BK Writing Lab

Citing the Bible and the Catechism (MLA)
Paul DiGeorgio, Ph.D.


Citing the Bible

When you cite the Bible, you have to specify the version that you are quoting.

When you are writing as a student of Bishop Kenny, you should use the standard Catholic version of the Bible, which is called The New American Bible. The most recent edition of this Bible is called The New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) and you can find it in full on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website: https://bible.usccb.org/bible

So the first time you cite this Bible in your paper, you should include the specific name of the Bible, in italics, along with the name of the specific Book and the chapter and verse. Here is an example:

"On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him" (New American Bible Revised Edition, Acts 9.3).

Note that the specific book is neither italicized nor in quotation marks. Note also that the chapter and verse are split by a period and not a colon. You must follow this format exactly. 

For all subsequent citations of the (same version of the) Bible, you can just provide the name of the book and the chapter with verse. Here is an example:

"He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"" (Acts 9.4).

Remember to include the Bible on your Works Cited page.


Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

As with the Bible, you should specify the version/edition of the CCC that you are citing. Unless you have a specific reason for citing an older edition of the CCC, such as an examination of a change, you should probably try to cite the newest edition that is available. As of August 2020 this is the Second Edition, available for free from the USCCB here: http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/index.html

After your first citation of the Catechism, you can use the abbreviation CCC for any other citations that follow.

Your citations to the CCC should always include section numbers, not page numbers. The section numbers are the numbers that accompany individual paragraphs, and typically they are printed in bold.

Here is an example:

"The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd. ed., 1700).

Note that this line is from Section One: Man's Vocation, which may confuse you into thinking that you should write section one in your parenthetical citation, but if you think about how large this section is, you can see why including such a broad and general reference as "section one" would be of no real help to your reader. Providing 1700, by contrast, is very specific and easy to find.

Remember to include the CCC on your Works Cited page.


A note on citing religious texts in your papers: The Bible is an extraordinarily rich and powerful source of truth that should be appropriately used in your academic writing. The same goes for the CCC. While some paper assignments will require you to cite the Bible or the CCC, especially in Religion classes, it can come off as disrespectful and inappropriate to cite these texts as "filler" in a paper for English, Science, or Social Studies. This does not mean that citing these texts in an English paper is always inappropriate -- a paper on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales or Milton's Paradise Lost might make very smart and appropriate reference to the Bible and/or the CCC. Just make sure that when you cite the Bible in a non-Religion class, you are doing so for the right reasons. Remember to stay on your assigned paper topic!

If you are ever unsure if religious citations are appropriate in a paper assignment, check with your instructor or send us an email at bkwritinglab@bishopkennyhs.org.


Image Credit: Bible by B Farias from the Noun Project


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