The Gap theory. This is just one of a number of views held about Genesis 1:1-2.
It is frequently attributed to some early Jewish writers, some early Church “fathers” and some even today hold this view. Some translations, such as the TEV are now suggesting it by the use of "when" in verse 1, academics like Michael Hieser also teach it or at least that verse 1 is a dependent clause.
At least four different arguments are mentioned in support of this view that there is a gap in time between verses 1 & 2.
- It suggested that the word create doesn’t mean out of nothing but God took something and formed it from that. This latter notion just pushes the creation question of origin one step further back. Eg Where did the matter come from for God to form it? Sometimes the word “create” bara, and “made” are used at the same time, as in the creation of man from the dust of the earth, vs 27, so the word create can be used for out of nothing and also from stuff already there the context makes it clear. READ Hebrews 11:3. What comes to pass out of nothing? “What is seen” ie the universe was “out of nothing”.
- Some suggest that God made the earth as a place for the angels and that they left their abode and tried to usurp God, or at least some did, eg satan. This then suggests that what we have in Genesis 1 is a recreation. But the text is clear in the following verses that this creation is of the universe, the sun and moon, etc not just of this planet. Granted that angels and satan just enter the story unannounced in chapter 3, but the focus is not on them, but God and mankind.
- Some argue that verses 1-2 have a possible translation of “in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth” which is called a dependant clause. Which means you expect further information to complete the sentence. So on this understanding verse 2 supplies that and the real down to business begins in verse 3. Illustration “when Carolyn and I got married in 1987.” This is illustrative that a dependent cluase needs further information to make the point. They say it must be a dependant clause because Ancient Near East Cosmologies such as Babylonian creation myth, the Enuma Elish begins this way. And when Masoretes added vowels to Hebrew in 600AD they translated it as a dependant clause. But the Hebrews knew their Old Testament had dependent and independent clauses but saw fit not to translated it this way, not even between 300-200BC when they wrote the Old Testament into Greek [ The Septuagint ] they left it as an independent clause.
4. Lastly some argue “empty and void” vs 2 suggest destruction. And so this was the way God had the stuff at the time of satan’s rebellion before he “remade” it. However empty and void more aptly means uninhabited. God made the Heavens and the Earth to be filled, not left uninhabited. Additionally, we must consider that Genesis 1 has the refrain “good” and that at the Creation of light God says it was good. It is difficult then to think that verse 2 refers to something bad and that God has not bothered to point this out in the text which has God declare good as a dominant phrase.