The numbering of the Questions in the Larger and Shorter Catechism

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NaphtaliPress

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Even at 196 questions and some answers half a page long, the Westminster assembly did not number the questions of the larger, or shorter catechism. I wonder if they didn't because there was always the case Parliament would have made changes in order or dropping some. I did this research seems long time ago now on when they first were numbered.
The chapters and paragraphs of the Confession of Faith were numbered from the first editions, but the catechisms are not even numbered in the surviving manuscripts. The benefit of having the questions numbered is obvious, and one can find examples of early editions where they have been numbered by hand. Yet despite this, the only seventeenth century editions found that numbered the questions were the two printings by George Swintoun and Thomas Brown of 1671 (Wing C5769) and 1683 (Wing C5770B). Carruthers notes that the Robert Sanders edition of 1703 does not number the questions (Three Centuries, 58), and it is likely the earlier Sanders editions are unnumbered. The catechisms in the 1710 Watson edition are also unnumbered.​

The rules for rightly understanding the Ten Commandments in Larger Catechism 99 were numbered as early as the 1659 Latin edition by John Field, and presumably earlier in his 1656, of which the 1659 is a careful line for line setting (Three Centuries, 75). Rothwell ‘B’ of 1658 also numbers the rules (but ‘A’ does not), as does the Third of 1688 (Wing C5798), Glasgow Fourth (Sanders, 1675), and the two by Swintoun & Brown. The Covenanter 1679 edition was the earliest edition found that also numbers the aggravations of sin in Larger Catechism 151. Other editions that number the subdivisions of both questions are the anonymously published editions of 1688, 1694, and 1700.​

Happily, with the awareness of the need for a more critical approach having been raised by both the Dunlop and the Reformed Presbyterian Collections, the Lumisden & Robertson edition refined and brought to a more thoughtful completion, the merging of the English and Scottish forms, including the numbering of the catechisms, a feature found in both Collections. Thus while the traditional form of the Standards owes its general selection and order of documents to the Covenanter edition of 1679, it owes much as well to the subsequent merging of these two edition types, as well as to the critical work of the Collections of Dunlop, and of the Reformed Presbyterians in particular. This form of the Westminster Standards set by Lumisden and Robertson in 1728 is still kept in print by the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
"Antiquary: The Traditional Form of The Westminster Standards," The Confessional Presbyterian journal 1 (2005), 169-170.​
 
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