How to Cite the Bible in APA: General Rules for Different Sources

Citation of Bible sources is necessary because of the existence of multiple versions and editions of the Bible. Basically, the authors of the Bible’s original version did not use English. Consequently, translations to the English language may vary to some extent. Furthermore, the English language has changed extensively in syntax, grammar, and spelling since the first English translation of the Bible. Then, the need to maintain the link between quoted or paraphrased texts and the author’s argument forces writers to direct readers to a particular piece of text, which aligns with their critical analysis. In turn, the APA style has specific rules for referencing Bible sources. Hence, people need to learn how to cite the Bible in APA. As a result, the title of the Bible, publication year, and publisher’s name are fundamental bibliographical elements for any Bible citation.

Referencing the Bible Sources for Different Formats in APA

How to cite the Bible in APA

1. Citing the Printed Bible in APA

Reference List Entry

Structure:

Title of the Bible. (Republication year). Publisher’s Name. (Original publication year).

Example:

King James Bible. (2020). Royal Family Publication Society. (Original work published 1831).

In-Text Citation

Parenthetical: (King James Bible, 1831/2020)

Narrative: King James Bible (1831/2020) documents the principles of early English churches.

Footnote

  • If authors use footnotes for copyright attribution, it is not necessary to place a parenthetical in-text citation.

In-Text Appearance:

Matthew concludes his sermon with rhetorical questions:

A long quotation that may not agree with the terms of free use outlined in the copyright license. This quotation can be a half a page or longer.1

Note:

1 From King James Bible (1 Peter 12-47), 1831/2020, Royal Family Publication Society. Copyright 2020 by the Royal Family Publication Society. Reprinted with permission.

2. Using the Online Bible

Reference List Entry

Structure:

Title of the page. (Online publication year). Name of the site. Universal resource locator (Original publication year)

Example:

Christian Community Bible. (2017). Christian Community Bible Online. https://christiancommunitybible.com/ (Original work published 1990)

In-Text Citation

Parenthetical: (Christian Community Bible, 1990/2017)

Narrative: There are missing chapters in the Christian Community Bible (1990/2017), which are present in older versions of the bible.

Footnote

1 Adapted from Christian Community Bible (John 8:1-18), 1990/2017, Christian Community Bible Online (https://christiancommunitybible.com/). Copyright 2017 by Leeway Publishers. Adapted with permission.

3. Referencing the E-Book Bible in APA

Reference List Entry

  • Authors do not have to mention that a source is an e-book unless its content differs from citing the printed version of the e-book Bible in APA.

Structure:

Title of the E-Book. (Publication year). Publisher’s Name. Universal resource locator

Example:

New King James Version. (2016). Craig & Hart Publication House. https://craigandhart/ebook_123

In-Text Citation

Parenthetical: (New King James Version, 2016)

Narrative: According to the New King James Version (2016), Paul’s visit to the new world complicated his view of Christianity.

Footnote

1 From New King James Version (Songs of Solomon 20: 3-40), 2016, Craig & Hart Publication House (https://craigandhart/ebook_123). Copyright 2016 by Craig & Hart Publication House. Reprinted with permission.

4. Organizing the Translated Bible

Reference List Entry

Structure:

Title of the Bible (Translator’s Name, Trans.). (Publication year). Publisher’s Name.

Example:

Jehovah Bible (B. S. Longshot, Trans.). (2012). Cambridge University Press.

In-Text Citation

Parenthetical: (Jehovah Bible, 2012)

Narrative: The Jehovah Bible (2012) has many graphic illustrations that complement the text.

Footnote

1 Adapted from Jehovah Bible (Psalms 2:20-55), by B. S. Longshot (Trans.), 2012, Cambridge University Press. Copyright 2012 by Cambridge University Press. Adapted with permission.

5. Citing the Second or Later Bible Editions

Reference List Entry

Structure:

Title of the Bible (edition). (Publication year). Publisher’s Name.

Example:

The Christian Scriptures (3rd ed.). (2019). Wiley & Partners.

In-Text Citation

Parenthetical: (The Christian Scriptures, 2019)

Narrative: The Christian Scriptures (2019) instills a sense of authenticity in its readers because it uses old English.

Footnote

1 From The Christian Scriptures (3rd ed., Daniel 12:23-43), 2019, Wiley & Partners. Copyright 2019 by Wiley & Partners. Reprinted with permission.

Subsequent In-Text Citations

The first in-text citation may differ from subsequent in-text citations within the same paragraph. Typically, all in-text citations follow standards of the author-year in-text citation format when citing the Bible in APA. However, authors may choose to eliminate the year in subsequent narrative citations. In turn, if writers choose to provide a narrative citation as the first citation in a paragraph, subsequent narrative citations may exclude the year. Also, this rule is applicable within a single paragraph, see the illustration below.

Example 1. New King James Version (1892/2014) explains … . According to the New King James Version (1892/2014), … .

Example 2. According to the New King James Version (1892/2014), … . New King James Version (1892/2014) depicts … .

Example 3. Jesus explains … (New King James Version, 1892/2014). At the baptism, … (New King James Version, 1892/2014).

Tips on How to Cite the Bible in APA

  • Italicization of the Bible’s title occurs in the in-text citation and reference list entry.
  • The title of the Bible replaces the ‘author’ element of the in-text citation.
  • The omission of the publication year is permissible for subsequent narrative in-text citations within the same paragraph.