Chapter Concept – In Literature, Christianity and Botany

We explain what a chapter is and the differences with an episode. Also, what is an ecclesiastical chapter.

The chapters facilitate the reading of long works.

What is a chapter?

The word chapter is an inheritance of Latin in our language, coming from the word capitulum, which translated “heading” (since it comes from capita, “head”). However, today we understand something very different by it, which is related rather to the parts of a whole, that is, to the divisions that are made in a work, an organization or a system. In some cases, it can be synonymous with episode.

Nevertheless, the uses of this word have varied greatly over time, and it is possible that we get it with very specific meanings in historical documents.

For example, during the colonization of America by the Spanish Empire, the system of encomienda established by the Spanish crown was called “capitulations”, through which it granted its emissaries in the New World all the royal authority to conquer, populate and organize. administratively at will, as long as the lands were added to the dominions of the Empire.

In any case, below we will see three of the most common meanings of the word chapter today.

Chapter or episode

Long books are divided into partsespecially works of fiction, such as novels. Each of these sections is a chapter (or an episode, when it comes to TV series). Each chapter is characterized by presenting:

  • Structural autonomy from the rest, that is, it has a beginning and an end, separated from the rest.
  • Narrative continuity, that is, it tells things that happen to the same characters or that are a continuation of previous chapters, etc.

The arrangement in chapters facilitates the reading of the particularly long works, but also allows the introduction of intrigue, tension and different narrative strategies, such as the suspended ending (cliffhanger) that defer to the reader the desired answers until a next chapter.

Chapter division is a modern feature in writing, since in ancient times papyri or scrolls of parchment were used, whose extension was not much greater than what we understand today as a chapter. That is the reason why many ancient works are divided into “books” (book 1, book 2 …) instead of chapters themselves.

Ecclesiastical Chapter

church chapter
In the chapters the canons meet to make decisions or carry out campaigns.

In the organization of the Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches, chapters are used to refer to certain religious collegiate bodies, endowed with their own jurisdiction, in a very similar way to cabildos or assemblies. The respective clergy, considered “canons” by their authority, meet there, and decisions are made or campaigns are carried out.

This term first appeared after the adoption of the Rule of Saint Augustine, an organization of the ecclesiastical community proposed in the fourth century by Augustine of Hippo (354-430). The canons met in these assemblies and began by reading a chapter from the text of Saint Augustine itself, and from there they ended up calling these meetings “chapters”.

Later, two types of chapters were differentiated:

  • Chapters of the mats, in which representatives of different provinces or communities of the Franciscan family met.
  • Chapters of fouls, when they had a corrective or punitive purpose within the religious community, which is why the saying “call chapter” originated to refer to “call the attention of a subordinate”.

Chapter in botany

In the field of biology, and specifically botany, a part of the plant body is known as a chapter, which consists of a racemose receptacle, typical of certain families of flowering plants (including discoideas or asteraceae, such as sunflowers , dahlias, gerberas, etc.), on which sessile flowers or flowers without peduncles usually appear.

That is to say, it is a structure that serves as a platform for the flowers of some plant species, and its name comes precisely from the original etymological sense, since its shape refers to a small flowery head.