Q. I am convinced “the prophet Isaiah” in CMOS 8.93 is a typo. So my question is: Really? Is “prophet” really down in “the prophet Isaiah”? Or “apostle” in “the apostle Paul”? Thank you for your time.
A. It’s not a typo. Chicago lowercases generic descriptive titles, so we advise writing “the prophet Isaiah” or “the apostle Paul” just as we would advise writing “the artist Frida Kahlo” or “German chancellor Angela Merkel” (but “Chancellor Merkel,” in which the title is part of the name; see CMOS 8.21).
On the other hand, Saint Paul is normally referred to as Paul the Apostle, in which case “the Apostle” is part of the name in the same way as “the Great” is for Catherine the Great. But again, you would refer to “the apostle Paul”—for example, in a passing mention of Paul in his role as an apostle.
We realize that terms such as “apostle” and “prophet” are often capitalized more liberally in religious contexts and that many publications develop a house style geared toward a particular subject matter and audience. If that means uppercase for Prophets and Apostles, then you have our blessing.