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Quoting Scripture in Fiction


jayjay
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I have used a lot of Bible verses in my novel, and I'm wondering if those of you who use Scripture in fiction cite them somehow? I don't want to do it in text because. for the most part, it's done in dialog and I don't typically cite chapter and verse when I speak. I want it to sound natural and not take the reader out of the story. So should I have a page at the end dedicated to citing all of the Scripture references, or is that not necessary? I know I need to have the copyright information for the version I'm using. I just feel like I'm leaving people hanging quoting verses and then not telling them where they are.

 

I will say, for the most part, self pubbed people in my genre are not including Scripture references when they use them, but I think my first novel is pretty heavy on the references due to the theme, which is the MC learning to trust God and get born again. I expect that the majority of people who read it will be Christians, so I wasn't going to include a Scripture references page, but now I'm second guessing myself.

 

Thoughts?

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19 minutes ago, jayjay said:

So should I have a page at the end dedicated to citing all of the Scripture references, or is that not necessary?

Having a reference page at the end is a cool idea! If the reader didn't know where the verse came from, he could check out that page. I don't know if it's completely necessary, but it's not like it would hurt anything. All it could do is help!

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Actually, it's wrong not to list the references. If one is quoting another book, you have to leave a reference to it. Same thing goes for the Bible. The Bible reference of which version/s you're using goes on your copyright page. Listing verse references is best at the back of the book. It is necessary, though others may fail to do so.

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I think that a reference page at the end is a wonderful thing to do. Even though most people now realize that you can type a few words of a verse (or any documented phrase, quip, or song lyrics) into google to get the reference, a few won't, and the rest will see it as a vey thoughtful gesture that you've taken the time for the readers' convenience.

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4 hours ago, lynnmosher said:

ctually, it's wrong not to list the references. If one is quoting another book, you have to leave a reference to it. Same thing goes for the Bible. The Bible reference of which version/s you're using goes on your copyright page. Listing verse references is best at the back of the book. It is necessary, though others may fail to do so.

I believe quoting from the KJV Bible would be an exception though.

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You don't need permission but you do need to list it on the copyright page. And if your book is sold in the United Kingdom...

 

"In the US, the KJV is in public domain and there are no restrictions. But in the UK, the translation is owned by the crown and published by Cambridge, and there are restrictions and notification rules similar to those for other translations."
 

 

 

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I have the advantage of having mostly kids in my story, and they come from diverse backgrounds. One brought up bearing one another's burdens, but their were so many staring at her with no understanding. It turned out to be both a funny, yet touching scene, but it did include where the scripture was in context.

 

On the way home, the original friends, surrounded by another group, came across the spot where everything change. Two teddy bears and a bunny were thrown into a trash truck, and one ended up dying protecting the other. This was the place they truly realized that friend would never return and they broke into a huge cry-hug. The rabbit summed up what they were doing with "Bear one another's burden," unaware how many wouldn't understand.

 

Quote

 

"Bear one another's burdens."

 

Everyone gazed at Valentine.

 

She blushed. "I said that out loud?" She stood. "It was something Mom reminded Dad about when he got upset for crying in front of her. Both of them knew he couldn't be fixed, but when they cried and hugged, it made them feel better." Valentine toddled over to Teddy and kissed his cheek. "'Bear one another's burdens.' Galatians 6. It's in the Bible." 

 

She stared at Teddy, so everyone stared at Teddy.

 

Teddy extended his paw to her.

 

She grasped it.

 

He pulled her closer, and his small smile grew. Then he tilted his head. "I've heard of the Bible, don't know who Galaxians are, but this doesn't have anything to do with bears being oxes, does it?"

 

"Oxes?"

 

Teddy snorted, then sighed. He searched the throng of small stuffies on Spaulding, and then pointed to a black and white rubber cow leaning on his shoulder. "Like her."

 

"Him," the bull said.

 

"Him. Sorry." Teddy blushed and turned back to Valentine. "Beast-of-burdens to carry heavy loads."

 

The bull stood up. "Hey. Don't pull loads at all, and oxen is plural. Not oxes."

 

Teddy covered his face with his paws and rumbled. When he removed his paws his face was red. "Sorry again. But aren't you guys made to carry heavy loads?"

 

The cow shrugged. "I was a free giveaway for an old laptop."

 

Phil slapped his forehead.

 

Teddy looked around for help, or maybe an escape route.

Spaulding brought the bull to eye level and said, "He's not busting on you. We're teddy bears who don't understand what bearing burdens mean, and we're trying to find out if it's anything about being a bear -- a teddy bear."

