How to Cite the Bible in Chicago Style | Format & Abbreviations
The Bible is cited differently from other books in Chicago style. Biblical citations can appear either in the text, in parentheses, or in Chicago footnotes or endnotes, but the Bible is not included in your bibliography or reference list.
A Bible citation always includes the book, chapter, and verse. It sometimes also includes the version of the Bible you are using.
|In the text
|In Job 4:8 (NIV), Eliphaz states that “those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.”
|In a parenthetical citation
|Eliphaz tells Job that “those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it” (Job 4:8 [NIV]).
|In a footnote
|1. Job 4:8 (NIV).
Referring to the Bible in your text
Unlike other book titles, the Bible should not be italicized, but it should always be capitalized:
The same applies to individual books of the Bible and to the names of the Old and New Testaments:
Abbreviating books of the Bible
When referred to in running text, books of the Bible need not be abbreviated:
However, abbreviations should be used when a Bible citation appears in parentheses or in a note. There are two widely used abbreviation styles: traditional abbreviations and shorter abbreviations.
In the traditional abbreviations, some shorter names are not abbreviated, and a period appears after all names that are abbreviated.
In the shorter abbreviations, all names are abbreviated, usually to two or three letters, and no period is used.
Use one or the other consistently, not a mix of the two. A full list of the traditional and shorter abbreviations for each book can be found here.
Versions of the Bible
Bible verse and chapter numbering, as well as the text itself, vary between different versions, so it’s important to specify which version you are citing.
This doesn’t mean identifying the specific publisher, but rather which version of the Bible text they are using. For example, with the Oxford World’s Classics edition of the Authorized King James Bible, you’d specify “Authorized Version,” not “Oxford University Press” or similar.
Include the Bible version in parentheses after your citation:
If it is part of a parenthetical citation, put the version in square brackets instead:
Citing from only one Bible version
If you cite from the same Bible version throughout your text, you can note this with your first citation and then leave out the version in subsequent citations:
1. Gen. 4:9 (Hebrew Bible; all subsequent citations are from this version).
2. Job 4:5.
Citing from multiple Bible versions
If you cite from multiple different versions of the Bible, specify which version with each citation, but use abbreviations for the second and subsequent citations of each version:
1. Gen. 4:9 (Hebrew Bible).
2. Job 4:5 (HB).
3. Mark 1:2 (English Revised Version).
Information on standard abbreviations for various Bible versions can be found here.
Citing multiple verses or chapters
If a citation refers to multiple verses or chapters, use an en dash to indicate the range:
When citing a range of verses within one chapter, do not repeat the chapter number:
- Thess. 5:2–5:4
- Thess. 5:2–4
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