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[MLA] How do I write an MLA parenthetical (in-text) reference for the bible or other religious work?

Religious Works are cited in-text a bit differently than other sources. Italicize the title of the specific edition and use book/chapter/verse information rather than page numbers:  

...the end of your sentence (Title, Book Chapter.Verse(s)).

As an example, New Jerusalem Bible, Ezek. 1.5-6 would indicate that you are referring to chapter 1, verses 5 to 6 of the book Ezekiel in the edition of the Bible named The New Jerusalem Bible.

What is a parenthetical reference?

A parenthetical reference is a reference within the body of your paper to one of the sources listed in your Works Cited list. It indicates to your reader exactly what you derived from the source, and specifically where they can find it. You need to write a parenthetical, or "in-text" reference, whether you quote the material directly from the source, paraphrase it in your own words, or refer to an idea derived from the material.

What other rules do I need to know to write a parenthetical reference?

Rule 1: Placement
The parentheses are usually placed at the end of a sentence, between the last word and the period. If you are quoting material directly, the parentheses should go between the closing quotation mark and the period:

"for all have sinned" (New Jerusalem Bible, Rom. 3.23).

Rule 2: Sentence vs. parentheses
Only information that is not already contained in your sentence is necessary in the parenthetical reference. For example, in the following example the location in the Bible is already stated, so there is no need for additional information in parentheses at the end of the sentence:

In Romans 3:23, Paul states that "all have sinned."

Rule 3: Abbreviate the name of books in the Bible
For example, "Gen." for Genesis, and "Rom." for Romans. For a complete list of abbreviations for the books in the Bible, you may refer to section 7.7.1 of the MLA Handbook (abbreviations may be made available here at a later time).

Rule 4: Supply only book, chapter, and verse(s) after the first reference
After you have referred to the title and/or version of the religious work once in your paper, you may leave that information out of later references to the same work, if it is clear that you are referring to the same work.  

Paul states "for all have sinned" (New Jerusalem Bible, Rom. 3.23). Later he asks "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith?" (Rom. 3.31).

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This article last revised: 04/28/2013

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