Update 11/16/23: This post has been moved from my previous site and some links may not work properly. Thank you for your understanding.
Finally, I am back with the next myth (and tip) for using Bible verses in your book. This myth expands on Myth #2.
Myth #3: Bible verses can speak for themselves.
The Truth: Okay yes. The Bible can speak for itself. Obviously. It is, in fact, “. . .living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV).”
Also, Scripture has many applications in our life, listed here:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16–17 NKJV, emphasis mine)
Read your Bible, kids.
However, if you have written a book that is meant to help Christians better understand the application of God’s Word, or that helps interpret Scripture, verses are not meant to be left dangling and unsupported. They are meant to be interpreted for your reader. Otherwise, your reader should just be reading the Bible!
In the two verses above, I demonstrated two acceptable ways to incorporate Scripture. As described in my Editor’s Tip from last time, one is in quotations marks, and one is a block quote.
The first, Hebrews 4:12, is in line, written as the completion of my sentence. It acted as my support for the preceding statement: “The Bible can speak for itself.”
In the second passage, 2 Timothy 3:16–17, I am asking the reader (you) to read the passage to discern a new facts. However, I told you what facts to look for (a list of applications for Scripture), and I also emphasized the listed items in bold. It is not necessary to add emphasis like that to make your point, but if you do, be sure to append the reference with “emphasis mine” or similar so that the reader does not think it is emphasized in the Bible.
It is also acceptable to include a “theme” verse at the beginning of a chapter if its purpose will be explained throughout the chapter.
God is Love
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:8 NKJV)
What you want to avoid is unintroduced verses, which I sort of touched on last time.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9 NKJV)
Do you see? No context. No explanation or interpretation. Just a great verse all by its lonesome that might be better read from the Bible—in context.
If you do want your reader to go directly to the Word, which is a good suggestion to make, give them only the reference but tell them why you are giving them the reference:
God wants us to be courageous (see Joshua 1:9).
Christian books, whether fiction or non, act as guides that help readers to understand Scripture in a new way. As a writer, it is your job to provide interpretation. Do not expect your reader to glean anything from standalone verses.
- = hyphen
– = en dash (Alt + 8211)
— = em dash (Alt + 0151)
In a series of numbers, such as is found in a reference,
use an en dash between numbers:
Not Proverbs 3:5-6, but Proverbs 3:5–6