This translation puts multiple capital letters inside many Bible names. For example, Jonathan is JoNathan, Isaiah is IsaiAh, and Eliezer is EliEzer. This is called ‘CamelCase’ since there is a ‘hump’ in the middle. Why do we do this?
It’s partly to help readers to correctly pronounce the names, partly to show some translating consistency, but mostly to convey the full meaning of the names that the ancient peoples understood.
After all, that’s the job of a translator: to convey the original meaning.
For example, the common English pronunciation of Jonathan (for example) is Jon-uh-thun or Jon-na-thun. However, in CamelCase we might spell it as ‘JoNathan’. Why?
Well, the first part of that name, ‘Jo-’, refers to the name of God, traditionally pronounced as Je-ho-vah in English, and probably pronounced something like Yah-wah in Hebrew and Aramaic.
The second part of the name, ‘-nathan’ means Gift. So in Hebrew, the name of Saul’s son was originally pronounced closer to Yah-Nuh-thahn.
Therefore, by writing Jonathan as JoNathan, we show the reader that the name contains different parts with different meanings, and usually one of them refers to Jehovah/Yahweh (or sometimes to a pagan god or lord).
The same is true in the case of names that end with an -iah, as in Isaiah. That last part of the name is a shortened version of the name of God. Isaiah means Salvation [of] JehovAH, and it was originally pronounced Ee-suh-Yah, although by the Christian era, the pronunciation changed to ‘Hsai-ah’ due to Greek influence.
Do you notice how the ‘ie’ sound has changed to a J in English? This is due to the way the letters were changed into Latin text in older Spanish writings. Unfortunately, ancient Bible translators didn’t follow this pattern consistently. So in modern English, while many Bible names are spelled with a J, some others are still spelled with an Ie or Iah.
If they had been consistent, then Isaiah would be known in English as something like Jesuah!
Another important Hebrew word found in Bible names is ‘El’. It comes from the Hebrew Elohe, or God. So, for example, we spell the name Eliezer as EliEzer. It means God [has] Helped, and it should be pronounced like Elee-ezzer.
The word Ai is the Hebrew word for city. So AiLam probably meant the City of Lam.
Bel (as in BelShazzar), or BaAl, or BeEl refer to ‘the Lord’ – the title given to all local pagan gods.
The prefixes ‘Ben’ and ‘Bar’ mean ‘the son of.’
‘Beth’ means ‘the house of.’
‘Beer’ refers to a ‘well.’
‘Is’ or ‘Ish’ means ‘Man.’
And so on...
Did we get them all right?
Does this mean that we have the capitals in all the right places?
Most of our volunteers specialize in Ancient Greek, not Ancient Hebrew. But that’s okay, since we’re trying to how these names were both pronounced and understood by the Early Christians who used Greek, rather than the original Hebrew writers.
‘I really don’t like this feature!’
If you don’t like the CamelCase, you’re welcome to switch it off when reading the Bible on our website. At the bottom of each Bible book webpage you’ll find a ‘Preferences’ section. Uncheck the CamelCase box, and the names will appear as they do in other Bible translations.