The division of the Bible into chapters was made by Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro, A.D. 1248, but it is quite possible that he copied them from the works of Lanfranc, or from those of Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury.
The division of the Bible into verses was made by Robert Stephen in 1551, though quite possibly he may have copied the Old Testament verse-divisions from Rabbi Nathan, and the New Testament verse-divisions from some other source.
This division of the Bible into chapters and verses has been frequently criticised. Modern editions, like the Paragraph Bible, the Century Bible (R.V.), and many others are printed in such a way as to obliterate the sharp distinction between verse and verse. They replace the short sentences by the longer paragraph. The chapter and verse divisions of our A.V. are by no means authoritative. In some instances they may be said to be inaccurate and misleading. But there is much to be said for them. They break up the long paragraphs, which suit the taste of the literary student, into short sentences which are more easily grasped, and which appeal more strongly to the understanding of the common people. The translators of our A.V. made it their special aim to render the original in such a manner that each verse should be a perfect gem in itself, capable of being grasped and retained in the memory of the simplest and most unlearned of its readers. In accomplishing this purpose the A.V. has become the household treasure of the common people.
On the whole, the work of dividing the Bible into chapters and verses has been so exceedingly well done that it will never be supplanted by any other. Its convenience for purposes of reference is so great that it may truly be described as indispensable.
It would be interesting to study the growth of the additional matter inserted in the margin of our A.V. The earlier translations of the Bible printed before A.D. 1611 were largely annotated with bitter polemical anti-popery notes, but these were expressly excluded by the instructions of King James I. to the translators of the AV.
The dates placed in the margin of our modern Bibles were first published in Lloyd's Bible (1701). Bishop Lloyd obtained them, in substance, from Archbishop Ussher's "Annals of the Old and New Testaments" (1650-4). They are sufficiently exact to 'be a real help to the reader, but they require to be revised, especially for the period between the Exodus and Samuel, and for that of Ezra and Nehemiah, as the present writer has shown in his " Romance of Bible Chronology " (Marshall Bros., 2 vols).
The notes prefixed by a dagger (t) give the, exact literal translation of the Hebrew and Greek originals. Those prefixed by parallel bars (||) give alternative translations to those contained in the Text. But the bulk of the matter contained in the margin of the A.V. consists of references to other passages of Scripture.
The number of these references to parallel passages, in the original standard edition of the A.V. published in 16 11, was
In the Old Testament- 6,588
In the Apocrypha- 885
In the New Testament-1,517
Total - 8,990
More than half of these are derived from the Latin Vulgate, and preserve for us the fruits of the researches of mediaeval scholars and the traditional expositions of the Western Church. These textual marginal references have been gradually accumulating until to-day the number printed in our modern editions of the A.V. has reached a total of sixty thousand, or seven times the number printed in the original edition of 1611.
John Canne (1682) added a number of references, more suggestive than striking, for the purpose of comment and explanation, on the principle of making the Bible its own interpreter.
Blaney's Bible (1769) added thirty thousand four hundred and ninety-five passages, and further additions were made by Clark (1810) and Scott (1822). Bagster's Bible (1846) contains five hundred thousand references, but this number was so large that it proved to be an encumbrance. Bagster's " Treasury of Scripture Knowledge" exemplifies the truth that the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself, for it contains the substance of all that is best in many commentaries. It is a book of textual references and marginal notes to every verse in the Bible. Dr. Torrey says, " I have found more help in it than in all other books put together." The Religious Tract Society's Annotated . Paragraph Bible (1861) contains a very profitable. collection of texts. The additions made in Dr. Scrivener's Cambridge Paragraph Bible (1873) are rather copious, but admirably designed for practical use.
The marginal references in the R.V. (1898) were compiled by Dr. Scrivener, Dr. Moulton, and the Rev. A. W. Greenup. This is an excellent collection of references embodying the chief results of modern Biblical scholarship in this department.
