Skip to Main Content

APA Format Style Guide: Citing the Bible

This guide will assist you in writing research papers using the American Psychological Association (APA) Style. It will help explain formatting your paper as well as proper citation for various resources.

General Rules

  • Religious works published as books follow the book reference format.  Religious works published as websites follow the webpage reference format.
  • Religious works are usually treated as having no author.
  • Annotated versions of a religious work should be treated as having an editor.  Translated works use the translator's name in the reference.
  • Use the year of publication of the version you used in the date element of the reference.
  • The year of original publication of a religious work may be unknown or in dispute, and is therefore not included in the reference.  However, versions of works such as the Bible may be republished; these republished dates are included in the reference.
  • When two dates appear in the reference, include both years in the in-text citation, separated with a slash, the earlier year first.
  • When referring to the Bible generally, or to versions of the Bible generally, do not use italics (e.g. the King James Version of the Bible, the New Revised Standard Version).
  • Cite a chapter or verse in the text using canonical numbering rather than page numbers:

The person vowed to "set me as a seal upon thine heart" (King James Bible, 1769/2017, Song of Solomon 8:6).

Citing the Bible

Remember to indent the second and following lines as you write your reference list entries!

Citing the Bible as a Print Book

The English Standard Version Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments with Apocrypha. (2009). Oxford University Press.

  • Parenthetical Citation: (The English Standard Version Bible, 2009)
  • Narrative Citations: The English Standard Version Bible (2009)

Citing the Bible as a Digital Work/Website

King James Bible. (2017). King James Bible Online. (Original work published 1769)

  • Parenthetical Citation: (King James Bible, 1769/2017)
  • Narrative Citation: King James Bible (1769/2017)

Citing an Annotated Edition

Kaiser, W.C., Jr., 7 Garrett, D. (Eds.). (2006). NIV archeological study Bible: An illustrated walk through biblical history and culture. Zondervan.

  • Parenthetical Citation: (Kaiser & Garrett, 2006)
  • Narrative Citation: Kaiser and Garrett (2006)

Cite a chapter or verse of the religious work in the text using canonical numbering rather than page numbers: (Kaiser & Garrett, 2006, Genesis 1:20)

Cite a portion of the work created by its authors or editors using page numbers from the work: (Kaiser & Garrett, 2006, footnote to Genesis 1:12, p. 4)

Citing Commentaries

Remember to indent the second and following lines of your reference list entries!

Citing a Chapter in an Edited Book in a Multi-Volume Work

Hagner, D. A. (1995). The parable about fulfilling responsibility. In B.M. Metzger, D.A. Hubbard, & G. W. Barker

(Eds.), Word biblical commentary: Vol. 33B. Matthew 14-18 (pp. 730-737). Thomas Nelson.

  • Parenthetical Citation: (Hagner, 1995)
  • Narrative Citation:Hagner (1995)

Citing a Multi-Volume Work

Nichol, F. (Ed.). (1980). The Seventh-day Adventist Bible commentary (Vol. 5). Review and Herald Publishing Association.

  • Parenthetical Citation: (Nichol,1980)
  • Narrative Citation: Nichol (1980)

Citing a Book in a Series

Wilkins, M. J. (2004). Matthew. In T. Muck (Ed.), The NIV application commentary seriesZondervan.      

  • Parenthetical Citation: (Wilkins, 2004)
  • Narrative Citation: Wilkins (2004)

Changes from 6th Edition to 7th Edition

  • Cite the Bible as a print book with no author.  
  • Use the title as the author in both in-text citations and reference list citations.
  • Use the canonical numbering instead of page numbers.