Q. When did the Bible get divided into chapters and verses? Who made these changes?
(Submitted by: E. D.)
A. The Bible was not originally inspired with divisions by chapter and verse. The ancient manuscripts didn't have them. One man, Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro, started to do this from 1244 to 1248 A.D. He did this while creating a concordance of the Latin Vulgate, in order to help people look up verses of the Bible. But the typical modern chapter divisions were apparently devised by Stephen Langton, who was an Archbishop of Canterbury in England. He started to do this around 1227 A.D. The Wycliffe English Bible did use them, as it was circulated in 1382.
As for the verses, one Jewish teacher, Mordecai Nathan, divided the Hebrew Old Testament into chapters in 1445. Later he and a scholar named Athias divided the Old Testament into verses in 1448. The system we see commonly today was put into place by Robert Estienne, or Stephanus who used the numbered verse system when printing the Bible in 1555 or 1551. Since the time of the Geneva Bible version (an English version published in Paris, 1560), which preceded the famous King James Version, nearly all Bible versions have used this same numbering system.
Most of the time, the numbering system works well for helping people look up Bible citations. Sometimes, however, the verses aren't well divided and this can mislead readers. An interesting case appears in Revelation 20:5:
"But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection." (Revelation 20:5, NKJV throughout)
Actually, the resurrection that occurs at the end of the millennium is obviously the SECOND resurrection, while the first (general) resurrection occurs when Jesus returns, at the beginning of the millennium (see verses 6, 11-13). If this same verse division was kept, it would be good to put parenthesis around this last sentence in this verse, in order to offset it from the rest of the verse:
"But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. (This is the first resurrection.)"