Usage Notes

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image of the editor at work In matters of formatting and citation, the Pious Eye site will generally follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, and Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th edition. Adherence will not be slavish, however, and readers may note consistent divergence from these standards in certain matters. For instance, the “15 November 2016” date format will be preferred over the “November 15, 2016” date format even when these authorities favor the latter. As well, the developing Pious Eye site standards will work from these editions for the foreseeable future, regardless of how many new editions the publisher may issue. (As it happens, these standards are not terribly useful in my freelance editing work, since the people who realize they need editing help tend to be in disciplines requiring APA style.) In matters of preferred spelling and permitted word usage, the current online edition of Merriam-Webster’s dictionary will usually be followed, although resistance of new trends by the American Heritage dictionary may receive this site’s support. The Oxford dictionary’s take on American usage may also be consulted, as may the Religion Stylebook.

As the site’s editor (as well as its founder and sole contributor), I may diverge from these standards in ways that I think need to be pointed out. The following list will document such divergences. It will also document other items of reference related to the site: explaining notations, identifying preferred quotation sources, and making various other random remarks that seem to fit better here than anywhere else. This list will be in no particular order. To aid navigation as the list grows, however, I provide the following set of descriptive links to the entries, better known as a table of



  • I provide Amazon links to books and other materials I mention whenever possible. As a California resident, I do not qualify for affiliate programs I might prefer instead of Amazon. Somehow, Amazon can work with California’s tax policies when other publishers with affiliate programs cannot. Like other big online companies, Amazon’s owner and corporate leaders tend to have values incompatible with Bible-believing Christianity, and these values may increasingly affect corporate policy. At present (June 2018), Amazon continues to let conservative Christians sell their materials on the site, but I am told that policy on the Amazon Smile side of things isn’t so friendly to Bible believers, at least not when those believers run afoul of the LGBTQrstuvwxyz lobby. For the benefit of readers not comfortable doing business with Amazon, as well as for readers who simply can’t afford to be buying books all the time (I know how you feel), I will also provide links to free resources when I know about them. In addition to providing a widget that allows you to search for books you can borrow through libraries in your area (visible in the right-most column of every page and post), I will note when such free resources as digitized texts you can download free from the Internet Archive and other sites are available. If you know about free resources that I might not know about, feel free to contact me through the contact form on this site, through Twitter, or by another of the methods noted on my Google+ profile (click the “ABOUT” on the right). [Contents]

  • If you’re the allegedly typical online reader, someone who wants only small articles made up of small paragraphs containing only short sentences all written in the active voice and containing only small words, someone who actually likes the limited vocabulary of SEO-optimized text….If you’re such a person, there probably isn’t much for you on this site. I deplore what the obsessions with SEO optimization and easy (lazy, inattentive) reading have done to most Web content. Frankly, I can’t stand to read most of it, and I don’t intend to imitate it. (I also can’t stand how so many DuckDuckGo and Google searches yield a hundred nearly identical variants of the same ultra-basic information filled with so many advertisements that it takes half an hour to read enough text to determine that an article is worthless. By the way, my sample searches try not to exemplify this tendency, since no regular user of search engines should need proof of the tendency.) If, after a close and careful reading, something I’ve written still strikes you as unclear or confusing (or even confused—it happens), please contact me through the contact form on this site, through Twitter, or by another of the methods noted on my Google+ profile (click the “ABOUT” on the right). [Contents]

  • Resisting mass movements, including trends in English usage, almost always proves futile. Still, some of us have such a strong innate compulsion to resist that we find it impossible to “go along to get along” when we see the masses making bad choices (unless we can convince ourselves the choices really aren’t that bad, or just don’t matter). One mass choice I’ve thought might be a bad one is the selection of “website” over “Web site.” Though the Chicago Manual of Style succumbed to this trend with its 16th edition, and though Merriam-Webster has more recently succumbed, it is still the case that this term refers to a site on the (World Wide) Web. Though I have followed the practice in some recent writing (the new usage doesn’t seem to prevent clear thinking), I’ve finally decided to defy the trend and use “Web site.” After all, would it not be most sensible to say “the fly was caught in the website (perhaps better, web site)” but “I visited the Web site”? My apologies if I have left “website” intact in a few places; I shall correct these as I notice them. [Contents]

  • One way I might choose to diverge from contemporary usage standards is by adopting older rules and conventions, perhaps even (though this is unlikely) following some reflected in as old a reference as John Wilson’s Treatise on English Punctuation (New York: Woolworth, Ainsworth, &Co., 1871). Should I do this, it will be because I’ve concluded that the logic behind the older rules is sound and the contemporary abandonment of those rules unwise, the unfortunate product of our careless, loose-thinking age (like, alas, certain of my own habits of thought, which adherence to certain older rules and conventions might help correct). I’ll add notes here as (if) I commit to such old-school rules and conventions. [Contents]

