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The text of Genesis indicates that Adam appeared on earth after the creation of the entire animal kingdom (Gen 1:24-26). Is there any evidence in the text of Genesis to indicate that some gap of time had existed between the prehistoric dinosaurs and the appearance of man on earth, or does the text of Genesis indicate that man coexisted with them (Gen 1:24-26)? If man coexisted with them, then what biblical figure would the text indicate was present during the existence of the dinosaurs?

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The Idea in Brief

There was an indefinite gap of time between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2, in which the prehistoric dinosaurs existed. The picture of salvation in the Christian New Testament suggests that the seven days of creation were seven days of restoration, when the earth was "born again." Therefore the seven days of creation in Genesis describe the restoration of the earth, since the heavens and the earth had already been created in a single moment (Gen 1:1).

Discussion

The Apostle Paul makes the following comment in regard to the salvation of believers.

1 Corinthians 4:6 (NASB)
6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Paul is drawing from the Genesis account in the Hebrew Bible, when the Word of God caused light to shine out of the darkness -

Genesis 1:2-3 (NASB)
2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

Paul is making the parallel between the illumination of the believer and the light that appeared upon the earth. Both were in darkness before this light appeared. For example, we see that the earth was "formless and void" in this darkness.

Genesis 1:2 (MT)
2 ... וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ

 2 And the earth was formless and void...

The word for formless (תֹּהוּ) occurs 20 times in the Hebrew Scriptures to describe the wilderness of the desert (wasteland) or vanity. The word for void (בֹּהוּ) occurs three times, and mean emptiness. Both words occur together once more in the Hebrew Bible in the following.

Jeremiah 4:22-23 (NASB)
22 “For My people are foolish,
They know Me not;
They are stupid children
And have no understanding.
They are shrewd to do evil,
But to do good they do not know.”
23 I looked on the earth, and behold,
it was formless and void;
And to the heavens, and they had no light.

Jeremiah is not describing the creation account from Genesis, but the land of Judah when the Babylonians will cause complete devastation. The imagery stems not only from the physical devastation, but also that the people are in darkness (that is, they have no understanding - and therefore are not illuminated).

In other words, the description of the earth in Gen 1:2 is not only an earth devastated, but an earth with no illumination, until the Word of God causes the light to appear. As noted above, the Apostle Paul had used the same imagery to describe the salvation of the believer, who is "born again."

The imagery of "born again" involves water and Spirit, which were also present in Gen 1:2. That is, Jesus described the new birth as follows.

John 3:4-6 (NASB)
4 Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

The water, which Jesus called life (John 4:14), is administered by the Spirit in order to cause the new birth of the believer. In the Genesis account, the water and the Spirit were present when the light appeared, and thereby the seven day restoration occurred.

Genesis 1:2-3 (NASB)
2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

Finally, the Apostle Peter compares the "flood" of Genesis 1:2-3 with the flood of Noah in Genesis Chapters 6-9.

2 Peter 3:5-7 (NASB)
5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water [Genesis 1:2-3], 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water [Genesis 6-9]. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

Peter does not say that the earth was created, but that the heavens were already in existence (Gen 1:1) when the earth was formed out of water (Gen 1:2-3). In other words, the heavens and the earth had already been created in Genesis 1:1 in a single moment, and later the earth was formed out of water, to which Peter is alluding. The comparison to the flood of Noah and then to the ultimate destruction of the earth by fire leaves the reader to believe that the "formless and void" in Gen 1:2-3 was some judgment, because Peter is making negative comparisons in the context in the verses above. The reader therefore may infer that this judgment had required that the earth in Gen 1:2-3 be restored or “born again” by the Word of God.

For example, in the following verses, Peter makes the allusion that the eight persons who survived the flood of Noah were saved by water and Spirit. The Word of God was proclaimed to this end. So we see the time of judgment involving water and Spirit (salvation).

1 Peter 3:18-21 (NASB)
18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

The Spirit of God saved the eight persons through the water -- the "baptism" which corresponds to our salvation. Again, the imagery here is the Word of God ("proclamation"), which provides salvation by means of water and Spirit.

Finally, the Book of Hebrews alludes to the final destruction of the earth at some point in the future.

Hebrews 12:25-27 (NASB)
25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. 26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” 27 This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

The author is talking about a time when the heavens and earth will be “shaken” one more time, which is defined as the “removal of those things which can be shaken” -- that is, at some point in the future, as the Apostle Peter had already mentioned, the earth and heavens will be destroyed by fire. In other words, the author of Hebrews was NOT alluding to the flood of Noah, because at that time the only creatures removed from the earth were those “who had breath in their nostrils” according to Genesis 7:22 (and thus sea creatures survived through the flood of Noah not to mention those people and animals in the ark). In this respect, there was no complete “removal of those things that can be shaken” during the flood of Noah. The author of Hebrews was instead alluding to Gen 1:2-3, when the earth became formless and void. If dinosaurs existed on the earth at this time, then they and any other creature on earth were removed (destroyed), because the heavens and the earth were shaken not by fire, but by water. Thus, the original shaking of the heavens mentioned in Hebrews 12:26 (which occurred between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2) would point to the need not to restore the sun and stars per se, but to their LIGHT in the expanse of the universe (Genesis 1:14-19). In other words, this state of darkness and chaos was not the intent of the Lord at creation.

