Citing a Bible in APA

Citing a Bible in APA


In citing the bible using the APA 7th Edition format, make use of the book citation format. Read on to get a guide on how referencing of the bible is done. We also have APA guides on other sources such as websites!

You will need to list the specific version name of the bible (not just stating “The Bible”) and omit any author element.

Add a URL when you have used the online version.

So, how do you cite the bible using the APA 7th Edition format?

If you would like to cite the particular passage picked from a bible, add the abbreviation of the book title. What follows is the book chapter and verse number.

When quoting or paraphrasing the bible for the first time, ensure you identify the bible version used.

When you cite the bible, include both the republished publication date and the original date of publication in the reference.

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Abbreviating the Bible Using in-text Citations

When citing a book in the bible, a specific abbreviation will show the book title.

Cite the bible as shown in the list below:

Use the abbreviations in combination with the bible chapter and verse in in-text citations. Do not use page numbers.

The chapter and verse numbers will be shown as numbers and separated using a colon, which comes after the book title shown in abbreviation.

A citation of the third chapter and the eighth verse of the Book of Joshua will be shown as follows:

Citing a Bible Verse

(English Standard Version Bible, 2002, Josh, 3:8)

Citing Various Bible Verses

(English Standard Version Bible, 2002, Ps, 31: 17-24)

Publication of Original Dates

When making a citation of a classic version Bible, you refer to a reprint of a modern version of the bible. It is not the original version.

The date you will first indicate is the reprint date. The original publication date will appear at the end.

The original date will be listed first in the in-text citation, followed by the edition date, and then a slash to separate them.

When using different bible versions, follow the example given below:

In-text CitationsReferences
English Standard Version(English Standard Version Bible, 2002)English Standard Version Bible. (2002). Crossway Bibles. English Standard Version Bible. (2002). ESV Online.
King James Version(King James Bible, 1769/2017).King James Bible 1769. (2017). Cambridge University Press. (Original work published 1769) King James Bible. (2017). King James Bible Online. (Original work published 1769)
The Message Version(The Message Bible, 2003)The Message Bible. (2003). Anderson H. Peterson. The Message Bible. (2003). The Message Bible Online.
New American Version(New American Standard Version Bible, 1972/1996)New American Standard Version Bible. (1996). Timothy Nelson. (Original work published 1972) New American Standard Version Bible. (1996). New American Standard Bible. (Original work publishing 1972)
New International Version(New International Version, 1979/2012)New International Version Bible. (2012). Zondervan. (Original work published 1979) NIV Bible. (2012). The NIV Bible. (Original work published 1979)
New Living TranslationNLT, (1997/2016)Holy Bible, New Living Translation. (2016). New Living Translation. (Original work published 1997) Holy Bible, New Living Translation. (2016). New Living Translation. (Original work publishing 1997)

How to Do Multiple Bible Referencing for the Same Citation

In citing various bible verses in one citation, make a listing of the books showing their order biblically. Separate them using a comma. In-text referencing:

(The Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 1979/1984, Matthew 9:3, Luke 8:47, Luke 16:1-8, John 9:22)

In alphabetical order, make a list of the references, and then use a semi-colon to show the text references and the biblical references.

(The Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 1979/1984, John 14:35; Jenner, 2011)

The reference list:

The Holy Bible: New Living Translation. (1984). Dodder and Houghton. (Original work published 1979)

Bible Chapters and Verses

In APA style, citation of a verse number or book chapter in the biblical text is done using canonical numbering rather than page numbers.

Canonical Numbering of Books, Chapters, Verses

  • Make use of colons between the chapters and the verses (Matt 13:12). Please note that in this case, Europeans use commas.
  • Use commas between different verses of the same chapter (Matt 13:12, 17) and between the chapter numbers if verses have not been given (Rev 2, 4, which means the book of Revelation chapter 2 and chapter 4).
  • Use a single dash between the verses to indicate “from-to” within one bible chapter and show between chapters without verses.
  • For recognition only, though not used very much in the US, you can also use double dashes to connote “from-to” in the book chapter and verse.

Conclusion – APA Bible Citation

Having a bible citation is a recent addition in the APA 7th Edition format on your references page.

Other religious books, together with the bible, are classified as classical works under the APA editing style.

For classical works, APA requires that you do not cite in the reference list. Thus, only cite the bible in the in-text citation.

You may want to check our other guide on citing book chapters in APA.

Be aware of the format you are going to use in creating the citations for the APA paper. Also, include a hanging indent. In case you need help with biblical citations, place an order and our Ivy League writers will take care of it.

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