Few Christians realize that the Chapter designations in the Tanakh and Christian Bibles are Christian MidEvil creations and not part of the original writings. Jewish Bibles, such as the JPS, generally make this known in the preface:
"The chapter divisions, whose origin is neither ancient nor Jewish but medieval Christian, sometimes join or separate the wrong paragraphs, sentences, or even parts of sentences."
Although I have faith that it exists somewhere I have never seen a Christian Bible indicate that the Chapter divisions it contained were not original.
Christianity created Chapter divisions primarily for convenience of reference but also used them as a theological weapon to try and give portions of the Bible a Christological meaning where the original author may not have intended such a grouping. By not indicating that the Chapter designations are not original, the Christian Bible can give the misleading impression that the Chapter designations were used by the original authors to group and separate messages.
Perhaps the best example of this is Isaiah 53. Christian polemics is based mainly on proof-texting and by giving the appearance, through Chapter designation, that Isaiah 53 is a segregated prophecy, the Christians can insulate themselves from the fact that Isaiah 52 clearly flows into Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 54 clearly flows from Isaiah 54 and based on context, both Chapters clearly identify Israel as the subject.
Another good example is the last Chapter of Isaiah 8 in the JPS, "and Galilee of the Nations." This sentence is written in narrative form and therefore fits the narrative preceding it in style as well as matching the context of what precedes it. The Christians have grouped this sentence as the start of Chapter 9 in order to place "Galilee" next to "The people that walked in darkness, Have seen a brilliant light;" in order to proof-text that "Galilee" is a reference to Jesus who is the brilliant light referred to in the next sentence even though "The people that walked in darkness" starts a new, poetic writing style and expresses a different thought.
The Christians also use Chapter designations to try and avoid apparent errors in the Christian Bible. The start of Mark Chapter 9 is a good example, "And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power." The preceding verses are extremely eschatological and at the time that the Chapter divisions were made the unrightly dividing Chapter designator knew that no one from Jesus' audience in Chapter 8 was still alive. So he separated the death tasting sentence from the preceding eschatological verses by use of a new Chapter (even though the sentence starts out with "And he said to them") and, as the transfiguration story comes next, created an implication that the death tasting prediction referred to the Transfiguration and not the eschatological arrival of Jesus thus killing two Judasses with one stone.
When the just and truthful counter-missionary argues with the Missionary, keep this in mind.
--JoeWallack 13:41, 1 Jan 2007 (CST)