“John 3:16” bumper stickers in the Second Century AD?

Did you know that the first- and second-century Christians did not drive cars with bumper stickers saying “John 3:16”?

And not only because they had no cars.  In fact, they would have no idea what John 3:16 was because at the time their Scriptures had no chapters or verse divisions or numbers.  There were no verse divisions until well after the invention of the printing press around 1436.  It is said that in 1551, Robert Estienne (known as Robertus Stephanus in Latin) published an edition of the Greek New Testament (based on the Greek New Testament text prepared by Erasmus) that included the verse divisions (chapter divisions were introduced by Stephan Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, about 1205 but was extensively modified over centuries).  He was not alone doing the dividing though, and apparently he was not the first one (Sanctes Pagninus had done his own verse division in 1528 for the Lyons Latin Bible but his verses were three to four times as long as what we are used to).   Since then, each Bible publisher or translator thought that he could improve on the verse divisions scheme.  As the result, the verse (and sometimes chapter) division was split, modified and branched out across the world and Christian traditions.

The differences are not limited to chapter and verse division and numbering though, they extend to book names, book divisions and the book order, especially in the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical world (for example, 1 Kings in KJV is the same as 3 Kings in Vulgata).  To keep track of all these correspondences and permutations, Logos Bible Software has compiled an xml file that is 56.6 megabytes! in size. I don’t have access to that file but am willing to share what I have found over the years of working with different Bible translations in different languages.

Douay-Rheims versus Vulgata

It is a well-known fact that the versification of both D-R and the Vulgata Clementia differ significantly from KJV and its progeny.  However, did you know that the D-R and the Vulgata Clementia also have versification differences?

While working on the D-R/Vulgata Diglot, I have found the following versification differences between the Douay-Rheims translation and the Vulgata Clementina (please note that the variations identified below typically cause verse renumbering to the end of the chapter in D-R or Vulgata, which are not specifically noted):

2Sam.13.38 in D-R = 2Sam.13.38 + 2Sam.13.39 in Vulgata
Jdt.4.5 in D-R = Jdt.4.5 + Jdt.4.6 in Vulgata
Note that after Ps.9.21 the numbers restart in D-R: Ps.9.1 through Ps.9.18 (per Suptuagint)
Ps.15.10 + Ps.15.11 in DR = Ps.15.10 in Vulgata
Ps.19.9 in DR = Ps.19.9 + Ps.19.10 in Vulgata
Ps.28.10 in DR = Ps.28.10 + Ps.28.11 in Vulgata
Ps.42.5 in DR = end of Ps.42.4 + beginning of Ps.42.5
Ps.42.6 in DR = end of Ps.42.5
Ps.115.10 in DR (DR starts numbering of Ps.114 at 10 to combine it with Ps.114 per Septuagint) = Ps.115.1 in Vulgata
Ps.125.6 + Ps.125.7 in DR = Ps.125.6 in Vulgata
Ps.135.26 + Ps.135.27 in DR = Ps.135.26 in Vulgata
Ps.150.5 in DR = Ps.150.5 + Ps.150.6 in Vulgata
Sir.29.16 + Sir.29.16 in DR = Sir.29.16 + Sir.29.17 + Sir.29.18 in Vulgata
Amos.9.14 in DR = Amos.9.14 + Amos.9.15 in Vulgata
1Thess.4.11 in DR = 1Thess.4.11 + 1Thess.4.12 in Vulgata
2Thess.2.10 in DR = 2Thess.2.10 + 2Thess.2.11 in Vulgata

I also have complete lists of verse differences between: (i) KJV and Ohienko 2005 (Ukrainian); (ii) KJV and Russian Synodal Translation; (iii) LXX and KJV, and many others.  The files are too big to fit into a blog post, so send me an email if interested.

I can also post the following links for further study:







1 Comment

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One response to ““John 3:16” bumper stickers in the Second Century AD?

  1. Looks like you did some serous research on the subject! Thanks for sharing – I found it very interesting and educational!

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