You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2021 10 20Article 1384261

Opinions of Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Columnist: David Agyemang

Which name should we call, Jesus or Yeshua?

The name Iesus was later rendered Jesus in english The name Iesus was later rendered Jesus in english

Do we know the name Jesus was given at birth? Jesus was probably called Yahushua which means Yahweh is salvation or Yeshua which means salvation (Luke 1:31)

Were there other people who were called with the same name in the Bible?

Yes, the name Yahushua or Yeshua was not unique to Jesus. In Hebrew, this name means the same as Joshua and in the New Testament, it was used twice to refer to Joshua the leader who led the Israelites into Cannan (Acts 7:45 and Heb 4:8).

Is Yeshua universally accepted as the Hebrew name for Jesus?
There is confusion surrounding what the actual name of the Messiah was. Some accept only the Hebrew form (Yahushua) and reject the Aramaic form (Yeshua). Others prefer variants of the name such as Yeshu, Y’shua, Yah’shua, Yoshua, Yahshua, yhôûa, or Yehoshua. Thus, even and among those who believe that only the Hebrew name of the Messiah should be used, there is no common agreement about the form to use. There is also confusion about how the name should be written or pronounced.

The original Hebrew texts had no vowels. Therefore, the system of vowels and pronunciations we have of ancient Hebrew today were designed by the Rabbis and passed down to us.

Why do we call the Messiah 'Jesus' now if that was not how He was originally called?
Since the era of the Apostles, Christians have tried to write the name of the Messiah using alphabets of their own languages while maintaining the original pronunciation as much as possible. This process is known as transliteration.

Transliteration means a representation of words of one language by the alphabets of another while keeping their pronunciation intact.
When the Apostles wrote the New Testament in Greek, they did not use the Hebrew name Yahushua or Yeshua. They transliterated Yeshua into Greek as Iēsous. This was because Greek lacks the “sh” sound found in “Yeshua.” So, the authors used the Greek “s” sound in place of the “sh” in Yeshua and then added a final “s” to the end of the name to make it masculine in line with the rules of the Greek language. Later when the New Testament was translated into Latin from Greek, the translators rendered the name as “Iesus.” This is what was later rendered in English as Jesus.

However, the disciples were not the first to transliterate Yeshua as Iēsous. Before Jesus was born, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew to Greek. This document is called the Septuagint. The Septuagint (dated 2nd century BC) also rendered Yeshua as Iēsous. If saying Yeshua’s name correctly was essential for our salvation, the writers of the Septuagint and the New Testament would have kept it intact.

Is Yeshua the only name that has been transliterated?
No, it is a common phenomenon for the name of a person to be pronounced differently from one language to another. This is because certain names can never be written or pronounced the same way from one language to another.

Even in the Old Testament the Hebrew name for the same person, Joshua, was rendered as Yahushua in some places (e.g. in Zechariah 6:11) but in other places it was rendered Yeshua (e.g. Ezra 3:2 and Nehemiah 8:17). The use of Yeshua instead of Yahushua was probably due to Aramaic influence during the exile.

James has been transliterated from the Latin Iacomus, Greek, Iakob and Hebrew Yaaqov. In Twi, James is Yakubu which is closer to the Hebrew. The name of John in Hebrew is yohhanan and Matthew is Matityahu. In Twi they are Yohane and Mateo respectively. Should James, John and Mathew be called only with their original Hebrew names? Can we guarantee that that is possible in every language?

The name ‘Jesus Christ’ has been transliterated into many forms around the world. Below is a list of few of them.
Albanian: Jezu Krishti

Armenian: Hisus K’ristos

Bosnian: Isus Krist

Chichewa: Yesu Khristu

Chinese: Yēsū Jīdū

Dutch: Jezus Christus

Estonian: Jeesuse Kristuse

Filipino: Hesukristo

Xesucristo

Galician: Xesucristo

Georgian: Ieso Qriste

Italian: Gesù Cristo

Romanian: Isus Hristos

Two: Yesu Kristo

Haitian: Jezikri

Spanish: Jesucristo

Twi: Yesu Kristo

Is it wrong to call the Messiah by a transliterated name such as Jesus?

As stated earlier, the writers of the New Testament were the first to address Jesus with a transliterated name. Indeed, Yeshua was not used in any of the writings of the early Christians. The early Christians wrote and preached with the name Iēsous not Yeshua (see Ph 3:8, Acts 16:31 and 1 Thess.1:1). If it is wrong to use a transliterated name, then the writers of the New Testament and the Septuagint are all guilty. However, we believe that the writers of the New Testament wrote it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

7. Will Jesus know He is the one we are referring to even if we pronounce His name wrongly.
Absolutely yes, Jesus is omniscient. He knows all things and does not require us to pronounce His name correctly before knowing that we are referring to Him (See John 16:30)

Does Jesus require us to use a specific name to address Him?
No, the disciples used different tittles to address Jesus. Also in the Gospels, the disciples never used Jesus’ personal name to address Him directly. They used ‘Jesus’ only in the narration but whenever, they called him directly, they preferred to call Him Lord.

Since the Bible places so much emphasis on the name of a person, is it not mandatory to call Jesus by His Hebrew Name Yeshua?
It is true that the Bible places so much emphasis on the name of a person. However, in the Bible, a person’s name is closely associated with his character, authority and person. For example, in Acts Chapter 4:12, we are told, “nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” This simply means that there is no other being or person who can save us apart from Jesus. It is also, important to note that the book of Acts was written in Greek, therefore, it was the Greek name of Jesus, Iēsous, which was used in this text, not Yeshua.

So what name should we call? Which of the names of the Messiah is appropriate for Christians to use?

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Col 2:6). In what names was the death and the resurrection preached to you? In what name was the Saviour’s love, His grace and power preached to you? That is the name you should call. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him”.