Classical works pose a special problem for citation because they often have no identifiable author, can come in many versions and translations, use verses or cantos and do not use page numbers. The Bible is such a work. It comes in different versions including the King James version and is organized by books, chapters and verses. The two major citation styles – MLA and APA – treat the King James Bible differently from other types of references and have special rules for citation.
MLA StyleStep 1
Cite the Bible verse in the text. Following that in parentheses list the version of the Bible in italics, a comma, the book name, a period (if it is abbreviated), the chapter number, a period, and the verse number. The book need not be abbreviated if it is short. For example, “Mark” would not be abbreviated but “Ezekiel” would be abbreviated to “Ezek.” The complete example might look like this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (King James Version, John 3.16).
Cite subsequent mentions in the text of the same or different verse without including the Bble version. It is assumed that you are referring to the same Bible version throughout your paper unless otherwise noted. For example: “He that believeth on him is not condemned” (John 3.18).
Cite the name and version of the Bible in the “Works Cited” list at the end of your paper and italicize it. Add a period after the name. Add the location and name of publisher, a comma and the year published. For example: The Holy Bible: King James Version. Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, 2001.
APA StyleStep 1
Reference the verse, then cite the book, chapter and verse number in the first in-text reference to the Bible. Abbreviate the name of the book and add a period if it is long – for example, abbreviate “Ezekiel” to “Ezek.” Add the chapter number, followed by a colon, and verse number. Add the version of the Bible you are referencing. For example: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, King James Version).
Omit the version of the Bible on subsequent in-text citations even if you are using other books, chapters and verses from the Bible. It is assumed you are using the same version of the Bible throughout. For example: “And he taught them many things by parables” (Mark 4:2).
Omit the Bible from the reference list at the end of your paper. APA style does not require you to list classical works, including the Bible, in the reference list. However, confirm with your professor or editor whether he might require you to do so anyway.
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- "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition"; American Psychological Association; 2010
- Henry Buhl Library - Grove City College: How to Cite the Bible
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics
- Monroe Community College: Modern Language Association (MLA) Style
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