Arabic-speaking Muslims refer to Jesus as ʿĪsā, while Arabic-speaking Christians refer to Jesus as Yasūʿ (يسوع). The name for Jesus is used in these two forms in the Qur'an and in Arabic versions of the Bible, respectively.
The English form of the name "Jesus" is derived from the Latin Iēsus, which in turn comes from the Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iēsoûs). The Greek is a Hellenized form of the Hebrew name Yēšua (ישוע), which is in turn a shortened form of Hebrew Yehōšua (יהושע) or "Joshua" in English. Aramaic (Classical Syriac) and East Syriac, which are ancestral to West Syriac, render the pronunciation of the same letters as ܝܫܘܥ ishoʕ (išoʕ) /iʃoʕ/. The Aramaic Bible (c. 200 AD) or the Peshitta preserve this same spelling. The Encyclopedia of the Qur'an by Brill Publishers quotes scholarship that notes that the Greek name Iesous, Ἰησοῦς (Iēsoûs), also is known to have represented many different Biblical Hebrew names (which causes issues when seeking to find what Jesus' original Hebrew name would have been from the Greek) "Josephus used the Greek name lesous to denote three people mentioned in the Bible whose Hebrew names were not Yeshua', Y'hoshua' or Y'hoshua'. They were Saul's son Yishwi (Anglicized as 'Ishvi' in the RSV of I Samuel 14:49), the Levhe AbTshua' (mentioned in I Chronicles 6:4, etc.) and Yishwah the son of Asher (Anglicized as 'Ishva' in the RSV of Genesis 46:17). ... Josephus furnishes important evidence for the wide variety of Hebrew names represented in Greek by Iesous"
Also, the classical theologians Clement of Alexandria and Cyril of Jerusalem both stated that the Greek name Iesous was allegedly Jesus' original name itself and that the name was not a transliteration of a Hebrew form.
There is a major discrepancy between the Hebrew/Aramaic and Muslim Arabic forms of this name, since the Hebrew form of this name has the voiced pharyngeal `Ayin ע or `Ayn ع consonant at the end of the name (as does Christian Arabic يسوع yasūʿ), while the Muslim Arabic form عيسى `īsā has the `Ayn at the beginning of the name. For this reason, some (such as Ahmed Deedat) state the Arabic name Isa is related to the Biblical name Esau (which begins with a pharyngeal); it is also similar in the vowels to an Aramaic version of Jesus, viz. Eeshoʿ (Aramaic forms of the name, however, still have the voiced pharyngeal `Ayn consonant at the end of the name). [Other Aramaic pronunciations of the same name include yeshuuʕ (ʕ is IPA ayin). Vowels in Semitic languages are somewhat fluid between dialects while consonants are structurally more stable. The vowels in an Anglicized quote "Eesho`" by themselves are insignificant for this discussion since "i" and "e" and short "a" can interchange between dialects, and "u" and "o" can interchange between dialects. The dominant consonsonantal discrepancy remains, between Aramaic yeshuuʕ [consonantal y-sh-w-ʕ] and Arabic ʕiisa [consonantal ʕ-y-s-alef].]
Scholars have been puzzled by the use of ʿĪsā in the Qur'an since Christians in Arabia used yasūʿ before and after Islam, itself derived from the Syriac form Yēshūaʿ by a phonetic change. The Encyclopedia of the Qur'an by Brill Publishers states this has also come about because many Western scholars have held a "conviction that Jesus' authentic Hebrew name is Yeshua'" because of this they often "have been puzzled by the Qur'an's reference to him as 'Isa". Brill's Encyclopedia of the Qur'an further states "It is not certain that Jesus' original name was Yeshua'" However, the early Syriac/Aramaic form of the name Yeshua, the etymological link with 'salvation' (note the Hebrew consonantal root y-sh-`) in Matthew 1:21, all of the correspondences of Ἰησοῦς in the Greek OT and Second Temple Jewish writings, and the common attestation of Yeshua among 1st century Jewish names have led to a consensus among scholars of the gospels that Yeshua was "Jesus"'s original name. "Esau" (and derivatives with `ayin as a first letter) is not a realistic possibility. With all this in mind, some scholars have proposed a number of explanations.
