We should express our reverence to God not only in life but also in writing.
According to grammatical rules, the word God is written with a capital letter, but how should we write the word Bible? And is it really so simple? This article will explain everything.
The Meaning of The Word Bible
Bible means a book in Greek. The Holy Scripture takes its name from the ancient Phoenician city, which is currently located in Lebanon, 20 kilometers away from the capital Beirut.
In the Holy Scriptures, this city is mentioned under the name of Gebal. In the Old Testament, in the book of the prophet Ezekiel, there are these words: “The elders of Gebal and her skilled men were in you, caulking your seams; all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in you to barter for your wares.” (Ezekiel 27:9).
The Greeks called this ancient port city by the word “Byblos”. Since the Greeks traded with ancient Phoenicia, parchments, papyri, and palm leaves were delivered from Byblos to Greece. That’s why the name of the city changed first to papyrus, and then to the word book.
Titles of Religious Books
All the names of religious books should be written with a capital letter, and in view of the popularity of these works, the word «book» is often removed. This rule also applies to the Bible.
Here are several religious books that are written with a capital letter:
- Christianity – the Bible, the Holy Scripture, the Pentateuch, the Gospel, the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Psalter;
- Judaism – the Torah, the Talmud;
- Islam – the Quran.
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Is The Word Bible Always Capitalized?
If we mean the holy book, then we should always write the Bible with the capital letter B because this is a proper name. However, there are exceptions.
If the word “bible” is meant not as holy scripture, but as a book with a special and important meaning then we write this word with a small letter. In this context, this word has nothing in common with Christianity. For example: “His books have become my bible.”
So, since the word Bible means a book, it can be used in relation to texts that have a special meaning and have influenced someone.
How Are Other Religious Words Written?
The word Church can also be written with a capital or small letter. If we mean an organization, then we write this word with a capital letter, for example, the Greek Orthodox Church.
If we mean a building, we write a small letter: “We often go to church,” but in the case of a proper name (the name of the church), we also write a capital letter: “We often go to St. George’s Church.”
Also in the names of monuments of writing, both words are written with capital letters, for example, The Ostrog Bible (one of the earliest East Slavic translations of the Bible), The Ostromir Gospels (the oldest dated East Slavic book), The Geneva Bible (one of the most historically significant translations of the Bible into English).
The word biblical is written with a small letter, just like other adjectives originating from the names of the holy scriptures. However, the word Biblical with a capital letter is sometimes used to express respect for something, so it can be considered a valid spelling of the adjective.
Also, in order to show special reverence, some authors may write He, Him, and Scripture with a capital letter. This spelling is also acceptable.
This phenomenon is called Reverential capitalization, that is, the spelling of words related to God with a capital letter within the context. For example, “Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. ” (Psalm 105:3)
The Decline of Reverential Capitalization
In the twentieth century, the practice of using Reverential capitalization began to decline, so we can find versions of the Bible that won’t have such phenomenon.
Capitalization of Different Words For Christians
Christians often capitalize the words “the Father”, “the Lord”, and “the Creator”, because these words denote God.
The word holy is capitalized when it’s a part of a proper name. Thus, the Holy Bible, the Holy Trinity, Holy Thursday, Holy Communion, the Holy Family, and the Holy Spirit are also capitalized.
“The” in “the Bible” isn’t capitalized, just like in the titles of any other books.
All book titles are written with capital letters, including the books in the Bible. For example, the Gospel of Mark and the Epistle to the Romans.
Names of Religions And The word “Word”
Often the words of God spoken in the Bible are called the Word. In this context, it’s also capitalized.
The names of religions are capitalized because they are proper names.
For example, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. We also call confessions with a capital letter: Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism, Lutheranism, Shiism, and Sunnism.
The Capitization of Religious Holidays
Religious holidays are also capitalized: Easter (Pascha, Resurrection Sunday), Christmas, The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Theophany), and so on.
The Word Archbishop
Archbishop or bishop are capitalized if they are written together with the name, in which case they serve as a title.
For example, Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece. However, the title itself without a name is written with a small letter: The archbishop said that fifteen new churches will be built in the city this year.
The Word God
The word God is always capitalized in monotheistic religions, but in polytheistic beliefs and in a non-literal sense we use a small letter: gods, goddesses, and god.
It’s important to remember and not to capitalize the names of pagan gods, because they have nothing to do with our Lord. The godfather and godmother are also written with a small letter.
The Word Saint
The word Saint used together with the name will be written with a capital letter (Saint Paul), but the combination of the words “patron saint” will be written with a small one.
The abbreviation of Saint is Always capitalized (St. Paul). The same applies to the word Reverend (in the abbreviation – Rev.)
Also, we capitalize religious titles used when we address the person, for example, Father, Sister, His Holiness.
Thus, we learned not only in which cases the word Bible is written with a capital letter, but also considered other cases of writing religious lexicon.
Christians need to know this feature of grammar in order to show respect for the Holy Scriptures, for other religions, and for other believers, as well as in cases where grammar provides variation, to show their special reverence for God and for all the words that are associated with Him.
CharalamposCharalampos is an Orthodox Christian who wants to help others learn about Christianity. His main goal is to help people understand the Bible and how to apply its teachings in their everyday lives. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, and hiking.
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