All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!


Unintended Blessing

Occasionally I learn something new entirely by accident. 

Do you know how we got the book chapter and verse numbers we use for citing biblical references or why Jews and Christians both use the same system?  It doesn't make sense that modern Catholics, Protestants, Coptic's, Eastern Orthodox and Jews would all use the same method of referencing scripture.  In fact, prior to the 1480's no one used the same method.  In many places, there wasn't a method at all. 

The individual books had titles.  There weren’t chapter and verse designations.  In many cases there weren't even what modern readers would recognize as paragraphs or punctuation. 

You can thank the Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición for their contribution to your weekly bible study.  What?  You've never heard of them?  

The Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula wasn't complete until the battle of Grenada on January 2, 1492, but by 1478 things were going well enough for the Catholics that Isabella and Ferdinand decided that they needed to ensure orthodoxy of the Catholic faith in Spain. 

Iberian history form the 700's until the completion of the Reconquista involved a succession of  wars and victories.  At times the Moors and Islam ruled various areas.  At other times Christians won.  Since religion was a key component in the political landscape there was incentive to go along to get along. 

Over the course of approximately 700 years people learned to switch religious beliefs as needed to minimize the impact of the preferences of the ruling class.  This isn't to say that some people weren't loyal to their faith, many were.  Some folks learned to be pragmatic and "adjust" as needed.  This created a hodgepodge of religion in Spain.  There were Moors that were "Christianized".  Jews submitted to baptism and then kept practicing Judaism (Crypto-Jews).  There were a number of Christians that hadn't practiced Catholicism in hundreds of years and had developed their own unique beliefs.

The purpose of the Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición was to sort out who was, and who was not a true Catholic.  Since the only way they could do this was by sorting through Scripture, they needed a method of referencing which scriptures they were using.

This led to scholarly debates about how to create and implement a referencing system.  Which is what happened.  Everyone used the system, because they had to. 

By the time 1808 rolled around and Napoleon effectively ended the Tribunal (it didn’t officially end until 1834) the Book Chapter and Verse method we use today was firmly established.  The method proved to be an effective way to cite passages and since it was used for hundreds of years, it became a practical, although not perfect method.

And you thought nothing good came out of the Spanish Inquisition.


  1. That was unexpected!

  2. Susan8:06 PM

    {{{snickering at Res/Bill}}} I already knew from previous Sunday sermons that the Bible originally did not have the chapters or even the verses. It read more like a modern day novel. If you keep that thought in mind, most of the OT is actually not as confusing, then if you think in chapter/verse.

    What I did not know was who actually got the credit for "breaking apart" Biblical text into more readable portions. Very educational.

    The other good thing to come out was the creative uses for sofa cushions and pillows. {{{snickering}}}

    1. I knew that reference numbers were not part of the original text. I've seen some very old sefer and codex manuscripts, and they didn't have them. I knew that they were put in latter for reference purposes, but I didn't know the part about needing it for the Spanish court system.