James A. Bellamy of the University of Michigan suggested that the Quranic name is a corruption of Masīḥ itself derived from yasūʿ, suggesting that this resulted from a copyist error and an attempt to conceal the Arabic verb sāʿa/yasūʿu which has obscene connotations. Josef Horovitz on the other hand holds that the Quranic form is meant to parallel Mūsā. Similar pairs are also frequently found in the Quran as well which supports this theory. For example, compare Ismā‘īl and Ibrāhīm (Ishmael and Abraham) or Jālūt and Tālūt (Goliath and Saul). It is thus possible that the Arabs referred to him as Yasaʿ, but the Quran reversed the letters so as to parallel Mūsā. Another explanation given is that in ancient Mesopotamia divine names were written in one way and pronounced in another. Thus it is possible for borrowed words to have their consonants reversed. Another explanation is that Muhammad adopted Isa from the polemical Jewish form Esau. However, there is no evidence that the Jews have ever used Esau to refer to Jesus, and if Muhammad had unwittingly adopted a pejorative form his many Christian acquaintances would have corrected him. A third explanation is that the Qur'an used this form to assimilate Jesus's name with Moses, or Mūsā. A fourth explanation is that prior to the rise of Islam, Christian Arabs had already adopted this form from Syriac. According to the Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān, "Arabic often employs an initial 'ayn in words borrowed from Aramaic or Syriac and the dropping of the final Hebrew 'ayin is evidenced in the form Yisho of the 'koktiirkish' Manichaean fragments from Turfan." [The statement on `ayin needs examples and evaluation for applicability.] Also the name Yeshu (ישו in Hebrew and Aramaic) lacking the final 'ayin is also used to refer to Jesus in the Jewish work the Toledot Yeshu, and scholar David Flusser presents evidence Yeshu was also a name itself rather than claims it was meant to supposedly be an acronym to insult Jesus. The Brill Encyclopedia of the Qur'an notes scholar Anis al-Assiouty as noting the fact that "In the Talmud, however, he (Jesus) is called Yeshu." Scholar David Flusser and other scholars like Adolf Neubauer, Hugh J. Schonfield, and Joachim Jeremias also further argued that the name or pronunciation Yeshu (ישו in Hebrew and Aramaic) could also be "the Galilean pronunciation" of Yeshua' that came about because of an inability to pronounce the 'ayin in the Galilee region where Jesus came from. Scholar Alphonse Mingana writes there may have been a monastery named ʿĪsāniyya in the territory of the Christian Ghassanid Arabs in southern Syria as early as 571 CE.
Christoph Luxenberg's The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran equates the Quranic name with Hebrew Jesse. However, neitherYeshu nor Jesse begins with a pharyngeal consonant in their original Hebrew forms.
The earliest archaeological evidence of an Arabic name for Jesus is a Jordanian inscription. Enno Littman (1950) states: "Mr. G. Lankaster Harding, Chief Curator of Antiquities Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan, kindly sent me copies of a little more than five hundred Thamudic inscriptions. [...] It is the inscription [Harding No. 476] that interests us here. [...] Below the circle there are four letters: a y, a sh, a ʿ, and again a y." He also states: "These letters are so placed that they can be read from right to left or from left to right y-sh-ʿ, probably pronounced Yashaʿ, and this name is the same as Yashuaʿ, the Hebrew form of the name of Christ." An archaic Arabic root for 'Salvation' exists in Yatha, which may have later formed this name: y-sh-ʿ. The lack of a Waw is still unexplained. Also, the closer correspondence with another name ישעיה [yesha`ya, "Isaiah" in English] needs explanation or discussion before this inscription can be entertained as an Arabic "Jesus".
ʿĪsā is used as well by several Christian groups in Muslim countries. A 14th-century Persian translation of Matthew, one of the earliest surviving Persian manuscripts of the scripture, uses ʿĪsā. Later translations in other languages also follow suit. Some modern Evangelical translations also use Isa, such as David Owen's Life of Christ (Arabic 1987).
