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Jude 1:5 has major textual variants. One reads

"Ὑπομνῆσαι δὲ ὑμᾶς βούλομαι, εἰδότας ὑμᾶς ἅπαξ πάντα, ὅτι Ἰησοῦς λαὸν ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου σώσας τὸ δεύτερον τοὺς μὴ πιστεύσαντας ἀπώλεσεν"

Why is Ἰησοῦς translated as 'Jesus' instead of 'Joshua'?

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    Other translations have the Lord (YHWH). This is not Jesus as Jesus was not in the OT. Apr 11, 2023 at 0:34
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    YHWH is not what they have... the have "kyrios" (Lord) which can indeed refer to Jesus. I would agree that if the author wrote a human name it would refer to Joshua because of the context. But "Lord" makes it understandable why some translators would opt of Jesus rather than Joshua. Apr 11, 2023 at 3:43
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    Consider too that neither Jesus nor Joshua is the one keeping disobedient angels in chains of darkness for judgment. It is God as 2 Peter 2:4 shows, For if God did not spare messengers having sinned, but having cast [them] down to Tartarus with chains of deepest gloom, delivered [them], having been reserved to judgment, Apr 11, 2023 at 9:12
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    @Michael16 it's the same name in Hebrew/Aramaic (Yeshua / Joshua), which is the language Jesus spoke and what Jesus would have been called by His disciples. Jesus is the Greek form of the name preserved in the NT.
    – Dan
    Apr 11, 2023 at 16:57
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    @Michael16 Huh? No, but of course if there is a parallel in Sirach, as you point out, that would strengthen the case for Josh. Apr 12, 2023 at 18:48

5 Answers 5

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First, in the Greek, "Joshua" and "Jesus" are identical as they both translate Ἰησοῦς (Iesous), compare Matt 1:1, 16, 18, 21, 25, 2:1, etc (Jesus), vs, Acts 7:45, Heb 4:8, Luke 3:29, Col 4:11 (Joshua).

It is also true that the manuscript evidence for Jude 5 shows significant variation in the text (see UBS5 and NA28 for the vast amount of information about which MSS support which of the many readings); however, the one asked about by the OP specifically is that of Ἰησοῦς vs Κύριος.

  • Ἰησοῦς (Jesus) is the text of UBS5, NA28, THBNT, SBL
  • Κύριος (Lord) is the text of Souter, W&H, NIVGNT, Majority Text, R&P Byzantine text, F35, Orthodox text, TR.

Of the modern versions (in English):

  • "Jesus" is used by NLT, ESV, BSB, BLB, CSB, LSV, etc.
  • "Lord" is used by NIV, KJV, NKJV, NASB, HCSB, ASV, CEV, ERV, ISV, etc.

This is consistent with the regular declarations in the OT:

  • Ex 20:2 - “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
  • Lev 25:38 - I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
  • Lev 26:13 - I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians. I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk in uprightness.
  • Deut 5:6 - “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
  • Deut 5:15 - Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. That is why the LORD your God has commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
  • Deut 6:12 - be careful not to forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
  • Deut 13:5 - But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
  • Deut 13:10 - Stone him to death for trying to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
  • Deut 20:1 - When you go out to war against your enemies and see horses, chariots, and an army larger than yours, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you.
  • Josh 2:1 - Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I had promised to your fathers, and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you,
  • Josh 6:8 - “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
  • Amos 2:6, 10 - This is what the LORD says: ... And I brought you up from the land of Egypt and led you forty years in the wilderness, that you might take possession of the land of the Amorite.

Now, regardless of which reading, "Jesus" or "Lord", we adopt in Jude 5 - the meaning is the same - it was Jesus our Lord and Savior who brought the Israelites out of Egypt -

by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? (Deut 4:34)

Indeed, Joshua did NOT lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses was the human leader at that time as per Jude 5 which says: "delivered his people out of Egypt". Therefore, we cannot translate Ἰησοῦς (if that is the reading we adopt) but must translate, "Jesus".

This is confirmed because later in the same sentence (V6), it is the same Jesus/Lord is the one who keeps angels in chains of darkness for judgement.

