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ordinairement par versets chiffrez, avec cette difference, que dans les
Bibles et Nouveaux Testaments de Robert Estienne, des ministres de
Geneve et de Basle, tons les versets commencent la ligne; ce que ne
se trouvent point observe dans celles de Sixte V. et de Clement Vll I.
si on excepte Job, les Pseaumes, et les Paraboles de Salomon.
Ordinairement les Protestants ont suivis la methode de Robert
Estienne, et quelques-uns parmis les Catholiques, &c. &c. On voit,
que depuis le temps de Robert Estienne, Fusage a ete d^imprimer
la Sainte Bible avec des chifires Arabes a tons les versets. Jaques
Fabry d^EIstables les avoit deja introduits dans son Psalterium Quin-
tuplex, imprime 1509 et 1518^ par Henry pere de Robert, &c.

^* Sans doute, Robert Elstienne avoit vu ces impressions, et il est
bien probable, quHl forma son idee sur ces exemples."

And again, —

"Theodore Jansson d'Almeloue dit dans son livre De Vit&
Stephanonim, imprime a Amsterdam, 1683, que cet imprimeur
imagina le dessein de mettre des chifires, et de distinguer ainsi les
versets du Nouveau Testament^ etant a cheval dans un vojrage
qu'*il faisoit '^« Pt^rlq, a Tjyons. 'Ipsum equitando Lutetia Lugdunum

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462 On the Didition of Ver9es in ^ Bible.

dum peteret, tmemata iila seu indsa, vel ut nostri vocant, versus,
per Novum Testaraentum invenisse.' ***

It is needless to multiply proofs of this preralent idea, which has
ascribed the introduction of rerses in the New Testament to Ste-
phens* It has been repeated bj every subseouent writer who has
adverted to the subject.* But the reader will not have fiuled to
observe, that as Stephens asserts that he had introduced this division
into the New Testament in imitation of Gh-eek manuscripts, so he
had introduced it into the Old in imitation of the Hebrews. The
introduction of verses into the Old Testament, as well as the New, is
indeed attributed to Stef^ens by most writers, including Du Pin,
Calmet, Father Simon, and Jahn ; the formerf observes that ** Robert
Stephens was the first who followed exactly the distinction of the
Masorites in his Latin Bibles (^ Calmet| asserts that it was in his
edition of 1545 that Robert Stephens first introduced this dirision;
while Father Simon,} in which he is followed by Jahn,|| asserts that
this introduction took place in the later edition of 1548.

In Mr. Home's useful Introduction, into which the inaccuracies, as
well as the more correct statements of the learned, have sometimes
found their way, the process by which the present verses were intro-
duced into the Bible is thus described : —

'^ Rabbi Mordecai Nathan undertook a similar concordance for
the Hebrew Scriptures ; but,. instead of adopting the marginal letten
of Hugo, he marked every fifth verse with a Hebrew numeral, thus,
Hi. n5, &c., retaining, however, the cardinal's division into chapters.
The introduction of verses into the Hebrew Bible was made by
Athias, a Jew of Amsterdam [1661], with the figures now in use,
except those which had been previously marked by Nathan with
Hebrew letters, in the manner in which they at present appear in
the Hebrew Billies. By rejecting these Hebrew numerals, and sub-
stituting for them the corresponding figures, all the copies of the
Bible in other languages have since been marked.^ ^^ The verses
into which the New Testament is now divided are much more
modem, (viz. than the orlxot) and are an imitation of those invented
for the Old Testament by Rabbi Nathan in the fifteenth century.
Robert Stephens was their first inventor.*"

We mignt infer from these two passages that Rabbi Mordecai
Nathan was the first inventor of the present verses in the Old Testa-

* Hug, for instance, observes, " The verses came from Robert Stereos, who
first introduced them in his edition of the New Testament, in 1551. There is no
mention made of the place where it was printed, but it is adorned with Stephens's

f Prolegomena, p. 287.

