I think it's a fair given that we'll be linking to scripture sources a lot here, both in Q&A and in chat discussions. BibleGateway is perhaps the most popular website for these references. It would be of great benefit to us, to have some sort of quick way to link verses from BibleGateway.

I'm not a web developer, so forgive me if my example method below seems a bit crude.


[bg Ver=NIV Book=Gen Ch=1 Verse=1-5]

Should turn into:

Genesis 1:1-5 (NIV)

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

It would be really great if this sort of feature could be added to both chat, and the Question/Answer posts.

For comment posts, it would be nice if the same code could be used to insert a link like this.

In [bg Ver=NIV Book=Gen Ch=1 Verse=1-5] the Bible tells of the first day of Creation.

Should turn into:

In Genesis 1:1-5 (NIV) the Bible tells of the first day of Creation.

EDIT to include input from @SimonGillbee

The box for quoted text should be limited in vertical space - that is, change to a vertically-scrollable section - when a citation reaches a certain height. This will aid in readability of posts with extremely long quotations.

EDIT to address some other issues raised in Answers/Comments

This feature is not meant to represent any endorsement of BibleGateway by this site, nor should it represent limitation in reference materials allowed on the site. It just happens that BibleGateway is the most widely-recognized and comprehensive online resource for scripture quotations.

The feature should not be limited to any one translation/version, hence my suggestion of a Ver property in the [bg] tag. This is something that should always be specified by the post author, regardless of whether we have this feature implemented or not. If this feature is implemented, it should be done in such a way that all versions available on BibleGateway are also available for quotation here.

Additionally, if anyone wishes to quote a translation/version/book that is not included in BibleGateway's library, they should absolutely be welcome to do so via manual entry - provided, of course, that they specify what translation/version/book they are citing. An online link to the source should of course not be mandatory, but would always be nice.

The shortcut to BibleGateway proposed here is only intended to be a convenient feature for what is sure to be a large majority of our users. If there's any other website that covers a larger amount of territory, or can even be used to supplement the gaps in BibleGateway's coverage, please do add them to this suggestion by edit or comment.

  • 4
    I suggest changing [bg Ver=NIV Book=Gen Ch=1 Verse=1-5] to [Genesis 1:1-5 NIV] (the last "word" within the square brackets will denote the version, the rest will be thrown into the search query) and the computer will parse it and give us: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%201:1-5&version=NIV
    – Pacerier
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 23:44
  • 2
    @Pacerier - Good idea, but I think we'll at minimum still need the bg prefix to denote a BibleGateway tag. e.g.: `[bg Genesis 1:1-5 NIV].
    – Iszi
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 23:49
  • As an alternative you might check out labs.bible.org/NETBibleTagger though it links to a new NET translation I know nothing about. Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 2:09
  • @Iszi ok, but initially i was thinking like there will be a default (maybe BibleGateway) that if we do not specify any tag (to represent the bible) at the first word, it will assume it is the default.
    – Pacerier
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 0:54
  • @Pacerier - I was making the statement more along the lines of using the bg prefix to distinguish the tag from other, non-bible-quote-related tags.
    – Iszi
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 13:36
  • @Iszi my mistake
    – Pacerier
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 18:10
  • I might be wrong, but I was under the impression that feature requests that involve changes to the Stack Exchange system belong on meta.stackoverflow.com.
    – hammar
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 21:42
  • @hammar We can just leave it here.
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 15, 2011 at 17:42
  • 1
    What's the status on this? I really would like to see this implemented, as it would be really useful!
    – daviesgeek
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 18:52
  • @daviesgeek It seems it's on track to arrive just before the second coming.
    – user3961
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 21:57

6 Answers 6


Userscript for generating Markdown from Biblegateway.com

While we're waiting for a proper solution, I created a hacky userscript (my first ever). I've had it work on Firefox and Chrome. No warranty, etc.

Download / Review source code

The script inserts a textarea below the passage, looking something like this:

A screenshot of userscript-modified BibleGateway

The textarea content is ready for copy-paste, and should look quite nice. Example:

Psalm 23 (MSG)
 1-3 God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
   You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
      you find me quiet pools to drink from.
   True to your word,
      you let me catch my breath
      and send me in the right direction.

 4 Even when the way goes through
      Death Valley,
   I'm not afraid
      when you walk at my side.
   Your trusty shepherd's crook
      makes me feel secure.

 5 You serve me a six-course dinner
      right in front of my enemies.
   You revive my drooping head;
      my cup brims with blessing.

