Should the Bible have verse breaks or not?
The Bible in the original languages had no chapter and verse divisions. Chapter divisions came in the 13th century, created by a professor at the University of Paris, Stephen Cardinal Langton (d. 1228). The Bible had been without chapter divisions for over a thousand years!
Verses were introduced into part of the Old Testament by Santes Pagnino in 1528. Robert Stephens published a Greek edition with verses in 1551 and a Latin edition in 1555. The Geneva Bible, which came out in 1560, was the first English Bible divided into verses.
Some theologians have wished that verses would never have been added to the Bible. They seem to have been inserted rather haphazardly. Legend has it that Stephens made the verse breaks while on a horse. Some conjecture that it was a bumpy ride, making verse divisions where they were not needed, or in just the wrong place, such as in the middle of a sentence.
Some argue that the Bible should never be printed in separate verses. The text should be continuous, with verse numbers printed in the margin.
This was the style in which Eugene Peterson first wrote his translation, The Message. The chapter and verse range of the page was printed at the top of the page. It was only later, from popular demand, that verse numbers were inserted into the text of The Message.
Most translations are now printed in paragraph form with verse breaks indicated by superscripts. This is how the Common English Bible is printed.
Here is an example from the CEB to show how odd the verse divisions can be.
Ephesians 1:22-23 “22God put everything under Christ's feet and made him head of everything in the church, 23which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way.”
It would seem in one place the CEB translators didn't want to break up the thought by identifying separate verses.
Ephesians 2:4-5 “4-5However, God is rich in mercy. He brought us to life with Christ while we were dead as a result of those things that we did wrong. He did this because of the great love that he has for us. You are saved by God's grace!”
It is important to remember that the chapter and verse divisions in the Bible were not done by people inspired by the Holy Spirit. Do you find that chapter and verse divisions are helpful or are they distracting?
I am taking part in a blog tour of the Common English Bible. I'll be blogging more about this Bible as the days go by.
You can see the blogs of others taking part of this tour here: http://CommonEnglishBible.com/CEB/blogtour
I received a complimentary copy of the CEB from its publisher for the purpose of this blog tour.