When We Get Chapters and Verses in the New Testament

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    Aug 16, 2015 2:40 PM GMT
    Dear Dr. Ehrman,

    I am listening to the Highland Park United Methodist Church 8:30 a.m. sermon (setting: the church and the Southern Methodist University are getting ready for centennials). The person delivering the sermon (president of SMU) said The New Testament did not get verses until the year 1515.

    (The first person to divide New Testament chapters into verses was Italian Dominican biblical scholar Santi Pagnini (1470–1541), but his system was never widely adopted. Robert Estienne created an alternate numbering in his 1551 edition of the Greek New Testament which was also used in his 1553 publication of the Bible in French. Estienne's system of division was widely adopted, and it is this system which is found in almost all modern Bibles.)

    As for chapters...

    The New Testament was divided into topical sections known as kephalaia by the fourth century. Eusebius of Caesarea divided the gospels into parts that he listed in tables or canons. Neither of these systems corresponds with modern chapter divisions.

    Chapter divisions, with titles, are also found in the 9th century Tours manuscript, Paris Bibliothèque Nationale MS Lat. 3, the so-called Bible of Rorigo.

    Archbishop Stephen Langton and Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro developed different schemas for systematic division of the Bible in the early 13th century. It is the system of Archbishop Langton on which the modern chapter divisions are based.

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    When scholars like you look at the earliest full manuscripts, did you all use line numbers and then the line numbers were replaced by chapters and verses?

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    The Hebrew Bible was also divided into some larger sections. In Israel the Torah (its first five books) were divided into 154 sections so that they could be read through aloud in weekly worship over the course of three years. In Babylonia it was divided into 53 or 54 sections (Parashat ha-Shavua) so it could be read through in one year.

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    Re: Early Christianities using oral tradition or manuscripts during service
    It does not seem the congregation leaders and the few congregants who could be called up to read were opening their scriptures, say Gospels, Acts, Romans, to specific places for recitation for more than 300 years.

    Even the rich churches of Early Christianities (year 34 to year 299), did not have pulpit manuscripts/copies that would have contributed to a richer tradition of first folios?
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    Aug 16, 2015 2:42 PM GMT
    Chapters and Verses of the Bible Wikipedia entry is the source of some of the information provided in the OP.