We are so accustomed to the handy chapter and verse divisions that I don’t think we usually remember that they are fairly new to the Bible. The individual books had been grouped together in various ways throughout the years, but it wasn’t until the 13th century that the chapter system was developed and added by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton. The even more specific referencing of verses came in the 16th century by Robert Estienne (also known as Robert Stephanus). It is great to be able to pinpoint exactly where in 66 books a specific passage is located, but could it be considered “adding” to the word of God? I have wondered this a time or two, especially since people love to cherry-pick, but that’s for another post.
I got thinking about this yet again today when my youngest was doing Bible copy. He started after the rest of us, and has just finished up chapter 1 in Genesis. As I was writing the last two verses on the whiteboard for him, I realized that it stops short of the full creation account. We all know a week is a complete unit of time, so why does did Stephen Langton stop with day 6 and leave the sanctifying of the seventh and God resting until the next chapter? I mean even verse 4 of chapter 2 sounds like it is starting up a new thought….
Here’s Genesis 1:31- 2:5a (using KJV today) with what seems like a more natural division, but with chapter 2 in green
“And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew….”
I realize this doesn’t change drastically what is being said, but it just makes me wonder again how it changes our perception of what is being said. We are prone to reading to the end of a chapter instead of the end of a flowing passage, so we may miss out on things or incorrectly separate things that belong together.
Maybe I’m taking Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, and Revelation 22:18 too literally, but we should always remember that the convenient numbering system wasn’t inspired by God!