Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Gutenberg Bible

Gutenberg Bible

When people want to tell you where to find certain words in the Christian Bible, they write something like Matthew 10:25, or Exodus 12:1. This means look in the book of Matthew, at the tenth chapter, and find the 25th verse of the tenth chapter. Or look in the book of Exodus, at the first verse of the twelfth chapter. Most Bibles are marked off in chapters and verses.

Why do people cite Bible verses in this funny way? Why not just use regular page numbers?

Because there are so many copies of the Bible, in so many different sizes. If you just gave a page number, only people who happened to have the exact same kind of Bible that you do would be able to figure out which sentences you meant. But if you cite chapter and verse, it doesn’t matter what kind of Bible people have. It doesn’t even matter what language they are reading the Bible in. They could be reading the original Hebrew or Greek, or a Latin translation, or an English or Spanish or Chinese translation. The chapter and verse would still be the same.

People cite from the Islamic Quran the same way, for the same reason.

Learn by doing: practice finding Bible verses using the chapter and verse.
More about printing
More about the Quran

Bibliography and further reading about the history of Christianity:


More about the New Testament home