I was just reading a few stories pointing at medieval art that conceived of what was written in Aramaic on the cross and that Pilate had put the four words "Jesus the-nazorean, and-king of-the-jews". There's this claim that his formulation would have spelled out the tetragrammaton, the sacred name of God and that this may have been Pilate getting back at them for forcing this public killing on him (though I don't buy that - Pilate would have been fine with Slaughtering them all).

In Greek, Latin, & Hebrew, this may have looked like:


Latin: Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum

Hebrew: ישוע הנצרי ומלך היהודים

Note that this reads "Jesus the nazorean and the king of the jews." The first letter of each word reads YHWH (the name of God).

I think this is a reasonable semitic formulation (the and happens repeatedly). I have trouble with the exact details of how the definite article (the "ה") works in word pairs on proper nouns. I know that with the vav ("and") in front of Melech ("king"), the direct object on melech can be subsumed into the vowel pointings on the vav, so you don't have "a king" but "the king" without having the definite article.

Questions abound:

1) Is this likely what was written?

2) Why would Pilate have this written (certainly he didn't write it)? Did he know hebrew?

3) If someone else wrote it, who, and did they do it as a subversive act against Rome/Judeans part of a pro-jesus Christology? Who could have had it together enough to see this as victory at the time vs fleeing in defeat? Peter and the beloved disciple didn't yet know he would be resurrected (John 20:9).

4) Why was Pilate so passive here? Is this narrative shifting blame from the Romans to the Judeans in a post 70AD temple destruction world?

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    Articles and conjunctions as part of abbreviations ? Seriously ? – Lucian Jun 11 '20 at 16:44
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    I'm not seeing any commentary on the actual hebrew and/or the presence of the tetragrammaton in these links. – Gus L. Jun 11 '20 at 16:44
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    @Lucian, I'm not sure what you're getting at. This kind of acrostic is a common hebrew tool. For example, though YHWH is not in the book of Esther explicitly, it is in acrostic form at the central verse, forward and backwards en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Esther#Interpretation ... Also, as one of my links suggests, this was the interpretation of Fra Angelico in 1434, not some sort of bizarre modern anachronism. I'm not asking if this is the true case, but if this is coherent hebrew and a potential first century rendering of the greek in aramaic. – Gus L. Jun 11 '20 at 16:47
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    This strikes me as a pious stretch of the imagination. – Dottard Jun 11 '20 at 20:28

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