The God Pronoun: Capitalize or No?
If you want to start a fight, meddle with people’s religion and their grammar at the same time. Here goes:
I think it’s time to no longer
I feel the weight behind this tradition because I, too, live to honor God and I, too, want to write good English prose. But we should still let the custom drop. Not only does it muddy our communication with the uninitiated, a similar tradition has robbed us of the knowledge of how to pronounce God’s name.
Why we should not capitalize deity pronouns
Choosing to capitalize deity pronouns in Scripture creates awkward situations—such as when the Pharisees say to Jesus (in the NASB), “We wish to see a sign from You,” implying that they do in fact regard him as deity. This practice forces us to specify whether a given pronoun refers to God in ambiguous cases; it also shouts interpretations that authors may have preferred to whisper (Isa 53:6). And as the Zondervan style guide wisely points out, capitalization in English doesn’t generally mean respect, but specification (see “Pol Pot” and “Satan”). Also, as this capitalization tradition fades—and it is fading—younger readers may interpret a He in the middle of a sentence as emphasis (or, I’d add, as random, Dickinsonesque orthographic noise). Bible translations, and Christian books generally, ought to avoid distraction by sticking to conventions familiar to the largest number of readers possible.
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