Use a table with 2 columns, not text frame columns.
Here is an example of what I want to do. Notice how their paragraphs are all aligned column to column?
Will I need to manually put the paragraphs in the correct rows?
I would just use a baseline grid combined with a half-dozen paragraph styles...which I would likely have one set for each language.
A couple points. I was already in QXP, so that's what I used for the screen shot rather than starting ID. It is pretty much the same process in ID, though. There are 5 paragraph styles here--I didn't duplicate them so I could have both languages for spell checking (which is why I would duplicate them). You can probably tell what paragraph style does what from the names.
There could be fewer paragraph style by just using a return where one needs to force a gap between paragraphs. One reason I would use the baseline (because one doesn't technically need to) is for an absolute visual reference, and it's easy to force a paragraph down using keyboard shortcuts for space above and once the threshold is crossed, the paragraphs snap to the next baseline.
Yep, it isn't automatic. Yep, it's a page by page thing. I laid out a bi-lingual publication once this way years ago. It is stupid, almost mind-numbing work. Crank up the stereo for that last pass through looking for places to push down.
Turn on in the preferences to allow drag and drop of text in layout mode. Then you can drag and drop your paragraphes into the table.
I am convinced, that the table is the most simple solution and also the only one solution which would survive EPUB export.
What you are looking for is parallel text (formatting) or bitext*, that should support both paragraph parallel alignment in two or more columns side by side, and also possibly support two parallel translations running side by side on the left and right page of a book. And this with automatic page flow, with full automatic reference/foot notes control.
All of this is unsupported in vanilla InDesign, and as far as I am aware, no such plugin or script exists to take care of these requirements. As the other posters have pointed out, it seems we are stuck with mostly laborious manual paragraph by paragraph alignment techniques in InDesign.
You might be wondering how those academics pull off those wonderfully aligned and type set bitexts? Well, most use LaTeX for "critical editions", with extensions such as ledmac and ledpar. Parallel paragraphs are automatically aligned, and the number of paragraphs are being kept track of, and intelligently placed on pages with automatic page flow. It works really well, but there is one trade-off (next paragraph).
If parallel text is, or will become, part of your daily/weekly tasks, you might want to investigate LaTeX as an alternative solution that automates the formatting of your bitext layouts. Advantages: great automated typographical and layout control, free (open source), bug free, powerful, and a very controlled workflow. Disadvantages: type setting and layout formatting in LaTex is controlled through a page markup language (which is relatively easy to learn, but still potentially the 'trade-off'), and will take some getting used to; visual editors available for LaTeX are rather primitive compared to InDesign; and the controlled (but rigid) workflow may put you off.
Bakoma's TeXWord - Visual (True WYSIWYG) LaTeX Editor can be helpful, though, in making the transition.
Another option is to format the parallel text sections with LaTeX, and output a high-quality pdf. Then import that in your InDesign layout(s) - or do the critical parts in LaTeX, and the rest in InDesign.
Honestly, if you have to do hundreds of pages of bitext, learning the basics of LaTex may save you from a lot of frustration. Although I realize the first hurdle (learning the basics of the page formatting language) may be initially frustrating. I had to learn it during a university course, but it has assisted me well throughout the years.
The problem with adding the empty paragraphs to force gaps is it means you have to keep your eye on them as you edit and you may have to add or remove empty paragraphs every time you change a word in one column or the other.
Blank paragraphs really are not much of an issue with biblical text. It isn't like a "normal" job where text is added and removed for copy fitting, editing and the like. It's text that is sort of set in stone...
But, I would use the paragraph style method myself, like in my example. That way breaks in pages are handles a bit more cleanly.
The problem with tables is the shear amount of text. ID would get fairly unresponsive in the larger Bible chapters with such tables.
LaTeX? ABS used PageMaker in the early 1990s. I know. I designed some fonts that got used in it. The manual work isn't that onerous, it's just repetitive. Assigning shortcut keys to the styles makes it go as quickly as possible. But in would rather do that than do LaTeX ever again.
Thanks very much for the tips! I think I will need to follow MW Design's method.
Maybe that you should search for Bible Typesetting software. As far as I know there are several solutions out in the market, some are specific programs, some are plugins for existing software. I saw once a plugin only for InDesign, but this is only available to those who are producing Bibles. Sorry I forgot the URL.
This suggestion to use tables works for very short paragraphs. It fails with longer paragraphs because tables cells can't (as of 2017) break across pages.