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The proper name Jesus // used in the English language originates from the Latin form of the Greek name Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous), a rendition of the Hebrew Yeshua (ישוע), also having the variants Joshua or Jeshua. In a religious context the name refers to Jesus, the central figure of Christianity.
Etymology and origins
The name Jesus used in the English New Testament comes from the Latin form of the Greek name Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous), a rendition of the Hebrew Yeshua (ישוע), related to the name Joshua. The name is thus related to the Hebrew verb root √yšʿ "rescue, deliver" and one of its noun forms, yešuaʿ "deliverance". There have been various proposals as to how the literal etymological meaning of the name should be translated, including YHWH saves, (is) salvation, (is) a saving-cry, (is) a cry-for-saving, (is) a cry-for-help, (is) my help.
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This early Biblical Hebrew name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Yehoshuaʿ underwent a shortening into later Biblical יֵשׁוּעַ Yeshua`, as found in the Hebrew text of verses Ezra 2:2, 2:6, 2:36, 2:40, 3:2, 3:8, 3:9, 3:10, 3:18, 4:3, 8:33; Nehemiah 3:19, 7:7, 7:11, 7:39, 7:43, 8:7, 8:17, 9:4, 9:5, 11:26, 12:1, 12:7, 12:8, 12:10, 12:24, 12:26; 1 Chronicles 24:11; and 2 Chronicles 31:15 – as well as in Biblical Aramaic at verse Ezra 5:2. These Bible verses refer to ten individuals (in Nehemiah 8:17, the name refers to Joshua son of Nun). This historical change may have been due to a phonological shift whereby guttural phonemes weakened, including [h]. Usually, the traditional theophoric element Yahu יהו was shortened at the beginning of a name to יו Yo-, and at the end to יה -yah. In the contraction of Yehoshua` to Yeshua`, the vowel is instead fronted (perhaps due to the influence of the y in the triliteral root y-š-ʿ). During the post-Biblical period the further shortened form Yeshu was adopted by Hebrew speaking Jews to refer to the Christian Jesus, however Yehoshua continued to be used for the other figures called Jesus. However, both the Western and Eastern Syriac Christian traditions use the Aramaic name ܝܫܘܥ [in Hebrew script= ישוע] Yeshuʿ and Yishoʿ, respectively, including the ʿayin.
In both Latin and Greek, the name is declined irregularly:
By the time the New Testament was written, the Septuagint had already transliterated ישוע Yeshua` into Koine Greek as closely as possible in the 3rd-century BCE, the result being Ἰησοῦς Iēsous. Since Greek had no equivalent to the semitic letter ש shin [sh], it was replaced with a σ sigma [s], and a masculine singular ending [-s] was added in the nominative case, in order to allow the name to be inflected for case (nominative, accusative, etc.) in the grammar of the Greek language. The diphthongal [a] vowel of Masoretic Yehoshua` or Yeshua` would not have been present in Hebrew/Aramaic pronunciation during this period, and some scholars believe some dialects dropped the pharyngeal sound of the final letter ע `ayin [`], which in any case had no counterpart in ancient Greek. The Greek writings of Philo of Alexandria and Josephus frequently mention this name. It also occurs in the Greek New Testament at Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8, referring to Joshua son of Nun.
From Greek, Ἰησοῦς Iēsous moved into Latin at least by the time of the Vetus Latina. The morphological jump this time was not as large as previous changes between language families. Ἰησοῦς Iēsous was transliterated to Latin IESVS, where it stood for many centuries. The Latin name has an irregular declension, with a genitive, dative, ablative, and vocative of Jesu, accusative of Jesum, and nominative of Jesus. Minuscule (lower case) letters were developed around 800 and some time later the U was invented to distinguish the vowel sound from the consonantal sound and the J to distinguish the consonant from I. Similarly, Greek minuscules were invented about the same time, prior to that the name was written in Capital letters: ΙΗCΟΥC or abbreviated as: ΙΗC with a line over the top, see also Christogram.
Modern English Jesus derives from Early Middle English Iesu (attested from the 12th century). The name participated in the Great Vowel Shift in late Middle English (15th century). The letter J was first distinguished from 'I' by the Frenchman Pierre Ramus in the 16th century, but did not become common in Modern English until the 17th century, so that early 17th century works such as the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible (1611) continued to print the name with an I.
From the Latin, the English language takes the forms "Jesus" (from the nominative form), and "Jesu" (from the vocative and oblique forms). "Jesus" is the predominantly used form, while "Jesu" lingers in some more archaic texts.