  • Usually, Scripture quotations are from the King James Version (KJV), also known as the Authorized Version (AV), 1769 update of the 1611 original, which is in the public domain. Numerous free articles in support of this preference may be found on the Trinitarian Bible Society (TBS) Web site. Since at least part of King James’s motivation for authorizing work on the KJV was to get his subjects away from the Reformed notes in the Geneva Bible (GB), a few quarrelsome grudge-holders might wish to quote from the GB instead of the KJV. (Some emphasize that the product of the work James authorized was not itself authorized by him, meaning the AV is authorized only by God. Given this, James’s motivations may not matter.) For my part, I’ve noticed no substantive differences between the GB and KJV texts, and a Bible last updated in 1769 is surely more accessible than a Bible last updated in 1599. (Interested readers may download free Sword modules for both these versions quite readily. Free software for accessing and organizing Sword modules also awaits download.) The reference tagger plugin I use, which allows you to bring up cited passages by hovering over the citations, dates its KJV text to 1900, but I have yet to find documentation of an official update after 1769. Quotations that sound more contemporary (should there be any) are from the New King James Version (NKJV), Thomas Nelson, copyright 1982, used by permission. Rare quotations from other versions will be precisely identified where (if) they occur.

    Though I agree with most positions held by the TBS, if not always with the arguments offered in support of those positions, I do not share the Society’s opposition to the NKJV. That version’s notes about readings in the Majority Text and the Critical Text are offered without the better-manuscripts-say-otherwise bias of other modern versions, so I find them mostly unobjectionable—though I do think that notes about the Critical Text should be left out of any Bible seeking to present the readings God has preserved in the usage of his people, and though I also think the KJV superior to the NKJV. Since I respect those who, like their predecessor Dean John W. Burgon (Theodore P. Letis, The Revival of the Ecclesiastical Text and the Claims of the Anabaptists [Fort Wayne: The Institute for Reformation Biblical Studies, 1992], 41,43–44), believe that some Majority Text readings might be preferred over readings in the Received Text—majority readings, unlike critical reconstructions, have the support of manuscripts long used and copied by God’s people—I don’t see the Majority Text notes as problematic. For that matter, I’d welcome the addition of notes identifying the small differences between different editions of the Received Text. Like E. F. Hills, I think it makes more sense to see God’s preservation of his words continuing through the bringing together of the Greek text that would be the basis of the Reformation, the Received Text, but I respect Majority Text or Byzantine Priority thinkers nonetheless. However, since I also respect infallible-King-James types (sometimes called “Ruckmanites”) and geocentrists (who have nothing to do with the issue at hand), it may be that I simply respect too great a diversity of opinions. Over time, I’ve seen more and more how people who claim to “know” things and to “be certain” about them most often mean that they are just very sure of themselves and, if they are rational types, of their ability to win arguments (1 Corinthians 8:1–2), or, if they are emotional types, of the authority of their own feelings and subjective experiences. Rarely do they mean that their confidence and certainty is entirely in God and in God’s words as he inspired and has preserved them, and which they submit their every thought to in humble faith and prayerful expectation of the Spirit’s illumination as they diligently apply themselves to the study of those words without preconceived biases. This realization has made me reluctant to dismiss many ideas dismissed by most, including myself not too long ago. (I’m not saying I think all these ideas equally plausible. Neither am I saying that they are all ideas that I think I could one day embrace. I’m only saying that these alternative ways of thinking need to be treated with greater respect, meaning with a greater effort to understand why those who do embrace them find them cogent, than is customary.) Then again, maybe I’m just an epistemological anarchist.

    Before moving on to the next item, I should note for the benefit of readers not familiar with the Bible-text issue that the Received Text, Majority Text, and Critical Text spoken of are New Testament texts. There is a received text of the Old Testament, the Masoretic Text, but Bible versions for evangelicals tend to remain loyal to the Masoretic—although those who think scholarly credentials qualify them to overturn God’s providential preservation of his own words do make small changes at times (based on the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Aramaic Targums, rejection of the vowel points the Masoretes thought correct, plausible corrections of perceived corruption in the received text, and so on). While Christians might once have doubted that God would preserve his true Old Testament among unbelieving Jews, the Dead Sea Scrolls confirmed that the text perpetuated by non-Christian Jews after Christ stayed true to the text extant in Christ’s day, when God’s people were the faithful remnant among the Jews. (Not that the Qumran discoveries convinced everyone. I once heard an Orthodox Christian speaker, in a video recording that I believe dated to the 1990s, say that he believed the Septuagint was the God-preserved Old Testament for Christians.) The manner in which God has preserved his Old Testament words differs somewhat from the manner in which he has preserved his New Testament words. For details, see Edward F. Hills, Believing Bible Study, 3 ed. (Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 1991). This book, now copyright by Marjorie J. Hills, may be obtained by writing to: The Christian Research Press, P.O. Box 2013, Des Moines, Iowa, 50310. Reasonably priced copies might also be available on Amazon from time to time, as well as through various online booksellers friendly to Hills’s viewpoint. While at least one preserved-text-correcting evangelical scholar has mocked Hills’s aging books as “museum pieces,” they maintain their value and are essentially timeless because of their central focus on applying a consistently Christian-presuppositional, God-centered, Bible-believing philosophy to the discipline of textual criticism. Hills’s other book on God’s preservation of his words, also still available from The Christian Research Press, is The King James Version Defended, 5 ed. (Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 2006), now copyright by Anne Hills Browne. (The acknowledgments page in this edition shows that the preparatory steps needed to make the book available as an e-book have been completed.) Hills also wrote a booklet called Space Age Science, which I believe proposed scriptural reasons for rejecting aspects of modern physics. That booklet is not currently in print, and it has nothing to do with the Bible-text issue, but I’ve included an Amazon link all the same.) [Contents]