X Preface to the Bible : — "We are assured that it is Robert Stephens, who, in his
edition of 1545, has divided the text by verses, numbered as at present. This divi-
sion passed from the Tjatins to the Greeks and Hebrews."

§ Simon. Histoire Critique.

1} "Versus in Lattnam Vulgatam primum a Rob. Stephano, 1548, inducti et nnroeris
insigniti sunt.'* — Jahn. Introductio, $ 102, p. 121, Ed. 2. emendata. Vienna,
1814. 8vo.

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On the Dimrion of Verses in the Bible. 468

m^nt, as well as of their numerical notation, as Stephens was of those
in the New ; that, however, only every fifth verse was marked with
a numeral letter, until the year 1661, when Athias published his
edition, introducing the Arabic numerals into the Hebrew Bibles, in
the manner in which they are prefixed at present ; and tl)at it was
not until after this year that the copies of the Bibles in other lan-
guages were marked with these figures, in imitation of the Hebrew
Bibles. It is true that in another place Mr. Home says that the
Masorites were the inventors of verses, but he does not intimate that
they were the same with those now in use.

Notwithstanding the positive assertion that Stephens was the
author of these divisions both in the Old and New Testament, we
find Elias Levita speaking on this subject as if it were by no means
an ascertained fiw^ ^' Who,^ he says, " can name the inventor of the
mariner's compass ? It is a matter of dispute who was the author of
the famous art of printing. The same may be said of the telescope,
for Galileo only improved it : and to come nearer to our purpose, who
invented the spirits and accents, and who first affixed the points
which we call the comma, colon, and period ? Who first divided
the books of the Old and New Testament into arlxoif There are
even some who entertain doubts respecting a matter but recently
come into use, who the person was who first introduced the division
of verses into the Gh-eek and Latin Bibles." *

Wc have already observed that the earliest authority for the
received opinion that Stephens was the inventor of these verses, at
least in the New Testament, is Robert Stephens himself. But not*
withstanding the boastings of his son Henry, it seems to us not quite
evident that Robert himself meant to take the credit, such as it
was, of this invention ; on the contrary, it cannot have failed to
strike the attentive reader, that, so fiur from putting himself forward
as the inventor, he even in some degree disclaims it, where he says
that in his division of the Old Testament he had " followed the cus-
tom of the Hebrews,"! and in that of the New, that he *' imitated
the most ancient Greek and Latin manuscripts."^

We shall therefore now proceed with the inquiry, whether any
divisions corresponding to our verses existed among the Jews, and

* ** Quis pyxidU nautice pritnum inveDtorem certo nominare potest ? De arte
typographicft, inyentione pneclarA, et ?ix ante 200 annos in usu, disputant quisnara

fintnus auctor. Tubi opttci, sive telescopii, certus auctor igtioratur : Galilsin enim,
ieet illud multum ezcoluit, primut ttmen ejus non fuit inventor. £t ut propius ad
rem, de qu& agimus, accedamuf, dicant nobis, quis primusi spiritua et accentm librit
Orsecis apposuit, et tarn apud Grscoa quara Latinos aliosque comma, colon, et
periodom earuroque notas, ad distinctionem sententise, usurpavit ? Quisnam apod
antiquos, libros Novi TesUmenti et quosdam Veteris in mtxovs primo divisit ! Quin
et de eo, quod nuper in usu cceptum, dubitant nonnulU, quia primus Biblia Latina
et Orseca per versus primo partiius sit. Videmus in iis, qui paucis abhinc annit
inventa sunt, quam difficile sit authores certo demgnareJ'^See Walton's Prolegomena,
t Preface to the edition of the Latin Vulgate, 1555.
i Pre£M:e to the edition of the New Testament, Greek and Latin, 1551.

