Using Bible abbreviations for different versions of the Bible and books from the Bible helps people communicate more efficiently about the word of God. While books like the SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) Handbook of Style are great for general Bible abbreviations, different groups use a few different abbreviations for the same versions and books.
Bible Abbreviations for Books and Common Versions
Abbreviations for Bible Versions
The Old Testament, or OT, was originally written in Hebrew, while the New Testament, or NT, was originally written in Greek. The thousands of different versions of the Bible available today can be more accurately described as translations of the Bible.
Ancient Versions of the Bible
These ancient versions of the Bible represent what many consider the “original” Bibles.
GNT: The Greek New Testament (Greek)
HB: Hebrew Bible (Hebrew)
LXX: Septuagint (Greek)
MT: Masoretic Text (Hebrew)
Vulg. - The Vulgate (Latin)
English Translation Versions of the Bible
Modern English versions of the Bible are structured in different ways to make it easier for any person to understand the text and the message. From children’s Bibles to Bibles using modern English words, new translations of the Bible come out every year.
AAT: An American Translation
AMP: Amplified Bible
ASV: American Standard Version
BV: Berkeley Version in Modern English
CEV: Contemporary English Version
ESV: English Standard Version
GNB: Good News Bible
HCSB: Holman Christian Standard Bible
JB: Jerusalem Bible
KJ21: 21st Century King James Version
KJV: King James Version
KNOX: Knox Bible
MNT: Moffatt’s New Translation
MSG: The Message Bible
NABR: New American Bible, Revised Edition
NASB: New American Standard Bible
NEB: New English Bible
NET: New English Translation
NETS: New English Translation of the Septuagint
NIV: New International Version
NJB: New Jerusalem Bible
NKJV: New King James Version
NLT: New Living Translation
NRSV: New Revised Standard Version
NTLP: New Testament in the Language of the People
NTME: New Testament in Modern English
NTMS: New Testament in Modern Speech
REB: Revised English Bible
RSV: Revised Standard Version
TCNT: Twentieth Century New Testament
TLB: The Living Bible
TNIV: Today’s New International Version
WET: Wuest Expanded Translation of the New Testament
Abbreviations for Books in the Bible
Each book in the Bible has a different name, and some are rather long. Biblical book name abbreviations make it easier to cite and share quotes from the Bible. Generally speaking, the stories in OT books are much more varied across religions than NT books.
Old Testament Book Abbreviations
Most Bible book abbreviations consist of three or four letters. Some book names don’t have standard abbreviations because they are short like Joel, Amos, Ruth, Jonah, Ezra, and Job.
These are the common abbreviations for OT books as used by Protestants.
Song: Song of Songs
Apocrypha Book Abbreviations
In the Eastern Orthodox tradition and with Roman Catholicism, there are books in the OT, known as Apocrypha by Protestants, that don’t appear in Protestant Bible version. These could be considered Catholic Bible abbreviations.
Add Dan: Additions to Daniel
Add Esth: Additions to Esther
Bel: Bel and the Dragon
Ep Jer: Epistle of Jeremiah
Pr Azar: Prayer of Azariah
Pr Man: Prayer of Manasseh
Sg Three: Song of the Three Young Men
Wis: Wisdom of Solomon
New Testament Book Abbreviations
Books in the NT also often have three-letter abbreviations. Book names like Jude, John, Acts, Mark, Titus, Luke, that are only four or five letters long, aren’t typically abbreviated.
Biblical Citation Abbreviations
In most cases, you don’t need to cite the Bible in a bibliography no matter what style you’re using. If you do cite the Bible, there are a few slight differences in the abbreviations used for different citation styles. Mostly, you would just use the abbreviations listed earlier.
Abbreviations for Citing Parts of the Bible
When you're citing a specific line or verse from the Bible, you don't use page numbers. These abbreviations are standard for specific text locations in the Bible.
Ch. - Chapter
Chs. - Chapters
V. - Verse
Vv. - Verses
Bible Abbreviations for MLA Style Citation
Bible abbreviations in MLA style aren’t common, because you would usually be required to write the entire name of the Bible version or book. MLA citation format for the Bible does have a few unique in-text citation abbreviations, however.
Apoc. - Apocalypse
Philem. - Philemon
Tit. - Titus
Shortened Abbreviations for Chicago Style Citation
Bible abbreviations in Chicago style, or the student version known as Turabian, are never used for in-text citations. You only use these abbreviations in footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical notes.
You can use traditional abbreviations listed earlier or these accepted shortened versions in Chicago style. Choose one type of abbreviation and use it consistently. Any book not listed here does not have a shortened Chicago style version.
Pt: 1 Peter
Sg: Song of Solomon (Song of Songs)
Abbreviate the Bible
With thousands of Bible versions available around the world, it’s nearly impossible to name them all. Explore common versions of the Bible in your native language and share them in the comments.