 

A collective "oooohhh" resounded.

 

Teddy exhaled deeply, and then nodded.

 

Valentine opened her mouth, but everyone stared at her, so she hid behind Teddy.

 

Teddy turned to hug her and mumbled something to her.

 

Lady stood and cleared her throat. "Bear is a verb there, so it's nothing to do with bears -- teddy or otherwise."

 

Bug giggled, but Lady gave her a hard stare, so she settled down.

 

"We have been bearing each other's burdens for three days now." She pointed to the wagon. "It is carrying each other as needed." She hugged Phil, who tried hard to wriggle out of it. "It's also being there for one another."

 

Phil sighed, and enjoyed her hug.

 

"It's knowing that we're not always right, so it's being okay with others not always being right." She let go of Phil and gave him a huge lick on the back of his head.

 

Phil reached for the back of his head, blushed, lowered his paw, and smiled.

 

Lady laughed. "It's like Jesus made us to be. Ox, bear, stuffie, or human."

 

Phil turned to her. "Who's Jesus?"

 


 

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54 minutes ago, Jeff Potts said:

Doesn't quoting Scripture violate "Show, don't Tell?"

Much of the novel is about the journey the young woman who is my MC takes from being afraid to trust God to being saved to learning how to live a Christian life free from guilt and condemnation from her past. The hero of the story spends a lot of time talking to her about what it means to be a Christian, and within the context of the family, they also quote scripture in their conversations. I think that the Scripture references are appropriate for the theme, as you can't really "show" Bible verses. Again, nearly every quote I used was used in dialog and was used to teach a character some Biblical principle.

2 hours ago, Ky_GirlatHeart said:

I believe quoting from the KJV Bible would be an exception though.

I almost always use NKJV, and it's the version I was quoting from.

 

@Spaulding that's a really cute scene. I can see where there would be some Scriptures I technically could quote within the dialog in my novel, but several of the Scriptures are said within the context of a prayer someone is praying. I say this a little tongue in cheek, but I don't remind God where the verses are when I'm praying Scripture. I think it would be awkward in my novel.

 

@lynnmosher thanks for clarifying the copyright rules. I won't be using KJV, but it's a good reminder that I need to make sure I'm following the laws wherever I could potentially be selling books if I'm mainly publishing online.

 

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6 hours ago, jayjay said:

I almost always use NKJV, and it's the version I was quoting from

A quick look into the copyright information of the NKJV is that it was first published by Thomas Nelson. It looks like you'll need copyright permission for quoting it, but I only did a cursory check. 

 

Another option you could have that would definitely help the dialogue sound more natural is to have the characters paraphrase the Scriptures and then quote them more fully at the back of the book. Ted Dekker did this with his duology "The 49th Mystic" and "Rise of the Mystics". He did, however, get permission from The Lockman Foundation for quoting from the NASB. 

 

Note that for the amount of Scripture you say you use through the story, even if you did paraphrase you would still need to request permission. If you were only quoting one or two verses in the entire work, I think you would be able to call it "fair use."

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Check the copyright page in the front of the Bible. Hmmm. My NKJV does not say anything about using scripture with or without permission. My NIV does allow up to 500 verses without written permission, if not a complete book of the Bible or quoted verses more than 25% of the book.

 

Personally, I prefer footnotes to endnotes (at the end of the book). They're easier to find on the same page than turning to the back each time. Occasionally, a character might give the reference in the dialogue, but that's awkward most of the time.

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Carolina, I'm with you. I would much rather see footnotes. I hate going to the back to search for a reference.

 

Most Bibles do not have the number of usable verses on the copyright page. And they are all basically the same permissible amount. The NKJV says...

 

The text from the New King James Version® (NKJV®) may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic or audio), up to and inclusive of 500 verses or less without written permission, providing the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible, nor do verses quoted account for 25% or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted, and the verses are not being quoted in a commentary or other biblical reference work.

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My NKJV Bible is so "well loved" that the first several pages, including the copyright page, have fallen out. 😬 I need to have the binding repaired, but I don't want to get a new one because I have a lot of notes and dates written in it. 

 

I'll just continue to use Biblegateway for that info. 

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I have gone  through 2 Bibles since ordination In 2005.

 

In the UK I am told that the amount of scripture you can use should not exceed 25% of your book's total word count.

 

For this reason I will have cut down my use of scripture in my meditations book.

 

Edited by Shamrock
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