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How to Cite the Bible in an APA Format


Citing all material taken from sources is essential for avoiding plagiarism. Even texts that you may assume people know require citation. The American Psychological Association, or APA, has a system for citing the Bible that is slightly different from the standard way other texts are cited.

Identify the Version

The Bible has many versions. The original King James Version came out in 1611 and became the standard text for English-speaking Protestants. However, in 1975, a new translation of the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew texts designed to retain the beauty of the King James Version resulted in the New King James Version. The version of the Bible should be stated on the cover or on the first page or two inside the Bible.

Passage Information

The Bible is divided into books, chapters, verses and lines. You need all this information when quoting a specific biblical line or passage. If you are just referring to a book and chapter but not specific verse and line, do not worry about providing those details. Because this information is systematized for the Bible version you are using no matter who publishes the version, you do not need to include page numbers.

In-text Citation

After your quote or paraphrase of a Bible passage, you need to include the in-text citation in parenthesis. Start with the chapter, then the book, then the verse followed by a colon and then the line. The first time you use an in-text citation, this information is followed by the version of the Bible you are using:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant. (1 Cor. 13:4 English Standard Version)

After the first in-text citation, do not include the Bible version unless you use a different Bible.

Variation of In-text Citation

You can introduce a Bible passage with details about the source of information outside of parenthesis: In Galatians 1:6 (New American Standard Bible), it states, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.” Note that if you had already mentioned in a previous citation you were using the New American Standard Bible, the citation would not include it in parenthesis.

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