  • When citing books of the Bible, I will normally write out the full name of the book rather than using any conventional abbreviation. This adds little extra material, relatively speaking, and makes the references clearer to readers unfamiliar with the conventional abbreviations. Should a post contain a very large number of Bible citations, however, I may decide that conventional abbreviations are required. In that case, I will use the abbreviations recommended in the the edition of the Chicago Manual mentioned above.[Contents]

  • In spite of my having dedicated time and effort to learning them, I have decided to start phasing out use of the many Latinate abbreviations customary in academic papers. Why use “s.v.” to mean “under the word or heading” and “s.vv.” to mean “under the words or headings” when the simple English “under word(s)” or “under heading(s)” will be readily understood by every proficient reader of English? Is saving a little space really that important? I suspect that the persistence of these abbreviations, the best known (and often confused) of which are “i.e.’ for “that is” and “e.g.” for “for example,” owes something to the silly pompousness of academics, but I don’t suppose the cause of their persistence matters. Replacing commonly used abbreviations like “ibid.” (“in the same place”) with English equivalents may prove laborious, so I do not promise that older posts will be updated quickly to conform with the new practice. [Contents]

  • The Pious Eye site will normally not capitalize pronouns used for God. While this convention is popular among Christians today, attentive readers will notice that it was not followed when the KJV was translated, and surely no one would claim that today’s Christians are more genuinely pious than were their seventeenth-century forebears. Any honest assessment would have to conclude just the opposite. Those who believe capitalizing these pronouns is somehow more respectful of God and so more pious may continue the practice, with my blessing, but I see little point to it. [Contents]

  • While some older posts that I have yet to update may follow my older preference, which was to avoid use of s’s for the possessive form of singular nouns ending in s, my policy going forward (and when updating older posts) is to always add the ’s to singular possessives, even to sibilant-rich identifiers after which “most authorities” would only use the apostrophe: Moses’s burning bush experience, Jesus’s resurrection, and so on. I do this because I am concerned more with maximizing precision and thoroughness than with minimizing character counts, and because I find the reason offered by “most authorities” for excepting sibilant-rich identifiers unpersuasive. The reason, according to Barbara Wallraff‘s Word Court (San Diego: Harcourt, 2000), is that ’s is “difficult to pronounce” in such cases (141). Though I don’t myself find “Mosesez” or “Jesusez” difficult to pronounce, I would probably keep the ’s even if I did. I would do this for at least two reasons: (1) ’s is clearer, meaning less easily missed and less easily taken to signal the end of a plural (not a risk in my examples, there being no such thing as a Mose or a Jesu, but perhaps a risk with other identifiers); and (2) if guiding oral pronunciation were a high-priority function of written English, surely we would have adopted simplified spelling long ago. Presumably, we persist in using spellings that have no value orally because they provide a clue in writing to the words’ meanings, or at least their histories. Clarity of written symbols takes priority over direction in pronunciation, it seems. Should not that same prioritizing apply to the ’s? (I follow a similar clarity-first policy with serial commas. Some prefer to leave out the comma before “and” in series when doing so causes no obvious ambiguity. I, in contrast, have decided that since ambiguity does sometimes result from leaving the comma out, the safest, simplest, clearest policy is to always insert it.) [Contents]

  • For a time, this usage note read as follows:

    While the origin of some site content as papers originally written to conform to varying (school-specific) style guides might result in some inconsistency (at least until all old posts have been reviewed and updated), site policy is generally to prefer combined forms over separated or hyphenated ones when any respected authority (such as a respected dictionary) grants that the combined form may be used. For instance, for adjectival use, “commonsense” is preferred over “common-sense.” (Should “commonsense” ever be used in place of the noun “common sense,” this is an uncorrected typo; please let the editor know about it.)

    As may be seen from my choice of ”Web site” over “website,” this note does not match my editorial preference in all cases. The rule will still apply in most cases, however, since only rarely do sound reasons exist for opposing the combined forms. In fact, such compound words will be favored most of the time, sometimes even when the usage authorities noted above do not yet countenance them, as in the case of “extrabiblical.” [Contents]

  • Unless I have reason to believe a motion picture, television show, or documentary I saw differed from the initial (typically theatrical) release, I will provide initial release information in my references. In many cases, this information will be drawn from IMDb, which proclaims itself “the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content.” Readers are encouraged to assume that any errors in my references just reproduce IMDb mistakes, mistakes that IMDb will no doubt have corrected since I consulted the site. [Contents]

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading.

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