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464 On the Diviii&n of Verse$ in the Bible.

also vhat divisions of this description are to be found in Greek

But we must take care, in entering on this inquiry, to mark the
distinction between divisions into sections or verses, and the
enumeration of these divisions, and also between the numbering of
these divisions, and the attaching of figures to them, for the sake of
arithmetical notation or reference. For instance, there may have
been divisions answering to our verses, both in the Hebrew and
Oreek Scriptures, and yet the number of these divisions may never
have been added up ; or there miay have been divisions, withont any
figures attached, as in our present Bibles. And again, as our present
divisions into verses are not numerical divisions of books, but merely
of chapters, and as they are consequently connected intimately with
the division into chapters, it will be necessary to recollect when this
division into chapters took place, as it is evident that the present
numerical divisions of the chapters into verses could not have been
introduced, under any circumstances, before the chapters themselves
were invented. This, then, must form part of our inquiry and con-
sideration* That there has been a division of the Hebrew Bible into
verses from a remote period cannot be contested, but when this
division took place must, in all probability, ever remain a mystery.
Only it would appear that no division of the kind existed in Jerome^s
time, or he would scarcely have passed it over in silence, especially as
he asserts that he was himself the author of a division, which he
introduced into the Latin Vulgate. The probability is, from the
close connexion between the vowel points and the pccrpo (soph
pasuk,) which marks the present division in our Hebrew Bibles, as
well as firom the fact that the Masoretic copies contain this division
into verses, separated from each other by the soph pasuk, that the
Masorites were the authors of these, and that they were at least as
ancient as the times of the Masorites, whose labours are supposed to
have spread over a period from the fifth to the tenth century of our
era ; but whether these may have been, like the said vowel points,
handed down traditionally from an earlier period, is a question which
we shall not here stop to examine. We shall only add, that these
masoretic verses, called pesukim^ and separated from each other by the
double point called soph pasuk, or termination of the verse, are
nearly identical with the verses in our own Bibles.*

The earliest printed edition of the Hebrew Bible, published by
Bomberg in 1518, has the present division, marked with the
soph pasuk, but without the numeral letters. These are first found
in the edition of 15^, in which each fifth verse is marked with the
Hebrew numerals, according to the invention of Rabbi Nathan.

There are occasional exceptions, as, for instance, 1 Kings 4,
which has in the common copies thirty-four, but in Athias only

♦ See Walton's Prolegomena, viii. § 1—12. Ludov. Capell. Crit Sac t. ii. c. 12,
also 13 cap. 17» Buxtorrs Tiberias, cap. viii. and Tract Megilla, c 3, fo). 22.

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On tie Dipinon of Verses in the Bible. 46^

iirtnij verses. Athias says that he followed a very ancient manu-
script. Also Gen. vii. 22 is in some MSS. the first verse of the
ninth chapter. But " in what way," to use the words of the learned
Pareau, " the present division into verses found its way into the
Hebrew Bibles it is impossible to say with any certainty."

We now come to the consideration of the Greek manuscripts, .
which Stephens, in his preface to his edition of 1551, asserts that he
followed. It therefore becomes necessary to inquire, what kind of
verses were used by the Greeks.

Some division of this kind has been supposed to be of very early
date. Eusebius considers it to have been first used by Origen in hi3
Hexapla. Hesychius, who died in the year 433, and is supposed
to have been a disciple of Gregory Nazianzen, published a work,
which he entitled the "SiTixvp^tQ of the Twelve Prophets, or the
prophetical books divided into <rr(\oi, that is, verses, or rather lines.
He informs us, at the same time, that this manner of writing was

Peculiar to the poetical books, that is to say, the book of Job, the
Wms, and the works of Solomon ; but at the same time asserts,
that he had found a similar division in the apostolical books ; and it
would appear that this kind of writing by arixoi was afterwards
transferred, for greater perspicuity, to the writings of the Prophets.
He* considers this kind of writing at least as ancient as the time of
David and Solomon. Eusebius is our authority for asserting, that
Origen used this method in his He^^tpla, dividing the Greek and
other versions into Kw\a.'\' Jerome acquaints us that the books of
Job, Canticles, and Ecclesiastes had been already so written ;| and
there exist Hebrew manuscripts, in which these books, together
with the other poetical books, are divided into stanzas and hemistychs*
The nature of the subject, and especially the parallelism of the sen-
tences, which forms such a peculiarity of Hebrew poetry, seem to
require some such division, which may have proceeded from the
original authors, and been transferred from the Hebrew to the

