Chapter of the Bible
Chapter Of The Bible.
The present numeral division of the Scriptures into chapters and verses is, in some respects, of comparatively recent origin. The Pentateuch was divided by the Jews, at an early period, into fifty-four parshioth (פִּרשַׁיּוֹת) = sections, one of which was read in the synagogue every Sabbath day (Ac 13:15). These sections were subdivided, probably by the Masoretes, into 669 sidrim (סַדרַים), or orders. After the reading of the law, it was also customary, from an early period, to read a passage from the prophets, and with that to dissolve the assembly. Such passages were called haphtoroth´ (הִפטָרוֹת) = dismissions, and appear to have been selected according to the choice of any reader (Ac 13:15; Ac 27:43; Lu 4:16). The divisions or sections found in the Greek and Latin manuscripts are different from those of the Hebrew books; they are of unequal and arbitrary length, and very different from the chapters in our printed Bibles. So, also, the books of the New Testament were divided, at an early period, into, certain portions, which appear under various names. The division into church lessons, read in the assemblies like the sections of the law and the prophets, was the most ancient. Subsequently the New Testament was divided into two kinds of sections, called titles (τίτλοι) and chapters (κεφάλαια =heads). The titles were portions of the Gospels, with summaries placed at the top or bottom of the page. The chapters were divisions, with numeral notations, chiefly adapted to the Gospel harmony of Ammonius. Other sectional divisions are occasionally seen in manuscripts, which appear to have varied at different times and in different churches, accordingly as festival days were multiplied. SEE BIBLE.
The numerical division of the Old and New Testaments into modern chapters is by some ascribed to Lanfranc, who was archbishop of Canterbury in the reigns of William the Conqueror and William II, while others attribute it to Stephen Langton, who was archbishop of the same see in the reigns of John and Henry III. Its authorship, however, is usually assigned to the schoolmen, who, with cardinal Hugh of St. Cher, were the authors of the Concordance for the Latin Vulgate, about A.D. 1240. This cardinal wrote remarks, or Postils, as they were called, on all the books of Scripture; and this Latin Bible, published by him, is generally supposed to be the first Bible divided into the present chapters. Yet cardinal Humbert, about A.D. 1059, cites the 12th and 13th chapters of Exodus, and the 23d of Leviticus, according to our present division of chapters. Whoever was the author, from about this period the division of the several books into chapters was gradually adopted in the Latin and other versions; and, finally, in the Hebrew, with a few variations, and also in the Greek text. The several Psalms were not included in this division. SEE VERSE.