“The present chapter divisions for both the Old and the New Testament were not decided upon until 1205. At that time Stephen Langton, a professor in Paris engaged in editing a Latin version of the Bible, introduced them to make it easier for people to locate a passage. In 1330 his system was then adopted by the Jews for a new hand-copied manuscript of the Hebrew Old Testament, and in 1516 these same chapter divisions were used in the first Hebrew Bible. The verse divisions in the Old Testament had been inserted much earlier (ca 200)…The New Testament’s verse divisions were the work of Robert Stephanus, a Parisian printer, in 1551. Using Langton’s chapter divisions, he then divided up the New Testament into verses as he rode on horseback in the rain from Paris to Lyons to meet a printer’s deadline.”
– Daniel Fuller, The Unity of the Bible (102-103)
“Our present chapter and verse divisions were added around 1200 and 1550 respectively, and they impose “a foreign structure” that actually obscures the text, suggesting that it is “a giant reference book.” Not only are the chapter and verse divisions artiﬁcial; they are often inaccurate.”
“I am not a fan of chapter and verse references in the Bible. Bible “verses” didn’t even exist until about 1550, and “chapters” go back only to the 1200s. They can obscure the text and create artificial and sometimes inaccurate divisions.
Yes, chapter and verse references help us locate specific sentences and phrases quickly. But sometimes they do more harm than good. They lead many people to think of the Bible as a reference book that collects bullet-pointed verse-nuggets — not as the literature that it really is.
– Andy Naselli, Three Tips for Better Bible Reading
“In almost every class I teach, I tell my students that chapter and verses are a finding guide, not a reading guide, just as the world doesn’t ‘fit itself’ into latitude and longitude.”
– Mark Stephens, Chapter Divisions in the OT & NT
– J. Mark Bertrand, Crossway ESV Reader’s Bible (Cloth Bound Hardcover)
– J. Mark Bertrand, ESV Reader’s Bible: Some Notes on Daily Use
– Andy Naselli, Reading the Bible Without Chapter and Verse Numbers
– Mark Ward, Jr., Bible Typography Manifesto
– Listen to audio Bibles, verse references are neglected in the reading of Scripture. Here is a wide selection of free audio bibles for download.
– Use a Bible software program like Logos to export a book or passage of Scripture to your favorite word processor without the chapter or verse numbers.
– Manually delete the chapter and verse references in a word document on your computer. This is time-consuming, but you could copy-and-paste text from a site like Bible Gateway and then delete all the numbering. That’s more feasible for shorter books. Even better, Bible Gateway has an option to hide verse numbers (click on “Page Options”).