BHS (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia): וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְה֑וֹם

ESV (English Standard Version): and darkness was over the face of the deep

NLT (New Living Translation): and darkness covered the deep waters


LXX (Septuagint): καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου

BETS (Brenton English translation Septuagint): and darkness was over the deep

NETS (New English Translation Septuagint): and darkness was over the abyss

OSB (Orthodox Study Bible): and darkness was over the deep


VUL (Latin Vulgate): et tenebrae super faciem abyssi

DRB (Douay Rheims Bible): and darkness was upon the face of the deep

NAB: (New American Bible): and darkness covered the abyss


English Translations with variant readings:

AMP: and darkness was upon the face of the very great deep

CEV: it was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness

EMPH: and darkness was on the face of the roaring deep

GNB: The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness

HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible): darkness covered the surface of the watery depths

ISV: with the surface of the ocean depths shrouded in darkness

LB: with the Spirit of God brooding over the dark vapors

TM: a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness

NCV (New Century Version): Darkness covered the ocean


Observations & Discussions

  1. Our English word for Abyss is a simple transliteration without the vowel ending of the Greek word “ἀβύσσου.” It also comes from the Latin abyssi which sounds like a transliteration as well. In Latin it appears to have several definitions: bowels of the earth, deep, sea, hell, infernal pit, and primal chaos. Since Abyss is an English word with a clear meaning it might be best to stick with it. According to Nelsons New Christian Dictionary (NNCD) the English word “Abyss” has a very specific Christian meaning. It says that the Abyss, “In the New Testament, (is) the abode of Satan and his demons.” The Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary (MWCD) says it’s “the bottomless gulf, pit, or chaos of the old cosmogonies.” Could there be a connection with this word here and connection between Satan and darkness in the Bible? Is there a clue to the timing of Satan’s fall from Heaven?
  2. 2. The Latin word “Tenebrae” according to LSLD’s first definition means “The darkness of night” Tenebrae is in MWCD and is defined by “a church service observed during the final part of Holy Week commemorating the sufferings and death of Christ.” I think many high church denominations still observe a Tenebrae service today.
  3. The idea of “the face” of the deep seems to be included in the BHS and in the VUL but appears to be absent in the LXX and its English translations.
  4. Some translations seem to suggest that the “deep” is simply another term for the oceans.


CLV (Chuck Larsen Version): And darkness covered the abyss.

CLV In the beginning God created heaven and earth but the earth was invisible and incomplete. And darkness covered the abyss.