fol. nn6v-nn7r, Gospel of John
Hapanta ta tés kainés diathékés. Nouum Iesu Christi D. N. Testamentum. Cum duplici interpretatione, D. Erasmi, & Veteris interpretis: Harmonia item Euangelica, & copioso Indice. [Geneva]: Robert Estienne, 1551.
Sextodecimo. Vol. 1 (463 leaves), 5˝ x 3ź inches. Two Latin texts in parallel columns on either side of the Greek. Printers device on title page; title and columns ruled in red. Bound in modern vellum over paper boards; dark brown leather label on spine, gilt lettering. § DM 4623. § CD-ROM: 11.3, title page; 11.3, fol. c2r; 11.3, fol. pp7vpp8r.
This is the book to which we are indebted for our custom of quoting the Bible by chapter and verse. It is the first division of the Bible into verses.
The reason for the development is probably an accident of the format. This book has three separate texts of the Bible: the Greek is set in the middle of each page, next to Erasmuss Latin and the Vulgate Latin. It appears that the need to provide a basis for cross-references and comparison gave birth to the idea.
Printing three columns in such small format may very well have influenced the development of verse divisions. The tiny format of this book, which is in sextodecimo, may have suggested the idea of setting off each sentence as an indented paragraph. Indenting each sentence in small formata style we see in some newspaper articlesis aesthetically compatible with narrow columns since it breaks up the rectangularity of the textblocks. This system of indentation may have suggested, as well, the enumeration. The numbers are much less forbidding at the beginning of indentations than they would be if they were set in relatively rapid succession throughout solid textblocks.
There is a curiosity in the numbering of the verses in Acts. Acts 23 has a single verse labeled 25/26 and Acts 24 has the same phenomenon at 19/20. All three versions in Estiennes edition have only one verse, although other editions of the Vulgate do in fact have extra verses at these points. The verses are considered to be interpretive interpolations and are excluded from the critical edition of the Bible. This feature, however, suggests that Estienne had either marked up a different edition of the Bible for his compositor to use for entering the verses or that he purposefully allowed for a future insertion of the verses that he chose to exclude in this edition. He had printed earlier editions of the Vulgate with the two additions.
One earlier book that may have inspired the insertion of verse markings was the Psalterium Quincuplex, printed by Robert Estienne in 1509. The Psalms had traditional verse divisions, but in this version Estienne numbered them, no doubt in order to make cross-references between the five versions of the text easier. Santi Pagninis Bible translation of 1528 also had numerical markers throughout the text, but his divisions did not catch on. He divided the first chapter of Matthew, for example, into forty-nine units.
This is one of the first books that Estienne printed in Geneva after fleeing Paris in fear of censure from the Sorbonne. Geneva had become an intellectual haven for biblical philology under the inspiration of John Calvin. Estienne did become a Calvinist. In a controversial, eleventh-hour codicil to his will, he even bequeathed a tidy sum to support the efforts of the Geneva Academy, an important institution in the history of the Reformed Church.
The printing of the date on the title page is problematic for this edition. Some copies show the incorrect date of "MDXLI" instead of "MDLI."
Literature: Armstrong 1953, 21159.