Gen. 1:1-2 KJV
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form and void, and darkness [was] upon the faces of the deep.”

Countless books have been written presenting various perspectives regarding the beginning, or genesis, of heaven and earth. Needless to say, many more will be written, as the imaginations of men seem to never end. But I dare say, far fewer would have been written if writers had taken time to become familiar with the figures of speech God uses in His Word.

Within just the first two verses of Genesis, the Bible’s first book, are several figures of speech. Few readers, and fewer writers are aware of the presence of these figures. And, of those who are aware, the fewest have taken time to acquire a working knowledge of them. And yet, without understanding “why” God said, “what” He said, “how” He said it, understanding what He meant will escape us.

Although there may be others, the figures Polar-Merismos, Anadiplosis, Paronomasia, Pleonasm, Polysyndeton, and Anthropopatheia have all been employed to communicate God’s message of creation. But by apparently failing to perceive the figure Polysyndeton, translators have added another figure called Ellipsis, which is the intentional omission of a word or words for brevity and focus. Because Ellipsis does not belong in verse two it is actually a “False Ellipsis”. King James Version translators indicated their having added a word they believed belonged by italicizing it. It is the second use in verse two of the word “was”.

What they missed was a very easy figure to spot called Polysyndeton. Polysyndeton is defined by E. W. Bullinger, in his work entitled “Figures Of Speech Used In The Bible”, as simply “many ANDS”. A better definition would be “too many ANDS”, while better still is “too many conjunctions”. In biblical Greek there are over thirty words and particles used as conjunctions, and several are used to express this figure.

In verse 2 Dr. Bullinger considers the second “was” to be an Ellipsis, which is an intentional omission of a word, generally for focus and brevity. I do not share that opinion regarding the second “was“. The figure Polysyndeton binds “form” to “void” and “darkness”. If the second “was” remains as an ellipsis it suggests that all creation was darkened, rather than the Earth exclusively.

Polysyndeton – Some who recognize and study figures of speech hold to the notion that any repeated use of the conjunction “and” qualifies the figure Polysyndeton. Others suggest that repeated “ands” as found in Genesis and the gospels are simply a particular narrative style used during times when written narrative was not the norm, but oral was. The “and” then was used in a similar way that the modern “.” (period) is, however, with the sense of beginning rather than ending.
My opinion is that the narrative style is present, mixed with what we know as the figure Polysyndeton as well.


Anadiplosis: Translators have varied opinions as to whether the first word of the verse, “and” should be “and” or “but”, and whether it should be “kai” (και) or “de” (δε) in the Greek. The figure anadiplosis begins a sentence with the same word or words that the last sentence ended with. Verse 1 ends with … “and the earth”, then verse 2 begins with … “and the earth”. It is my opinion that the figure Anadiplosis remains regardless of whether the conjunctive “and” is used or the disjunctive “but”. The thought is carried from verse 1 to verse 2 that the earth, not the heaven, was without form and void and darkness.

 At this point then, verses 1 and 2 would read as such…”In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth and the earth was without form and void and darkness upon the face of the deep.”
Additional study can be done showing that the first usage of the word “was” in verse 2 should actually be the word “became”, and the verse then would make more sense if the Greek word de beginning verse 2 was translated “but”.

Also, in his book “Without Form And Void”, Dr. Arthur C. Custance explains the pluperfect verb tense of the word “became” in verse 2 as a fully completed action, thereby reading “had become”.

Dr. Rodney Whitefield, in his work “Reading Genesis One”, also explains the pluperfect use of the word “became” in verse 2.

With these points in mind we can now read verses 1 and 2 as such…
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth
but the earth had become without form and void and darkness
upon the face of the deep.”
Ken © 6-03-2022.