One of the beauties of the internet is tremendous amounts of, often conflicting, or at the very least misleading material can be located in a trice. Unless there is direct supporting knowledge with regard to the subject, information obtained during a casual search should be taken with several pounds of salt.
A bit earlier, actually while preparing for this article, I entered the phrase “when was the bible divided into chapter and verse” into a search engine. Almost immediately a myriad of responses were returned. The website http://www.biblestudy.org indicated “A man by the name of Cardinal Caro began to divide up God’s word from 1244 to 1248 A.D.”, the website http://www.bible-researcher.com states, “Common opinion concerning chapter divisions attributes them to Cardinal Hugo of Saint Cher for use in his concordance to the Latin Vulgate (c. 1240, first printed, with modification, at Bologna, 1479).”, and http://www.gotquestions.org made the following statement, “The chapter divisions commonly used today were developed by Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury. Langton put the modern chapter divisions into place in around A.D. 1227.”
I decided for the sake of what little sanity I may still possess, I would make the statement that the modern bible was divided into a chapter and verse format at some point during the most recent 1000 years.
So what was that all about?
I was curious about the bible numbering system due to a segment Paul Harvey had near the end of his newscasts. It is my, most likely faulty, recollection that at the end of one of his newscasts, Paul Harvey made the comment people will often quote John 3:16 as their favorite verse, but they live as if it was John 16:3. (As an editorial note, unless otherwise stated, all bible quotes are from the translations available on the https://www.biblegateway.com web site.)
John 3:16 (New American Bible Revised Edition -NABRE), “16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life”, and when reversed, it becomes John 16:3 (NABRE), “3 They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.”
Over the passage of time, when I hear of people quoting John 3:16, the skeptic who still occupies a significant portion of my mind will give a glance to see if John 16:3 may be at play in their lives. It is not done out of judgement or malice, it is simply to see if words and actions are in agreement.
Are There other examples in the Bible?
Having been long fascinated by the twist of John 3:16 to 16:3, I wanted to explore a few other “famous” tracts to see if there are more interesting twists, contrasts, or God-incidences (coincidences when God remains anonymous ).
Another of the more famous bible tracts came to mind, so, I entered it into the Bible Gateway and the following was the result:
Matthew 16:26 (NABRE)), “26 What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?”
When reversed is not necessarily directly opposite, but it is rather similar:
Matthew 26:16 (NABRE), “16 and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.”
Again, these are not directly opposite to each other but tend to be rather confirming. Christ Jesus asked, “What good is it to be wealthy and lose your soul?” while Judas had a purse full of silver.
The two tracts did their assigned jobs; they formed the basis for several hours of meditation on the general topic of when did I sell my values to the highest (monetary) bidder?
When I was ready to resume this article, I picked up my bible and allowed it to flip to any passage. This can be a dangerous action since you can not tell what the Big Guy may have in mind.
Romans 8:5 (NAB) “5 For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit. ”
I said to myself, “Dan”, for indeed is my name, “this one will break the trend. There is not going to be a twist or conflict or contrast with this one.”
Romans 5:8 (New American Bible), “8 But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” So, even though we may not have known that we needed it, the love of Christ was there ready to form the basis of the transformation to move us from worldly to otherworldly.
So how about the 3:16 to 16:3 thing?
The exercise of reversing the chapter and verses of some relatively well-known phrases can be an interesting and productive experience. If for no other reason than the realization the phrases are, in this limited sample, related in concept, they can be used as part of a meditation sequence or can be used as a starter location for a Lectio Divina exploration / meditation.
One more exploration
I selected another well-known tract to see what sorts of magic the angelic gnomes may wish to inflict upon me. John 14:6 (NABRE), “6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The reversal of this phrase resulted in a confirmation of the mission and person of Christ Jesus. John 6:14 (NABRE), “14 When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
I would encourage the reader to explore a reversal of chapter and verse and simply “see” what information, coincidences, twists or contrasts may be had.
It doesn’t always work out, but in a good way
Try 1 Corinthians 13:13, reverse it and try it again…
Lectio Divina resource material
There are many resources on the web which can be used to assist with the practice of Lectio Divina. Two of these which I have found to be most useful are http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/what-lectio-divina, and http://lectio-divina.org/.
Either of these sites will open a glorious new world of meditation to those who wish to avail themselves of it. Lectio Divina will rapidly become a treasured prayer/meditation resource.