Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

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?

share|improve this question
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.

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer
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

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.