Archives for March 2015

Deity Pronouns: Is It Disrespectful Not to Capitalize Pronouns that Refer to God?

When I began to work with Dr. Brian Simmons and The Passion Translation for my work with BroadStreet Publishing, I did not realize how important capitalizing deity pronouns is to many, many Christians (especially in the West). Seeing Him, He, His, You, Your, My, and Mine when they refer to God was a part of my upbringing reading the NKJV and NASB translations and in most Christian literature.

For many, not capitalizing these words when they refer to God shows dishonor for the Almighty and is another sign Christians are allowing our society to affect our respect for God.

Yet after much prayer, thought, and discussion, we made the decision not to capitalize deity pronouns for the translation, even though we allow authors their preference in the books we publish for them.

Because this is such an important issue for some, below are some of the reasons why we made this decision. I hope this is helpful as you decide what you’re going to do in your book.

  • Original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts do not do this. To capitalize these pronouns is adding something to the original text that does not otherwise exist.
  • The practice did not begin until the time of King James, when they capitalized all words relating to royalty. This carried over into the King James Version translation of the Bible and into a few other translations such as the NKJV and NASB, but is not a standard practice in most translations available today.
  • One argument for deity pronouns is that it brings clarity. But more often it can actually cause a misreading of the text and limit the meaning the Holy Spirit may want to convey to the reader.
  • There is a very difficult consistency challenge when you begin to capitalize these pronouns and other words. For example, if you capitalize He, Him, His, My, and Mine, why not capitalize you and who, or other indefinite and relative pronouns.
  • Neither the Chicago Manual of Style and The Christian Writers Manual of Style recommend this practice.
  • Other highly-respected Christian authors have made a similar decision, so we are not alone. (Max Lucado made a statement online of this decision.)
  • Capitalization of deity pronouns is much less of an issue outside the U.S. and in many cases is not desired.
  • Once you start it’s very easy to get lost in all the words that should be capitalized due to a direct or indirect reference to God or any spiritually significant person, place, or thing. I have worked with Christian authors who want to capitalize words like glory, heaven, presence, church (as in the body of Christ), temple, pastor, priest, garden (of Eden), apostle, blood, angel, gospel, kingdom, ark (of the covenant) and the ark (Noah’s), baby (for baby Jesus), and many, many, many more. Even the Bible translations that choose to capitalize deity pronouns do not capitalize these words.

I realize this explanation may not be satisfactory to some, but we did not make this decision (nor does any translation team) without much thought, prayer, and struggle. Even if you do not agree with our final decision, we trust you can see it is not a simple issue.

This post here provides some additional reasons behind this line of thinking.

Question: What is your preference and why?