Reformed Anglican Fellowship

Reformed Doctrine | Common Prayer

Reformed Doctrine | Common Prayer 

Gleaning - Versification

Why did the English Reformers versify the Bible? The reason is that they wanted the members of the body of Christ to "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" the Word of God (as the Book of Common Prayer puts it) .  

In their minds, versification (formatting the Bible into verses) was a key methodology that would promote reading the Scriptures aloud "in common", which in turn would promote a better understanding of it. Whereas before that time (1560) the Reformed churches (including the Church of England) were accustomed to having certain prayers and psalms formatted for reading aloud, the entire Bible had not yet been formatted in this way.

So versification was first set forth in the English vernacular of the Geneva Bible for the responsive lectionary readings and "common prayer" we now enjoy in our received Reformed Anglican tradition,  which we know as Morning and Evening Prayer.  In fact, this same versification has since been used in every version of the Bible, including versions we typically use today such as the KJV, NIV and ESV.

However, the original reason for versification has now been largely forgotten. Today's non-Anglican evangelicals refer to the discipline of a "quiet time", conducted in a "prayer closet" where Scripture is read and studied privately. While there is certainly nothing wrong with studying God's Word, this was not the designed purpose of versification.  

It may surprise others that the key distinction of the original Anglicans was not affection for ritualism, clericalism and devotion to Sacrament, but rather affection for the Word of God to be read, marked, learned and inwardly digested by means of reading it aloud in "common prayer."



Reformed Doctrine | Common Prayer