THE VERSE DIVISIONS IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

The familiar arrangement of the Bible in chapters and verses was introduced long after the original Scriptures were written, and the first English Bible to have numbered verses was the Geneva Bible of 1560. In the 3rd century Ammonius divided the Gospels into small sections to facilitate comparison of parallel passages, and his system was perfected by Eusebius. At the beginning of the 5th century an

unknown writer divided the Pauline Epistles into chapters, and Euthalius extended this division to the remaining Epistles and Acts.

Euthalius, a deacon of Alexandria, in his edition of the Acts and Epistles, completed about A.D. 462, divided the text into stichoi or lines each containing one clause. This method met with general approval, and was applied by others to the Gospels. This "stichometric" writing was in general use down to the 8th century. It was probably not invented by Euthalius, but was first used by him for the text of the New Testament.

In order to save space the method was given up, and copyists contented themselves with marking the ends of the "stichoi" with points or other signs. This gave rise to the more elaborate punctuation developed in the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries.

About A.D. 1248 Cardinal Hugo de Santo Care, while preparing an index to the whole Bible, divided it into its present chapters, subdividing these into several parts by placing the letters A, B, C, D etc. in the margin at equal distances from each other. These divisions were later introduced into many printed editions such as Stephens' Greek New Testament of 1550, still without verse numbers.

Cardinal Hugo's divisions were used in many manuscript copies of the Latin Vulgate, and gradually found a place also in later Greek manuscripts written in Western Europe, and in the earliest printed and all later editions of the Greek New Testament.

The divisions made by Hugo with the letters of the alphabet, and those adopted by Pagninus in his Latin Bible of 1528, were inconveniently large, and Robert Estienne (better known to us as Stephens) introduced a system of numbered verse divisions in his Greek New Testament published at Geneva in 1551. For this he used as his model the short verses into which the Hebrew Bible had been divided by Rabbi Nathan in 1508, first printed in Venice in 1524. Henry Stephens, Robert's father, had introduced verse numbers in his 1509 edition of the Psalms.

Calvin's 1552 revision of Olivetan's French New Testament incorporated the verse divisions of Stephens, and the same were also used in the Italian version of Paschale in 1553, in Stephens' Latin Vulgate published at Geneva in 1555, in the Dutch Bible printed at Emden in 1556, in Beta's Latin version of 1556, his own translation from the Creek, and in the 3557 Geneva English New Testament of Whittingham, the precursor of the English Geneva Bible of 1560, which included a revision of the New Testament. From these the verse divisions found their way to the Bishop's Bible of 1568, and thence to the Authorised Version of 1611.

In some instances Beta improved upon the verse divisions of Stephens, and in places where they differ most subsequent versions, and the Elzevir editions of the Creek New Testament in 1624 and 1633, follow Beta.

 

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