How Many Chapters Are Really In The Bible?

If you use a search engine in an attempt to find out how many chapters are in the Bible, you might turn up a simple answer: 1,189 chapters in total, with 929 in the Old Testament and 260 in the New Testament (via Serious Facts). But in reality, this is something of an oversimplification.

For starters, the division of chapters and verses is not canonical — it's a relatively new addition to the Bible, according to Christian Today, and it occasionally results in errors of interpretation. The first English Bible to use chapters and verses came in 1560, with the Geneva Bible; today, although most versions of the Bible have those 1,189 chapters, not all of them do. The variation here is largely due to whether or not the Bible is used by Protestants, since Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles include additional books and sections (known to Catholics as the deuterocanonical books, according to Catholic Answers). The number of verses varies even more widely, and is dependent on which translation is used (via Never Thirsty).

The controversy of the deuterocanonicals

The number of chapters (and books) will not be the same in a Catholic Bible and a Protestant Bible. A Protestant Bible has 66 books, with 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament, and usually has 1,189 chapters (via Christianity). A Catholic Bible contains 46 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament, with a total of 73 books.

The New Testament in both versions of the Bible is the same, but the Catholic Bible contains seven additional books in the Old Testament, which include, among other accounts, the story of Judith slaying Holofernes and the tale behind the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah (via Biblical Archaeology). These books were included in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament from around the second and third century B.C. that was used by early Christians in developing the New Testament (via Britannica). Some early Christians doubted the authenticity of these texts, but they were widely included in Bibles before the Protestant Reformation, including the Vulgate Bible. All the deuterocanonical books are in the Old Testament; the Catholic Old Testament, then, usually contains 1,074 chapters, for a total of 1,334 chapters in the Catholic Bible (via Catholic Resources).

After the Reformation, Protestants began printing Bibles with these books either in a separate "apocrypha" section or left the books out entirely. Other denominations take different approaches. Notably, the Eastern Orthodox Church typically includes even more text in its Bible — its Old Testament contains 49 books (via Catholic Bridge).