One of the very best sets of marginal references is the original collection of the Scofield Reference Bible (1909). These references are based not on accidental and superficial resemblances, but on a new system of connected topical references in which all the great truths of Divine revelation are traced through the entire Bible from the place of first mention to the place of last mention, all the references on each topic being linked together so as to form one complete chain. This method imparts interest to Bible Study, and is a more excellent way of arriving at a synthesis of Bible truth than the fragmentary and disconnected study of isolated texts.
The method of Bible Study by parallel marginal references is not to be pursued in a mechanical way. Intelligence and discrimination were exercised by the compilers of the references, and intelligence and discrimination must be employed in the use of them. A careful analysis of the references given in the margin of any ordinary present-day edition of the A.V. will show that they are of several different kinds. Of these seven distinct classes may be enumerated.
1. Quotations or direct citations o f one passage of Scripture in another passage:
Psalm 110:1 : "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool."
Matthew 22: 43-44: " He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? "
Here we have a direct quotation by our Lord in the New Testament of the words of David in the Old Testament, and no ingenuity can ever explain away the fact that the words of our Lord clench the testimony of the psalm title, and confirm the Davidic authorship of Psalm 110.
2. Parallels, in which there is a certain similarity of thought or expression in two independent passages, whether this resemblance be merely verbal or one pertaining to the general sense and meaning o f the passage:
Exodus 13: 21: " And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way ; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light ; to go by day and night."
Here the margin of the A.V. gives fourteen additional parallel passages, in which reference is made to the pillar of cloud and fire, viz:
Exod. 14:19: At the crossing of the Red sea.
Exod: 14: 24: After the crossing of the Red sea.
Exod. 40: 38: In the Wilderness.
Num. 9:15: Covering the Tabernacle. Num. 10: 34: Upon the people.
Num. 14:14: Going before the people. Deut. 1: 33: Showing the way. Neh. 9: 12: Leading and giving light. Neh.9:19 : Never departing from them. Ps.78: 14: Leading by day and night. Ps.99: 7: A place from which the Lord spoke.
Ps.105: 39: Covering and giving light.
Isaiah 4:5 : On every dwelling place..
1 Cor 10:1 : Over all " our fathers."
A profitable Bible Study, greatly enriching our knowledge of the Word, will be obtained by searching out all the references to the subject which have been placed together in the margin of the verse in which it is first mentioned.
3. Illustrations, in which one passage throws a certain measure of light upon the meaning o f another:
Proverbs 24: 16: "The wicked shall fall into mischief."
Esther 7:10: "So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai."
Here the general principal or truth of the proverb is illustrated by means of a historical example taken from the narrative portion of Scripture. Instances of this kind are frequently found in the book of Proverbs, which is peculiarly adapted to the purposes of this method of Bible Study.
4. Explanations, in which the meaning o f the original is further elucidated and defined:
Isaiah 6:9-10: "Hear ye indeed, but understand not ; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."
This most difficult passage is quoted six times over in the New Testament, viz Matthew 13: 14. Mark 4:12. Luke 8:10. John 12:40. . Acts 28:26. Romans 11: 8.
Each additional reference throws some light upon the original, and tends in some degree to elucidate its meaning, but the passage is still involved in mystery, for it deals, not indeed with 'the unreasonable but with the unrevealed will of God respecting incorrigible unbelief. It is one of those passages which involve the problem of the origin, and the continued existence of evil, and the hidden wisdom and the hidden will of God in relation to it.
5. Interpretations, or fulfilments, in which the meaning of the original is further developed, additional or further truth being incorporated with the truth expressed in the original:
Hosea 11:1 : "Out of Egypt have I called my son." ,
Matthew 2:15: " That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my Son."
