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Yeshua of Nazareth, a.k.a. Jesus Christ

Sources of his various names:
Yahshua, Yeshua, Yeshu, Jesus
, Jesu, etc.

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Controversy over Jesus' names:

  • His formal name: As a newborn, Jesus was probably given the Hebrew name "יהושע" (yod-he-waw-shin-ayin). This is variously transliterated as Y'hoshua, Yahoshua, Yehoshua, Yahshua,. It means "Yahweh is Salvation," "God Salvation," or "Yahweh delivers." 1

    This name in Hebrew is normally translated as Joshua in English, but not in Jesus' case; Jesus and Yeshua are the most common current usages.

  • His name translated into Greek: The Septuagint (a.k.a. LXX) is a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament) from Hebrew into "koine dialektos" a popular version of Greek. It was in very wide use in Palestine during the time of Jesus. According to tradition, the conversion to Greek was performed by 72 translators in 72 days during the 3rd century BCE. According to most theologians today, it was completed in many stages between the 3rd century BCE and the 1st century CE.

The book of Joshua describes the conquest of Canaan, in which God ordered the Hebrews to engage in the genocide of the Canaanite people. According to Dr. James D. Price, Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Temple Baptist Seminary in Chattanooga, TN, the LXX translators rendered Joshua's name (Yehoshua) as Iasous in Greek, which became Jesus in English. The Catholic Encyclopedia states that: "The Greek name is connected with verb 'iasthai,' to heal." 2

In the Christian Scriptures, Yehoshua is mentioned in Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8. In both cases, the LXX spells the name as Iasous.

According to Wikipedia:

"Clement of Alexandria and St. Cyril of Jerusalem considered the Greek form Iesous to be the original, even going so far as to interpret it as a true Greek name and not simply a transliteration of Hebrew." 3
  • Hebrew abbreviations of his name: Dr. White concludes that:
    "... in post-exilic times of the Biblical era, the names Yeshua and Yehoshua were regarded as equivalent. ... Also the Talmudic evidence indicates that historically the Jews regarded the name of Jesus as Yeshua," 4

    The Nazarene Way of Essenic Studies states that:

"Yeshua is also a shortened version of the word Yehoshua much like Bill is for William. ... 'Yeshua' appears there twenty-nine times, and is the name of at least five different persons and one village in the southern part of Yehudah ('Judah')." 5

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  • Common usage in ancient times: Theologians generally believe that Jesus would have been referred to by the shorter name Yeshua ("Salvation"), at least in Jerusalem and the rest of Judea. His close friends, family and disciples would have probably called him Yeshu.

A posting on FaithForum.org states:

"Being historically accurate, we need to call him Yeshua. That is his name: not "Jesus". It is how his family would have referred to him and his followers probably knew him. In actuality, his name was probably pronounced in the rough regional dialect of Galilee as "Yeshu", but in Jerusalem, it was more likely fully articulated. After his death some of his followers moved into the "pagan" world and there they employed the Hellenized form of his name. But, if the Gospels are accurate to any degree, Yeshua never left Israel in his adult life. (This is actually a very important point regarding the formation of Christianity. By changing Yeshua's name to a Greek name, the writers of the Christian texts made the Gentilization of the faith seem to be something that was part of the inevitable flow of spiritual progress, and, most misleadingly, that this process was intended by Yeshua. We have to keep in mind that Yeshua was not a "Christian". He would never have heard of the term as it had not yet come into existence. 6

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  • Later names: "Yeshua" was translated by the early Christians as "Iasous" or "Iesous" in Greek, probably in order to make his name more acceptable to Greek Pagans of the time.

His name became Iesus in Latin, and was used, for example, in the title of a year 2000 declaration by the Roman Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith titled "Dominus Iesus" ("Lord Jesus.").

The letter "J" was not created until the 14th century in England and did not come into wide usage until the 17th century. 7

Iesus subsequently became Jesu in German. The English name Jesus came from the German spelling and pronunciation.

  • Use by the Sacred Name religious movement: The Assemblies of Yahweh and other faith groups in the Sacred Name religious movement of Christianity maintain that "Yahshua" is the only valid name by which Jesus should be called. More details.

  • The meaning and use of "Christ:" A surprisingly large number of North Americas regard "Christ" as Yeshua's last name, as if he was born into the Christ family. In reality, the word Hebrew word "Mashiach" means "the anointed one." This became "Christos" when translated into Greek, and finally to "Christ" in English. So, Jesus Christ really means "Yeshua, the anointed one." When Yeshua lived in Galilee, many Jews anticipated a Mashiach who would be a political, theological, and military leader who would throw off the yoke of Rome and create an independent Jewish state.

  • Names used on this web site: We will generally use Jesus throughout this web site because this is the name with which most people are familiar and comfortable. We do acknowledge that some consider it disrespectful to call a person by a foreign translation of his name. It is worth remembering that his family, friends, disciples and followers never called him Jesus. We do occasionally use one of his actual names, Yeshua, in our essays.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Yahshua," Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. "Origin of the Name of Jesus Christ," Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent, at: http://www.newadvent.org/
  3. "Yeshua (name)," Wikipedia, 2007-OCT-01, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  4. Dr. James D. Price, "Yehoshua, Yeshua or Yeshu; Which one is the name of Jesus in Hebrew?," at: http://www.direct.ca/trinity/yehoshua.html
  5. "Yeshua or Jesus," The Nazarene Way of Essenic Studies," at: http://www.thenazareneway.com/
  6. Cryptonomic, "God and Jesus' many names," at: http://www.faithforum.org/
  7. Lee Warren, "How Did the Name Jesus Originate?," The Plim Report, Vol 10, #5, (2001). Online at: http://www.plim.org/

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Copyright © 2007 & 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2013-DEC-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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