Verse and Chapter Divisions of Scripture

Robert Stephanus (Estienne in French) was a brilliant and energetic printer in the 1500’s who popularized a number of important innovations. In 1551 in his 4th edition of the Greek New Testament he added the modern verse and chapter divisions in the Textus Receptus from which our King James Bible was translated.

A latin Bible printed in 1538 was the first to divide the text into chapters and verses but it was completely different from the system devised by Stephanus, and Stephanus’s system was adopted by the Bible publishing world.

Stephanus’s son, Henri, said that his father made the divisions while travelling on horseback from Paris to Lyons. He took with him one of the smaller editions of the Latin Bible and marked the places where he wanted the verse divisions to be made and numbered them accordingly.

The printer then used the marked copy for setting up the Greek Testament of 1551. It’s hard to imagine how difficult it was to study and reference the Bible without verse divisions.

It’s obvious that Robert Stephanus was mindful of the need of chapters and verses for careful Bible study and reference. He bestowed a wonderful blessing upon the future generations of Bible readers and scholars who came after him.