Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Chapter and Verse Divisions Keep You From Understanding Many of Words of the Bible

Chapter and verse divisions act like stop and yield signs for Bible readers. They slow down at verse markers and come to a full stop at chapter divisions. While they are very useful for locating specific texts, they often destroy the contexts in which verse and chapter divisions were inserted. One example is the first story in the Bible.

The story begins at Genesis 1:1 and ends at Genesis 2:4a.

The first sentence of the story begins in verse 1 and ends at the end of verse 2.

The first chapter ends with the work done by the Creator on Day Six.

The insertion of the chapter 2 division separates Day Seven from the other six days.

The end of the first story in the Bible is in the middle of a verse (2:4a).

Verse 2:4b is actually the beginning of the second story in the Bible.

With the insertion of chapter and verse divisions, the first story is viewed as “The Creation of the Heavens and the Earth,” but when we view it in its original context it is “The Story of the Creation of the Kingdom of the Unnamed God.” Those are two very different stories and most Bible readers have never heard “The Story of the Creation of the Kingdom of the Unnamed God.” So, who inserted chapter and verse divisions and when did they do it?

Chapter Divisions

Stephen Langton (c. 1150 – 9 July 1228) was a Roman Catholic and Archbishop of Canterbury between 1207 and his death in 1228. He is credited with having divided the Bible into the standard modern arrangement of chapters used today.

Hugh of Saint-Cher (c. 1200 – 19 March 1263) was a French Dominican cardinal and noted biblical commentator. He developed a different system of chapter division, but Langton’s system is the one found in most Bible translations today.[i]

Verse Divisions

Rabbi Isaac Nathan ben Kalonymus wrote the first Hebrew Bible concordance around 1440 and it played a major role in determining verse locations after the invention of the printing press. The concordance was first printed in 1523, and its system became the standard for the Old Testament.[ii]

Santes Pagnino (1470–1541), an Italian Dominican friar, leading philologists and Biblical scholar, divided the New Testament chapters into verses.[iii]

Robert I Estienne (1503 – 7 September 1559), a 16th-century printer and classical scholar in Paris, was the first to print the New Testament divided into standard numbered verses. He was a former Catholic who became a Protestant late in his life. His system became the standard for the New Testament.

Identify the Context First

Before reading your Bible, scan the words and identify the flow of the story. Stories usually have beginnings and endings that are pretty easy to find.

The first story in Genesis is about the acts of an unnamed god.

The second story is about the acts of Yahweh the god.

The first story is about the creation of the heavens and the earth.

The second story is about the making of the earth and the heavens.

When you read the story, ignore verse markers, and let the flow of the story guide you. If you are studying a text that is very important to you, go online, find the translation you like, copy it, paste in your word processor and then literally remove the chapter and verse divisions. This makes it much easier to concentrate on the story as it unfolds right before your eyes.

Thank you for reading this. Please share and discuss it with others.

May your life be blessed with an abundance of TOV,
Jim Myers

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