The name Jesus appears to have been in use in Palestine at the time of the birth of Jesus. Moreover, Philo's reference in Mutatione Nominum item 121 to Joshua (Ἰησοῦς) meaning salvation (σωτηρία) of the Lord indicates that the etymology of Joshua was known outside Palestine. Other historical figures named Jesus include Jesus Barabbas, Jesus ben Ananias and Jesus ben Sirach.
In the New Testament, in Luke 1:31 an angel tells Mary to name her child Jesus, and in Matthew 1:21 an angel tells Joseph to name the child Jesus during Joseph's first dream. Matthew 1:21 indicates the salvific implications of the name Jesus when the angel instructs Joseph: "you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins". It is the only place in the New Testament where "saves his people" appears with "sins". Matthew 1:21 provides the beginnings of the Christology of the name Jesus. At once it achieves the two goals of affirming Jesus as the savior and emphasizing that the name was not selected at random, but based on a Heavenly command.
Medieval English and Jesu
John Wycliffe (1380s), used the spelling Ihesus, and also used Ihesu ('J' was then a swash glyph variant of 'I', not considered to be a separate letter until much later) in oblique cases, and also in the accusative, and sometimes, apparently without motivation, even for the nominative. Tyndale in the 16th century has the occasional Iesu in oblique cases and in the vocative; The 1611 King James Version uses Iesus throughout, regardless of syntax. Jesu came to be used in English, especially in hymns.
|Arabic||`Isà عيسى (Islamic) / Yasū`(a) يسوع (Christian)|
|Belarus||Ісус (Isus) (Orthodox) / Езус (Yezus) (Catholic)|
|Chinese||耶稣 (Simplified), 耶穌 (Traditional) – Yēsū (Mandarin), Yèh-sōu (Cantonese)|
|Filipino||Jesús (Christian and secular) / Hesús or Hesukristo (religious)|
|Greek||Ιησούς (Iisoús modern Greek pronunciation)|
|Hebrew||Yeshu ישו (Jewish, secular) / Yeshua יֵשׁוּעַ (Christian)|
|Indonesia||Yesus (Christian) / Isa (Islamic)|
|Japanese||イエス (Iesu)/イエズス (Iezusu)(Catholic)/ゼス(zesu) ゼズス(zezusu)(Kirishitan)|
|मराठी-Marathi||येशू - Yeshu|
|Malayalam||ഈശോ (Isho), യേശു (Yeshu), കോശി (Koshi)|
|Sinhala||ජේසුස් වහන්සේ - Jesus Wahanse|
|Tamil||இயேசு - Yesu|
|Thai||เยซู - "Yesu"|
- Holy Name of Jesus
- Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament
- Yeshua (name)
- Isa (name)
- Joshua (disambiguation)
- Liddell and Scott. A Greek–English Lexicon, p. 824.
- Catholic encyclopedia: Origin of the name Jesus Christ
- Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon; Hendrickson Publishers 1996 ISBN 1-56563-206-0.
- "שׁוע", Ernest Klein, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language (New York: MacMillan Publishing Company 1987)
- Talshir, M. H. Segal, A Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew (Tel Aviv: 1936), p. 146.
- Strong's Concordance H3091
- Philo, De Mutatione Nominum, §21
- Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius, Hebrew and English Lexicon With an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic (Hendrickson, 1985), ISBN 0-913573-20-5. Cf. Blue Letter Bible, H3442
- Elisha Qimron, The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Harvard Semitic Studies: Scholars Press 1986), p.25
- Robert E. Van Voorst Jesus outside the New Testament 2000 ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5 p124 "This is likely an inference from the Talmud and other Jewish usage, where Jesus is called Yeshu, and other Jews with the same name are called by the fuller name Yeshua and Yehoshua, "Joshua""
- Philo Judaeus, De ebrietate in Philonis Alexandrini opera quae supersunted. P. Wendland, Berlin: Reimer, 1897 (repr. De Gruyter, 1962)vol. 2:170-214, Section 96, Line 2.
- Image of the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible, Gospel of Luke. From http://nazirene.peopleofhonoronly.com/. Retrieved March 28, 2006.
- Matthew by Douglas Hare 2009 ISBN 0-664-23433-X page 11
- Matthew 1-7 by William David Davies, Dale C. Allison 2004 ISBN 0-567-08355-1 page 209
- Bible explorer's guide by John Phillips 2002 ISBN 0-8254-3483-1 page 147
- All the Doctrines of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer 1988 ISBN 0-310-28051-6 page 159
- The Westminster theological wordbook of the Bible 2003 by Donald E. Gowan ISBN 0-664-22394-X page 453
- Who do you say that I am?: essays on Christology by Jack Dean Kingsbury, Mark Allan Powell, David R. Bauer 1999 ISBN 0-664-25752-6 page 17