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The Origin of the Chapters and Verses in the Bible by Laurence M. Vance

Laurence M. Vance’s short but scholarly booklet traces the origin of chapter and verse insertions into the biblical text.  While these divisions have been maligned by some (p. 5), they have proven to be extremely beneficial to the readers of Scripture.  As might be suspected those who first thought of dividing the Bible in this way can be traced to ancient times.  But modern chapter divisions are attributed to Stephen Langton in the early part of the thirteenth century.  Verse divisions, as we recognize them today, stem from Robert Stephanus who apparently created the verse indicators while traveling in the mid-1500s (pp. 26-27) and resting at inns, not while on horseback as legend would have it.  His verse divisions met with wide acceptance and were incorporated into various English Bibles, including the King James in 1611 (p. 31).

Vance includes page images from various Bible translations revealing their suggested divisions, beginning with the Latin Vulgate and Wycliffe Bibles all the way through the Great Bible and Coverdale.  Images of fifteenth and sixteenth century Bibles, which make use of more modern divisions, are also given.  The Stephanus 1551 edition is the recognized standard; however, Vance notes thirty-nine places in which the KJV differs.

For those interested in this subject, Vance’s small volume, which includes an extensive bibliography, would be hard to beat.

The Origin of the Chapters and Verses in the Bible by Laurence M. Vance (Orlando, Vance Publications: 2021) 39 pp., paper $5.95

Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher Southern View Chapel.