Most citation styles, such as APA and Chicago/Turabian, do not require you to include entries for the Bible in bibliographies or reference lists. MLA 8 style, on the other hand, does require a works cited entry. Cite the Bible or other religious texts using the MLA container system.
Creating an MLA Entry for a Bible Source
Using the nine core elements of MLA format, the first element will be the title rather than the author. However, if the translator or editor is critical to your research argument, you may use that as your first element. The MLA system is created to be flexible. So, you can format your citations to emphasize the most relevant aspect. However, make sure you include these elements as part of your bible citation:
- Year of Publication
Title of the Bible, Version. Editor, Publisher, Year.
The Bible. Authorized King James Version, Oxford UP, 1998.
The Bible. The New Oxford Annotated Version, 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2001.
The New Jerusalem Bible. Edited by Susan Jones, Doubleday, 1985.
MLA In-Text Citations
When citing scripture or the Bible within your paper, you will create an in-text or parenthetical citation. This, in turn, corresponds to a works cited entry.
Unlike most other book titles, do not italicize these titles in-text.
- The Bible
- The Old Testament
However, you will italicize individual editions, such as The New Oxford Annotated Bible.
In The New Oxford Annotated Bible, “Quote” (Ps. 25.4).
(New Jerusalem Bible 1 Chron. 21.8)
MLA Bible Abbreviations
While citing biblical scripture in text, use these acceptable abbreviations for the New Testament:
- Apoc. Apocalypse
- Col. Colossians
- 1 Cor. 1 Corinthians
- Eph. Ephesians
- Gal. Galatians
- Heb. Hebrews
- Jas. James
- Matt. Matthew
- 1 Pet. 1 Peter
- Phil. Philippians
- Philem. Philemon
- Rev. Revelation
- Rom. Romans
- 1 Tim. 1 Timothy
- Tit. Titus
Note: If the title is 4 letters or fewer, use the whole name. This includes:
Consult the MLA Handbook, Eighth Edition for more abbreviations.
The Good Book
Cite the Bible in MLA style the same as any other book on your works cited list. The MLA core elements within the container system make it easy to cite almost any source. Remember that the point of citation is to lead your readers to the exact location of your source.
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