As Christian bloggers, we obviously cite numerous verses from the Bible. And while the original version of each book in the Bible doesn't have a copyright, many of the subsequent translations do. Therefore, it is important that you understand how to properly cite Scripture when referencing it in your blog posts.
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Citing the Bible as a Christian Blogger
As many of you know, I'm fairly new to being a follower of Christ. Although I did go to church when I was in elementary (First Baptist), that was a LONG time ago! Imagine my surprise when I headed to the store to buy me a Bible! It kind of made me think of when I first returned to the US after being overseas in the military for so long and needed to set up electricity for my new home. The last time I “got electricity” there was just one choice. Now, there is like a whole website dedicated to helping you choose which company!
In the same way, there are now a LOT of different translations of the original Bible. While it was overwhelming at first in trying to figure out which one to get, I do appreciate the different translations because finding the right translation has really helped me to understand what some of those verses mean.
There are a couple of reasons why it is important to properly cite the Bible verses that you mention in your blog posts, social media, and products that you offer for sale. From a legal standpoint, each translation of the Bible is a published work and the credit must be given to the respective authors of each translation. (The KJV translation is public domain and does not “legally” require a citation.
Also, since there are so many translations, it is important to cite verses with respect to the translation they were taken from. Even though the KJV doesn't legally require the proper citation, it is still important to list “KJV” at the end of it so your readers know which translation it came from in case they wish to read more of it.
Citing the Bible in Blog Posts
Unlike most printed published works, religious works do not require the same (formal) citations in footnotes or reference pages. There are a few different ways to properly cite Bible verses in the content of a blog post. Each of these focuses on two things: the verse and the translation.
In parenthesis after the verse:
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NIV)
Scripture is written in the sentence with translation listed after the verse:
My favorite verse is Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (NIV)
Paraphrased reference (this version isn't a direct quote so the translation isn't necessary):
When Christians band together, they aren't as susceptible to the tactics of the enemy (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
If you use the same translation for all of your verses, you can include the translation (NIV) in the first mention but leave it off for the rest of them. I like to add it just to keep the same form for each one. If you use multiple translations throughout your content, you'll need to include the exact translation on each one used.
If you use multiple versions throughout your blog, you can also create a Citations Reference Page where you can list the copyright information for each translation that you use. This isn't a requirement but helps you keep track of the citation requirements for each one if you use them for things other than your blog content (see social media and products below).
Citing the Bible on Social Media
When posting a verse of Scripture on social media, you should follow the same rules as above. If, for example, you are just sharing a pretty image with a verse on it, ensure you list the verse and translation after it (not just the verse).
Citing the Bible on Physical Products
Most Christian bloggers offer a variety of stuff to their readers beginning with freebies for optin into their email list. Others create products to sell such as E-books, coloring pages, etc. For these printed items, it is especially important to adhere to copyright laws in reference to citing the Bible.
For the free printable products you offer, ensure you are properly citing verses as you use them in/or your printed products.
For products that you create to sell, be sure you check the requirements for commercial use for each translation that you are planning to include because commercial use will be different than personal (not for profit) use.
- You can find the full copyright information for each translation on Bible Gateway.
- You can also read more about the proper way to cite the Bible for APA and MLA formats.
Keep Your Blog Legal with Correct Citations!
As Christian bloggers, it is important that we ensure we are abiding by the rules and laws that are applicable to published works. We wouldn't want someone coming along and claiming our words or works as their own, would we?
Properly citing the Bible is a legal copyright requirement! It also helps your readers find the exact location of the translated verse you are quoting so they can go read the rest of it.
The easiest way, for most Christian bloggers, to stay legal is to simply include the verse and translation after the verse when it is mentioned in the content. You'll notice that mine are in gold at the end of the verse. I do this more for aesthetics – to break up the color of the text. Often times, I'll link the first verse to the actual translation on Bible Gateway. Since Kingdom Bloggers' content is written by many different writers, we have a variety of translations used throughout the site so I did create the Citations Reference page just to keep track of them all but this isn't an absolute requirement since APA doesn't require a Bibliography for religious works being cited.
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