I’m the first to admit, I can be nitpicky about grammar and punctuation. I always loved spelling bees and—you’re really going to think I’m nerdy now—I can diagram a sentence with the best of them! My first job after college was as a newspaper copy editor.
Imagine my surprise when my first book came back from my editor in 2015 with all the deity pronouns changed to lowercase. My sentences started out like this:
With all that had happened, she had a hard time trusting God. She kept seeing sign after sign that He didn’t care.
And came back like this:
With all that had happened, she had a hard time trusting God. She kept seeing sign after sign that he didn’t care.
That lowercased he didn’t seem right, so I checked in my Bible. Yikes! Deity pronouns were lowercased! How did that happen? I just knew they were supposed to be capitalized.
I did a little research. Apparently, the capitalization of deity pronouns, which may have come from German, where all nouns are capitalized, became common in the 1800s and declined in use in the 1900s, becoming less common after about 1950.
Then how did I grow up thinking they were capitalized? I wasn’t around before 1950!
After a while, I figured it out. I wasn’t born before 1950, but I bet a lot of the books and Bibles I grew up reading were printed back then. They didn’t reflect the latest thinking on capitalization, much like my high school history textbook didn’t tell any about anything that happened after World War II.
That made sense, but I still wanted to capitalize those pronouns in my book. Capitalizing He and Him felt more respectful, and as an indie author, the final decision was mine. I knew, though, as a former copy editor, that my emotions shouldn’t decide how to spell or capitalize things. I checked the official guide to grammar and punctuation for fiction, The Chicago Manual of Style. It said to use lowercase. Finally, still thinking those capitals should be there, I looked at how Bible publishers handled the question.
I checked John 3:16 in 36 different Bible translations. Only seven of them capitalized the deity pronouns. When I looked only at the seven translations I was most familiar with, versions like the King James and the NIV and the NASB, only two of them capitalized deity pronouns.
That made up my mind. I decided to use lowercase for deity pronouns. I figured if the majority of Bible translations, done by people who can read Greek and Hebrew and know more than I do and don’t take such decisions lightly, use lowercase, that’s what I should do.
And in the end, I know it’s not capital letters that show how much I respect God. It’s how I live my life.
I have an interesting side note to share. Oddly enough, the morning after I wrote the draft of this blog, when I did my daily devotional, I read the following verses, Matthew 15:8-9.
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’”
If ever there was a nudge from God that he really doesn’t get all worked up over capital letters, I think that was it. At least that’s how it seems to me.
These days, when I’m not thinking about capitalization, I’m getting ready for the release of my new book next month. Here’s a little bit about the story and a look at the cover!
Two orphaned babies, one overwhelmed uncle, one former fiancée…
One way or another, freelance editor Kristen Hamlin will keep her word. She promised to raise her best friend’s baby girls, should the need ever arise, and she meant it. Obviously, the twins should never be given to their workaholic uncle. After all, he’s the same man who broke his engagement to Kristen so he could spend more time with his real love—computers. But when tragedy strikes, leaving the twins as orphans, Kristen discovers that the paperwork was never done. He’s the legal guardian.
Entrepreneur Clay Norris has his hands full, taking care of his twin nine-month-old nieces, not to mention running his computer-gaming company. To make matters worse, his former fiancée claims she should have been given custody of the twins—not him—and has now suddenly moved in next door. Coincidence? He thinks not.
Once the demands of looking after two infants require a team effort, Clay and Kristen are inevitably drawn together. Old feelings rekindle, but the couple struggles to move beyond painful mistakes from the past. As circumstances conspire against them, can they learn to forgive one another, accept God’s limitless grace, and find the courage to take a chance on love once more?
If you’d like to join my street team, read the ebook book for free before it’s released, and help me tell people about it, I’d love to have your help! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to join.
And if you don’t want to join a street team but you’d like to read a sample of the first few chapters before the book is released, sign up here for my newsletter!
I’m so excited to send this book out in the world next month!