Why was the Bible written with such strange divisions?


Full Question

When I read the Bible I don't see much sense in the breakup of verses. Some come at the end of sentences and paragraphs, some don't. Why was the Bible written that way?

Answer

You should be aware that the Bible originally was not written that way. The use of verse numbering was something introduced much later, shortly after the invention of printing. The early, handwritten copies of the Bible were written in Greek on papyrus scrolls without the use of punctuation or spacing. In time the codex or book formed with pages, as we know it today, was developed--later still, printing.

As printers worked on producing editions of the Bible they found it convenient to locate and mark sections of text by putting numbers beside the sections of type. This proved not only an enormous convenience for the printers, but for others who read the Bible. The numbering was not placed with anything other in mind than to help locate sections of text. You might say that it was like having latitude and longitude lines on a map.

(By the way, the division of the books of the Bible into chapters was done by Stephen Langton, a cardinal and archbishop of Canterbury, about 1226.)


Catholic Answers Staff