I just posted this to C18-L, but I’ll post it here, too, slightly revised:
I’m interested in discussions of why
some texts in English print the word “God” as “G-d”?
This occurs in Henry Fielding’s novel Joseph Andrews (1742), to name one example, and it was a student question with regard to this text that provoked my interest. I understand that the
name of God is treated with great respect by some religious traditions such
that they will not commit it to writing, which could be destroyed or
I understand, for example, that some interpret the third commandment given in the Book of Exodus in this way, but clearly
not all who consider it imperative to follow the ten commandments do. Why would
printing the word “God” be considered a violation? Imagine, for instance, that one
printed “All praise be to God” or “May God forgive us.” In what ways would these be
considered using God’s name in vain? If it’s acceptable to say these things, why is it
unacceptable to print them? And why is using instead the hardly indecipherable “G-
d” considered a loophole?