SBL Bible Book Abbreviations

by Apr 7, 2011Bible Software, NTScholarship, Tech2 comments

The Society of Biblical Literature has a series of standard abbreviations for Bible books. I particularly appreciate the fact that they do away with the unnecessary period. If you use Mark Ward’s Microsoft Word Miracle Macro, you’ll need to use these as well for it to work properly.

I left out equivalents for the OT and NT; you’ll figure them out.

Update: BibleWorks comes with an SBL abbreviation set. Go to Tools> Options > Bible Versions > Book Names > Open > books_sbl.bna > Open > OK. Now, when you export passages from BibleWorks, they will come automatically tagged with the reference using SBL abbreviations. (If you are a screen-space Nazi like me, you will want to edit the list to make the long titles match the abbreviations—this saves some space in your browse window, especially when you’re in books with long titles like 2 Thessalonians. You are welcome to use the file I created—just unzip it and use it to replace the existing books_sbl.bna file.)

Old Testament

Gen Eccl (or Qoh)
Exod Song (or Cant)
Lev Isa
Num Jer
Deut Lam
Josh Ezek
Judg Dan
Ruth Hos
1 Sam Joel
2 Sam Amos
1 Kgs Obad
2 Kgs Jonah
1 Chr Mic
2 Chr Nah
Ezra Hab
Neh Zeph
Esth Hag
Job Zech
Ps/Pss Mal

New Testament

Matt 1 Tim
Mark 2 Tim
Luke Titus
John Phlm
Acts Heb
Rom Jas
1 Cor 1 Pet
2 Cor 2 Pet
Gal 1 John
Eph 2 John
Phil 3 John
Col Jude
1 Thess Rev
2 Thess

Apocrypha and LXX

Equivalents are listed to the right.

Bar Baruch
Add Dan Additions to Daniel
Pr Azar Prayer of Azariah
Bel Bel and the Dragon
Sg Three Song of the Three Young Men
Sus Susanna
1–2 Esd 1–2 Esdras
Add Esth Additions to Esther
Ep Jer Epistle of Jeremiah
Jdt Judith
1–4 Macc 1–4 Maccabees
Pr Man Prayer of Manasseh
Ps 151 Psalm 151
Sir Sirach/Ecclesiasticus

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  1. Aaron Bauman

    I just stumbled across the biblehashtags project @ It is an interesting attempt to provide a way to tag scripture references in a tweet so that personal notes or notes from others can be searched based on some “standardized” tag. It’s too bad their book abbreviations don’t always match the SBL standard.

    Does the SBL standardizes how to refer to chapter and verse? It appears that the biblehashtags project replaces the colon with a period and eliminates white space characters. That isn’t surprising since the # character would mark the beginning of the hash string and the first white space character would mark the end of it. (I wouldn’t be surprised if that syntax might be required by the Twitter API.)

    • Mark L Ward Jr

      Yes, very interesting. My main thought would be, How willing am I to wade through a lot of comments of questionable value to get to anything worth keeping? My second thought is, How many worthwhile thoughts about a Scripture passage can be encased in the 130 or so characters left over after a hash tag has been included? But I will say that I subscribe in Google Reader to one Tweeter who consistently manages to put worthwhile quotes from books he’s reading into Tweets.

      Neil Postman in Technopoly a few years ago put me onto the idea of “information filters.” In an age in which we are overwhelmed with more information than we could ever possibly process, we need help finding the stuff that’s worthwhile. That’s one function of a lot of blogs, I think. But they also add to the info overload. I’m afraid that the mass adoption of Bible reference hash tags would overwhelm any filtering effect that they have in helping me find information.


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