Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Question for Real Medievalists!

I'm prepping for the last readings of Chaucer class, and part of my prep involves reviewing Helen Cooper's Oxford Guides, because even though it's old, it's helpful to me to review (until someone suggests something better!).

Anyway, Cooper says that "Chaucer's audience did not have a footnote to direct them to a particular verse of Timothy, nor did verse numberings exist" (396).

My question is, when did verse numberings start getting used? My facsimile Geneva Bible has them, so at least by the 16th century. But when? (I know, now I'm all curious for at least 12 minutes.)

Thanks, medievalists!


  1. Not a real medievalist, but a real renaissance scholar; I believe that the Geneva Bible was the first Bible to have the chapter and verse divisions that are familiar to us.

  2. I can verify this once I get to the office (I try to read blogs only when I'm in Pajamaland), but I'm pretty sure that Robert Etienne was the first to number verses, in his Greek Bible in 1550-something (1551? 1552?).

    Pagninus had a proto-numbering system in his 1528 bible, but it wasn't the full shebang.

  3. Etienne in 1551 of the Greek New Testament. The first person to separate NT into verses was Santi Pagnini. William Whittingham's NT trans. of 1557 was the first English Bible to use verses. But, as I say, The Geneva Bible was where our current system originated.

  4. I commented on this before you lost the post. I'll be glad to repeat if you didn't see it. In short, the Geneva Bible is the first place that chapter verse divisions appear as we know them, but there is a History that goes back in some cases (with the study of Torah) thousands of years of devising divisions for the various books.

    Not a Medievalist, but sometimes play one in my Renaissance classes.