How to cite the Bible in APA Style

To cite the Bible in 7th edition APA Style, use the general book citation format, omitting the author element and listing the specific version used (not just “The Bible”) as the title. Include a URL if you accessed an online version.

To cite a specific passage from the Bible, include an abbreviated book title followed by a chapter and verse number in the in-text citation.

Format Bible Version Title. (Year). Publisher. URL
Reference entry English Standard Version Bible. (2001). ESV Online. https://esv.literalword.com/
In-text citation (English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Josh. 2:7)

Biblical abbreviations in in-text citations

To cite a specific book of the Bible, a standard abbreviation is used for the title of each book; the full list can be found here. These abbreviations should be used in combination with chapter and verse numbers in your in-text citations. No page numbers are used.

Chapter and verse numbers are listed as numerals separated by a colon, after the abbreviated book title. So a citation of the seventh verse of the second chapter of the Book of Joshua looks like this:

Bible verse citation
(English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Josh. 2:7)

To cite a range of verses, use an en dash and do not repeat the chapter number:

Citation of a range of Bible verses
(English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Ex. 31:12–17)

Original publication dates

If you’re citing a classic version of the Bible, you’ll generally be referring to a modern reprint of that version, rather than the original. The first date you list in your reference is the date of the reprint, and the date of original publication appears at the end.

In your in-text citations, this order is reversed; the original date is listed first, then the date of the edition used, separated by a slash.

Format Bible Version Title. (Year). Publisher. (Original work published Year)
Reference entry King James Bible. (2008). Oxford University Press. (Original work published 1769)
In-text citation (King James Bible, 1769/2008)

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Frequently asked questions about APA Style citations

Do I need to include the Bible in my reference list in APA Style?

Yes, in the 7th edition of APA Style, versions of the Bible are treated much like other books; you should include the edition you used in your reference list.

Previously, in the 6th edition of the APA manual, it was recommended to just use in-text citations to refer to the Bible, and omit it from the reference list.

How do I cite a specific passage from the Bible in APA Style?

Like most style guides, APA recommends listing the book of the Bible you’re citing in your in-text citation, in combination with chapter and verse numbers. For example:

(English Standard Version Bible, 2001, 1 Cor. 14:1)

Books of the Bible may be abbreviated to save space; a list of standard abbreviations can be found here. Page numbers are not used in Bible citations.

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

1 comment

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr-team)
December 9, 2020 at 6:08 PM

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