Here the words in Hosea are applied to the children of Israel as the people of God, His first-born, whom He called out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus. But the words are true in a deeper sense, and as used by Matthew they become the vehicle of a deeper truth. God calls Israel " my son," " my first-born." But Israel failed to answer the description. Christ is the true representative of Israel. He therefore takes the place of the nation. He is the true " Son " of God, and in Him the prophecy is fulfilled.
6. Adaptations, in which the original thought is modified and exhibited in relation to some new set o f circumstances:
Jeremiah 31:15: : " A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not."
Matthew 2: 17, 18: "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not."
Here the promise of the restoration of Israel is announced by the prophet Jeremiah, at a time of bitter weeping and inconsolable sorrow, for the children of Rachel in Ramah. The words are adapted and used to describe the bitter weeping and the inconsolable sorrow of the bereaved mothers of Bethlehem, whose innocent children had been massacred by the cruel sword of Herod.
7. Applications, in which a general truth is brought to bear upon the circumstances of some particular occasion:
Matthew 2: 23: " And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth : that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
Here the references given in the margin of the A.V. to Judges 13: 5 and 1 Samuel 1:11 are false and misleading. There is no reference in the text to the vow of the Nazarite (Judges 13:5, 1 Sam. 1:11; Num.6: 2-8) respecting abstinence from strong drink, from the use of the razor, and from other things. Nor is there any reference to any specific passage in the Old Testament in which the word Nazareth or Nazarite or Nazarene occurs. The prophecies to which Matthew refers as being fulfilled by our Lord's making his home in the obscure unrenowned country village of Nazareth, are those which speak of His humble origin, His lowly estate, and His meek and gentle spirit, the fulfilment of which caused Nathanael to exclaim in incredulous surprise, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? " (John 1: 46), and which caused the proud and haughty Pharisees to stagger in unbelief as they replied to the testimony of Nicodemus, " Search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet" (John 7:52).
It must never be forgotten that the Bible as we have it is a collection of occasional writings, flung out like sparks from the anvil upon certain definite historical occasions, every fragment, however small, containing all the essential elements and kindling properties of the Divine fire. However brief the morning or evening portion, and however imperfectly the connection with its immediate or its larger context may be apprehended, it is itself a breath of the Spirit of God, and the cumulative influence of several passages all bearing on the same topic creates an atmosphere in the human spirit and awakens an impulse in the human will, in the inspiration and the strength of which the purpose for which Holy Scripture was given is realised and fulfilled. Wherever you. taste it, the sea is salt. Wherever you dip into it, the Word of God is alive. There is a sermon in every text, life in every line, God in every word.
The writer would strongly urge the value of this method of Bible Study upon those who have no other book than the Bible. The study of this Book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse, read in the light of the whole Bible, and interpreted in the light of the Bible as a whole, is in itself a liberal education. It was the method adopted, and constantly pursued, by the writer's own mother. She had no other book. She knew no other method. But the result of her life-long application of this method of study to the Bible was the appropriation of its essential teaching into the concrete realities of Christian character, and the transcendent peace and holy joy of a daily walk with God.
The writer has before him at this moment a copy of the Bible which is his own peculiar and sacred treasure. It was given to him by his father's aunt who died at the age of one hundred and a half years. It has been his life-long possession. On leaving his home in the country, at the age of fourteen, for the dangers and temptations, the advantages and the attractions of life in London, his mother wrote with her own hand, on the fly-leaf of this Bible, the following verses and the text of Scripture, which exactly express his own sense of the incomparable value of the Word of God
"This Holy Book I'd rather own,
Than all the gold and gems
That e'er in monarch's coffers shone,
Than all their diadems.
Nay, were the seas one chrysolite,
The earth one golden ball,
And diamonds all the stars of night,
This Book were worth them all.
Ah, no, the soul ne'er found relief,
In glittering hoards of wealth,
Gems dazzle not the eye of grief,
Gold cannot purchase health.
But here a blessed balm appears,
To heal the deepest woe,
And those who read this Book in tears,
Their tears shall cease to flow."
The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him " (Ezra 8:22).
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