Why do some Bible translations not capitalize pronouns referring to God?


There are different schools of thought in modern English grammar on whether to capitalize pronouns that refer to members of the Trinity. Some think that words are capitalized to show honor or respect, and therefore pronouns referring to God should be capitalized. Others think that standard English capitalizes names and titles because they are a certain type of noun, regardless of whether any respect is due.

Perhaps some examples from other languages would help. In German, all nouns are capitalized. In Dutch, most words are not capitalized, unless they are proper nouns or occur at the beginning of a sentence. So, for example, names of the weekdays, months, seasons and cardinal directions are not capitalized. In Spanish book titles, only the first letter of the title is capitalized, unless there is a proper name in the title. Spanish doesn’t capitalize the names of languages (e.g., español, ingles, etc.). Hebrew does not even have capital letters! Every letter is formed the same even if it is at the beginning of a sentence or the beginning of a name. However, five Hebrew letters are shaped differently when they appear at the end of words.

Human language is amazingly diverse, and each language follows its own rules. There is nothing within names or pronouns that demands they be written differently when they refer to God, though it is perfectly fine to prefer that. Some Bible translation committees have chosen to follow the standard in English that says names and titles are capitalized, not pronouns. This also avoids the difficulty of ensuring that every pronoun referring to God is capitalized. Occasionally, translation committees must issue corrections because they missed capitalizing a pronoun that refers to God.

Ultimately, God has honor and authority simply because he is God. There are myriad ways Scripture calls us to honor and worship him with our lives. It is not dishonoring to God if pronouns referring to him are not capitalized, though we are all called to honor one another by treating each other with humility, charity, and respect. Therefore, if you prefer to refer to God as “He,” glory be to Him; if you refer to him as “he,” the same glory be to him.

Back to FAQs

Do you have questions about the Bible? Visit our FAQs page for in-depth answers to important questions.

Bible FAQs
About Biblica - The International Bible Society

Biblica

Facebook

Biblica, the International Bible Society, is a worldwide ministry that has been helping people read and understand God’s Word for over 200 years. We are committed to providing the Bible in accurate, contemporary translations and formats so that more people around the world will have the opportunity to be transformed by Jesus Christ. We do this through translation and publishing, by making the Bible accessible, and with innovative Bible engagement programs like Community Bible Experience. To learn more about our ministry and how you can partner with us to share God’s Word with people around the world, go to our ministry page.