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I have noted in my study of Scripture that most names have "meaning" and are often Hebrew words or statements (usually about God). The original Hebrew name of Jesus - Yeh'shua - follows this pattern with its meaning roughly equating to:

Yeh = YHWH, the Tetragrammaton name of God (YAHWEH / Jehovah)

Shua = Saves or Salvation.

Thus the name essentially means: God's salvation

This meaning is relevant within the scripture - for example where Jesus name is first given in Matthew 1:21

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

This passage only makes sense when the meaning of Jesus Hebrew name Yehshua ("Gods salvation") is retained. Without this meaning the passage does not fully make sense "why" he was given the name he was given.

When names in the NT are translated, I have noted for this reason at times instead of simply transliterating them into Greek they often convert them to the Greek words with equivalent meaning so that the understanding of the names meaning is retained rather then the "sound". Then passages like the above Mat 1:21 - still make sense.

An example would be one I looked at recently. The apostle Peter is given the Aramaic name "Cephas" by Jesus which means "Rock". Rather then transliterating this into Greek they actually converted it to the Greek word Petros (Peter) which has the same meaning - Rock.

John 1:42

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter[a]).

With the name Jesus (Ἰησοῦς) I have read through discussions that the common view is that this is simply a transliteration of his Hebrew name. There is sometimes some discussions around the alternate Romanized name Joshua - but the overall common view is the (Ἰησοῦς) name is a transliteration.

With that understanding in mind, I'm just curious to know if there are any "competing" or "alternate" views as to whether the name was not purely "transliteration" and could also align with "meaning" in Greek so passages like Mat 1:21 would retain meaning for Greek readers. Are there any views that the word "Ἰησοῦς" means anything in Greek similar to the Hebrew Name Yehshua ?

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In the Old Testament, the name "Joshua" comes in at least two forms. We see them both in Numbers 13:16.

These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua. (Numbers 13:16, KJV)

The word "Joshua/Jehoshua" is said to mean "Jehovah is salvation." But there are variant spellings to the word in Hebrew. The particular variant for "Jehoshua" found in this verse in Numbers seems to occur but six times in the Old Testament, and shows some remarkable parallels to the name for God. The Strong's number to which it is linked, however, applies to 199 occurrences of the word throughout the Old Testament.

  • הוֹשֵׁ֥עַ = Oshea (H1954) --> "salvation"
  • יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ = Jehoshua (H3091) --> "Jehovah is salvation"
  • יְהוָ֔ה = Yahweh/Jehovah (H3068) --> "The existing One"

The parallels between "Joshua" and "Jesus" cannot be ignored; but are they Hebrew-Greek equivalents of each other?

In Hebrews 4:8 the NIV translates "Joshua" whereas the KJV adheres to "Jesus." The word is:

Ἰησοῦς (G2424) --> "Jehovah is salvation"

But this same word is translated over 970 times as "Jesus" in the KJV (inclusive of its various Greek declensions).

  • Ἰησοῦ / Yaesu --> genitive ("of Jesus")
  • Ἰησοῦς / Yaesus --> nominative (noun/subject form)
  • Ἰησοῦν / Yaesun --> accusative (direct object form)
  • Ἰησοῦ / Yaesu --> vocative (form of direct address/command)

Why the NIV and some other versions choose to translate this word as "Jesus" except in a few specific verses seems inexplicable. If the word "Jesus" is the New Testament equivalent the "Jehoshua" of the Old Testament, then is should be consistently translated as this throughout. To do anything else is to confuse the identities of those involved. Leave any further disambiguation to a marginal reference or to a footnote.

Indeed, the NIV footnotes Matthew 1:21 as follows:

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, [fn3] because he will save his people from their sins. Footnote: Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the Lord saves. (Matthew 1:21, NIV with Footnote)

As the footnote indicates, the name has a meaning. Biblical names always had a meaning, and people of those times would have recognized the meanings. The name "Jesus" has a different meaning than the name "Immanuel," for example--the latter meaning "God with us." The word "Christ" referenced Jesus' Messiahship, and meant "the anointed one." Each of these names is full of significance.

Yes, as the question suggests, the name "Jesus" combines the meanings of "Jehovah" and "salvation/saves." This was the entire reason for Jesus to come and dwell among us--to save God's people from their sins.

Jesus is the name given him of the Father, and is the Father's name.

I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. (John 5:43, KJV)

And, of course, the Father's name is Jehovah.

Conclusion

I think the Bible explains well the meaning of Jesus' name at its first introduction.