Jerome says that it was to prevent confusion, amid so many proper
names, that ne introduced this division into the books of Chronicle8,§
which he thus distinguished into colons and commas ; but it does

• loTi fihr dpxcuor rovro rots Bto^pois r6 ffwo^turfjia, crlxffio^ «^* ^'^ itoXAA
irp^s T^ rmv /AcXcrw/UyMr ea/^vutM^ ras vpo^irrctov iieridtffBat, k. t. A. — Hesy-
chittB, ** It was an ancient invention of the holy fathers, for the sake of greater per-
spicuity, to divide the prophetical books into colons or members of verses, for
they were at first written without any distinction. But it was afterwards so
Introduced by the learned. The books of the Prophets were thus edited by them :
also the Psalms of David, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Solomon's Song. The book
of Job is also thus found ; and I have myself found the book^of the Apostles " (the Acts
and Epistles) ** divided by some in the same manner."

t Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. b. vi. c 16. Bishop Christopherson, however, the
translator of Eusebius, was of opinion that these icwAa were the columns into which
Origen divided his Hexapla.

X See Jerome's Preface to Isaiah and Ezekiel.

{ See his Second Apology to Ruffinus, and his Preface to Joshua, Isaiah, and

NO. XVI. — N. S. 3 O

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4^ On the DivUian of Verses in the Bible.

not appear that he introduced a similar division into the other books
of Scripture. Martianay is of opinion, that it was in imitation of
Jerome^ that Hesychius divided the twelve minor prophets into
<TTt\oiy which Hesychius himself says had been previously done in
regard to the metrical or poetical books, which are also called
cTixfipitQ by Gregory Nazianzen,* Amphilochius,*|- Polydironius.J
(wlio says that they are metrically written in Hebrew,) and John of
Damascus. Epiphanius § also, in his Fourth Catechesis, gives the
name of the five irrixnp^iCj or stichometrical books, to Job, the
Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticles, to which he adds
Jesus Sirach.

Hesychius, as we have already seen, asserts that the prophetical
books had been originally written without any distinction into verses ;
but that the holy Fathers had adopted the division for the sake of

Cerspicuity. It is probable* that he here alludes not to the Hebrew,
ut the Greek. It is here observable, that the word used by Hesy-
chius is artxoc ; and as it is of importance to our inquiry to examine
into the sense of this word, we shall here enter briefly on this conside-
ration. The word arfxoc seems to be synonymous with the Latin
^ereus^ which is used by the Latin writers in exactly the same sense.
The word arlxoQ seems, however, not to have been alwajrs used in
precisely the same signification. It sometimes seems to denote a
short sentence ; at other times, one or two words regulated by the
sense, but filling only a part of the line, the rest being left blank;
a portion, in fact, in which there was any meaning whatever, although
imperfect and but commenced. It sometimes signified a whole
sentence, as in the following example from Demosthenes's Oratio
pro Coronft, given by Aquila Romanus : ouic tlwov filv ovv ravra,
ovK iypa\pa 8f * ovii Ijpaypa fxiv^ ovk iwpdrfievira 8^ ovSi ivpitr^vca
fxlvj OVK iweira hi Oripaloii* ; but it more usually signified a line, con-
sisting generally of the same number of words without any reference
to the sense, for the greater facility of counting the number of lines.
Most existing manuscripts of the <m\fipiig^ which are copies of
stichometrical books, are, however, written in a continued text, with
the divisions marked with points, in order to save parchment.
The following examples of stichometry will here serve to illustrate
our subject.

The verse in Job, " Perish the day,^ is thus stichometrically divided
in the Thecla or Alexandrine MS. (A) :

'AiroXoiro i; micpa, <y j iytPtr^Brjp iv ovrj
Koi ^ in)( <y ^ cJirov *IdoV Spirtv.

