Home > Hermeneutics > The use of Italics

The use of Italics

The use of italics is also largely a matter of interpretation. In ordinary literature they are employed for emphasis, but in our Bibles they are inserted by the translators with the design of making the sense clearer. Sometimes they are helpful, sometimes harmful. In the Old Testament it is, in certain instances, more or less necessary, for the Hebrew has no copulative, but joins the subject to the predicate, which gives an emphasis of abruptness to which the English mind is unaccustomed, as in “From the sole of the foot even unto the head—no soundness in it…Your country— desolate, your cities—burned with fire” (Isaiah 1:6, 7). In the great majority of cases this writer ignores the added words of men, considering it more reverent so to do, as well as obtaining more directly the force of the original. In some instances the translators quite missed the real thought of the passage, as in the last clause of Exodus 2, where “God had respect unto them” ought to be “had respect unto it,” i.e., “His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob” of the previous verse. The last word of Daniel 11:32, is too restrictive—doing His will also is included.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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