I've been studying some of the books of the English versions of the Bible, and have discovered how their uses of the terms, "God," "god," and "gods" should seem slightly perplexing to English readers of the Bible.

I Googled “singularity plurality definition,” and stumbled upon another question and answer dialogue here, which seemed to correlate perfectly with my question. Indeed, rock, and rocks, is similar to the Biblical, “One and only God,” vs. “God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit,” except that each member of rocks, is completely separate from every other rock, in every case. But every member of “God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit,” is each understood as exactly one person, but still exactly one “God,” individually OR collectively. “Rocks,” collectively are never one “rock.” A granite rock, a basalt rock, and other rocks are indeed rock, but all these rocks are never “one rock.”

Example: John the Apostle quotes Jesus (John 10:34) as having said,

I say, 'you are gods.'

Jesus was quoting Asaph, who arguably was speaking on God's behalf, in the 82nd Psalm, “gods,” here, is obviously plural.

The English language accepts god(s), as used here, as either singular or plural. But, "God," which conveys an idea, not a thing, is strictly singular. Usually, capitalization has nothing to do with the meaning of a term, excepting when the term indicates a name. But "God," isn't really a name, but an idea. Jehovah, is a name, as well as Jesus, but “God,” is an idea, as is “rock (when generalizing all the classes of rock).”

  1. Is the literary use of god, and the terms derived from god, in the standard versions of the English Bible, a breach of English grammar?
  2. an exception in English grammar? OR
  3. unrelated/irrelevant to English grammar?

Further examples, as requested:

Psalm 82:1, 6--https://biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+82&version=NIV

Exodus 20:1-3--https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+20%3A1-3&version=NIV

@Benjamin Harman: So primarily, Benjamin, why when "god," appears in the Bible is it understood as meaning, "a god;" and "gods," as a quantity of gods; but "God," capital-G, always directly related to "god," but always meaning The (Biblical) Deity; and never appearing in plural form? Does this pattern occur in other examples of English literature, or is this pattern exclusive by the Bible? What kind of exception is it? Grammatical? Literary? Respect to Antiquity? Reverence to the Biblical God?

  • 7
    This is a theological question and a loaded question. Your question is based on the theology of the Trinity being a single Entity rather than separate Entities working in unison. This is a hotly debated issue in Christian theology, not a given, making it loaded. Since the nature of the trinity is the basis of your question, it's not grammatical. Moreover, your question asks about "translations," which means it's not asking about English but the original text, which is presumably Greek, Hebrew, and/or German, depending on whatever version of the Bible you are talking about, so not English. Jan 15, 2016 at 5:56
  • Thank you. The opening sentence uses, "versions," initially, but is not the subject question. I've edited the base question to reflect my intent: "translations," in the subject question at the end, is now, "versions." Jan 15, 2016 at 6:07
  • @Ricky: I submit that this is a loaded question, but the original question is not opinionated. Let's not judge which standard versions are definitive, not here. Jan 15, 2016 at 6:44
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    @B. JohnJones : You cannot submit that this is a loaded question and that the original question is not opinionated. They are mutually exclusive. The initial question is predicated on the Trinity being One instead of Three. That is a matter of opinion. That is your opinion. That is the crux, if you'll excuse the pun, of your question. Jan 15, 2016 at 7:15
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    @B. JohnJones : Loaded or not loaded, opinionated or not opinionated aside, you haven't made it clear about how on God's green earth you think that the Bible's usage of these terms is not grammatical. Are you asking about verb conjugation, capitalization, what? Where does grammar fit at all into this question? And know that the Bible, being the oldest, most prevalent piece of English literature we have, remains a standard bearer, not follower, in terms of English. It is an immutable mainstay of linguistics. Patterns tend to follow it, not vice versa. Jan 15, 2016 at 7:20

2 Answers 2


I believe your question is requesting conceptualization of common versus proper nouns.

Consider the example:

Jones is a common surname.

Keeping up with the Joneses.

There are examples where common nouns in plural are capitalized.

As for God, it is a style issue in print. For example, Orthodox Jews will not use the G-word, even in print, outside of prayer. They will write G-d, the Almighty, the Divine, or Ha Shem [the Name].

  • Are the examples you allude to, of common nouns in plural, capitalized consistently, as in this case, or case-by-case? Aug 1, 2016 at 19:29
  • Hebrew has no case, so everything is capitalized (or nothing). The Chicago Manual of Style recommends capitalized singular deities (including Trinitarian). So, yes, they would be capitalized if referring to God.
    – Stu W
    Aug 2, 2016 at 15:10

It is axiom that the Judeo-Christian God, when identified using the root, "god," will always be capitalized in proper English, and that "God" will never be pluralized as in "Gods." Inferior, mythological "gods" may be pluralized and will always maintain as lowercase in proper English. This is a common assumption.

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