So also in the words, which in the Hebrew text make but one verse,
it has been found thus :

*Air€viyKotTo avrrjv ckotos. Mi; ftrj th

yjfiepaf ivtavrov, firjtk apiBfitiOeiti tls i^ft/ipas fti^vwy.

* Carm. S8. f Carra. ad Seleucum. % Prolfgomena id M*

§ Lib. iv. 4e Ortb. Fid.

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On ike Division of Verses in the Bible. 467

But in A, it is thus divided :


ftfj eii; . . . . .

fiTf^h dpiOfjLrfBtiff ....

Again, the 13th rerse of tlie fifth chapter is divided into eight
Ternes in the same manuscript.

The following will serve as an example of stichometry, taken from
a Greek manuscript of the seventh century. We shall, however,
give it in English, according to the authorized version.

Rom. vi. 19—22.

Because of the infirmity

of your flesh

For as ye have yielded

your members

servants to undeauness

and to iniquity unto iniquity

Even so now yield

your members

servants to righteousness

unto holiness

What fruit had ye then in those things

whereof ye are now ashamed

For the end of those things

is death

But now being made free firom sin

and become servants of God

Ye have your firuit unto holiness

and the end everlasting life.

The two first of these lines are said by Montfiiucon to belong to
the former period. The next period has eight <nl\oi or lines. This
contiuns two colons, each having four commas or versicles. This
learned writer says that each colon contained two sections. As he
informs us that these divisions supply the place of points through-
out the manuscript, it would seem more properly to belong to the
Euthalian division, which we shall next refer to.

It appears from what Hesychius has said of his seeing a sticho-
metrical copy of the Acts and Epistles, that stichometry had been then
some time in use. There was, however, another sort of stichometry
invented in the fifth century by Euthalius the deacon (of Alexandria),
If hich was a rude substitute for the art of punctuation. The follow-
ing example is taken from Wetstein's uncial manuscript, H, Titiu
ii. 2, 8:—

vpfcfivTos pri<l>aKiovs tlvai That the aged men be sober

crcfivoi)^ g^ave

amffipovas temperate

vytaLvovrai rg iri<rm sound in faith

r^ dyaiiFTgy m charity

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468 On the Divinon of Verses in the Bible*

irpiapvTi^ ma-avTcts Iv Tbe aeed women likewise

KaraarriiiaTi UpovpiwtU that uiey be in behayiour at be-

cometh holiness
fiff diafiokovs not false accusers

firf olva iroXX^ 6(dov\»fupas not eiven to much wine

KttkoMatrKoXovs. teachers of good things.

Euthalius thus completed the whole of PauVs Epistles in the year
462, and divided in the same manner the Acts and Catholic EpisUcs;
but his stichometrical edition of the Oospek has not come down to
us.* But since his time, we have abundance of stichometrical manu-
scripts. Some are of opinion, that he took his idea from the sticho-
metrical arrangement of Job, the'PsJilms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastcs.
This mode of writing was, no doubt, of the greatest use to the un-
learned, and assisted them in discovering the sense of what they read,
in the absence of points. This work came out under the patronage
of Nicephorus, patriarch of Constantinople, to whom the work was

Although several of the transcripts of these stichometrical manu-
scripts have not preserved the stichometrical form, they yet continue
to enumerate the <rrl\oi at the end of each book. They sometimes
also add the number of pfifiara ; but what this signified is doubts
ful. It is, however, certain, that there was nearly the same number
of pfifxara as of art^oi.'f'

After this, the practice commenced of saving expense, by filling
up the entire of the vacant space; and points were used, for the pur-
pose of showing where each separate verse ended. Thus, instead of
writing —

o di tytpBthf frapcXa/3f to vojAIow
Koi T^iv fATjTfoa avTov' Kal ^6€v th y^p 'icrpcnjX'
dKowras 6i ot« *Apx*^aof fiaatkwu cirl t^t *lovdaiai'
<Svrl 'Hpttdov. rov irarpbs avrov*
f<f>o^r^6ri €K€t airtXBiiv
Xpriiiar%<rB€\s dc* K. r. X. — Matt iL 21, 22.
They wrote thus —

o ^ iy€p6t\s' vap€\afi€ t6 ira^iov koL r^v fujrtpa avrov' mil lkB€P tti •fy'
*\fTpar\K' aKova-tu 64, k, r. X.

