Upper case "God" or lower case "god" in Daniel 11:37-38?

37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. 38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. (Daniel 11:37-38, KJV)

The KJV's capitalization of "God" in these verses have been criticized. It is argued that these are not references to the true God of Israel so they should not be capitalized as "God". While the identity of the "God" in verse 37 is debatable, it is certainly true that the "God of forces" honoured by the wicked king (i.e. the Antichrist) in verse 38 is not the true God of Israel. That does not mean, however, that the KJV is wrong for capitalizing this "God". In order to understand why the KJV has a capitalized "God" we need to recognize the contradiction that would exist without it.

Daniel 11:36 says the Antichrist "shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods". Does not this statement that he shall magnify himself above every god contradict the statement in verse 38 that in his estate he shall honour the god of forces? How would it make sense for a person to exalt himself above every god and yet honour a particular god? Critics of the KJV fail to recognize this seeming contradiction. But there is no contradiction in the KJV because of its distinguishing uses of lower case and upper case "god" and "God". The Antichrist will magnify himself above every "god" - that is, every lower deity of any religious system. However, the Antichrist will honour the "God of forces" who is the supreme "God" of the Antichrist's religious system. The capitalization of "God" in these verses is not meant to identify the deity as the true God of Israel, but rather functions to distinguish between the lower gods and the supreme God of the Antichrist's religious system (which obviously is not Christianity).

At this point, one might have grammatical or theological objections to identifying the Antichrist's deity as the upper case "God" because this form of the word supposedly should be reserved only for the one true God of Israel. From a strictly grammatical viewpoint, "God" capitalized simply means "the supreme or ultimate reality" or "the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Linguistically, Christians do not have a monopoly over the capitalized form of the word "God". One might object, however, that Christians such as the translators of the KJV should know better and never use the capitalized form of "God" to refer to any false deity. While the pious sentiments underlying such objection are understandable, it is legalistic to dictate how the KJV translators ought to have capitalized their words. The original Hebrew has no distinction between upper case and lower case letters. There is no "biblical" precept for capitalization. Capitalization is merely a grammatical convention in some European languages including English, and its rules and purposes are always changing. For example, the New King James Version implements the capitalization of all pronouns referring to God (e.g. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...."). Are such capitalization erroneous? Not necessarily if the referents are actually God. Is it wrong not to capitalize pronouns referring to God? No. There are various competing theories regarding capitalization. While one theory on capitalization says the upper case God should be used only in reference to the true God of Israel, the more common grammatical theory says the upper case God can be used whenever a supreme deity of a religious system is intended, whether true or false. Most Christians unawares are already referring to a non-Christian deity in the upper case whenever they refer to "Allah" the Arabic word for deity.

Read more articles from: The King James Version is Demonstrably Inerrant