Okay, I admit that this is a bit of a rant, but I do think it is justified.

I once again read a piece about the shortest verse in the Bible. Recently I read someone making a big deal of the middle verse of the Bible. I also remember as a child learning what the longest verse is.

Now, let’s get it straight, for at least two thousand years the Bible had no verses.

The Bible (what we call the Old Testament) was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic. It was written down without vowels, no spaces between words, and no punctuation to mark the end of a sentence. In one continuous line of letters (consonants) the words of God were stored for people to read, study and memorize.

When the New Testament was first written down in Greek (by Hebrew/Aramaic speakers for the most part, but that weirdness is for another time) they also did not separate words or sentences, but they did use vowels. In other words, when Paul wrote his letters he did not divide his epistles (that’s just the Greek word for “letter [as in a written correspondence, not a single element of the alphabet]”) into numbered chapters and verses.

So, it doesn’t matter how long or short a verse is, or whether it is the middle of a book, or whether it is a complete sentence (or not) in the English translation you are using.

I think the saddest verse in the Bible is, “Jesus’ speech made many of his disciples go back to the lives they had led before they followed Jesus” (God’s Word©). The fact that it is John 6:66 doesn’t make a difference, though some make a big deal about it.

Versification also tempts people to look at small chunks of text. Even the lectionary, a list of agreed readings for Sunday worship week by week, stops part way through stories at times. Read stories intact. Don’t stop just because you’ve come to the end of a chapter. Many Bible reading plans (you know, to read the whole Bible in a year) are based on chapters. Often the story keeps going into the next “chapter”. Modern translations tend to divide the text with headings, so you are more likely to follow through to the end of the story regardless of the chapter division.

What would happen if you read the Bible under the direction of Paraclete? So instead of stopping at the end of a verse, or chapter, or book, you would read until Spirit says, “Stop now”? It might be one sentence, a whole book, or who knows what.

Don’t be so arbitrary, stopping at the artificial breaks in Scripture. Read what Jesus wants to say to you instead.

Thus endeth this chapter by someone versed in these technicalities…

And if you don’t care, well, I ranted anyway.