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Discovery Magazine 3/1/2002

How many verses are in the Bible? How many books are there in all?

by  Digger Doug

Dear Digger Doug,

How many verses are there in the Bible? How many books are there in all—Sara Taylor, age 7, Elizabethton, TN.

Dear Sara,

The Bible is like a small library made up of 66 books. It has two big sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament has 39 books, and the New Testament has 27 books. In these 66 books, you will find a total of 1,189 chapters containing about 31,273 verses.

What most young people don’t know is that when the Bible was first written, the books were not divided into chapters and verses like they are today. When you turn to the end of the book of Acts, you will see that it has 28 chapters. However, it used to be one big book without any chapter divisions. The books of the Bible were divided into chapters only800 years ago. (That’s more than 1100 years after the New Testament was first written.) Then, it was not until A.D. 1551 that the New Testament was divided into verses.

Having the Bible divided into chapters and verses helps us to find our way to different parts of the Bible with few problems. For example, if I asked you to turn in your Bible to John 4:24, you would easily be able to find the part of John that says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Can you imagine what it was like finding things in the Bible before it was divided into chapters and verses? 

 I know the Bible is a big book divided into many chapters and verses. But you can read through the whole Bible in just one year if you read it for about 20 minutes everyday. That’s right. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say, “I’ve read the whole Bible.” Just think. If you were 11 years old and read your Bible through every year until you are 81, you would have read the entire Bible 70 times! 

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