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Chapter and Verse = Quotability

For the modern Christian watching their favorite televangelist on Sunday mornings, the Bible being divided into chapters and verses is a Godsend. How else would they find the scriptures the televangelist is preaching about? How could football fans, seeing John 3:16 posters, know that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life, if the Bible had not been so conveniently divided into chapters and verses?

Would it surprise Christians to discover that the Bible was not written with chapters and verses in mind? But what are the origins of these divisions? For an English speaker, Hebrew is confounding as it possesses no vowels and verse endings were noted with a silluq, two horizontal dots. What kind of madness was required to read the Old Testament then?

Santi Pagnini, an Italian Dominican Bible scholar, was the first to implement a system into New Testament, but his divisions were never accepted. It took until Robert Estienne produced his own 1555 Vulgate for such divisions to be finally accepted as ““canon”. Santi Pagnini and Robert Estienne did not translate the Hebrew and Greek texts into Latin, they relied on earlier translations by more esteemed scholars, but their works are not any the less important or revolutionary for having merely implemented the system of chapters and verses into the Holy Bible.

Is implementing a system of chapters and verses into the centuries old texts, which were translated into English over a century ago, not only important and scholarly, but “God-breathed” as well?


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