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Some Christians bowdlerise words like "God", writing it as "G-d" or even "G d". This practice is likely inspired by the Jewish practice to do similar. But while some Jews explain their practice as a means to ensure that the names of God including the word "God" are never thrown out, I have never heard any Christians give such an explanation, which seems to me to be both more legalistic and more mystical than is found in most branches of Christianity. And it doesn't seem to square with how God inspired the authors of the Bible: considering that the New Testament's use of κύριος (lord) for the Tetragrammaton could be considered a bowdlerisation, if this practice was God's intention, it seems to me that he could easily have inspired the New Testmanent's authors to do likewise for θεός (god).

What reasons do these Christians give for this practice? Why is it sufficient to obscure one letter but still write the two consonants, shouldn't the whole word be avoided? (Do they also avoid writing words like "godly"?) And do they explain why, if it's either wrong or imprudent to write "God" in English, God did not inspire the Biblical authors to avoid the Hebrew and Greek words for "god"?

  • But Christians did bowdlerize. The real example is the spelling θς. – b a Jan 3 at 13:55
  • @ba True, I'd forgotten about nomina sacra. I'm not sure I'd call them bowdlerisations though. Are there really manuscripts that never have the unabbreviated θεός? I've never heard of that, but if there are then I'll have to heavily edit my question. – curiousdannii Jan 3 at 14:44
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    I've asked a question at BHSE about whether it is thought that the NT autographs used nomina sacra. If textual criticism deems that unlikely, then my point that this practice seems out of step with what God inspired stands. – curiousdannii Jan 3 at 14:58

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