Saturday, November 15, 2014

Where's that found?

At a Hi-B.A. gathering in the late 1960s—Hi-B.A. is the Christian youth group I attended in northern New Jersey—the speaker quoted a scripture verse, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

“Where’s that found?” he asked the large room packed with teens.

“In the Bible!” a voice yelled, earning the audience’s laughter and applause and perhaps a bit of irritation from the speaker.

Okay. I confess. C’est moi. I’ve been like this my entire life.

Do you wonder, like I did, what kind of scholar the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews was when he wrote,

For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”

Somewhere? Shouldn’t it be in Genesis, like the first or second chapter? Why didn’t he know this when he wrote? I learned later in my Bible student career that the Bible didn’t have chapters and verses until many centuries after the anonymous Hebrew author wrote. To be specific,

The chapter divisions commonly used today were developed by Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury. Langton put the modern chapter divisions into place in around A.D. 1227. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Since the Wycliffe Bible, nearly all Bible translations have followed Langton's chapter divisions.
The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish rabbi by the name of Nathan in A.D. 1448. Robert Estienne, who was also known as Stephanus, was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555. Stephanus essentially used Nathan's verse divisions for the Old Testament. Since that time, beginning with the Geneva Bible, the chapter and verse divisions employed by Stephanus have been accepted into nearly all the Bible versions.

So basically all the Hebrew scripture quoted in Hebrews was rattling around in the author’s head. He was a great scholar.

The other day my fellow Bible teacher at Sunbury Christian Academy instructed her young teen students in the use of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. As the students groaned under the weight of the volume, she quipped, “It will make your stronger.”

Strong’s and similar concordances were what we used in the pre-internet era when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Its use is pretty simple:  You look up a word in alphabetical order and the concordance lists every place in the Bible that word appears, and a short segment of the verse. Every place. That’s why it weighs twenty pounds. That’s why you need a page magnifier to read the microscopic type.

How on earth did James Strong compile this book without the internet to search the document? I’m glad you asked.

Dr. James Strong was professor of exegetical theology at Drew Theology Seminary when he supervised a team of 100 scholars in creating this index to the King James Bible. (I imagine he chained them to desks like the monks who copied the New Testament.) The concordance was published in 1890, and the old professor graduated to Glory in 1894. You can read more about his amazing accomplishment and other concordances here:

Now I use, though I suppose there are many Bible search engines online. But when I need to know the Greek or Hebrew word behind the English word, I’m back to Strong’s or Young’s Analytical Concordance. There are what-pass-for-concordances at the back of many Bibles, but don’t bother. They’ll break your heart every time.

Reimagine the scene from my youth:  The Hi-B.A. leader quotes the verse and asks, “Where’s that found?” 

Every teen there whips out a smart phone and within seconds multiple voices call out, “Mark 16:15!”

Except that one girl who exclaims, “OMG! There’s a BOGO sale at Payless Shoes!”

Let me offer a better answer, the best answer, when you quote a Bible verse and someone asks, “Where’s that found?” 

In my heart.

Scroll down for obscure Bible college humor.

Here’s how we characterized concordances in Bible college:
Strong’s for the strong
Young’s for the young
Cruden’s for the crude


  1. That must have been a feat to get it all down in a workable format.

  2. I can't even imagine. I didn't find how long they worked.