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Question: I understand the chapter and verse divisions in the Bible
are not part of the original text. When were these divisions made, and
who made them?

During the time of our Lord's ministry, the Old Testament was not yet
divided into our present chapter and verse divisions. He did make
reference to "the law, the prophets and the psalms" (Lk.  24:44). "The
Law" consisted of the five books of Moses, "The Prophets" included the
former prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings) and the latter
prophets (major and minor prophets). "The Psalms, as referred to in
Lk. 24:44, seem to refer to the Hagiographa" (meaning, "Holy
writings", consisted of the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon,
Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and

However, these divisions of the law, the prophets and the psalms were
subdivided into smaller sections, and these in turn into subsections,
so that it was not as overwhelming as it might seem at first glance to
locate a specific text. (Divisions in the books of Moses were called
"Parashahs"; in the prophets they were known as "Haphtarahs." The
subdivisions were "Psukim", roughly analogous to our verse divisions.

Early efforts for better arrangement of the Biblical text include that
of Jerome (ca. 347-419/20 A.D), who divided the book of Matthew into
"breves" (long chapters) and "capitula" (short chapters).  Tatian (2nd
century) produced a harmony of the Gospels (known as the Diatessaron)
using a similar arrangement. Frederick Norris suggests this may have
been created for lessons in his school, and goes on to state, "It
became the normal text of many Syriac- speaking churches well into the
fifth century..." (Encyclopedia of Early Christianity,

In the thirteenth century the chapter divisions as we know them were
made.  This work is ordinarily attributed to cardinal Hugo de Sancto
Caro (about 1240 A.D.). He is also know for his revision of the text
of the Latin Vulgate. A major contribution was his production of a
Concordance, which listed alphabetically all the words in the Vulgate,
with their biblical references. McClintock & Strong state that this
work "has formed the model of all concordances to the Bible" (IV.389).

The verse divisions were inserted by Robert Stephens about 1551.
However, his father, as well as others, had already done extensive
work along this line (for further discussion see Mc.&Str.X:756- 762).

It is important to bear in mind that the chapter and verse divisions,
the paragraphs, the chapter headings, the center references are of
human and not divine origin, and should be use with that in
mind. I.e., they can be beneficial as aids to study, but they are not
part of the inspired text.

Some chapter divisions were unfortunate, for example Acts 7:60 and
8:1, which is narrating the death of Stephen. This point can easily be
seen in translations such as ASV and others which make use of a
paragraph format. I.e. the "thought" of Acts 8:1a ("And Saul was
consenting unto his death.") is to be included with what precedes it,
so that a better chapter division would have been after that sentence.

But having said that, how thankful we should be first for the
availability of God's word in our own language. Then we should be so
grateful for the tremendous labor of those who arranged chapter and
verse divisions which enable us to locate passages with ease.

If you have corrections, questions, comments or suggestions about these questions and answers, please contact Leon Mauldin directly at

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