Does having chapters and verses in the Bible obscure the Bible's message?

by truthseeker 6 Replies latest jw friends

  • truthseeker

    I was just thinking to myself the other day, why were chapters and verses in the Bible, but precious few other books?

    Most people would say to make it easier to read, easier to locate "scriptures"

    I mean, when you write a letter to a friend, do you break it down into chapters and verses? The book of Philemon is a prime example, less than one page of the Bible, yet it has about 25 verses or so.

    Becasue there are chapters and verses in the Bible, there are thousands and thousands of reference points. You can also take verses out of context, by reading them and not reading what's around them.

    The W/T Society often quotes dozens of scriptures in a single watchtower article, without regard for the scriptures around them.

    In this case, taking verses out of the Bible, you have an enormous amount of potential for misapplication and misinformation.

    For example, if you read the scripture (don't have it with me now) about 'this generation will by no means pass away" (Matthew 24), you could make 'it fit' the 21st century. But if you read the context around that particular verse, you would find that Jesus was only talking about the generation of the Jewish people living at the time.

    I do not believe this verse was meant to refer to people living in the 20/21st centuries.

    So, does the Bible having chapters and verses obscure the Bibles message? When did this practice occur?

    Appreciate your feedback

  • Introspection

    I don't remember when they added the chapters and verse system, but this is a good point. Just once I'd like to see someone tell a person who is starting to look at the bible that common sense dictates you read things in context, and then see how they interact with those that jump around with various specific scriptures to "make their point."

  • DJ

    I have thought about this also. I agree that the verses make it easy for people to take sentences out of their context. I am not sure who decided that we needed this but it does make it easy to locate and remember where certain sentences are found. I ignore the verses when I read the bible and I wish that everyone did. I think it is necessary yet it is abused by some who like to twist meanings to their own desires.

  • RunningMan

    Shakespeare's plays are generally divided into acts, scenes, and lines. This makes for easy reference. It is not unusual to see this type of referencing system used for books that are studied in microscopic detail.

    However, I agree that it tends to cause people to view individual verses out of context. It gives the impression that each verse stands alone, rather than being viewed in complete context.

  • Oroborus21

    Good point, when you research the Bible's history you find that many of the books of the Hebrew Aramaic Scriptures were originally written together, many on the same scroll.

    Various groups have broken some of these books and some even have different names. The chapter and verses arose much later in translations and probably is tied to the general change from long scrolls to codex based or book-like translations. With a book structure it is much easier to go directly to a point or passage then to literally scroll up and down looking for the particular point you want. So along with the book structure, the use of chapters and verses just went hand in hand with that development as it further enhances the ability to cite.

    interestingly, the New World Translation is purposely written in "paragraph" form as a further enhancement to only Chapter and Verse (not the only translation to do so by the way.)

    The idea behind the paragraph form as stated by the Society is to group verses together which contain the same "thought". This is a subtle way of reinforcing the accepted doctrines and teaching.

    For a perfect example consider the FDS illustration in Matthew Chapter 24 verses 45-51. In reality ALL of these verses are part of the SAME illustration and thus for an accurate understanding of this illustration, ALL of these verses should be considered TOGETHER.

    However, the NWT breaks the "faithful slave" verses (45-47) into one PARAGRAPH thus connoting that it is "one thought") and the "unfaithful slave" verses (48-51) into a different Paragraph thus connoting that it is supposed to be a "different thought".

    --No doubt this is done because consideration of the latter verses challenges the understanding of verses 45-47--the main source of the FDS doctrine.

    Additionally, since there is a paragraph break, when reading the bible itself or in any consideration by the Witnesses, it (appears) justified to fail to include verses 48-51 in the discussion.

    In my bible collection I have about 4 different translations (rather meager) but it would be interesting to survey you folks out there with different translations and ask whether yours breaks up these verses in this way.


  • Blueblades

    Your right ED, king james,new king james,catholic douay,new international Bibles do not break up matt.24:45-51,.The new world trans. does.

    The Society is trying to interpret these verses to apply to them as a faithful slave group.Rather in context it applies to individuals and their faithfulness or unfaithfulness.


  • Kenneson

    Those interested in finding out the who and the why of the divisions will enjoy the following:

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