- Isa Alptekin (1901–1995), Uyghur political leader
- Isa Boletini (1864–1916), Albanian nationalist
- İsa Çelebi (died 1406), Ottoman prince
- Isa ibn al-Shaykh al-Shaybani (died 882/3), Arab tribal leader
- Isa Gambar (born 1957), Azerbaijani politician
- Isa Ibrahim (born 1989), British terrorist
- Isa-Beg Isaković, 15th-century Ottoman general
- İsa Kaykun (born 1988), Turkish footballer
- Isa Kelemechi (ca. 13th century), Syrian Nestorian Christian scientist and diplomat
- Ma Qixi (1857–1914), Chinese Muslim Xidaotang leader, also known as Isa
- Isa Guha (born 1985), Retired English female cricketer
- Abu 'Isa, Isaac ben Jacob al-Isfahani, Jewish prophet
- ʿAlī ibn ʿĪsā al-Asṭurlābī, Arab astronomer
- ʿAlī ibn ʿĪsā al-Kahhal, Arab ophthalmologist
- Daoud Isa (1878–1950), Palestinian journalist
- Dolkun Isa, Uyghur activist
- Facundo Isa (born 1993), Argentine rugby player
- Ismail Isa (born 1989), Bulgarian footballer
- Salman Isa (born 1977), Bahraini footballer
- Darrell Issa (born 1953), American politician of Lebanese heritage
- Gabriel Said Reynolds The Qurʼān in Its Historical Context 2008 Page 235 "Yasu' is, in fact, the form regularly used by Arabic-speaking Christians"
- Stuart G. Hall Jesus Christ Today: Studies of Christology in Various Contexts. 2009 Page 283 "Iesus in the Qur'an The Iesus of the Qur'an ('Isa in Arabic but called Yasu ', 'God saves', cf. Matt 1.21, by Christian Arabs)"
- Catholic encyclopedia: Origin of the name Jesus Christ
- Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān Volume 3 General Editor: Jane Dammen McAuliffe (Georgetown University, Washington DC). Brill Academic, 2003, pp. 8-10
- Beaumont 2005, pp. 175
- Jeffery, Arthur; Böwering, Gerhard; McAuliffe, Jane (2008). The Foreign Vocabulary of the Quran. Woods Press. p. 220. ISBN 978-1-4437-2149-3.
- Reynolds 2007, pp. 235
- Anawati, G. C. (May 1998), "ʿIsā", in Lewis, B.; Pellat, C.; Vandonzel, E., Encyclopaedia of Islam 4, Brill Academic Pub, p. 81, ISBN 978-90-04-05745-6
- Reynolds 2007, pp. 236
- Flusser, David (1989). Jewish sources in early Christianity. English translation by John Glucker. Tel Aviv: MOD Books. ISBN 965-05-0466-4. OCLC 24082669.
- fol. 84b of the Brit. Mus. Syr. MS. Add., 14, 602
- "Jesus in a Pre-Islamic Arabic Inscription", Muslim World, (1950, vol. xi) p. 16.]
- Cooper, William. An Archaic Dictionary. Bagster, 1876, p. 623.
- "Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library & Renaissance Culture". LOC. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
- Ivor Mark Beaumont Christology in Dialogue with Muslims: A Critical Analysis of Christian Presentations of Christ for Muslims from the Ninth and Twentieth Centuries. Oxford: Regnum Books International, 2005 - Page 175 "language is used in the translation in an unprecedented way.3 For example, the use of the Qur'anic name Isa for Jesus in The Life of Christ is a startling innovation for Christian Arabic writing, where the ancient Syriac Yasu'a is normally found.[Correction: the ancient Syriac was Yeshu`, the form Yasu'a (sic) is an Arabic modification of the Syriac name.]
- Reynolds, Gabriel Said (29 November 2007). The Quran in its Historical Context. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-42899-6. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
- Beaumont, Ivor Mark (1 January 2005). Christology in Dialogue with Muslims: A Critical Analysis of Christian Presentations of Christ for Muslims from the Ninth and Twentieth Centuries. Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. ISBN 978-1-870345-46-0. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
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