Chapters & Verses

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Sat Nov 6 23:29:21 EST 1999

I don't think this is the whol story. If I remember rightly, the 
Hebrew Bible was divided by the Masoretes into the verses as we 
currently have them, i.e. by the Soph Pasuq sign. But the verses were 
not numbered at that time. It was Stephanus who added the chapter 
divisions and presumably also the chapter and verse numbers. I think 
that the chapter divisions were originally made in the Latin text and 
then taken across into the Hebrew, with some changes made on the way. 
The chapter divisions of the Psalms are clearly much older than the 
other chapter divisions, though probably not always original, as they 
are different in LXX.

Thus we can take verse divisions as a reflection of what the Masoretes 
heard and so as a very ancient tradition, though not necessarily from 
the original (and so not to be taken as an infallible guide to 
exegesis). But the chapter divisions, apart from those in the Psalms, 
are certainly late and unreliable for exegesis. Taking them too 
seriously can lead into serious exegetical errors. My favourite 
example is the division between 2 Kings 6:33 and 7:1. The Word series 
commentator presupposes a major break here and so comes to an 
understanding of 6:33 (taking the last part as Elisha's words) which 
is quite impossible if one looks at the Hebrew text without 
presupposing the chapter break and sees that the regular exchange of 
the conversation continues in 7:1, with Elisha's words, implying that 
the previous words were someone else's.

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Chapters & Verses
Author:  <jwest at Highland.Net> at Internet
Date:    06/11/1999 08:04

At 01:13 AM 11/6/99 -0500, you wrote: 
>A colleague of mine is looking for any historical information regarding the 
>chapter and verse divisions in the Hebrew Bible.  Who did them, when and 

Stephanus, 1551, so folk could more easily find what they were looking for.


>Toda raba,
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Jim West, ThD
jwest at

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