It’s partly to help readers to correctly pronounce the names, partly to show some translating consistency, but most of all to convey to the reader 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, commonly pronounced as Jehovah in English, and probably pronounced something like Yeh-ho-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 Yeh-ho-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).
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 has changed to a J in English? This is due to the way the letters were transposed 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.
There are other Hebrew words appearing as prefixes or suffixes of Bible names. Our translation also capitalizes these.
For example, you’ll find the word Ai, which is the Hebrew word for city. So AiLam probably meant the City of Lam. Further, where you find the prefixes Bel (as in BelShazzar), or BaAl, or BeEl, they refer to ‘the Lord’ – the title given to all local pagan gods. Also, 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.
Does this mean that we have the capitals in all the right places? No; most volunteers for this project specialize in Ancient Greek, not Ancient Hebrew. But that’s okay, since the aim is to provide readers with a better understanding to how these names were both pronounced and understood by 1st-century Christians who used Greek.
The Bible text and translator notes are public domain. Everything else is either copyright to their respected owners (all rights reserved), or available under a Creative Commons license. Our Bible text, translator notes, and commentaries use CamelCase for Biblical names. Our official websites are 2001.bible, 2001translation.org, and 2001translation.com.