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CITATION GUIDE: Citing the Bible

This LibGuide is an attempt to demonstrate proper citations (bibliography and footnotes) for three different styles (MLA, APA, and SBL). For definitive works, please consult the physical manuals.

MLA 8th edition - 3.3.2

Cite Bible verses with chapter and verse(s) using arabic numerals separated by a period. Periods are used in most literature, so that convention is used here. Do not write out the numbers.

YES:     John 5.8-9

NO:     John chapter five verses eight and nine

Use abbreviations for the books of the Bible when citing texts or referencing them. Do not abbreviate the name of the book if it starts a sentence or is a reference to the entire book or the author.

YES:     Revelation 3 begins with the letter to the church in Sardis.

             We know little about the historical Habakkuk.

NO:     Rev 3 begins with the letter to the church in Sardis.

           We know little about the historical Hab.

When quoting the biblical text you should include the version being quoted the first time a version is being used. The version name should be italicized. When a specific edition or version is used, it should appear in the Works Cited page. It will be assumed that you will continue to use that same translation throughout your paper. If you change translations, you must indicate the change. You should cite which version of the Bible you are using in the reference page.

"Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria" (NRSV, 2 Kgs 10.1).

Other quotations would leave out the reference to the translation.

APA - 6.18

Cite Bible verses with chapter and verse(s) using arabic numerals separated by a colon. Do not write out the numbers.

YES:     John 5:8-9

NO:     John chapter five verses eight and nine

Use abbreviations for the books of the Bible when citing texts or referencing them. Do not abbreviate the name of the book if it starts a sentence or is a reference to the entire book or the author.

YES:     Revelation 3 begins with the letter to the church in Sardis.

             We know little about the historical Habakkuk.

NO:     Rev 3 begins with the letter to the church in Sardis.

           We know little about the historical Hab.

When quoting the biblical text you should include the version being quoted the first time a version is being used. It will be assumed that you will continue to use that same translation throughout your paper. If you change translations, you must indicate the change. You do not need to cite the Bible on the reference page. If you mention notes, commentary, or reference a map, then yes, the version of the Bible should be in the reference page.

"Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria" (2 Kgs 10:1 New Revised Standard Version).

Other quotations would leave out the reference to the translation.

SBL - 8.2 and 8.3.1-3

Cite Bible verses with chapter and verse(s) using arabic numerals separated by a colon. Do not write out the numbers.

YES:     John 5:8-9

NO:     John chapter five verses eight and nine.

Use abbreviations for the books of the Bible when citing texts or referencing them. Do not abbreviate the name of the book if it starts a sentence or is a reference to the entire book or the author.

YES:     Revelation 3 begins with the letter to the church in Sardis.

             We know little about the historical Habakkuk.

NO:     Rev 3 begins with the letter to the church in Sardis.

           We know little about the historical Hab.

When quoting the biblical text you should include the version being quoted the first time a version is being used. It will be assumed that you will continue to use that same translation throughout your paper. If you change translations, you must indicate the change. Quoting the biblical text does not require a footnote or a citation in the reference page. You would only cite the Bible, in notes or reference page, if you used study notes, commentary, articles or maps.

"Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria" (2 Kgs 10:1 NRSV).

Other quotations would leave out the reference to the translation.

A note about numerals and numbers

Numbers are typically spelled out for zero through ninety-nine, especially if it is done in two words. Numbers like 2.543 are written with numerals even though they are less than one hundred. Numbers greater than 100 are often presented as numerals, with some exceptions for numbers that can be written in two word, e.g. four thousand. If the number is to be followed by a measurement, e.g. milliliters, then use numerals and not words. The important aspect is to keep consistent; if a paragraph is presenting mathematical data and one place the data is a round number, continue to use the numerals as that is consistent.

Do not begin a sentence with a numeral.

When citing a Biblical passage, use numerals. The exception is when the numeral would start a sentence, in which case write out the number, e.g. First Peter 2:4 is an important verse....

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