From The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1908-1912), volume 2, pages 113-14.

III. Chapter and Verse Divisions

The purpose of the present division into chapters and verses was to facilitate reference. These divisions sometimes, but not generally, ignore logical and natural divisions.

1. Chapter Divisions

Common opinion concerning chapter divisions attributes them to Cardinal Hugo of Saint Cher for use in his concordance to the Latin Vulgate (c. 1240, first printed, with modification, at Bologna, 1479). This opinion rests on the direct testimony of Gilbert Genebrard (d. 1597), that "the scholastics who with Cardinal Hugo were authors of the concordance" made the division. Quetif and Echard, a century and a half later than Genebrard, ascribe to Hugo only the subdivision of the chapters presently to be mentioned. The better opinion is, that Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1228), made the chapter division to facilitate citation. Before the invention of printing it had already passed from Latin manuscripts to those of other tongues, and after the invention of printing it became general. It has undergone slight variations from the beginning to the present day. Many early printed Bibles, especially Greek Testaments, besides these chapters retain also the old breves or titloi noted in the margin. (see above, II, 1, § 5). The chapters were at first subdivided into seven portions (not paragraphs), marked in the margin by the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, G, reference being made by the chapter number and the letter under which the passage occurred. In the shorter Psalms, however, the division did not always extend to seven. In Psa. cxix it seems not to have been used at all. This division (except in the Psalms) was modified by Conrad of Halberstadt (c. 1290), who reduced the divisions of the shorter chapters from seven to four; so that the letters were always either A-G or A-D. This subdivision continued long after the introduction of the present verses, but in the seventeenth century was much modified, some chapters having more than four, and less than seven, subdivisions.

2. Verse Divisions, Old Testament

The present verses differ in origin for the Old Testament, New Testament; and Apocrypha. In the canonical Old Testament they appear in the oldest known manuscripts (see above, I, 1, § 7, 2, § 2), though they were not used for citation by the Jews till the fifteenth century. The earlier printed Hebrew Bibles marked each fifth verse only with its Hebrew numeral. Arabic numerals were first added for the intervening verses by Joseph Athias, at Amsterdam, 1661, at the suggestion of Jan Leusden. The first portion of the Bible printed with the Masoretic verses numbered was the Psalterium Quincuplex of Faber Stapulensis, printed at Paris by Henry Stephens in 1509. In 1528 Sanctes Pagninus published at Lyons a new Latin version of the whole Bible with the Masoretic verses marked and numbered. He also divided the Apocrypha and New Testament into numbered verses; but these were three or four times as long as the present ones.

3. Verse Divisions, New Testament

The present New Testament verses were introduced by Robert Stephens in his Greco-Latin Testament of 1551 (see above, II, 2, § 2). Stephens says in his preface that the division is made to follow the most ancient Greek and Latin copies. But it will be difficult, if not impossible, to find any Greek or Latin manuscripts whose divisions coincide very nearly with Stephens's verses. Doubtless he made this division with reference to his concordance to the Vulgate, then preparing, published in 1555. This Latin concordance, like former ones, contains references to the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and also to the numbers of the verses of each chapter "after the Hebrew method" of division. This latter, the preface states, has special reference to an operi pulcherrimo et proeclarissimo which he is now printing, which must mean his splendid Bible of 1556-57, 3 vols., containing the Vulgate, Pagninus, and the first edition of Beza's Latin New Testament. Meanwhile, for present convenience, he is issuing a more modest Bible (Vulgate), with the verses marked and numbered. This latter was his Vulgate of 1555 (Geneva)--the first whole Bible divided into the present verses, and the first in which they were introduced into the Apocrypha. The text is continuous, not having the verses in separate paragraphs, like the New Testament of 1551, but separated by a ∥ and the verse-number. The verse-division differs in only a very few places from that of 1551; and a comparison shows that the concordance agrees rather with the division of 1551 than with that of 1555. The statement so often made that the division was made "on horseback" while on a journey from Paris to Lyons must be qualified. His son asserts that the work was done while on the journey, but the inference most natural and best supported is that the task was accomplished while resting at the inns along the road.

In other languages the division appeared first as follows: French, New Testament, Geneva, 1552, Bible, Geneva, 1553 (both R. Stephens); Italian, New Testament, L. Paschale (Geneva?), 1555; Dutch, New Testament, Gellius Ctematius (Gillis van der Erven), Embden, 1556, Bible, Nikolaus Biestkens van Diest, Embden, 1560; English, Genevan New Testament, 1557, Genevan Bible, 1560; German, Luther's Bible, perhaps Heidelberg, 1568, but certainly Frankfort, 1582.

In Beza's editions of the Greek Testament (1565-1604) sundry variations were introduced, which were followed by later editors, notably the Elzevirs (1633, etc.); and many minor changes have been made, quite down to the present day.

A very convenient and illuminating "table of ancient and modern divisions of the New Testament," giving the divisions in the Vatican manuscript, the titloi, the Ammonian kephalaia, the stichoi, remata, and the modern chapters and verses, is given in Scrivener, Introduction, i, 68. The titloi, kephalaia, and tables of the Eusebian canons are available in such editions as Stephens's Greek Testament of 1550, and Mill's of 1707, 1710. The Greek Testament by Lloyd (Oxford, 1827) and by Mill (1859) give the Eusebian canons. For a synopsis of variations in manuscripts consult J. M. A. Scholz, Novum Teatamentum Graece, i, Frankfort, 1830, pp. xxviii-xxix.

The Stephanic verses have met with bitter criticism because of the fact that they break the text into fragments, the division often coming in the middle of the sentence, instead of forming it into convenient and logical paragraphs, an arrangement which has seldom found favor. But their utility for reference outweighs their disadvantage. They should never be printed in separate paragraphs (as in the English Authorized Version), but the text should be continuous and the numbers inserted in the margin (as in the Revised Version).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. R. Gregory, Prolegomena, i, 140-182, Leipsic, 1894; the Introductions of Tregelles and Scrivener, ut sup. under II; B. F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort, N. T., Introduction and Appendix. pp. 318 sqq., of Am. edition, New York, 1882; I. H. Hall in Sunday School Times Apr. 2, 1881. Consult also W. Wright, in Kitto's Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, "Verse," London, 1845 (the ed. of 1870 is not so good); DCA, ii, 953-967.