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Friday, December 3, 2010

Simple Church Minute 44--chapter and verse

44-chapter and verse
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute
            Why are the books of the Bible divided up into chapters and verses?  When you or I write a letter, we don’t do that, and all of Paul’s, Peter’s, and Luke’s writings begin like a letter.  Well, they didn’t divide it up that way.  If they had, it wouldn’t have been divided up the way it is.
            In 1227, Stephen Langdon, a professor at the University of Paris, divided all of the books of the Bible into chapters.  A very light reading of the Bible will indicate that he did not always succeed in dividing stories and thoughts in an appropriate place.  In 1551, a printer named Robert Stephanus numbered the sentences in the New Testament.  According to Stephanus’ son, his father did not have a consistent method for the numbering of the verses, and did some of the work while traveling on horseback.
            With this come both positives and negatives.  The main positive is that the system does make it easier to refer to any place in the Bible.  Now, the negatives:  First, a core Christian belief is that the Bible was inspired by God in the original languages.  Book names, chapters, verses, footnotes all can be helpful, but they are not part of God’s inspiration, although I recognize that one church franchise structure disagrees on this point.  Second, the chapter and verse structure makes it easy to take a quotation out of context.  For instance, there was a time a couple of decades ago in which Revelation chapter 3 verse 20 was quoted like an evangelistic altar call, but in context, the risen Jesus is speaking, through John, to the church in Laodicea.  Third, which is a slight difference from what I just said, the chapter and verse system makes it easier to take a sentence here and another from there to justify a doctrine, and, however biblical it seems, is a group of verses taken out of context.  Over the centuries, we have many divisions built on such a way of using the Bible.
            You can email me at simplechurchminute@gmail.com.  For more info on organic church*, see http://www.simplechurch.com/ or locally at (local website).
On the recording, at this time, it says, “house churches.”  While that phrasing is OK, to say “organic church” is better.  I comment on that in blip 94.

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