BHS (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia): וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָיְתָ֥ה תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ

ESV (English Standard Version): The earth was without form and void

NLT (New Living Translation): The earth was formless and empty


LXX (Septuagint): Ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος

BETS (Brenton English translation Septuagint): But the earth was unsightly and unfurnished

NETS (New English Translation Septuagint): Yet the earth was invisible and unformed

OSB (Orthodox Study Bible): The earth was invisible and unfinished


VUL (Latin Vulgate): terra autem erat inanis et vacua

DRB (Douay Rheims Bible): And the earth was void and empty

NAB: (New American Bible): the earth was a formless wasteland,


English Translations with variant readings:

NASB (New American Standard Bible): The Earth was formless and void

Darby: And the earth was waste and empty

CJB (Complete Jewish Bible): The earth was unformed and void

CEV (Contemporary English Version): The earth was barren with no form of life

AMP (Amplified version): Now the earth had become waste and wild

GNB: The earth was formless and desolate

ISV (International Standard Version): When the earth was as yet unformed and desolate

LB: the earth was a shapeless, chaotic mass

TM: Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness

NIRV (New International Readers Version): The earth didn’t have any shape. And it was empty.


Observations & Discussions

  1. The Greek word “ἀόρατος” is defined in the Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament based on semantic domains (Luow – Nida) as “…pertaining to that which cannot be seen—‘what cannot be seen, invisible.” According to the Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (Liddell) it means, “unseen, not to be seen, invisible.”
  2. The Greek word “ἀκατασκεύαστος” is defined in The Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint by Lust, Eynikel, and Hauspie (LEH) as unwrought, unformed, unorganized.” The Lexham Analytical Lexicon of the Septuagint (LAL) says it means “unprepared.” According to the Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods (GLRB) It means “unformed, unfinished.”
  3. The Latin word “autem” means “on the other hand, but, yet, however, nevertheless” according to Lewis and Short’s Latin Dictionary (LSLD). This is interesting because the Greek δὲ can sometimes mean “but” also.
  4. The Latin word “Inanis” is defined by LSLD as “empty, void.”
  5. The feminine singular adjective “Vacua” means “vacuous, vacant, empty, blank.” The word does not show up in the Logos search because it’s in the Feminine Gender in the text (I’m assuming). Vacuos, the masculine form, does show up in LSLD with the same meaning. If the two latin adjectives, inanis and vacua mean the same things (close to it) you can see the DRB translation using “void and empty” in their translation. But the LXX uses two very different adjectives; one meaning “invisible” and the other meaning “incomplete” or “unfinished.”
  6. I like the idea of “invisible” because the context talks about light and darkness and how God said let there be light and there was light. That made it visible? Since “darkness” was over the face of the deep that might explain the invisibility. Also the LXX word and the English translations of that word all point to the idea of invisibility.


CLV (Chuck Larsen Version): But the earth was invisible and incomplete.

CLV In the beginning God created heaven and earth but the earth was invisible and incomplete.

Or: In the beginning when God created heaven and earth the earth was invisible and incomplete.