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I know that Jesus is the transliteration of the Greek word for Joshua. Totally get that.

Here's the question -- in Acts (and other places), another person named Joshua is mentioned, but he is actually called "Joshua". Why is that?

  • 3
    As Luke Sawczak points out, both Jesus (the Son of God) and Joshua are written "Ιησους" in the original Greek. I suspect, however, some English translations choose to make a distinction between Joshua ben-Nun and Jesus Christ for the sake of making their translation easy-to-read. I mean, the average reader might not know that "Jesus" means "Joshua" in Greek. – Pascal's Wager Jun 7 '18 at 5:17
  • In the Christian West, the Old Covenant, starting with Jerome's fourth century Latin Vulgate, has been translated from the Hebrew. As such, the familiar transliterations from the Hebrew were preferred to having two name versions for one and the same biblical character (i.e., the King James Version, for instance, consistently has Elijah in the OT, and Elias in the NT). – Lucian Jun 11 '18 at 14:03
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They were the same in the ancient languages and even in modern languages until quite recently. Comparing the uses in Acts 7:45, Hebrews 4:8, and Matthew 10:5:

In the original Greek they're the same: Ἰησοῦς /jeisus/

In the Vulgate they're also the same: Jesus /jesus/

Interestingly, even Wycliffe and the KJV, among a few others, use Jesus in all instances.

So it would seem that differentiating them is a modern choice, presumably to avoid confusion since "Jesus" is taken to refer to one person only (despite the allusions his Hebrew name suggests!).

To my knowledge, this is done in most European languages (I was able to check German, French, and Spanish), though Wikipedia says that in Modern Greek and in Slavic languages they do still use the same name for both people and qualify Joshua with longer phrases.

Out of curiosity, I checked those passages in the 2009 Hebrew NT (Habrit-Hakhadasha / Haderekh), and even there they chose to distinguish them (יהושע yehoshua vs. ישוע yeshua).

  • "Jesus" remains a common name in some Latin-based languages today, such as Spanish. – user25930 Jul 9 '18 at 22:15
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יהושע = Yehu is/will save while ישוע(ה) = salvation.

Some background: יהו can be in the begining or the end of a name to keep what written in Genesis 4 verse 26.

With יהו we can find אל. Example: יהושפט, יהורם, ישעיהו or Yehoshafat, Yehoram, Issaia(yaho) and etc.

And with אל examples: ישמעאל, אליהו or Ismail(written Ismael), Eliyahu.

So even if it original translated to Greek the same, in Hebrew it's not.

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