Heidegger's Bible Handbook: New Testament in General: Ancient Verse Divisions

8. Στίχοι/verses, the tmemata/sections of the chapters. The ancient division of verses, and that varying, expounded with respect to diverse στιχομετρίας/verse-length, is narrated.



We proceed to the Στίχους/verses(which properly denote a line from the vertendo/turning of the pen), or Tmematia. For, it is evident that from antiquity the Holy text was also divided according to verses. For, Jerome makes mention of verses, in ad Furiam, in these words: Have a fixed number of verses of Sacred Scripture. The same relates that he translated the book of Chronicles, and divided it into verses. But mention was also made of στίχων/ verses by Saint Athanasius, contra Arianos, Oration 3, and Tractatu de Virginitate; Gregory Nyssen,[1] de Theodoro Martyre; Epiphanius, de ponderibus et mensuris; Chrysostom, Homily on Psalm 41; the Author of the Greek catena in Jeremiam;[2]and others. And Crojus proves that very same thing as above from the στιχομετρίᾳ/verse-measuringof the ancients. And that division of versesis likewise either ancient, and disused today, or new. The ancient division of verses varied just as much as that of the chapters. For, in certain Codices Saint Matthew’s (for example) Gospel (which according to the division used today consists of one thousand and seventy-one verses) has two thousand, five hundred verses; in others, two thousand, five hundred and sixty; in other, two thousand, six hundred; in the codex of our Carolina Bibliotheca, of which I made mention before, two thousand, seven hundred. Which diversity did not arise, because, as some suppose, a verse was the same thing as a line, and some wrote the same book with more lines, others with fewer lines; but because sacred context was formerly wont to be written by the Copyists in diverse ways. For, some were writing in an unbroken series, and without any interpunctuation: others, ἐν εἴδει τῶν στιχηρῶν, in the form of books written in poetry/song. Those that were writing in an unbroken series were noting and distinguishing verses and their members with great letters, either scarlet or blue. But those that were copying κατὰ τὸν τῶν στιχηρῶν τρόπον, according to the manner of books written in poetry/son, were separating verses with interpunctuation and a certain space, or with a thin line. But both were constituting verses, not according to the length or brevity of sentences, nor according to the entirety of a well-rounded sentence, but according to the reckoning of the mind or sense, and according to the number of clauses or members, in such a way that sometimes there are as many verses in individual sentences, as there are divisions or members of them. There are more examples of this matter to see in Job, which Patricius Junius published at London in 1637 AD from a book written by the hand of Thecla.[3] See also the same Most Illustrious Crojus, Observationibus in Novum Testamentum, chapter 12, demonstrating that very thing with examples of books of the New Testament.


[1]Gregory Nyssen (c. 332-396) was Bishop of Nyssa, and a divine of profound learning and great piety. He was a fierce opponent of Arianism, and he took an active part in drafting Constantinopolitan enlargement of the Nicene Creed. [2]The Catena Text of Jeremiah (six manuscripts) is a witness to the Septuagint version of Jeremiah. These copies were made from the sixth to the ninth century, and include the Septuagint version of Jeremiah in the main body of the text, surrounded by Patristic comments. [3]Patrick Young, also known as Patricius Junius (1584-1652) was a Scottish scholar and royal librarian to James I and Charles I. Among his scholarly publications, he published a catena of the Greek Fathers on the Book of Job. There is a somewhat confused tradition attributing Codex Alexandrinus to a female scribe named Thecla.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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