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The original name for Jesus in Hebrew-Aramaic is yeshu‘a. This was translated into Greek as Iēsous and then via the Latin Iesus into German, and eventually into English as Jesus.

Since Christians believe that using the name of Jesus/Yeshua in prayer adds authority and power, it could be argued that Christians should be using his original name (Yeshua) or at least something closer to it, rather than the somewhat convoluted translation "Jesus".

  • Are there any denominations or Christian groups that use "Yeshua" as opposed to "Jesus"?

  • Is there any evidence that other denominations have considered changing their usage from "Jesus" to "Yeshua" and are there any documented reasons why that suggestion was rejected?

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One reason I can think of not to change at this point: It would likely alienate you from people you're trying to minister to by saying/implying that the word they use is "wrong." It would be seen as "holier-than-thou" by many people. Using familiar language when witnessing/ministering can be very important, as evidenced by some missionary stories I've read. Eternity in their Hearts I recommend for some of these stories. –  Flimzy Nov 15 '11 at 16:32
Even if you changed to the Aramaic form, you'd still pronounce it completely wrong. The only language you can speak properly with English phonemes is English. –  dancek Nov 15 '11 at 20:09
Latin comes pretty close, though... –  Richard Nov 16 '11 at 13:10
The World English Bible: Messianic Edition (also known as the Hebrew Names Version) renders the name as Yeshua. Yochanan 1:17 –  TRiG Nov 17 '11 at 15:39

5 Answers 5

up vote 19 down vote accepted

Christians, in general, do not believe that Jesus' name is 'magic', in the sense that if you say the word your prayer is somehow more effective. The exact version of the name used is not therefore important. "In my name", as Jesus says, can mean a number of things including "with my authority" and "in accordance with my wishes".

It's true that Yeshua is probably a better rendition of the original name than Jesus. However the confusion of changing it - unless you have a good reason - would probably outweigh the advantages.

The only denomination that I know of that uses Yeshua on a regular basis are the Messianic Jews, particularly Jews for Jesus. That's because the name Yeshua is already familiar to many of them, so it isn't nearly as much of a disconnect. It also emphasizes Jesus' Jewishness.

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It's the difference between translation and transliteration. My name, in Polish is Yashu, I think. In Spanish it would be Juan. But in english it's John. There's a direct correspondence, equivalency between all three though, and that's what counts for translation. –  John Sep 10 '13 at 16:22

I would say it does not necessarily matter unless you choose to believe so, because belief has important bearing from a personal aspect, but no further.

The point is, a name, though important, refers to a person, so it is more important that we are referring to the person (authority, character, power, wisdom, etc) of Jesus, than on how someone pronounces His Name (or what language they use).

A good example of why it is bad to enforce something like this, is what happened when missionaries took the concept of Jesus/Christianity to parts of the world where they knew God by terms that the European missionaries were not familiar with. The local people were afraid to misuse the name of God, and had their own words in their own languages, but the missionaries often would try to force them to use their version of the word "God", the name "Jesus" etc, and thus left the locals in some confusion.

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Its surprising that no one said that if you really wanted to render the name accurately in English, you should write Joshua, as that is a more accurate rendition than Jesus. But well, the question is closed and I am too late.

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This question has an accepted answer, but it is not closed. If it were, you would not have been able to answer. –  hammar Jan 16 '12 at 10:42

There is absolutely no evidence of an Aramaic original for any of the Gospels, so the safest interpretation is that Greek is the original language for all of them. They don't read like semitic translations, although many Jews were Hellenized by then and many were fluent in Greek and Latin, so it might still have been written by Jews.

The evolution of Christianity is by adding narratives to the septuagint Bible translations, not necessarily by creating translations of new Jewish narratives. The names, as they appear in Greek, are therefore the correct original names, and Jesus is Jesus (or most accurately Ye-sus). In Hebrew, Jesus is translated back from Greek as Ye-Shu, and this is the best redering of the name, since it is a Greek Jewish name, not a Jewish name translated to Greek.

There are those that try to marry biblical narratives to history, and deduce that the Jesus described in the Gospels must have been a Jewish fellow named Joshua. There is no textual evidence for this position, or historical evidence. The best hypothesis is that the stories of Jesus were written in Greek, as original narratives, loosely based on some vague Jewish sect traditions, but mostly based on merging Jewish and Greek traditions into a coherent whole.

The new testament contains as much Greek thinking as Jewish thinking, and it is a mistake to over-Jewify it. It is anti-Leviticus, it is against a literal law-reading of the Bible, and supports an internal spiritual tradition of eternal life, which is mirrored earlier in Plato's philosophy of eternal forms, and is Hellenistic. That some Jews were firmly in the Hellenistic tradition does not make the New Testament Jewish, although much of it is Pauline.

There is no historical reason to view the events depicted in the New Testament historically. Of the new testament figures, basically only Paul is a recognizable historical guy, and perhaps James the Just (who is mentioned by Josephus). Everything else is religious narrative, which is not reliable history, only (mostly) reliable spirituality.

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"There is absolutely no evidence of an Aramaic original for any of the Gospels..." That's a non-sequitur. The Gospels being entirely written in Greek only proves that the Gospels were written in Greek. Nothing more. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Dec 27 '12 at 2:39
The question is, "Was the speech of those Jewish people recorded in the New Testament, Aramaic?" Mark (for example) could have easily listened to Jews speaking Aramaic (and he did, because talita kumi for example is absolutely Aramaic) and recorded those same words by translating them into Greek. Really...people do this all the time. The Pope speaks in Italian, IIRC, and an English-speaking audience listens to someone interpret and translate the Pope's words so they can understand. It's a common process of communication. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Dec 27 '12 at 2:43
That is why bringing up "no evidence of an Aramaic original for any of the Gospels" is irrelevant. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Dec 27 '12 at 2:43

You CANNOT transliterate Jesus' original Hebrew name into English. Since at least one of the Hebrew consonants in this name has no English equivalent. Yeshua is actually a transliteration of the word ישוא, which means "he who brings disaster." It's a little amusing to see "messianic Jews" brag about their knowledge of Jesus' real name. They do not understand that they actually confirm that Jesus has brought disaster to mankind. Has he? Take a look at the history of the last 2,000 years and decide for yourself.

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