This is further confirmed by the whole story of the Exodus -

  • it was the LORD who miraculously created the plagues of Egypt
  • it was the LORD who miraculously changed pharaoh's mind to let the people go
  • it was the LORD who miraculously parted the red sea
  • it was the LORD who miraculously provided the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night
  • it was the LORD who miraculously fed the Israelites with manna
  • it was the LORD who miraculously protected them during the desert wanderings
  • it was the LORD who miraculously provided water when needed
  • it was the LORD who miraculously won their wars in the promised land against the inhabitants that looked like giants
  • etc

At best, Moses and Joshua were simply God's mouth-pieces.

"Lord"

Even if one adopts the reading "Lord" in Jude 5, the effect is the same because we have the repeated declaration in the letter of Jude that:

  • V4: ... our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ
  • V14: Behold, the Lord is coming with myriads of His holy ones [This is again, Jesus' at His second coming]
  • V17: ... foretold by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ
  • V20: ... await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you eternal life.
  • V25 - authority through Jesus Christ our Lord before all time, and now, and for all eternity.

Thus, for Jude, Jesus is Lord! See also 1 Cor 12:3, Rom 10:9.

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  • In Russian, "Joshua" and "Jesus" are both "Iyesus"
    – Seggan
    Apr 11, 2023 at 18:49
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In fact that version of the text cannot be a reference to Joshua, because it was not Joshua who "saved a people out of the land of Egypt" and "afterwards destroyed those who did not believe". That was God.

The RSV translation goes with the text which simply reads "he", but adds as a footnote "Ancient authorities read "Jesus" or "the Lord" or "God". I can only suppose that the scribe who added "Jesus" was thinking of Jesus in his divine aspect.

In confirmation that "he" is not Joshua, I add the observation that he is also the one keeping the angels in chains (v6).

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  • Didn't Joshua deliver the Israelites into the promised land, originally from Egypt ("a people out of the land of Egypt having saved [or, delivered])"? Didn't he destroy the various Canaanite clans? Apr 10, 2023 at 19:52
  • Right, v. 6 is the major immediate contextual argument against this - thanks for this. Apr 10, 2023 at 20:14
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The underlying Hebrew name is ישוע, which is vocalized as יֵשׁוּעַ in the Masoretic Text. Depending on context, it is pronounced "Yehoshua" or "Yeshua".

"Yeshua" means "salvation", whereas "Yohoshua" means "Yahweh is salvation".

The Greek makes no distinction of the context, however, and simply renders occurrences of ישוע in the Hebrew text as Ἰησοῦς. The Septuagint translation of the Book of Joshua literally reads "Jesus son of Nun" (although English translations render it "Joshua").

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Translators are faced with two textual traditions: either Jesus/Joshua or 'the Lord.' Modern translators will probably consider both traditions in decided how to translate the verse. Given this, it is easy to understand why translators opt for Jesus rather than Joshua, because Joshua is never called "the Lord". Indeed it seems that most translators opt for "the Lord," and a relatively few choose "Jesus."

However, if we look only at the textual variant that has "Joshua/Jesus" then it is a different issue. Since Yeshua and Jesus are in fact the same name, we should look to the context to understand which person in meant and which translation we prefer. The verse refers to the person who "who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe."

This would seem to refer to Joshua, not Jesus. Moreover if we look further we can see that the author refers to numerous other OT heroes and villains: Moses, Cain, Adam, Enoch, Korah, etc. Given this context (and only looking at this textual variant) it would be likely that the author was thinking of the historical Joshua not Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: if it is a choice between Joshua and Jesus, then Joshua is the better choice. But since it is also a choice between Joshua/Jesus and "The Lord" then Joshua becomes a less likely choice. Most translators are probably right to opt for "The Lord" rather than either Joshua or Jesus.