The Alexandrian manuscript (A) in the British Museum is a eepf
of a stichometrical MS. in which the close of each arlyp^ is marked
by a point, as —

Koi cJJoij ra Ttrpanota rijs y^g . leal rd Brjpla ical ri ipwrrd . not i^
V€T€tvci Tov ovpa¥od : tJKovtra di 0«i^r Xtyovtrift ftor dwa<rr69 Ilcrpc • Bveoi^
Koi <l>ayf.

But there are other marks, which prove it to have been altogether
independent of Euthalius's invention, and to have been written, to-
gether with other uncial manuscripts , including the Codex Eplirenii,

• Hug seems to thiok it possible, that Euthalius executed no stiohometrici]
arrangement of the Gospels ; and that whoever did, might have called the rr(x«»
Wmoto. Of these ffrixot, it was usual to give the number at the end of each book.
Tliey were sometimes also numbered in the margin, as we shall see hereafter.

t Bishop Marsh, no mean auihonty, seems decidedly of opinion, that rnx«( *^
lines only, without any reference to the sense, while Hflara were short sentencef.

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On the Division of Verses in the Bible, 469

and Dr. Barrett's manuscript of St. Matthew's Gospel, (which shall be
hereafter referred to,) before the system of stichomctry came into repute.
The celebrated Codex Bezse is a stichometrical manuscript, but
the number of verses is not added at the end. Another sticho-
metrical manuscript, the Codex Laudianus E, has preserved the
numbers. This contains the stichi both in Greek and Latin, in
opposite columns, as does also the uncial MS. D, or the Clermont
MS. in the French king's library.

The uncial MS. G, or the Codex Bcemeriananus, a manuscript
written by an Irishman in the ninth century, and once in the pos-
session of the famous John Scotus, (or the Irishman,) is also copied
from a stichometrical exemplar, and the writing of the present MS.
is continuous, and the commencement of each verse merely indicated
by a capital initial. The following example is (incorrectly) given
by Hug, as a proof that the transcriber was an ignorant man, and
incapable of planning a few arlxoi on Euthalius^s principles.

Tavrd aoi ypa^w eXirct^o) iXBtuf rdxtiov

'Eov fipaidvv» tva Ibfjg'

Tims del . fp oU^ 0COV d»aiTTfK<fi€<TOai.

*Ht«5 ccrrU' iKKkrfvia 0€ov d&vrot

SrvXor kqX idpal»fui rfjs iXrjOiat

Kal 6yLo\oyovfii¥»s. fuya iariv t6 rrji rda-tfiiat, ftv<rrjpiOP

*0s i(f>avap<i6fj. tv uapKi.

"ti^Orj dyylXoiS ,

*EKrjpvxorf iv. tBvtaiv
ntcrrev^. tv Kocfup
*Av€\n<f>dn cv. doijj.
O o€ nvrvfia pr}T»s Aeyc«
*0t« €P vtrripohs Kaipois •

The unsatisfactory nature of this kind of stichometrical pause
led to attempts at grammatical improvement, which ended in our
present system of punctuation, which was introduced probably about
the eighth century, and brought to its present state of perfection
before the tenth.-("

It will be now evident to the reader, that when Stephens said
that he had followed ancient Greek manuscripts in his division of the
▼erses, he could not possibly have referred to the ancient system
of stichometry : — Stephens has, consequently, been accused of having
made this statement to serve a purpose. But as this will form a

Online LibraryWilliam ScottThe Christian remembrancer → online text (page 66 of 103)