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    October 30, 1902

    “The Division and Punctuation of the Scriptures” The Present Truth 18, 44, pp. 694, 695.

    ATJ

    THE marginal references in the Bible, the punctuation, the divisions into verses and chapters, are all the work of men. Not of men met together for that purpose, as in the translation of the Scriptures; but by several men at different times, and each independent of all the others.PTUK October 30, 1902, page 694.1

    First was the division into chapters. This was made by Hugo de Sancto Carol, who was born at St. Cher, Dauphine, France, about A.D. 1200, was created a cardinal by Pope Innocent IV., in 1245, and died in 1263. In preparing to make a concordance to the Latin Vulgate Version of the Scriptures, he divided both the Old Testament and the New into chapters, and that division still remains as he made it, in all our Bibles.PTUK October 30, 1902, page 694.2

    Next was the division into verses. The first direct step toward this was taken by Rabbi Mordecai Nathan, a celebrated Jewish teacher, in a “Concordance to the Hebrew Scriptures,” composed A.D. 1438 to 1445. In this concordance, he made the division into verses, and marked every fifth verse with a Hebrew numeral letter. Then in 1661, Athias, a Jew of Amsterdam, printed an edition of the Hebrew Bible, in which he adopted the verses of Rabbi Nathan, and marked every verse with the figures in common use, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., etc., except the verses previously marked with Hebrew numerals by Rabbi Nathan. With the rejection of these Hebrew numerals, and placing instead the corresponding figures, the verses and numbers of Nathan and Athias are still retained in all the copies of the Bible in other languages. But observe, this refers only to the Hebrew Bible, i.e., the Old Testament. The verses of the New Testament, as now used, are the invention of a printer, Robert Stephens by name, in imitation of those made for the Old Testament by Rabbi Nathan. They were first introduced in 1551, in an edition of the New Testament, printed by Stephens.PTUK October 30, 1902, page 694.3

    As for punctuation points, with the exception of the period, no such things were known when the New Testament was written, nor for a long time afterward, for the writing in the oldest manuscripts is all in capital letters without accent or mark of any kind, not even spaces, between the words. Here is a translation of the copy of the first few lines of the Gospel of John, as it was written:—PTUK October 30, 1902, page 694.4

    “INTHEBEGINNINGWASTHE WORDANDTHEWORDWAS WITHGOD. ANDGODWASTHE WORD. HEWASINTHEBEGINNING WITHGOD ALLWEREMADEBYHIMANDWITH OUTHIMWASMADENOTONETHING THATWASMADEINHIMLIFEWAS.”PTUK October 30, 1902, page 694.5

    About 400 A.D., Jerome, and others from him, used points that correspond with our comma and colon, but they did not go into general use at all. Again in the eighth century the stroke now called comma was received, and Jerome’s points were again used at the command of Charlemagne, and in the ninth century the Greek note of interrogation, which is now our semicolon, was first used. But it was not till the invention of printing that any of these points came into general use. Thus the colon and the period began to be used about 1485, the comma was next given a better shape, and the semicolon added about 1521, and in Sir Philip Sydney’s “Arcadia,” 1587, they all appear, as also the note of interrogation, the asterisk, and the parenthesis.PTUK October 30, 1902, page 694.6

    Then again, there were no acknowledged rules to guide the editors and printers in the use of the points, consequently they were placed just as each one pleased, and very often arbitrarily. And yet again the same editors and printers would change the punctuation in the different editions of the same work as they were successively printed; especially did Stephens vary his points in every edition of the Bible that he printed. And more than that, this variance in the punctuation of the Bible is not yet ended, as anyone may prove by comparing copies of the Bible printed only as far back as 1830 or 1840 with the later editions, and looking at Matthew 19:28 and Hebrews 10:12. In the earlier copies, at Matthew 19:28, you will see the comma placed after “regeneration,” in the passage reading thus: “Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory,” etc., whereas in the later copies the comma is placed after “me,” thus: “Ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory,” etc. See what a difference it makes. The first would imply that Christ had been regenerated. But the difference in Hebrews 10:12 is still more apparent, for in the older editions the comma is after “sins,” thus: “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God,” where in the newer editions the comma is placed after “ever,” thus: “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” While the first would make Christ sat down at the right hand of God for ever, the last only makes one sacrifice for sins for ever, and then sat down at the right hand of God only “till His enemies be made His footstool.”PTUK October 30, 1902, page 694.7

    To anyone who will compare the Revised New Testament with the old version of common use, it will be apparent that the Revision Committee did not hold themselves subject to the punctuation of the common version, but changed it wherever they chose; and it would seem that their changes are not always for the better, for instance, Matthew 27:52, 53. From this it would appear that at the death of the Saviour, “many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised;” and yet did not come out of the tombs till after His resurrection, which was the third day after His death. Such a thing is hardly to be supposed, but rather, as our old version gives it, that, at the death of Christ “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of their graves after His resurrection,” that is the graves were opened at His death, when the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent; but the saints did not arise till after His resurrection. This looks more reasonable, and is less ambiguous. Yet there are places in our old standard version where the punctuation needs to be changed before the Scripture will be in harmony with itself. One notable instance is Luke 23:43; by placing the comma after “to-day,” instead of after “thee.” Then it will harmonise perfectly with Zechariah 9:12, and John 20:17, and with the whole course of Scripture on that subject.PTUK October 30, 1902, page 695.1

    A. T. JONES.

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