Interacting with a text without verse numbers marked

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Interacting with a text without verse numbers marked

Postby Stephen Hughes » March 30th, 2014, 2:01 pm

In this thread I am sharing my view that it is better to read the text without verses marked.

I will give an example of a 20 verse text without and with versification marked in it, and I will then give three reasons why I think it is better not to have versification marked when reading. Finally, I will give a reference to a website where the text is presented without verse numbers marked.

I suspect that others have made this point before, but if you are interested, read on...

Look at the difference between this text (without verse numbers):
Τότε προσέρχονται τῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ οἱ ἀπὸ ῾Ιεροσολύμων γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι λέγοντες·διατί οἱ μαθηταί σου παραβαίνουσι τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων; οὐ γὰρ νίπτονται τὰς χεῖρας αὐτῶν ὅταν ἄρτον ἐσθίωσιν.ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· διατί καὶ ὑμεῖς παραβαίνετε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ διὰ τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν;ὁ γὰρ Θεὸς ἐνετείλατο λέγων· τίμα τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα· καί· ὁ κακολογῶν πατέρα ἢ μητέρα θανάτῳ τελευτάτω.ὑμεῖς δὲ λέγετε· ὃς ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ πατρὶ ἢ τῇ μητρί, δῶρον ὃ ἐὰν ἐξ ἐμοῦ ὠφεληθῇς, καὶ οὐ μὴ τιμήσῃ τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ ἢ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ·καὶ ἠκυρώσατε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ διὰ τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν.ὑποκριταί! καλῶς προεφήτευσε περὶ ὑμῶν ῾Ησαΐας λέγων·

    ἐγγίζει μοι ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τῷ στόματι αὐτῶν
    καὶ τοῖς χείλεσί με τιμᾷ,
    ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ᾿ ἐμοῦ·

    μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με,
    διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων.

Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τὸν ὄχλον εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἀκούετε καὶ συνίετε·οὐ τὸ εἰσερχόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦτο κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ εἶπον αὐτῷ· οἶδας ὅτι οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ἐσκανδαλίσθησαν ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον;ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπε· πᾶσα φυτεία ἣν οὐκ ἐφύτευσεν ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ οὐράνιος ἐκριζωθήσεται.ἄφετε αὐτούς· ὁδηγοί εἰσι τυφλοὶ τυφλῶν· τυφλὸς δὲ τυφλὸν ἐὰν ὁδηγῇ, ἀμφότεροι εἰς βόθυνον πεσοῦνται.ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν αὐτῷ· φράσον ἡμῖν τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην.ὁ δὲ ᾿Ιησοῦς εἶπεν· ἀκμὴν καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοί ἐστε;οὔπω νοεῖτε ὅτι πᾶν τὸ εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν χωρεῖ καὶ εἰς ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκβάλλεται;τὰ δὲ ἐκπορευόμενα ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ἐκ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχεται, κἀκεῖνα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί, φόνοι, μοιχεῖαι, πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, ψευδομαρτυρίαι, βλασφημίαι.ταῦτά ἐστι τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον· τὸ δὲ ἀνίπτοις χερσὶ φαγεῖν οὐ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

And the same text with verse numbers marked.
ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΤΘΑΙΟΝ, Κεφάλαιον 15, Στίχοι 1–20 wrote:1 Τότε προσέρχονται τῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ οἱ ἀπὸ ῾Ιεροσολύμων γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι λέγοντες· 2 διατί οἱ μαθηταί σου παραβαίνουσι τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων; οὐ γὰρ νίπτονται τὰς χεῖρας αὐτῶν ὅταν ἄρτον ἐσθίωσιν. 3 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· διατί καὶ ὑμεῖς παραβαίνετε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ διὰ τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν; 4 ὁ γὰρ Θεὸς ἐνετείλατο λέγων· τίμα τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα· καί· ὁ κακολογῶν πατέρα ἢ μητέρα θανάτῳ τελευτάτω. 5 ὑμεῖς δὲ λέγετε· ὃς ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ πατρὶ ἢ τῇ μητρί, δῶρον ὃ ἐὰν ἐξ ἐμοῦ ὠφεληθῇς, καὶ οὐ μὴ τιμήσῃ τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ ἢ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ· 6 καὶ ἠκυρώσατε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ διὰ τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν. 7 ὑποκριταί! καλῶς προεφήτευσε περὶ ὑμῶν ῾Ησαΐας λέγων·

    8 ἐγγίζει μοι ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τῷ στόματι αὐτῶν
    καὶ τοῖς χείλεσί με τιμᾷ,
    ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ᾿ ἐμοῦ·

    9 μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με,
    διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων.

