Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Old Testament in General: Chapter Divisions



6. The division of the books of the Old Testament according to the פרקים/ Pirkim. The antiquity of this disputed between Heinsius and Crojus. The other division is by means of פרקים/Pirkim/Chapters, which are wont also to be called סימנים/σημεῖα/signs, as to the Greeks κεφάλαια/Chapters. Which division, invented by Christians in imitation of the Hebrews dividing the Pentateuch into sections, and adopted by the Hebrews also afterwards, by no means equals that former division with respect to antiquity: although concerning its origin learned men contend, with some assigning it to a certain Stephen Langton,[1] and with others to Hugo Cardinalis[2] circa 1524 AD. But the Most Learned Crojus in his Observationibus Sacris et Historicis, chapter 7, disputing the antiquity of the division of the Chapters against Heinsius,[3] testifies that he had a Latin Codex of all the Books of Holy Scripture, of the finest quality, and written before eight hundred years, or even more, in which the same series of books is cut and divided by the distinction of which use is made today. But a Codex no less ancient, which is preserved in our Bibliotheca Carolina, having been brought in by Charlemagne himself, as it is said, even if it has some Chapters, they are quite different from today’s, as far briefer, and more like Small Headings than Chapters. Recently also those Most Learned Men, Junius[4] and Tremellius,[5] that division of chapters instituted here and there without sufficient suitability, although they retained it in order to avoid confusion, slightly altered it from time to time by the addition of a more suitable division.



[1] Stephen Langton (c. 1150-1228) was a Cardinal in the Roman Church and Archbishop of Canterbury. Controversy between Pope Innocent III and King John over the election of Stephen to the Archbishopric was one of the factors leading to the signing of the Magna Carta. Langton’s chapter divisions are in use to the present day.


[2] Hugh of St. Cher, also known as Hugo Cardinalis because he was the first Dominican to achieve the office of cardinal (c. 1200-1263), was a French Dominican Biblical scholar. His exegetical works, covering the entire canon, have been gathered into eight substantial volumes.


[3] Daniel Heinsius (1580-1655) was an eminent Dutch scholar. He edited many Greek and Latin classical works, distinguished himself for his poetic talents, and contributed to the Elzevir edition of the Greek New Testament.


[4] Franciscus Junius (1545-1602) was a French theologian and pastor. He studied theology in Geneva under John Calvin and Theodore Beza. Together with Emmanuel Tremellius, he produced a major Latin translation of the Scriptures. He concluded his career as a Professor of Theology at Leiden, at which time he published his Theses theologicas and De vera theologia, which became was massively influential in the development of the Dogmatic structure of Reformed Scholasticism.


[5] John Immanuel Tremellius (1510-1580) converted from Judaism to Christianity and quickly embraced the principles of the Reformation. He taught Hebrew at Strasburg (1541) and at Cambridge (succeeding Paul Fagius in 1549), and served as Professor of Old Testament at Heidelberg (1561).

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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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