Isaiah 45:18 (NASB)
18 For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the Lord, and there is none else....”

This verse indicates that the Lord did not create the earth to be “תֹּהוּ” (wilderness), but to be inhabited by living creatures. Something happened between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2, because the earth and heavens were shaken (everything removed with the result that the earth was formless and void in complete darkness).

Conclusion

At the time of creation, which was glorious, the Lord intended the earth to be inhabited. When the earth was created, there was much celebration among the angelic hosts, which Job described as follows.

Job 38:6-8 (NASB)
6 “On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8 “Or who enclosed the sea with doors
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;

But something happened between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2, which caused “the removal of those things which can be shaken.” Light was obliterated from the heavens, and the earth was left in a state of complete desolation.

Thus, with the imagery of the flood of Noah and the ultimate destruction of the earth by fire (and other New Testament allusions to salvation that point to Genesis), the Bible reader may come to the conclusion that there was a gap of prehistory between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2, which resulted in the chaotic state of the heavens and earth. It was in this gap that the dinosaurs had existed. At some indeterminate point of time, the Word of God, which caused the light to come out of darkness, brought about the new birth of the earth through water and Spirit, which are the same means by which the believer today is “born again.”

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    Actually, the creation account in Genesis 1:1 - 2:4 appears to have been added after the original writing of Genesis during the time of the Babylonian Exile. (Gordon J. Wenham; Story As Torah and other scholars) It appears to be a polemic response to the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian creation text in which creation occurs in 6 days - just like the genesis account. Creation texts from Egypt, The Enuma Elish and other creation stories share a common feature: Creation from water. A chaotic proto-universe from which the land, heavens, stars, etc are created. Aug 13 '14 at 3:43
  • Also, because of the above, it was probably believed that these were 6 or 7 literal creation days (depending on the creation text.) Aug 13 '14 at 3:45
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    @JamesShewey - the account of Genesis (1:1-2:4) appears in Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17.
    – Joseph
    Aug 21 '14 at 15:21
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Some argue that Job 40:15:24 mentions Behemoth and Leviathan and that these are dinosaurs, however radiometric dating indicates that most or all dinosaurs died out millions of years before Job.

On the other hand, Technically Crocodiles are Dinosaurs so the answer is "all of them."

It is also possible that the Leviathan is a Plesiosaur and this dinosaur is not extinct, but highly endangered and this is responsible for things like accounts of the Loch Ness Monster, Lake Champlain monster and whatever this Japanese fishing trawler hauled up.

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  • While all biblical figures indeed would have been contemporaneous with crocodiles, very few likely ever saw one. The only characters who would have lived anywhere near crocodiles would be those who spent time near the Nile in Egypt, like Moses. Even then they crocodiles would have somewhat exotic. (Pardon my pedantry :) )
    – David H
    Aug 8 '14 at 5:12
  • Crocodiles are not technically dinosaurs (like dinosaurs they're archosaurs, but they're a sister group to dinosaurs), on the other hand birds are technically dinosaurs. The thing the Japanese fishing trawler pulled up was definitely a basking shark, and no one credible believes in the Loch Ness Monster. It's embarrassing to the site that this answer is so highly upvoted.
    – Noah
    Aug 13 '14 at 22:28
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Everyone from Adam to Noah would have seen the ancient dinosaurs that are no longer with us. We know that Job was before Noah due to pangea being mentioned (not by name of course) as well as Behemoths/Leviathans. Some say pangea is a myth while others say the flood broke it up. Neither is true. In the days of Peleg, 200 years AFTER the flood, was the earth divided. There's your pangea & there is the division. In Texas as well as a few other places, there have been prints found of man/dinosaur together. Some say dinosaurs were long before Adam but the problem with that is, death did not exist until after Eve took of the fruit, then gave it to Adam. Leaves were the first to fall, then a sheep was the first to die. Also, while the ancestors of dinosaurs are gone, we still have dinosaurs today. the reptilian species as well as the birds. Plus--some won't believe this without seeing for themselves--creatures such as the Loch Ness monster or Champ (another one). In Canada there are two of these monsters, Cassie, a saltwater beast near Victoria. Ogopogo in the Okanagan Lake. I have seen Ogo three times in two days, the last time I was right in the water with him. So yes they are real. No dinosaurs are not extinct, merely changed, adapted to live in these conditions that their ancestors would not be able to survive in. Birds also are considered to be a type of dinosaur. We still have birds today.

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