Authorized King James Version
In the King James Version
The Words of Jesus
King James Version Bible
The History of Bible Division into Chapters and Verses
Although some portions of the original texts were logically divided into parts following the Hebrew alphabet, the original manuscripts did not contain the chapter and verse divisions in the present, numbered, form that modern readers are familiar with. Examples of texts divided into parts using the Hebrew alphabet include Psalm 119 and the book of Lamentations. The earliest known copies of the book of Isaiah use letters of the Hebrew alphabet for paragraph divisions. There are other divisions from various sources which are different from what we use today.
The Old Testament began to be put into sections before the Babylonian Captivity (586 B.C.) with the five books of Moses being put into a 154 section reading program to be used in a three-year cycle. Later (before 536 B.C.) the Law was put into 54 sections and 669 sub-divisions for reading.
Before the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., the New Testament was divided into paragraphs which were different from our current divisions.
An important canon of the New Testament was proclaimed by Pope Damasus I in the Roman synod of 374. Pope Damasus also induced Saint Jerome, a priest from Antioch, to undertake his famous translation of the entire Bible, both New Testament and Old Testament into the common language of the time.
The Old Testament was originally divided into fifty-four sections by the Jews. One section was read in the synagogue every Sabbath day (Acts 13:15). These sections were subdivided by the Masoretes into 669 "orders." The divisions or sections found in the Greek and Latin manuscripts are different from those of the Hebrew books, they are of unequal and arbitrary length, and very different from the chapters in our modern printed Bibles.
The books of the New Testament were divided at an early period into certain portions, which would appear under various names. There were originally two kinds of sections called "titles" and "chapters." The "titles" were portions of the Gospels, with summaries placed at the top or bottom of the page. The "chapters" were divisions, with numeral notations, chiefly adapted to the Gospel harmony of Ammonius. Other sectional divisions are occasionally seen in manuscripts, which appear to have varied at different times and in different churches.
The numerical division of the Old and New Testament is ascribed to a number of individuals. Some scholars believe that the chapter divisions should be attributed to the students of Cardinal Hugo of Saint Cher in 1240 AD. Cardinal Hugo was organizing a concordance of the Bible and utilized the help of his eager students to reference the verses in the Bible in a way to locate individual words quickly. Others believe that Stephen Langton, archbishop of Cantebury (1228 AD) is responsible for the chapter divisions.
It should be noted that before the invention of printing the Bible had already passed from Latin manuscripts to many other languages and after the invention of printing many of the earlier established divisions became accepted. Chapters in early printed Bibles were subdivided into seven portions, marked in the margin by the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, G, reference being made by the chapter number and the letter under which the passage occurred. This subdivision continued long after the present verses were added, but by the seventeenth Century was modified.
The present verses differ in origin for the Old Testament and the New Testament. The earliest printed Hebrew Bibles marked each fifth verse only with a Hebrew numeral. Arabic numerals were first added for the intervening verses by Joseph Athias in 1661 A.D. The first portion of the Bible printed with the Masoretic verses numbered was published in 1509 A.D. In 1528 A.D. a new Latin version of the whole Bible with the Masoretic verses marked and numbered was published. The verses in this Bible were three or four times as long as the verses in our present Bibles.
The present New Testament verses were introduced by Robert Stephens first in his Greco-Latin Testament published in 1551 A.D., and then later Stephens published the Latin Vulgate of 1555, the first whole Bible divided into the present verses. Legend has it that Robert Stephens numbered the verses of the Bible while on horseback on a trip. His son testifies that his father did indeed number the verses of the Bible while on a trip from Paris to Lyons, but that the work was done while resting at the inns along the road.
Since this division of the Scriptures was done by man unaided by inspiration there are notable instances in which the context caused by a division into verses and chapters is destroyed. The careful Bible student will always read verses and even paragraphs before and after a statement to insure that the complete thought of a context is considered.
King James Bible Still Most Preferred
Americans have seemingly contradictory desires in choosing Bible translations, judging from a new Gallup Poll for the American Bible Society.
The poll showed the Bible is the category of book Americans say they most often read regularly, and that 93 percent of American homes have one.
The King James Version, with its old-fashioned language from 1611, remains by far the most revered translation, and yet Americans say the Bible should be easier to read and understand. In the Gallup poll, 61 percent said the Bible should be easier to read than it is.
Until the 1950s, the King James was the only Bible in wide use among Protestants, who tend to dominate the Bible-buying market. Since then many versions have been produced to meet the demand for modernized Scriptures.
The Gallup Poll found that in households with a Bible, 54 percent owned the King James, followed by 15 percent for the New International Version, and single-digit responses for the updated New King James, the New American Standard, Catholic editions and the New Revised Standard Version.
The King James was used most often, by 41 percent of homes with any Bible.
As reported in the Knoxville News Sentinel (Saturday, May 5, 2001)