Even in an academic research article, you probably want to cite the Bible as a bibliographic source. As with any other source, you should cite it if you paraphrase or quote any of its passages in your document. The American Psychological Association (APA) Publication Manual does not require an entry in the bibliographic reference list for a book such as the Bible, only a text citation. However, your instructor or advisor may direct you to include the publication information in your list of bibliographic references. If you do, use the APA format for a book with no identified author.
Method 1 of 2: In-text citations
Step 1. Include the title of the book, chapter, and verse in the quotation in parentheses
At the end of a sentence where you have paraphrased or quoted the Bible, place a quotation in parentheses inside the closing punctuation. First, write the title of the book of the Bible, and then the chapter and verse. Separate these last two using a colon. If the quote or paraphrase spans multiple verses, use a hyphen between the first and last in the range.
- Example: (John 3:16
- Abbreviate longer book names in parenthetical citation. At the following address, you can find a table of useful abbreviations that are used in the APA format:
Step 2. Include the name of the version you used
After including the chapter and verse, write the full name of the version of the Bible you used. Do not include any punctuation in between the verse and the version name. The closing punctuation of the sentence should be located outside the parentheses.
Example: (John 3:16 New Revised Standard Version)
Citation format in text of the Bible according to APA style
(Chapter of the book: version of the verse).
Step 3. Skip the version in subsequent appointments unless you change to another
After the first quotation in parentheses, you do not need to include the name of the version you used, as long as you continue to use it. However, if you use different versions, write the name of the new one in the citation in parentheses. If you change back to the previous one, you will have to include it again.
For example, if you want to compare the language used in different translations, you will need to include each of the different versions in the quotes in parentheses
Step 4. Include the citation information in your text
A parenthetical citation is not necessary at all if you include all the information that would normally be in the parenthetical citation in the body of the document. If you include the chapter and verse, but not the name of the version of the Bible that you used, put the latter in parentheses immediately after the chapter and verse in the first quote you make to that version.
For example, you can write the following: "John 3:16 (New Revised Standard Version) indicates that all who believe in God and believe that Jesus is the Son of God will receive eternal life in heaven."
Method 2 of 2: Entry to the list of bibliographic references
Step 1. Ask your instructor or advisor if you need to include a bibliographic reference entry
The APA style does not require a bibliographic reference list entry for widely known classical or religious works, such as the Bible. However, your instructor may want you to include it anyway. In that case, make an entry in the list of bibliographic references that follows the format for a book with no identified author.
If you want to cite supplementary material in the Bible, such as an introduction or study notes, you should normally include an entry in the list of bibliographic references citing that part as if it were an article or an entry in a reference book, including the author's name.
Step 2. Start the entry to the bibliographic reference list with the title
Include the full title of the Bible in italics as it appears on the title page. Capitalize all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. Place a colon after the title and include the version name as “subtitle” after the title. Include a period at the end of the version name.
Example: Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version
Step 3. Include the year of publication in parentheses
After the title of the book, include the year of publication of that particular version of the book. You should find this information on the copyright page for the specific Bible you used. Place a period after the closing parentheses.
Example: Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1990)
Step 4. Finish by including the place of publication and the name of the publisher
For US publishers, write the city and state where it is located, separated by a comma. Abbreviate the names of the states. If the version you used was published outside of the United States, include the city and country names as the location. Put a colon after the location and then type the name of the publisher. Place a period after the publisher's name.
Example: Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1990). New York, NY: HarperCollins
Reference list format according to APA style
Holy Bible: version name. (year). City, state: publisher.