Who divided the Bible into chapters and verses?

BibleAsk Team

When the books of the Bible were originally written, there were no chapters or verses. Each book was recorded without any divisions from the beginning to the end. The chapter and verse divisions were done for convenience. Thus, there is no inspirational basis for the breaks.

The divisions of books of the Bible into smaller sections started in the fourth century A.D. Codex Vaticanus, a fourth century Greek manuscript, used paragraph divisions. In the fifth century, Jerome divided Scripture into short passages, called pericopes.

However, the person responsible for dividing the Bible into chapters and verses is Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury. The ancient, original manuscripts in Hebrew (and Greek for the New Testament) did not contain such edits.

Langton put the modern chapter divisions into place in around A.D. 1227. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Since the Wycliffe Bible, nearly all Bible translations have followed Langton’s chapter divisions.

The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish rabbi named Nathan in A.D. 1448. Robert Estienne, who was also called Stephanus, was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555. Stephanus used Nathan’s verse divisions for the Old Testament. From that time, starting with the Geneva Bible, the chapter and verse divisions used by Stephanus have been used into almost all the different Bible versions.

The chapters and verses system found in the Bible was not authorized by God, and can sometimes be a distraction and may cause readers to separate thoughts that weren’t originally separate when the inspired writers wrote Scripture.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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