The term to pneuma to hagion is translated 'the Holy Spirit' in most modern translations. The New American Bible, Revised Edition, 20111 (NABRE) and its earlier form in 1970 translate the term as 'the holy Spirit' (small 'h').

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18 NAB, NABRE).

This was also done in the 1611 edition of the King James Version.

Now the birth of Iesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Ioseph (before they came together) shee was found with childe of the holy Ghost.

What is the difference in meaning of the two forms?

Note: The Bishops' Bible (1568) translated the term 'the holy ghost' (small 'h' and small 'g'), clearly indicating that the translators did not understand the term to be a proper noun.

The birth of Iesus Christe was on this wise. When as his mother Marie was betrouthed to Ioseph (before they came together) she was founde with chylde of the holy ghost

  • You will need to be more specific with some sample passages/texts because the Updated NASB uses Holy Spirit & Geneva Bible certainly use capitals in numerous places. Do you have a specific passage in view?
    – user25930
    Mar 13 '19 at 11:06
  • @Mac's Musings - Look again at the question. I referred to the New American Bible, Revised Edition, the Bible for Roman Catholics, not to the the New American Standard Bible, a Protestant translation. See Matthew 1:18 at Bible Gateway.com in the NABRE: Mar 13 '19 at 11:09
  • Quite right - at Matt 1:18 NAB has holy spirit but the DRB has Holy Spirit - both Catholic versions. The Monsignor Knox version (1945, 1957) has capitals! Capitals USUALLY indicate that the translators believed it was a proper noun, denoting divinity here, and used capitals out of reverence.
    – user25930
    Mar 13 '19 at 11:13
  • Correction. NAB and NABRE have 'the holy Spirit.' Hence my question. For the NAB go to 'New American Bible - Vatican.com'. For the NABRE go to NABRE.com Mar 13 '19 at 11:15
  • NABRE is also listed at Bible Gateway. Mar 13 '19 at 14:17

The question is correct that most post 1800 AD translations usually use "Holy Spirit" with "holy Spirit" almost unique to NAB & NABRE. One would need to ask the committee about why they did it but here is a suggested possible reason.

DISCLAIMER - I am neither a catholic nor an apologist for the Catholic church and its publications.

It MIGHT be POSSIBLE that NAB use this almost unique form of capitalisation in recognition of the fact that in the Bible, the Spirit (as the so-called 3rd person of the Godhead) is actually given various titles such as:

  • holy Spirit, eg, Matt 1:18, 20, 3:11 + many more. This is by far the most common title.
  • Spirit of truth (note lower case "t") such as John 14:16, 17, 15:26, 16:13, 14, 15, 1 John 4:6, 5:6.
  • Spirit of life, eg, Rom 8:2
  • Spirit of wisdom, eg, Eph 1:17
  • Spirit of Christ, eg, Rom 8:9, Phil 1:19, etc
  • Spirit of Jesus, eg, Acts 16:7, etc
  • Spirit of God, eg, Matt 3:16, 12:28, Rom 8:9 (the second most common title)
  • Spirit of the Lord, eg, Luke 4:18, Acts 5:9, etc

Viewed in this light, holy Spirit is merely another title for the same person among many others, so why should it be capitalised? (Despite this, I have no objection either.)

  • I commend you on your hard work. I need to try and contact the spokeswoman for the NABRE for a more definitive answer. (Your second sentence hits the nail on the head.) By the way, Judaism, the religion Jesus, does not regard the Ruach ha-Qodesh as a person (see 'HOLY SPİRİT' - Jewish Encyclopedia.com. Mar 23 '19 at 10:58

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