Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

How to Cite the Bible in a Chicago Style Bibliography

Most citation styles do not require a bibliographic entry to cite the Bible and other scared works. This includes Chicago author-date or notes-biblio style. However, you do need to create an in-text or parenthetical citation in your paper when referencing the Bible.

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Creating Biblical Citations

While creating biblical citations, include the abbreviated name of the book, the chapter number, and the verse number. Do not include a page number. Chicago style allows traditional or shorter abbreviations for the names of books, but check with your teacher for their preference.

Use Arabic Numerals

Use Arabic numerals (e.g., 1, 2, 3) in your citation for:

  • Chapter and verse numbers separated by a colon
  • Numbered books

Create In-Text Citations for the Bible

The first time you include an in-text citation, include the version of the Bible being referenced. For example: New Living Translation.

In your first in-text citation, include the version, either using the full name or accepted abbreviations in brackets within the parentheses for author-date style. When you cite the Bible in notes-biblio style, simply include the version within parentheses.

Author-Date Style Example:

  • (2 Kings 11:8 [New Living Translation])
  • (2 Kings 11:8 [NLT])

Notes-Biblio Style Example:

  • 2 Kings 11:8 (New Living Translation).
  • 2 Kings 11:8 (NLT).
Note: For other sacred works, use the same format as biblical citations.


Citing the Qur’an

The Qur’an, or Koran as it may be spelled by Americans, is cited similarly as the Bible.

  • Capitalize the names of the works (Qur’an or Koran).
  • Italicize the names of their parts (al-Baqarah).
  • Use Arabic numerals and colons.

The Chicago Manual of Style recommends that scholars who research heavily in ancient and early religious matters should consult the SBL Handbook of Style.

Bible Book Abbreviation List

Here is a list of some of the traditional abbreviations you may use in your citations:

Old Testament

Old TestamentOT

New Testament

New TestamentNT
1 John1 John (Epistle)

Shorter Abbreviations

You may also use these shorter abbreviations.

1 Jn1 John (Epistle)
Note: Shorter abbreviations do not have a period after them.


*For a full list of abbreviations, consult A Manual for Writers, 9th edition.

Easy Bible Citations

Citing the Bible in Chicago

Although most styles do not require a source citation, MLA style is one that does. If you’re writing an MLA research paper, make sure to follow the guidelines for creating biblical source citations in MLA style.

Citing the Bible and other religious texts is easy in Chicago style, because you do not have to create a bibliographic entry. Simply include it within the text or as a note. Check with your teacher to see if you can use the shorter abbreviations.

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