 6 Your beauty and love chase after me
      every day of my life.
   I'm back home in the house of God
      for the rest of my life.

Now, there probably are bugs. I won't promise to fix them, but you can try reporting here or in the Github issue tracker. Even better if you can provide fixes.

I agree we should eventually get proper support for embedding Bible passages (though copyrights, policies etc. might prove problematic).

  • Nice work. I'll be checking out the code and perhaps contributing. I started working on a userscript myself but embedded into this site that uses API calls to fetch verses and insert them directly. If you have any interest in helping with that, ping me.
    – Caleb
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 22:02
  • @Caleb: You should read some legal notice on widgets: biblegateway.com/legal/widget_terms.php. You might also want to contact BibleGateway to request more information on what a widget is, and how/if we could use it here.
    – awe
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 13:06

Some time ago, I wrote a Bible bot for Google Wave with parsers for various online Bible resources. The parsers are written in Python and can be found on:


If that can help to implement a nice syntax with as many versions as possible :-)


I really like the one offered by Blue Letter Bible, which allows you to type references like "John 3:16 (KJV)" or "John 1:1-5 (YLT)" with no markup and and it automatically parses that and gives you a hover event for references that display the verses in a popup div. By clicking on the link in the popup you can leave to go to the Blue Letter Bible site to do parallel studies and have full access to a myriad of other useful tools such as lexicons, Strong's, Matthew-Henry's, etc.


I guess that works, so long as I can use the Douay-Rheims bible when the inevitable purgatory question pops up.

However, in retrospect, Biblegateway is insufficient. Douay-Rheims is certainly a Catholic bible, but I would much rather link to the New American Bible, unless it's specifically stated in the FAQ that I may not use the Deuterocanonical text.

  • 1
    I personally think that any widely recognized translation (and I'm sure most will agree that existence on Bible Gateway signifies wide recognition) should be acceptable for citations on the site, so long as the translation is specified in all citations. From there, personal acceptance or rejection of the translation is up to the reader.
    – Iszi
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 21:20
  • 2
    @iszi, the problem is the Catholic bibles (and others) are copyrighted. I can link to the Vatican's website or the USCCB, but they're never going to be hosted on biblegateway. The NIV might be a very good translation, but try searching for Maccabees in it.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 21:25
  • 2
    Understood. My statement was primarily to address your comment (by the way, this "answer" is more appropriately a "comment") on the Douay-Rheims Bible specifically. Bringing over copyrighted works to a site which is licensed CC-BY-SA is another issue entirely, really.
    – Iszi
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 21:27
  • It's meant as an answer. I'll edit.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 21:36
  • Thanks for the edit. Again, quoting versions of the Bible which are under certain copyrights could become a separate issue entirely due to the CC-BY-SA license on SE sites. BibleGateway just happens to be perhaps the most widely-recognized and comprehensive reference available to cover most translations. I'm not aware of any other reputable sites that cover larger territory, but would be interested to know if there are any.
    – Iszi
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 21:43
  • Most translations are copyrighted, and yet allow quotation with attribution in limited contexts (such as this one). I know ESV and NIV are that way. Not sure about the RCC versions you mention
    – Ray
    Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 10:57

Based on our current roadmap, this isn't work that we will take on, as it doesn't coincide with functional areas that we plan to improve in the near future. We recognize that time and thought was put into this request but unfortunately, we can't prioritize it at this time.


I can forsee needing a couple of types of "auto-references". One, similar to the question above, would expand to an embedded scripture (what about length? Can someone reference an entire book and see it expand?)

The other should be to automatically scan test and hyperlink scripture references to BibleGateway (or some other online scripture source where appropriate). The system would probably need some kind of regex database that could be used to detect scripture references and map them to the proper external URI (that way Romans can map to BibleGateway and Maccabees can map to Vatican).

I can see setting a preference for each user that would allow them to set their preferred translation and language (NIV, KJV, NASB, etc) so that normal links or normal "expansions" would expand to the user's preferred translation. But it should be possible for the writer to specify a specific translation where appropriate, such as discussions of textual differences in various translations.

  • 3
    I disagree with expanding to user-defined "preferred" translations, unless the user in question is the person posting the reference. The translation should always be specified by the person posting it, otherwise it's very possible for an answerer/commenter to end up very mis-informed as to the poster's position and intentions.
    – Iszi
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 21:34
  • Regarding long quotes, I think there is a certain limit to how long a code quote can be, before it gets its own vertically and/or horizontally scrollable box. A similar feature should probably be included in this as well.
    – Iszi
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 21:46

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