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.