How to Cite Passages From the Bible in MLA Format
The Modern Language Association requires citations in the text with an author's last name and page number and the rest of the bibliographical information on a Works Cited page at the end. The "MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers" (7th edition) explains the differences in guidelines for citing biblical passages.
The in-text citation for a biblical passage includes the title of the version of the Bible referenced along with the book, chapter and verse of the passage. Italicize the title of the Bible. After a comma, the biblical book's name appears followed by the chapter and verse with a period between.
The Henry Buhl Library provides an online list of MLA abbreviations for books of the Bible. Later citations do not include the Bible's name.
For example, a quotation from Genesis 3.11-12 appears at the end of this sentence (New Jerusalem Bible [italicized], Gen. 3.11-12).
The Works Cited entry follows basic book format for a work with no author. It begins with the title of the Bible, italicized, ending with a period. Insert the editor's name if appropriate, followed by "ed." (without the quotation marks) and a period. Then list the city followed by, the publisher followed by a comma and the year followed by a period. Give the medium of publication, such as "Print," with a period, as in this example:
New Jerusalem Bible (italicized). Joe Barker, ed. New York: Penguin, 1990. Print.
For an online Bible, insert the name of the site after the Bible or editor name, change the publication medium to "Web" and add an access date at the end in day-month-year format:
New Jerusalem Bible (italicized). Joe Barker, ed. The Bible Website (italicized). New York: Penguin, 1990. Web. 10 May 2013.
If the online source does not include print publication data, leave it out.
- MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition); Modern Language Association
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics
- Messiah College: How to Cite the Bible
Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.