Chapters & Verses

MMoeller55 at MMoeller55 at
Sun Nov 7 00:28:16 EST 1999

Hi, Jay.  Here's what I found in Geisler & Nix's A General Introduction to 
the Bible, Revised & Expanded Edition (Moody Press, 1986):

O.T. chapters or sections can be seen in Lamentations and Psalm 119, where 
the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are used.

1.  Palestinian sections appeared prior to the Babylonian captivity (586 BC), 
with 154 sections for the Pentateuch, which were called sedarim.  This was 
designed for teaching lessons, which would cover a 3-year reading cycle.

2.  Babylonian sections were seen during the captivity (prior to 536 BC).  
The Torah was divided into 54 sections called parashiyyoth.  This was later 
subdivided into 669 sections for reference purposes--to be used for a 
single-year cycle.

3.  Maccabean sections appeared about 165 BC, having 54 sections, which 
corresponded with the sedarim of the Law.  This covered the Prophets and 
these were called the haphtarahs.  

4.  Reformation sections--after this period the Hebrew Bible followed the 
same chapter divisions as the Protestant O.T.  These divisions were first 
placed in the margins in 1330 AD, and printed into the text of the Complutensi
an Polyglot (1517).  The text was divided in Aris Montanus's edition of 1571.

As to ancient verse indications, they were just spaces between words, with 
the words themselves running together continuously through a book.  Each book 
was separate, with no vowel points until the Masoretes added them in the 5th 
to 10th century AD.  After the Babylonian capativity, space stops were used 
for public reading and interpretation.  Still later, additional markings were 
added.  "Verse" markings were not regulated--they differed from place to 
place.  The markings were finally standardized in 900 AD.  Reformation verse 
indications appeared in the 16th century Bomberg edition (1547), where every 
5th verse was indicated.  In 1571, Montanus indicated each verse in the 
margin for the first time.

Geisler & Nix's General Introduction is quite good and thorough--from a 
Protestant & conservative evangelical position.

I might add that, from some of the responses by other "scholars" on this 
list, they ought to do a little more homework (some like to give short 
replies [too busy?], or, call on faded memories) and you should be willing to 
dig out this information yourself by learning about the basic reference 
sources available--I'm sure even Hebrew sources must be accessible at 
universities or other schools.  I hope you realize I'm playfully "badgering" 
the scholars and you.  You want definitive results, be willing to go to the 
sources and check them out--who knows, you might find enough material to 
write a scholarly tome-ha!  Shalom & mozel tov!  Mike.

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