10 Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τὸν ὄχλον εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἀκούετε καὶ συνίετε· 11 οὐ τὸ εἰσερχόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦτο κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον. 12 τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ εἶπον αὐτῷ· οἶδας ὅτι οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ἐσκανδαλίσθησαν ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον; 13 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπε· πᾶσα φυτεία ἣν οὐκ ἐφύτευσεν ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ οὐράνιος ἐκριζωθήσεται. 14 ἄφετε αὐτούς· ὁδηγοί εἰσι τυφλοὶ τυφλῶν· τυφλὸς δὲ τυφλὸν ἐὰν ὁδηγῇ, ἀμφότεροι εἰς βόθυνον πεσοῦνται. 15 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν αὐτῷ· φράσον ἡμῖν τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην. 16 ὁ δὲ ᾿Ιησοῦς εἶπεν· ἀκμὴν καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοί ἐστε; 17 οὔπω νοεῖτε ὅτι πᾶν τὸ εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν χωρεῖ καὶ εἰς ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκβάλλεται; 18 τὰ δὲ ἐκπορευόμενα ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ἐκ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχεται, κἀκεῖνα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον. 19 ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί, φόνοι, μοιχεῖαι, πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, ψευδομαρτυρίαι, βλασφημίαι. 20 ταῦτά ἐστι τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον· τὸ δὲ ἀνίπτοις χερσὶ φαγεῖν οὐ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.


The first way of presenting the text looks like a normal text in one of the other languages that we know, the second doesn't look much different, but having those numbers there does subtly affect the way we interact with the text, I think.

Now that there has been a chance to get some personal impressions, here are three of the ways I think marking versification affects our interaction with the text.

Firstly, there is small chunk / big chunk. Without the versification, the primary division of the text is the paragraph, with the versification, the primary division is the verse. Language-wise the paragraph is a significant division. The context that we usually discuss things in here on B-Greek is affected by that. Most often it is adequate, occasionally it less so.

Secondly, and more importantly, is how the thinking of where things are located is affected. Look at these examples:
    Where is ἐκ τῆς καρδίας?
    • It is used twice - both times as an adverbial prepostional phrase with the verb ἐξέρχεσθαι OR
    • In verses 18 and 19
    Where is ἐκριζωθήσεται?
    • It is the middle passive verb following πᾶσα φυτεία. The subject and verb are separated by the relative clause ἣν οὐκ ἐφύτευσεν ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ οὐράνιος OR
    • It is the last word in verse
Of course, we might say that only if we are lazy we do that, but I think that not having the numbers in the text encourages readers to grapple with the syntax more and to bring a higher level of interaction with the syntax to discussions with others.

Thirdly, and again importantly, is that they are numbers. In fact, they are modern numbers, and when I at least see them, I think of them in English. In effect then, I have English interspersed into my Greek reading. Replacing English numbers with Milesian numerals numerals and thinking them in Greek is also weird! It still ends up that there are numbers in the thought process of reading a text that has nothing to do with numbers.

The text that I have found which only optionally contains versification is at Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America - Greek New Testament. There are probably others.
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
(Attributed to Albert Einstein)
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Re: Interacting with a text without verse numbers marked

Postby jeffreyrequadt » March 30th, 2014, 7:02 pm

I'm not sure about other software or websites, but with Logos it's fairly easy to copy and paste the text without verse numbers. I do it all the time for my own use. I too prefer not seeing verse or chapter numbers. I have also led a Bible study using such a text (in English).
Jeffrey T. Requadt
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Re: Interacting with a text without verse numbers marked

Postby Hefin J. Jones » March 31st, 2014, 12:13 am

Jeffery right about the other software too. It's easy to suppress the referencing system entirely in accordance also. Like Jeffery I've also frequently led bible studies in english with all the "paratext" stripped out. It helps folk to get beyond textual "atomism".

In the early years of formal instruction in greek I avoided greek software entirely but I had access to a digital greek text of the NT that was entirely unpunctuated - that was a learning experience!!!
Hefin Jones
Associate Pastor - Chatswood Baptist Church, Sydney, Australia

MTh student - Moore College
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Re: Interacting with a text without verse numbers marked

Postby Evan Blackmore » April 1st, 2014, 10:39 pm

Another advantage of un-verse-numbered text is that it exercises your knowledge of the text itself.

When you look for a passage in a verse-numbered text, your search is often guided mainly (or even entirely) by the numbers. But when you look in an unnumbered text, you have to recognize where you are entirely by the content. You have nothing else to guide you!

I used to marvel that ancient writers could acquire such knowledge of the Bible without any chapter and verse numbers to help them. Nowadays I sometimes suspect that they acquired that knowledge partly BECAUSE there weren't any chapter and verse numbers. They had to be familiar with the content of each book, in order to find their location whenever they opened a scroll or codex.
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