Just in the past few months, I've been coming across the word bible as a lowercase word. I'm not talking about the word as used in, say, "the fisherman's bible," or such similar uses; rather, the appearance of the word when it clearly refers to the Holy Bible, as in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures.

As a lifelong Christian, I am somewhat concerned (assuming tentatively there is a trend) that the use of the word bible, when referring to the Holy Bible, may be related to a general devaluing of this traditionally sacred book.

My questions, then "Is there a trend toward replacing the capital B in Bible with a lowercase b?" And are there statistics or facts to support this notion? (Meaning, is there data that supports the statement that this is a trend that's actually occurring as opposed to my own perception?)

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    I disagree that this is only an English question and have posted a Meta post to argue that this shouldn't have been closed so hastily. There's clearly a doctrinal angle, or at least a Christian Culture angle s far as what's acceptable in Christian Culture. I think we're just a bit too fast to close questions around here.Even if the main answer is that it's sloppy English, part of why it's increasing is arguably because Christians are not making it a point to expect respect for God. – David Stratton Feb 4 '17 at 3:09
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because as I explained in Meta this question does not currently clearly ask about Christian use of language rather than general Western society. – curiousdannii Feb 6 '17 at 4:50
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    This question should be on-topic at English Language & Usage, perhaps with a minor modification. It's been discussed in their chatroom. – MR. TOODLE-OO'D Feb 8 '17 at 17:51
  • @curiousdannii: Taken from an email update from a business, Gouletpens.com, with whom I do business: "What is your favorite part of helping out with vacation bible school?" The question was part of a Q & A article which featured an interview with an employee of Goulet Pens. The Goulets (Brian and Rachel) make no bones about being Christians, so the appearance of the word "bible" without capitalization kind of took me by surprise (newsletter@gouletpens.com 2/9/17). Food for thought. (BTW, the word "Bible" is capitalized elsewhere in the newsletter.) – rhetorician Feb 9 '17 at 17:29
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    Relevant: biblical. – TRiG Feb 12 '17 at 22:07

Yes, there is a trend towards not capitalizing the words 'Bible' and 'Koran'. There is an extremely simple reason for this - bad grammar.

Both Bible and Koran (or Quran) are proper names, since they refer to specific books, and as such should be capitalized. This is nothing to do with belief in the validity of either book, or respect for them. The name 'Satan' is capitalized in correct English, just like 'Jesus' and 'Mohammed'.

The word 'bible' sometimes shows up in validly lowercase originally because it can be used as a general term for a holy book, or an authoritative reference book, as in "The Tanakh is the Jewish bible", or "Stroustrup's book is the bible for C++ programmers". The lowercase is correct in those instances. This tends to cause people not to capitalize the word everywhere, even when it refers to the specific book.

TLDR: 'Bible' is often written in lowercase for the same reasons that apostrophes are often used in plurals.

  • Not sure I agree fully with you. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but something happened last year which kind of triggered my question. Do you remember the furor concerning some media outlets refusing to show their readers a copy of a cartoon (originally published by Charlie Hebdo) which ridiculed the prophet Muhammed? Shortly thereafter the NY Times showed its readers a facsimile of artist Chris Ofili’s 1996 painting “The Holy Virgin Mary,” a borderline obscene work which ridiculed Mary, the mother of Jesus. I plan to research the B-to-b, K-to-k thingy. – rhetorician Feb 4 '17 at 3:22
  • If I find anything interesting, I may come back to you with what I've found, especially if there seems to be a double standard in evidence, at least in the mainline media. Don – rhetorician Feb 4 '17 at 3:23
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    Do you have any concrete evidence of a trend? – curiousdannii Feb 4 '17 at 3:52
  • I don't think you should have answered without sources. – fгedsbend Feb 4 '17 at 12:22
  • To be fair, the Bible isn't really one book. It's an anthology or library of books. So it makes sense to capitalize "Bible" because it's referring to one semi-consistent collection of books, not because it's actually one unified text. This makes it quite different from the Koran, for example. This might be a distinction without a difference, but I think it's a fair claim that not understanding the Bible as an anthology really damages people's ability to understand it. – user53478 Apr 4 at 1:55

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