is found in its primitive use in the first verse of
Genesis where it joins the two parts of the universe together "The heaven and the earth".
This same vav commences the second verse "And the earth was without form and void",
and it is taught by some that its presence necessitates the repetition of the verb "created"
from verse one, revealing that creation was actually brought about in this chaotic
condition, reading "And (God created) the earth . . . . . without form and void". Our
translators however were well aware that vav has to do justice to a variety of meanings;
where the English uses or, then, put, notwithstanding, howbeit, so, thus, therefore and
that, the Hebrew has the simple vav. For example: "But of the tree of knowledge of
good and evil, thou shalt eat of it" (Gen. 2: 17); "But unto Cain" (Gen. 4: 5); "But
Noah" (Gen. 6: 8) are sufficient to show the reasonableness of this translation. This
rendering is enforced by the Septuagint, where the conjunction kai "and" is replaced by
the disjunctive de "but". Gen. 1: 2 therefore can read:
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, BUT the earth was without
form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep."
We do not, however, put this rendering forward as a translation of the whole verse, but
only to indicate the meaning of the Hebrew Vav, which we have rendered "But".
In another note on this verse we shall consider the translation of the two words printed
"was" and "was" in the A.V. but this must wait a convenient opportunity.