Alice C. Linsley
The Bible has gaps of time. This is especially evident in Genesis. When reading Scripture it is helpful to recognize where these gaps are in the chronology. Although Genesis and the Bible have a chronological order, they do not tell the whole story of the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion. Nonetheless, we have true representations of the cultures of the people they describe. This has been confirmed by findings in many scientific disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, DNA studies, migration studies and climate studies.
There is a gap between the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden and the king lists of Genesis 4 and 5. Since Adam and Eve represent the first humans created by God, their story pertains to the dawn of human existence about 4 million years ago. Yet it is evident from the Biblical data about Kain and Seth that they were Neolithic rulers who lived millions of years later. Even if you believe that the earth is 6000 years, there is still a gap of about 800-1000 years between Eve and Kain and Seth. Young Earth Creationists must explain how Eve gave birth to Kain at 800 years of age.
The gap between Genesis 1-3 and 4 is more controversial that other gaps in the Bible. None doubt or seem to be troubled by the gap called the "intertestamental period" (400-4 BC). The gap of time between the books of the Old Testament and the New Testament writings is widely recognized.
If Genesis 1 reflects the seven-stepped pyramid cosmology of ancient Babylon, as is argued by Dr. John Walton, it relates to a time about 1300 years after the watery world of Eden. The Akkadian word ziqqurat is derived from the word zaqaru, to be high. People in the ancient world worshiped on high places such as mountain tops or stepped monuments. They built pillars and obelisks to represent the connection between heaven and earth. Jacob's dream of that connection involved a ladder.
The pyramids of Egypt symbolized the vertical connection between heaven and earth. That connection is reflected in the story of the seven days of creation whereby the Divine voice speaks over the chaotic waters, creating order, plants, animals, and humans, the last being the only creature made in the "image and likeness" of the Creator.
There are overlaps in the biblical accounts also. Abraham appears in Genesis 12, yet he was a contemporary of Job whose story appears many pages later than the story of Abraham. Abraham and Job were Horite rulers and kinsmen. To understand the world of Abraham and Job it is best to read their stories back-to-back.
Sometimes the overlap of material is evident only through exploration of the themes. There are two stories of drunken fathers - Noah and Lot - and when these are read back-to-back we find a powerful critique of drunkenness and the failure of fathers to accept responsibility for their actions.
There are two passovers - one involving Moses in Egypt and the other involving Rahab in Jericho. When we read these stories back-to-back, we uncover the scarlet cord which symbolizes the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
There is an overlap between the story of Judah going into Egypt during the time of Joseph's rule and the story of Judah having intercourse with Tamar in the region of Adullam.
The gaps and overlaps of the Bible invite us to delve more deeply into the text to understand what God is telling us. Inevitably, we find that the whole of the Bible is really about one thing: the Promised Seed/Son of God, Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save repentant sinners, to defeat death, and to establish an eternal kingdom in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are ever glorified.
Related reading: Gap Theory or Gap Fact?; The Horite Confederation of Uz, Huz and Buz; Two Passovers and Two Drunken Fathers; Who is Jesus?