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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Should Genesis 1:1 Be Understood as a Title?

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Don Stewart
A popular theory is that the first verse of Genesis, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth is actually a title to the rest of the first chapter. According to this view, this statement has nothing to do with God's creative work, or with any particular act of creation, but is merely an explanation of what the chapter is all about. The statement identifies what God did during the creation week. Creation actually begins with the second verse of Genesis 1. Though popular, this idea has serious problems.

No Explanation Of Creation

If the first verse of Genesis is a title, then there is no explanation of the creation of the heavens and the earth. The earth is already in existence in verse two since Genesis 1:2 tells us that the earth was formless and void. Obviously it would already have been in existence at that time. The title, therefore, would be misleading because there is no creation of the heavens and the earth explained in the first chapter of Genesis. We would not know who created the earth or when it was created.

Matter Uncreated

A further problem with this idea is the question of the creation of matter. If Genesis 1:1 is understood as a title, then matter is already in existence when God created. This would make the Genesis creation account no different than other stories in the ancient world. They all began with the earth already existing. The traditional understanding of Genesis 1:1 is that God created matter in the beginning-it was not eternal. The idea that God created the world out of nothing would be absent from Genesis 1:1.

Grammar Does Not Allow It

There is also the problem of Hebrew grammar. If Genesis 1:1 were a title, the Hebrew would read differently. Genesis 1:1 is a complete sentence. Genesis 1:2 begins with the word and. This ties verse two to verse one making it unlikely that the first verse is simply a title.


For the following reasons we reject the idea that the first verse of Genesis is merely a title to the creation account.

1.There would be no explanation of the original creation.

2.Matter would have already been in existence when God began to create.

The Hebrew does not read like a title in the first verse.

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