Nearly 12 years ago I wrote a short post on chapters and verses, about reading the Bible in complete thoughts rather than always using the verse and chapter divisions for places to start and stop reading. Someone did a good job creating the chapters and verses as markers to help find (and find again) portions of Scripture. But those are not necessarily where the thoughts naturally start, stop, flow, and change.
Now these many years later, I have purchased the Holman KJV Reader’s Bible, which I briefly mentioned HERE. It is a complete King James Bible without chapter and verse divisions inserted into the text. Instead, the text is presented in a single column and in paragraphs (page number, book, and chapter is at the bottom of each page).[i]
With the removal of chapters and verses (as well as references, footnotes, and study notes) for less distraction, the “Reader’s Bible” concept has one primary feature in mind – readability. This also takes the books of the Bible back closer to their original style. The Bible was divided into chapters in the year A.D. 1227, and the verses were not added until the 16th Century. [ii]
So, I have my new “Reader’s Bible.” I have started reading it. I absolutely concur that it increases the readability of the text. I sensed it almost immediately when I began reading. It was flowing smoothly. No telltale markers along the way distracted me from the goal of reading. I read more, and faster. Now to wonder, will I read with greater comprehension?[iii]
[i] I thought the “Reader’s Bible” concept was relatively new, but found The Modern Reader's Bible: The Books of the Bible...Presented in Modern Literary Form from before the 20th Century (edited by Richard Green Moulton, New York, NY: MacMillan Company, 1912; maybe first published in 1895) and The (Limited Editions Club) King James Version of the Holy Bible from the 1930s (edited by George Macy, New York, NY: The Limited Editions Club, 1935-36).
[ii] Stephen Langton divided the Bible into chapters. Robert Stephanus added the verses for his Greek New Testament in 1551. The Wycliffe Bible in 1382 used Langton’s chapter divisions, and the Geneva Bible (New Testament) in 1560 became the first English Bible to use Stephanus’s verse divisions (and the chapter divisions, of course). These divisions are handy for giving references, quotations, locating text, etc., but, being man-made they are not sacrosanct (or inspired).
[iii] Certainly, reading this way will not remove the need to study portions of text, study words, compare scripture with scripture, and so on – but it does add (and remove) something so that the reader can concentrate on reading.