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It's pretty well universally accepted that Genesis 1:1 - 2:3 represent one view of the story of creation and 2:3 - 25 a second.

And yet, when Stephen Langton instituted his chapter scheme in the 13th Century, he must have had a motivation for separating the chapters as he did.

What was that motivation?

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I think it was Bart Ehrman who suggested that Robert Stephens' pen must have slipped on occasion while numbering verses as he was riding a horse at the time. But that doesn't answer the current question. It might not be possible to answer the question as chapter divisions were likely for the benefit of the scribes and readers of the texts rather than for interpreters. – Jon Ericson Feb 21 '12 at 20:07
up vote 4 down vote accepted

This is just a hypothesis, since I can't see into the mind of the person who split the chapters, but even with verses split the way they are into the chapters, the second chapter still is noticeably shorter than the first. In general, the chapters are usually divided such that they are a relatively even amount of words per chapter throughout. So he could have just been trying to pick the best split point he could that wouldn't make the second chapter horribly short compared to the other chapters, and without having an even odder split in the following chapter. Its certainly not ideal, but I suppose after six days of doing something, splitting at the sabbath being in the next chapter would be less awkward than making the split after four or five days.

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Chapter 2 begins by describing the events of the seventh day of creation:

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy (וַיְקַדֵּ֖שׁ), because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:1-3 ESV)

God blessed the seventh day and made it holy. The word holy is וַיְקַדֵּ֖שׁ which is sometimes translated as consecrated. One element of the meaning is to set apart (Strong's 6942)

For example, when Solomon dedicated the Temple, the offerings were so large the altar could not hold them. So he set apart the middle of the courtyard:

Solomon set the middle area of the courtyard apart to the Lord. It was in front of the Lord’s temple. There Solomon sacrificed burnt offerings. He also sacrificed the fat of the friendship offerings there. He did it there because the bronze altar he had made couldn’t hold it all. It couldn’t hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat parts. (2 Chronicles 7:7 NIRV)

The remembrance of the seventh day is that it is to be set apart from the other six days of the week:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11 ESV)

Whether or not it was intended, the Chapter divisions in Genesis 1 and 2 follow the command to set apart the seventh day. The first six days are found in Genesis 1 and the seventh day is found in Genesis 2.

If this was intentional, then it was to apply the command to the extent possible. In other words, a division was deemed necessary to ensure the written word of the seventh day was truly set apart from the first six days. If it was unintentional then it can be seen as done through inspiration from the Holy Spirit, who understood the significance of having the division.

Now one might question why the seven day was not given a separate chapter and truly set it apart. The answer can be seen in what follows. Certain creation events are recounted but from the perspective of the LORD God and the first man and woman. These events introduce the personal element of the "hands on" aspect of God creating. Where Genesis 1 describes God's creative work primarly driven by what He says, Genesis 2 adds His personal touch:

then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7 ESV)

And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made[h] into a woman and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:22 ESV)

The LORD God is described as physically present. So when He rested on the seventh day, the man and woman rested with Him. By starting Chapter 2 with the the seventh day and then continuing, there is a literary connection with the seventh day to what follows. So the idea of God dwelling with man and woman is implied and reinforced by "attaching" the seventh day to what follows while insuring it was "set apart" from what preceded.

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Is it mere coincidence, or did Langton see hidden pictures of Christ in the scriptures and divided the chapters at the high point of each picture?

Gen 1 ends with The man and his bride (Christ and the church)

Gen 2 THe man and his bride naked and unashamed

Gen 3 Christ is the "way" and the Tree of life the cross.

Gen 4 Seth has an "only begotten son" named Enos (man) and people once again called on the name of the Lord. Certainly a high point of the chapter.

Gen 5 Lamech means powerful Noah means rest and he has three sons. After Christ comes in power there is the rest of God (Trinity). Shem (nmae) represent the Father whose name is Holy. Ham (hot) whose zeal for his house consumed him. And Japheth (Opon) who gives the increase of the church as the gates of heaven were opened and the dove descended upon Christ and the church.

Gen 6 Noah/Christ did all the Father told him.

Gen 7 Noah/Christ in the flood/grave

Gen 8 The promise of the rainbow, also a symbol of the cross.

Gen 9 Noah's ages at death hold a picture of God's church with Christ

Gen 10 Genealogies showing the fruitfulness of Christ and the church from the end of Chap 9.

Gen 11 Babel is a picture of the cross ending with Christ's fruitfulness hidden in the genealogies.

Gen 12 Contains a cross scene where Abram is afraid to die. Ends with the earth rejecting Christ and the church after the resurrection. This is a rapture scene.

Coincidence or by design ? The Archbishop was an accomplished theologian and commentator on the Bible. It is more likely that he had theological motives than mere page sizes for the divisions.

If he had full awareness of the sodim, Genesis 1 would have been extended into 2.5.

This will make an interesting study someday.

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A few more chapters like this and it might be considered evidence that Langton saw sensus plenior. – Bob Jones Jul 7 '12 at 4:05

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