Citing the Bible in a Paper

Biblical Citations

The following are the established conventions for how to cite the Bible in the body of a paper.


Biblical citations should be parenthetical, in-text citations, and are the exception to the “everything-in-footnotes” rule. For example:

Jesus made clear the necessity of spiritual rebirth when he told Nicodemus “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).


When you refer to a verse from the Bible, refer only to the book title, chapter number, and verse number. Do not spell out the words chapter or verse. For example:

John 3:16
not
John chapter 3 verse 16.


If the reference already appears in the sentence, no parenthetical citation is necessary. If the context of the discussion makes clear the larger context of the book, the parenthetical citation can include just the chapter and verse(s). For example:

In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells Nicodemus you must be “born again” (3:3). Jesus follows Nicodemus’ question by declaring he must “be born of water and the Spirit” (3:5).


If one version of the Bible is used throughout the paper, cite the abbreviation for the version in the first scripture reference only, then include a footnote that says “All references are from the NASB unless noted.”

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35 NIV).1


If citing more than one version of the Bible in your paper, include the version after each citation. For example:

…“Rejoice always,” (1 Thess 5:16 NIV)….”The second” (Luke 20:30 CEB)…


Do not include Bible translations in the bibliography of your paper. “Citation of modern Bible versions do not require publisher’s information in either footnotes or bibliography; instead, use the standard abbreviation for the Bible Version (e.g., NRSV, RSV, NIV, NASB)” –SBLHS2


If multiple biblical passages are in a list, separate verses by a comma (,), and separate chapters and books by a semicolon (;). For example:

Matthew 6:16, 18; 17:21;  20:16;  Mark 7:8;  16:9-20; Luke 11:2-4, 6; 22:43-44; John 7:53-8:11.


When referring to a passage from the Bible, only spell the entire name of the biblical book when it is the first word in a sentence. Otherwise, use the following abbreviation that are recommended by the Society of Biblical  Literature. Do not use a period with the abbreviation and do not put the abbreviation in italics.

Old Testament

GenesisGenSong of SongsSong/Cant
ExodusExodIsaiahIsa
LeviticusLevJeremiahJer
NumbersNumLamentationsLam
DeuteronomyDeutEzekielEzek
JoshuaJoshDanielDan
JudgesJudgHoseaHos
RuthRuthJoelJoel
1-2 Samuel1-2 SamAmosAmos
1-2 Kings
1-2 KgsObadiahObad
1-2 Chronicles1-2 ChrJonahJonah
EzraEzraMicahMic
NehemiahNehNahumNah
EstherEsthHabakkukHab
JobJobZephaniahZeph
PsalmsPs/PssHaggaiHag
ProverbsProvZechariahZech
EcclesiastesEccl/QohMalachiMal

New Testament

MatthewMatt1-2 Thessalonians1-2 Thess
MarkMark1-2 Timothy1-2 Tim
LukeLukeTitusTitus
JohnJohnPhilemonPhl
ActsActsHebrewsHeb
RomansRomJamesJas
1-2 Corinthians1-2 Cor1-2 Peter1-2 Pet
GalatiansGal1-3 John1-3 John
EphesiansEphJudeJude
PhilippiansPhilRevelationRev
ColossiansCol

2 thoughts on “Citing the Bible in a Paper

  1. Pingback: NT | BibTheo

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