Friday, March 14, 2014
Lost in Transliteration?
Jesus was Jewish, so where did we get His English name?
Lately, some people have taken to believing rather outlandish conspiracy theories about the name of the Son of God. One of the more ridiculous of these is that the identity of the Hebrew Messiah was hijacked by the leaders of the Early Church and Hellenized to the extent of renaming Him "Je-Zeus" after the Greek god, Zeus.
The graphic below clearly illustrates the linguistic process through which we got the name Jesus, which is in English, a language which was not to exist for centuries:
Dr. Michael Brown, whose doctorate is in Semitic Languages, explains:
"The original Hebrew-Aramaic name of Jesus is yeshu‘a, which is short for yehōshu‘a (Joshua), just as Mike is short for Michael. The name yeshu‘a occurs 27 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, primarily referring to the high priest after the Babylonian exile, called both yehōshu‘a (see, e.g., Zechariah 3:3) and, more frequently, yeshu‘a (see, e.g., Ezra 3:2). So, Yeshua’s name was not unusual; in fact, as many as five different men had that name in the Old Testament. And this is how that name came to be “Jesus” in English: Simply stated, this is the etymological history of the name Jesus: Hebrew/Aramaic yeshu‘a became Greek Iēsous, then Latin Iesus, passing into German and then, ultimately, into English, as Jesus." (For more on this from Dr. Brown, see link below)
While the world will never lack for the conspiratorially minded and the paranoid, the Word of God calls believers to maturity in Christ so that,
14 "... we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching..." Ephesians 4
Another group of people who live in denial of the true origins of Jesus' name are Muslims who cannot explain where Muhammad got the name, Eesa, for his version of the Jewish Messiah. Yeshua transliterates into Yasuwa in Arabic, but for some reason, Muhammad gave him an entirely different name. A move which makes no biblical or even Islamic sense whatsoever. Why that is so here:
Dr. Brown's article is here: