Perhaps this isn't the best place to ask this, but it's better than the Christianity Stack Exchange, but are there any paragraphs in various Bible versions that are broken up by chapters? I am aware often sentences and paragraphs are broken up by verses, but what about paragraphs?

  • I feel that Romans 12:1 is the most notoriously misunderstood paragraph in the New Testament - because it doesn't seem to be a different thought, and that "Therefore" is there for a reason. I feel that this is a great example of an inappropriate division of a paragraph. Just in case this is a really bad observation, I added a question about it: In Romans 12:1 - Why is “Therefore” there, for? – elika kohen Nov 30 '17 at 21:33

The chapter divisions we have in our Bibles today are supposed to be the work of Stephen Langton, a 13th century Archbishop of Canterbury.1 His divisions were originally applied to the Latin Vulgate. The Wycliffe Bible (ca 1382-1395) seems to have been the first English language Bible to use Langton's chapter divisions.

There are a two cases in the New Testament where I think paragraphs seem to be have been broken by Langton's divisions - both in the Gospels:

Mark 8:34-9:1

34And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. 1And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

In the Codex Alexandrinus (ca 400-440), Mark 9:1 was included within the same grouping (kephalion) as the preceding verses from Chapter 8.2 Based on his commentary, the manuscript consulted by Theophylact (1055-1107) also grouped 9:1 with the preceding verses from chapter 8.3

Within the Byzantine Gospel Lectionary, Mark 9:1 is (was) included with Mark 8:34-38 to provide the reading appointed for the third Sunday of Lent4. The precise history of the Byzantine Lectionary is unclear, but the Sunday Gospel readings are thought to date to as early as the second century.5 It seems clear, therefore, that in antiquity Mark 9:1 was considered to have belonged with the preceding verses. This is speculation, but it is possible that Langton chose to place the text of 9:1 in chapter 9 rather than in chapter 8 was because it fell within the same pericope as verses 2-9 of the Eusebian Canon (II.87) - another scheme of verse groupings dating back to the late 3rd or early 4th centuries.

John 7:45-53,8:12

45Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? 46The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. 47Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? 48Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? 49But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. 50Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) 51Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? 52They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. ... 12Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

The situation of this passage is somewhat different: verses 8:1-8:11 (the pericope of the adulteress) are missing from the vast majority of Greek manuscripts, including the aforementioned Codex Alexandrinus and the Codex Vaticanus (ca 300-325). It does appear, however, in Latin translations of the Gospels and was placed by Langton (who was organizing the Vulgate, not a Greek text) in chapter 8.

In the Greek Church, 8:12 was read (it seems) with the final verses of chapter 7. In the Eusebian Canon, it is found along with 7:45-53 in pericope X.86. In the Gospel Lectionary it is included along with verses 37-52 as the reading appointed for Pentecost.6 It is also included together with 7:52 by Theophylact in his commentary.7

1. See, e.g., Metzger, The Early Versions of the New Testament (1977), p.347
2. Nestle-Aland Greek-English New Testament (11th ed.; Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2008), p.117

3. Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Mark (tr. from the Greek; Chrysostom Press, 1993), p.71
4. See, e.g., The Gospel Lectionary: The Evangelion of the Greek Orthodox Church (Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 2005), pp.263-264.
5. The Typicon Decoded (St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 2012), p.53-54
6. Op. cit., pp.65-66.
7. Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to John (tr. from the Greek; Chrysostom Press, 2007), p.133

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