For any serious student of the Bible, the phrase “without
form and void” brings to mind the opening chapter of Genesis
and the beautifully crafted immortal story of God’s creation
of this world. Here we find God’s revelation to us, a
revelation that depends upon words, upon the words in the
original language – in their most literal sense.
One might suppose that the rendering of Hebrew into English
is a rather straightforward matter without any ambiguity
whatsoever. But Dr. Custance shows that there are two
permissible translations of the Hebrew associated with this
phrase. Either God’s creation was from the beginning
“without form and void” or it became formless and empty.
It all depends on how one translates the connecting word
between verse 1 and 2, for the Hebrew word waw means “and”
or “but” which then determines whether the verb should be
was or became. So it is possible that Genesis describes
either a work–in-progress or a disrupted work that became
chaotic. Which English interpretation best fits the meaning
of the Hebrew original?
In this scholarly analysis, Dr. Custance observes the rules
of linguistics, of grammar and syntax, and also examines how
words are used in the rest of Scripture. Thus Dr. Custance
demonstrates to the reader that there can be a gap in time
between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, a gap that allows for an
ancient earth, and the recent creation of humankind.
This book is considered a classic in Christian apologetics
and has been described as the best argument that has ever
been written for the Gap Theory.
A well respected Canadian scientist himself, and listed in
the 1971 American Men in Science, Dr. Custance contends that
we should not allow science to determine what Scripture
says. Neither should we allow Scripture to determine what
the scientist observes in the laboratory. Yet observed fact
in the one cannot, ultimately, conflict with revealed fact
in the other. Any conflict, then, is in the interpretation
of the facts – not in the facts themselves.