Historical Evidence of The Gap Theory
Almost without exception, the Gap theory is credited to Dr. George Chalmers of Edinburg University in 1814. Supposedly Dr. Chalmers introduced this theory in an attempt to harmonize the Genesis account with the vast periods of time demanded by uniformitarian geologists. It is then claimed that George H. Pember further elaborated the theory in his work (Earth’s Earliest Ages) in 1876, and the theory was finally popularized in the footnotes of the Scofield Reference Bible beginning in 1917. Today, it is said that only pinheads and nitwits of dubious scholastic background maintain a belief in the “Gap Theory”. If, as it ...view middle of the document...
It is further and again insinuated, that the theory was developed in order to reconcile the Bible and evolution. However, D. F. Payne, in his paper published by Tyndale Press entitled, “Genesis One Reconsidered”, makes a brief statement which alludes to a different view than that of the majority: “The ‘gap’ theory itself, as a matter of exegesis, antedated the scientific challenge, but the latter gave it a new impetus”. The right question to such a statement should have been, 'by how long did it antedate the scientific challenge, and how explicit are the earlier references.' Arthur C. Custance rightly asserts in the book entitled “Without Form And Void.” “If its antecedence can be established with any certainty, one then has to find some other reason than the threat of Geology for its having arisen”.
It seems fair to state that if the Gap Theory was an accepted view held by earlier Christian commentators, it was presented without any intention of refuting a geological challenge to the veracity of the Holy Scriptures. It must therefore have arisen either because of a careful study of the original text of Scripture itself had given intimations of it, or perhaps due to some ancient tradition about the after-effects of the catastrophe itself. Why then has modern Christianity continued to assert that the Gap Theory is of modern origins? But, lest we get ahead of ourselves, let us continue our search backwards to find the true origin, if any, of the Gap Theory.
History records that during and after the Babylonian Captivity, the Jewish people began accumulating the comments and explanations of their best-known teachers of the Old Testament. These teachings were gathered together and are called the Midrash, the oldest pre-Christian exposition of the Old Testament. Louis Ginsberg, in his work entitled, “The Legends of the Jews,” recorded this excerpt from the first chapter of Genesis:
“Nor is this world inhabited by man the first of things earthly created by God. He made several other worlds before ours, but he destroyed them all, because He was pleased with none until He created ours.”
Another noted reference is to be found in the writings of a student of Akiba ben Joseph, namely Simeon ben Jochai. Akiba ben Joseph was president of the rabbinical school called Bene Barek near Saffa. He was executed by the Romans in 135 A. D. His student is traditionally ascribed the authorship of “The Book of Light” or the Sefer Hazzohar, sometimes simply called the “Zohar”. The work represents opinions held toward the end of first century and thus represents views widely held during the time of our Lord. There is a comment on Gen. 2:4-6, which reads as follows:
“These are the generations (i.e., this is the history of….) of the heavens and the earth…. Now wherever there is written the word ‘these’ ( hl]ae ) the previous words are put aside. And these are the generations of the destruction that is signified in verse 2 of...