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21, KJV)

Jehovah saves!

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Textually, it's all demonstrable transliteration - the LXX records the pre-Christian tradition of Joshua being translated as Yeasu:

καὶ ἐνετείλατο Ἰησοῦς τοῗς γραμματεῦσιν τοῦ λαοῦ λέγων (Joshua 1:10)

Christians were then simply following the pre-existing tradition of translating Joshua's name, and were not adding any new meaning which had not been intended for Joshua when the Tanakh was translated into Greek.

One other interesting note is that the name does seem to originate within Judaism and does not occur outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition, assuming this content over on Linguistics.SE is accurate.

For completeness, it's worth noting that when the Greek was then translated into Latin, Joshua was referred to as Ioſue to differentiate him from Jesus as IESVS / Ioſus. The I became J when entering English, leading to the dominant form we're familiar with today.

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  • Ok thanks for the answer. Christians following the pre-existing condition from LXX makes sense to me. But the first part regarding the word LXX used for Joshua doesn't necessarily make it demonstrably transliteration. Because Joshua\Yehshua has the same meaning. So in the LXX if they wanted to retain the meaning of the name they would have used a Greek word that had a similar meaning. Thats really what I wanted to know - if there was any evidence Ἰησοῦς was a word that "preexisted" in Greek before even the LXX. Oct 23 at 12:11
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    @PaulaHawkins - I think we'd need substantive evidence that the LXX translators ever translated names by meaning rather than transliteration. For example, Moses in the LXX is Μωϋσῆς, and Abraham is Αβρααμ. I can add these to the answer later on when I find some time.
    – Steve Taylor
    Oct 23 at 12:18
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I've actually read quite a lot of crazy alternate explanations for Jesus greek name but usually its something silly with very little plausibility. The only interesting one that seemed remotely plausible and worthy of maybe a deeper look was a connection of the name to a preexisting deity in the Greek Pantheon called Ieso or in Greek "Ἰησώ".

This deity is a child of the Greek God of Medicine called Asclepius. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asclepius In the greek pantheon all of Asclepius children represented different aspects of Medicine and healing and their names reflected what they represented. So like Hebrew names, the names had a meaning that reflected their role.

One of Asclepius children's name was Panakia (Πανάκεια). You would recognize this as the english word "Panacia" which means Cure-all or Universal healer. Thats exactly what the deity represented. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panacea

Another of his Children was called Hygeia (ὑγίεια). This deity represented "preventative medicine" which revolved around cleaninless and what we call today "Hygine". Thats where the word comes from in the english language. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygieia

Then we have Ieso or in Greek "Ἰησώ". She was another child and represented recovery from Illness. She basically represented "Recovery" and the name like the others is linked to that meaning. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iaso

As the greek spelling of this deity and meaning behind the name are very similar to the Greek spelling of Jesus the discusion I read had theorized that when Greek scholars translated/transliterated Yehshua into Greek this contributeed to how it was translated/transliterated.

Yehshua = in Greek: Ἰησοῦς and Latin: Iēsous

Ieso = in Greek: Ἰησώ and Latin: Ieso

I honestly don't have deep enough knowledge of the greek language to make a comment on the similarity of the names and how plausible this is. Whether there is evidence of them being etymologically related. Maybe someone with a deeper knowledge of Greek could comment or you could investigate further on your own.

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Let's take a look at the title the anointed one in the OT, 2 Chronicles 6:

42 LORD God, do not reject your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David your servant.”

The Hebrew word is H4899 מָשִׁיחַ mashiach.

LXX uses G5547 Χριστός Christos

This title is served a name as well, Acts 2:

38a Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

In this case, the concept of the Hebrew "mashiach" was translated into the Greek word for Christ. This is similar to translating the Aramaic concept of "Cephas" into the Greek word for Peter. To emphasize the meaning of a name, the concept was translated and not the sound of the name.

Similarly, Oxford University was translated as 牛津 大學.
牛 means Ox.
津 means a shallow place in a river or stream.

Now, Let's take a look at the name Jesus.

The Hebrew word is H3091 יְהוֹשׁוּעַ Yehoshua, meaning "the LORD is salvation,".

The Greek is G2424 Ἰησοῦς Iésous. It translates the sound of יְהוֹשׁוּעַ. Since "the LORD" was an entirely Hebrew original concept, LXX translators could not have possibly found a Greek word that was identical to this concept. They had to transliterate.

Was the translation of "Jesus" name in Greek from Yehshua purely transliteration?

Likely so, due to its unique concept involving the tetragrammaton.

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