How to Cite a Bible in Chicago Style – General Format With Examples

18.04.23 Chicago style examples Time to read: 5min

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If you are a theological college student, you may need to know how to cite a Bible in Chicago style.

Crucially, using the correct format and understanding how to cite a Bible in Chicago style will boost the credibility of your thesis and ensure the maximum possible marks.

How to cite a Bible in Chicago Style – In a Nutshell

  • Include the book, chapter, verse, and version.
  • When deciding how to cite a Bible in Chicago style, you can include citations either in the main text of your piece, in parentheses, or as footnotes.
  • Including the Bible in your bibliography or reference list is not necessary.
  • Remember: the format differs from other publications when considering how to cite a Bible in Chicago style.

Definition: How to cite a Bible in Chicago style

To quote in Chicago style, we usually list the book of the Bible, followed by the chapter (or psalm), verse(s), and Bible version.

Next, we will consider three different formats, depending on whether your citation is in the main text, in parentheses, or as a footnote.1

In the text: In 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV), the apostle Paul related: "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
In parentheses: The apostle Paul wrote: "… the greatest of these is charity." (1 Corinthians 13:13 [NIV])
In a footnote: 1. Corinthians 13:13 (NIV).
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How to cite a Bible in Chicago style: In the text

Chicago style allows traditional or shorter abbreviations for Bible books in parentheses and footnote citations. However, we generally use the longer name in the main text and always for the initial mention.

In addition, give the chapter and verse numbers separated with a colon, then the version.


From the Second Book of Timothy (English Standard Version).

  • As stated in the Bible, God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

This format applies to the Old and the New Testaments, including the Gospels and the Apostles’ letters.


  • The Gospel of John tells us: “Jesus wept.”
  • (John 11:35, NIV).2

How to cite a Bible in Chicago style: Abbreviations

We can abbreviate the names of the books of the Old and New Testaments using either traditional or shorter book name abbreviations. Traditional abbreviations have a period after the abbreviated name, except for short book titles such as Joel, Luke, or John.

In contrast, some shorter abbreviations may appear less intuitive at first sight. You can use either set, but avoid alternating within the same document. Also, your faculty may issue guidance regarding which group to use.

Full name: Traditional abbreviation: Shorter abbreviation:
2 Corinthians 2 Cor. 1 Cor
John (Gospel) John Jn
Revelation (Apocalypse) Rev. Rv

Additionally, we can abbreviate version names and sections of the Bible. For example, the abbreviation ARV usually suffices instead of writing American Revised Version in full.

A complete list of abbreviations can be found below.3

Abbreviations: Old Testament
Abbreviations: New Testament
Abbreviations: Apocrypha
Abbreviations: Versions and Sections

How to cite a Bible in Chicago style: Different versions

Over the centuries, translations of ancient scriptures have given rise to various Bible versions. Essays, college dissertations, and other academic papers citing the Bible should specify the version. Use the full or abbreviated version title as mentioned above.


  • “Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth.”
  • Colossians 3:2 (ASV).

The above refers to the American Standard Version of Colossians, chapter 3, verse 2.

Abbreviations: Full title:
AV Authorized (King James) Version
NEB New English Bible
RSV Revised Standard Version

Citing one Bible version

When citing a single version of the Bible in a footnote, give the version after the book, chapter, and verse.


  • 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV).
  • Colossians 3:2 (RSV).

These refer to the New International Version and Revised Standard Version, respectively.

Citing multiple Bible versions

Include the version name after the first citation. Subsequently, indicate only the version(s) if you quote from variations. Also, if you adjust the format to align the citations, readers can easily compare version wording differences.


  • Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2 (NIV).
  • Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (NRS).
  • Think about the things above and not things on earth (CEB).

The above examples of how to cite a Bible in Chicago style quote the New International Version, the New Revised Standard Version, and the Common English Bible, respectively.4

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How to cite a Bible in Chicago style: multiple verses or chapters

We cite various verses or chapters using an “en” dash, e.g., Gen 1:1-5, to refer to the first five verses of Genesis.


  • Use the “en” or short dash
  • Do not use long hyphens to link the chapter and verse numbers


Use a hyphen to link the verse numbers cited.

In the above example, to add the preceding verse, we use:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:12-13.

You can also see how to cite a Bible in Chicago style for multiple versions above.

No, do not include page numbers. These depend on book runs and print settings.

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) covers American English usage and is a reference for citations and formatting.


1 “Henry Buhl Library. “Citing the Bible and Other Biblical Resources.” Accessed April 13, 2023.

2 Bible Gateway. “John 11 (NIV).” Accessed April 13, 2023.

3 “Henry Buhl Library. “Common Abbreviations for Books of the Bible — Chicago.” Accessed April 13, 2023.

4 Bible Study Tools. “Bible Versions and Translations.” Accessed April 13, 2023.