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Citing Theological Sources: How to do a Bibliography: Bible & Bible Reference Sources

For general citations, this guide leads you to other guides prepared by UST Libraries' Reference Department . However, Bible and Church document examples may refer to the MLA Style Manual, Turabian, or the SBL Handbook of Style.

How to Cite the Bible


Gen 12:27 (NJPS) or Gen 12:27 (NJB); Rom 5:12-21 (NRSV) or Rom 5:12-21 (KJV).

Or, in an in-text citation:  (Rom 5:12-21 NRSV) or (Gen 12:27 NJPS)  

Use the abbreviation for the English version you are using.  NJPS for New Jewish Publication Society, NAB for New American Bible, NJB for the New Jerusalem Bible, etc. 

If you will use the same version throughout, you can include a footnote or endnote to that effect the first time you use a biblical citation.

If you are quoting biblical verses that are the same in many versions of the Bible, you do not need to cite the Jewish Study Bible or the New Oxford Annotated or the HarperCollins Study Bible in the in-text citation.

If a biblical book is the first word in a sentence, do not abbreviate it.  Example:  "We see this in Rom 5:12 (NRSV)..."   But when it comes first in the sentence:  "Romans 5:12 shows us this...."

The Bible - Using MLA

It is advisable simply to cite by chapter/verses with Scripture abbreviation, chapter/verse placed parenthetically in your text. Do not use an endnote. In the bibliography, list the version/translation of the Bible as given on the title page, making sure the version/translation is indicated even if not actually given on the title page proper. You can add it on your own. When citing more than one Bible version in your paper, consult your instructor.  

Follow Bible book title abbreviations as in MLA or as recommended by your instructor 

Within the text of your paper:

(Gen 22:10)
(1 Cor 13:5)  

In your paper's bibliography (you must indicate the version): 

The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University, 1996.  

 How to Cite the Bible: MLA

General Guidelines:  Books and versions of the Bible are not underlined, italicized, or put in quotation marks.  But the titles of individual published editions of the Bible are underlined or italicized.

Example:  The King James Version of the Bible was originally published in 1611. 

Example:  The Catholic Study Bible includes an introduction to each book of the Bible.

 Parenthetical References

       • Books of the Bible are abbreviated; see the MLA Handbook for common abbreviations.
Example: (Phil. 3.8)
• A period, not a colon, separates chapter and verse.
• When you first refer to a particular translation, include the name, a comma, and then the passage.
Examples: New Jerusalem Bible, Ezek. 2.6-8
• After this, only include the scripture reference, unless you switch translations.

 *** Information taken from MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed., 2009, sections 6.4.8, 7.7.1, and 5.6.2.

Common Abbreviations for Bible Reference Sources


Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentary - JPS Torah Commentary

Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible - IDB

New Jerome Biblical Commentary - NJBC

Anchor Bible Dictionary - ABD

Harper's Bible Commentary (1988) - HBC

HarperCollins Bible Dictionary - HBD

New Interpreter's Bible - NIB

Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible - EDB

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE


Abbreviations for Selected Apocryphal Works

Selected Apocryphal Works 



G. Thom.

Gospel of Thomas

G. Heb.

Gospel of the Hebrews

G. Pet.

Gospel of Peter

 1Information taken from MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed., 2009, section 7.7.1.


MLA - Citing Bible Reference Sources


How to cite encyclopedia or dictionary entries: 

To find entry authors, look at the end of the entry -- often "signed" by contributor. Cite unsigned articles by title only.

Bibliography (entry author, set editor, multi-volume):   

Klauck, Hans-Josef. "Lord's Supper." The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Ed. David Noel Freedman. Vol. 2. New York: Doubleday, 1992.  

Endnote or footnote: 

8. Hans-Josef Klauck, "Lord's Supper," The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman, vol. 2 (New York: Doubleday, 1992) 485.  

In-text citation: 
(Klauck 485)  

Note  that quotations around entry title. From the book itself be sure to record publishing data and editor(s) from title page of the whole work. Also note that normal word order style is used for editor's name.

How to cite a Concordance: 

               (Author of Article)
               Last Name, First Name. “Title of Entry.” Title of Concordance. Ed. Name of Editor, if applicable. Edition, if applicable. City of Pub.: Publisher, Year.   
Medium of Publication.


               Goodrick, Edward W., and John R. Kohlberger III.  “Mount.” The New Concordance of the Bible. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1990. Print.

*** For further information, see 5.5.7 (p. 160-61)

How to cite a Bible Commentary in a larger work: 

See Books above for series volume by individual author. In a large work like a commentary with many essays on specific books or chapters, it is often the case that individual commentaries are written by different scholars and the overall work itself has a 'general' editor.  In these cases, this general editor is NOT the author. In MLA style the editor need not be listed but, for clarity, many students add the general editor after the book title.


Option 1:
Weems, Renita J. "Song of Songs." The New Interpreter's Bible. Vol. 5. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997.

Option 2:
Weems, Renita J. "Song of Songs." The New Interpreter's Bible. Ed. Leander E. Keck. Vol. 5. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997.

(See the most current MLA Handbook for detailed full citation discussion, a list of all elements (in order), and punctuation rules, and for endnotes or footnotes, or the in-text citation option.)

How to cite an essay in a collection:   

Many items in books featuring articles that are indexed by the ATLA Religion Database are essays that are contributions to published works -- in a 'collection.'  Cite these essays as a "part" of a collected work.  Use quotation marks around the essay title.  Be sure to include all full data for the collection in which the essay appears.

Bibliography (authors, editor, multi-volume). Note abbreviations for editors, editions, and volume numbers. 

Ewbank, Michael B, and H. Aityni. "The Difference Diversity Makes." Saints, Sovereigns, and Scholars. Ed. Robert A. Herrera. Vol. 2. New York: Peter Lang, 1993.  

Endnote or footnote: 

11. Michael B. Ewbank and H. Aityni, "The Difference Diversity Makes," Saints, Sovereigns, and Scholars, ed. Robert A. Herrera, vol. 2. (New York: Peter Lang, 1993) 13-14.. 

In-text citation
(Ewbank 16-17)   

How to cite a chapter in an edited book in a multi-volume work:  (Such as the New Interpreter’s Bible.) 

Last Name, First Name. “Title of Chapter.” Title of Commentary. Edition, if applicable. City of Pub.: Publisher, Year. Inclusive Page #s of chapter. Medium of Publication. Vol. # of Title of Work, Ed. Editor of Work.  # of vols. Inclusive publication dates.  


Longenecker, Richard N.  “Acts.” John and Acts. Minneapolis: Liturgical Press, 1981. 205-573.  Print.  Vol. 9 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Ed. Frank E. Gæbelein. 12  vols. 1976-92.  

*** For further information, see 5.5.6 (pp. 157-60) & 5.5.14 (pp. 168-70) of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. 


How to cite a book in a Series: (Such as the Anchor Yale Bible Series)).

Last Name, First Name. Title of Commentary. Ed. Name of Series Editor.  City of Pub.: Publisher, Year. Medium of Publication. Name of Series. Number in series, if available.


Fox, Michael V. Proverbs : a New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 2000. Print. The Anchor Yal Bible Ser. 18A-B. 

             *** For further information, see 5.5.15 (pp. 170) of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed.

The Bible - Society of Biblical Literature Handbook of Style

The Society of Biblical Literature has posted an online style guide for students on the web.  This guide will explain most of the specifics you need.  It is a pdf at
You'll need to scroll down past the preface and title page.

Or you can find an unabridged print copy in the Ireland Library Reference Room at:

Emory University's SBL Citation Builder