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    It does rather look as though the insertion of the name was the wild guess of an individual scribe. I still don't see how he could have been thinking of Joshua if he had read ahead to v6. Apr 11, 2023 at 9:03
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    I found this just now: 'It is possible that an early scribe made a mistake and changed “the Lord” to “Jesus,” (early scribes often used abbreviations, and the abbreviation for “Lord” was KC and the abbreviation for Jesus was IC (both had lines over them). A scribe could have easily mistakenly substituted an “I” for a “K.” revisedenglishversion.com/Jude/chapter1/5 Apr 11, 2023 at 14:27
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Other translations shows Jude 1:5 and Jude 1:19 as "the Lord". The Lord here is none other than the unipersonal God almighty YHWH, as Jesus was not in the Old Testament nor was he the YHWH/God that the prophets wrote about.

It would be anachronistic to place Jesus in the Old Testament because there is nothing written about him being involved with the prophets and their ancestors in the Old Testament.

Note that both Jesus and Michael used the name Lord (YHWH) in rebuking the Devil. Luke 4:8 and Jude 1:9.

Jude 1:9 YLT

yet Michael, the chief messenger, when, with the devil contending, he was disputing about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring up an evil-speaking judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke thee!'

Luke 4:8 YLT

And Jesus answering him said, 'Get thee behind me, Adversary, for it hath been written, Thou shalt bow before the Lord thy God, and Him only thou shalt serve.'

It is not factual nor true to claim that it was Jesus who brought the Israelites out of Egypt when it was the Lord, YHWH who brought the Israelites out of Egypt.

Exodus 20:2 YLT

I am Jehovah thy God, who hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of a house of servants

Deuteronomy 5:6 Literal Standard Version

I, YHWH, [am] your God who has brought you out from the land of Egypt, from a house of servants.

It is also not true that Jude 1:6 say that Jesus is the one who keeps disobedient angels in chains of darkness as 2 Peter 2:4 shows that it is God, not Jesus, who keeps these disobedient angels restrained.

2 Peter 2 :4 ASV

For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

In addition, the fulfillment of Psalm 110:1 as shown in Acts 2:33:36 shows us that Jesus is not YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah/the LORD. Jesus is the one that Jehovah made lord and Christ.

Some use the blurred distinction between the Father and Jesus (this was caused by the replacement of God's name with Lord) who are both called Lord to say that "the Lord" in Jude 1:5 refers to Jesus.

If we examine how Jesus became lord we find.

In Matthew 22: 44-45, Jesus asked the Pharisees "If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” and quoted Psalm 110:1

Psalm 110:1 JPS Tanakh

A Psalm of David. The LORD saith unto my lord: 'Sit thou at My right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Psalm 110:1 YLT

A Psalm of David. The affirmation of Jehovah to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand, Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.'

The 1st LORD (the LORD) in Psalm 110:1 is Jehovah/Yahweh/YHWH.

The second lord is translated from the Hebrew word adoni as Biblehub shows it. to my Lord: לַֽאדֹנִ֗י (la·ḏō·nî) Preposition-l | Noun - masculine singular construct | first person common singular Strong's 113: Sovereign, controller

My Lord.--Heb., adoni, an address of honour to those more noble than the speaker, or superior in rank: to a father, Genesis 31:35; to a brother, Numbers 12:11; a royal consort, 1Kings 1:17-18; to a prince, 1Kings 3:17; with the addition of the royal title, "my Lord, O king," 2Samuel 14:19.

"LORD” or “the LORD” in the OT represents (YHWH) God. This is not to be confused with the Greek word Kurios, which is used for Jesus and is a title of respect, honor, and authority. The title “Lord” is used by many people in the Bible not just to God and to Jesus.

Interestingly, the false god Baal, Bel also mean lord.

In Acts 2:33:36, Peter narrated God's plan based on the truth of Psalm 110:1,

Acts 2:33-36 ASV

Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear. For David ascended not into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified.

These verses show that Jesus is not YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah/the LORD. Jesus is the one that YHWH/The Lord/Yahweh/Jehovah made lord and Christ

The word adoni is a title which never refers to God.

There is only one Adonay YHWH. "The Lord" and this is the God of Jesus who made Jesus both Lord and Christ.

Thus, for Jude, even if Jesus is Lord, Jesus is not "the Lord" that made Jesus Lord.

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