How Do You Cite The Bible In Mla


Citing sources accurately is essential for intellectual honesty and proper evaluation of authorities. When it comes to citing scriptures from The Bible, there are particular regulations to adhere to. This article will explain how to cite the Bible according to the MLA (Modern Language Association) style.

MLA Citing Guidelines for The Bible

The MLA referencing system stipulates reporting of scripture passages according to the guidelines established by the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook. It provides a framework for contributors to document their sources without fear of plagiarism. In a MLA formatted essay or paper, the Bible is treated like any other book.
When citing a single chapter or verse of scripture, include the book and chapter or verse, followed by an abbreviation of the version of scripture. For example, when citing Genesis 7 in the New International Version, write “Gen. 7: NIV,” in parenthesis.
When citing multiple chapters or verses, list them, beginning with the earliest verse and proceeding to the last one. All verses should be listed in successive order, separated by commas. For example, if one were to cite John 3:16-17 in the King James Version, one would write (John 3:16-17 KJV).
The general format for bible verses is as follows: Book Chapter.Verse-Chapter.Verse, Abbreviated Version.

Bible’s Author and Title

When writing out the Bible’s author and title in the text of an essay, one should always include both: “The Bible” should be capitalized and written out in full. When quoting an entire scripture passage, list the book, chapter, verse, and version omitted in the context of the essay or paper. This should include both brackets and parenthesis, as illustrated below:
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32 NKJV).

Bible’s Location In the Works Cited Page

When creating a works cited page in Modern Language Association Style, the Bible should be situated first, as its own special section.
When citing a version of the Bible (Modern Language association books and periodical citations, 2020), the following elements should be included:
Author or Editor of the version. (In this case it would be “God”.)
Name of the version.
Publisher of the version.
Publication Date, if known.
Medium of publication (Print or Online).
For example, a citation of the New King James Version would be structured as follows:
God. New King James Version. Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

Bible Quotations

Citing the Bible in MLA follows the same formatting rules as other sources. The quotation should be marked by double quotation marks (“) and for quotations within the quoted passages, use single quotation marks (‘). It is important to note the difference between citing a passage from the Bible and citing the Bible as a reference. When citing the Bible as its own source, one does not need to reference the page number, as it does not have page numbers. When quoting the Bible as part of a larger work or essay, the page numbers should be added.

Modernize Quotations

When quoting scripture, unless they are placed within quotation marks, translations should be modernized to make them easier to read. The following are some common words and phrases:

  • Verily – Truly
  • O – Oh
  • Ye – You
  • Shalt – Shall
  • Hast – Have
  • Unto – To
  • Doth – Does
  • Nay – No

For example, “Verily, I say unto you” can be written as “Truly, I tell you.”

End Notes or Footnotes

According to the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook, end notes or footnotes are no longer specified as part of the MLA referencing system. The reader should assume that any citings of scripture passages within the body of the essay have been cited from the listed version within the works cited page.

Paraphrasing Instead Of Quoting

In some cases, paraphrasing quotes from The Bible can help the reader to better comprehend the text. It is important for the reader to understand the passage, as it is being presented in the context of the essay or paper. Paraphrasing can also help to make the essay more cohesive and succinct.
When paraphrasing scripture, it should still be noted in the text of the essay and appear in the works cited page. The parentheses should include the book and chapter, as well as the abbreviation of the version.


Citing the Bible in Modern Language Association (MLA) style can at first seem daunting, but by following the guidelines laid out in the 8th edition of MLA’s Handbook, one can remain confident in their abilities as a writer and researcher, while contributing to the intellectual legitimacy of their essays and papers.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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