In Sunday School, the shortest verse in the Bible is straightforward: John 11:35, Jesus wept!
But the answer is not that straightforward; it is complicated! There are many factors that come into play when we consider the original languages in which the Bible was written and the different English translations.
If the question specifies the exact language of the Bible in question, which will be the English Bible in our case, then John 11:35 is the winner. It is the shortest verse in English Bible( almost all translations!). But the question demands a deeper analysis than this.
Firstly, please remember that English was not the language used to write the original copies of the New Testament. Our English Bible is a translation of the original Greek text. Therefore the Greek text should be the basis for answering this question. Secondly, also note that the original Bible was not divided into chapters and verses. These were later added from the 13th century. This article from GotQuestion.org provides an excellent summary of the history of the Bible.
With these two caveats in mind, let us now turn to more exciting issues!
Shortest Verse in the Bible – Original Greek
The length of the verse will be measured by the number of letters or characters it contains in the Greek manuscript. John 11:35 ( “Jesus Wept”) has 9 characters in the English translation but has 16 characters in the Greek Version(ἐδάκρυσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς BGT).
It turns out, however, that John 11:35 is the third after 2 other verses which are shorter in Greek.
The second is “Rejoice evermore” in (1 Thess. 5:16 KJV). It contains 15 letters in THIS English translation( KJV) and 14 letters in the Greek(Πάντοτε χαίρετε BGT).
And now to the surprising winner!
It is Luke 20:30 which reads in the KJV “And the second took her to wife, and he died childless”.
How could this ibe? You might have noticed it obviously looks longer in English than all of the above. Yes, it “looks” longer in English, but not so in the original Greek. The words “took her to wife, and he died childless” in English turn out to be an addition to the original Greek to clarify its meaning, taken from Mark 12:21(1). That means the original Greek for this verse had only “and the second” which is 12 letters long ( καὶ ὁ δεύτερος BGT).
The shortest verse in the Bible, from the original Text, is, therefore, Luke 20:30! But if you say the shortest verse in the English Bible is John 11:35, that is correct too!
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