Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Chapters and verses

According to the Wright's Bible Readers' Aids, the chapter divisions of the Bible were created in A.D. 1250 and the verses in 1550. That being true, these divisions are obviously not inspired, but rather tools intended to make the Bible, in modern speak, "user-friendly". The handy references to book, chapter and verse can be a boon for locating something or telling someone how to locate something. But if God didn't inspire these "user-friendly" tools, have we perhaps erred in creating them?

A Baptist Board member with the user-name
Jack Matthews wrote, "I sometimes wonder if dividing up the Bible into chapters and verses that do not always align with the complete thoughts or contexts of the writing is a help or a hindrance to interpreting scripture. The early church clearly did not pick singular 'thoughts' out of artificial divisions of the Bible called 'verses' and formulate doctrines from them."

I'm not on a campaign to purge chapters and verses from the Bible, but Matthews' query is a valid one. The chapters and verses are a help. BUT could the hindrance of them be a greater negative than the help is positive? Possibly so. I doubt anybody will be buying a chapterless verseless Bible any time soon. But let's try to read the Bible in complete thoughts rather than just following the verse and chapter divisions for stopping and starting, and assuming those are where the thoughts naturally flow, stop and/or change. That's the least we can do.


Jim1927 said...

I received a Reader's Digest Bible a few years ago. It reads like a novel, fully pages, no verses or numbers, no chapter references, and the paragraphs coincide with the contextual thought.

I thought it was great reading. It was actually a condensed verse of the RSV. Then, I wanted to find something and I couldn't remember exactly where it was,,I remembered chapter and verse, but I just could't find it in that book!!!! Sudenlly I appreciated those chapters and verses despite the flaws.

Oh right,,and the dates were added by Bishop Usher.



Now if we could only get those word verifications i English..........

R. L. Vaughn said...

Those word verifications and I get in a disagreement every once in awhile!

As to chapters and verses, the main thing is that people be aware. We have habits of reading the Bible and stopping at the end of a chapter (which provides a nice stopping place and a good starting place when we come back to it). Sometimes we fail to notice that the thought just goes right through the end of one chapter into the beginning of the next.

LettingHim said...

One could argue that the English language is an uninspired 'addition' to the Bible, but I don't feel that anyone has suffered too much as a result of that addition to the original, inspired Word. Sometimes thoughts are cut off in the middle of two verses, but the point, the idea, the "logos" is made plain to the true seeker, and I believe THAT is still the work of the Holy Spirit.

BlueNight said...

Ever heard of The Message? Until the Message/remix edition came out, it was verseless.

I saw a single-column verseless edition of the KJV at a bookstore a while back; its title made clear that it was intended for reading, not studying.

The new ESV Literary Study Bible is verseless, and according to Internet Monk, is totally awesome. I'll buy one as soon as I 1) have money and 2) see it in a store.

R. L. Vaughn said...

BlueNight, do you remember the title of single-column verseless edition of the KJV? Thanks.

BlueNight said...

I think it was just called "The Bible As Literature".

R. L. Vaughn said...

Thanks, BlueNight.

Unknown said...

Hi everybody,

I've been looking for a bible without verse numbers for awhile and came across this version. It's a multi-volume set. Has a nice color and not too big in terms of size. Here are some links if you're interested: