18

When did the pronunciation of Jesus change from Yeh-sus to Gee-zus? Why did the name change? How? Where?

Update: how did the name pronunciation change? Wouldn't there be people to correct mispronouncing the name? Did English speaking regions that pronounced J as a soft G take over educational institutions? What happened to English speakers that read J as Y?

  • English speakers mispronounce J. The same mistake with Jehovah, Joshua, Joseph and a bunch of other names. – dancek Sep 21 '11 at 23:26
17

It was a mispronunciation of a European (i.e. German/Old English) spelling of Jesus. Before the 1600s "Js" were pronounced "Y" - as in the name Jürgen. In fact, the letter "J" is extant in no alphabet until the 14th Century. The Greek Ίησους (Yeh-sus) was written "Jesus", but pronounced the same (that is, with a "Y") until after the 1630s when the letter J was generally pronounced "dje". This accounts for the change in pronunciation.

This also accounts for why in the 1611 KJV, all the "J - names" (e.g. Jesus, James) were written with an "I" (e.g. Iesus, Iames).


If you're interested, the English/German form is actually taken from the Latin Iesus, hence the "us" ending, rather than a "ous" ending. The name in Hebrew is ישוע (Yeshua, a shortened form of Yehoshua), which is where we get the name Joshua from. :-)

5

The reason why Jesus is pronounced with the J sound we have in English today is because the letter I as a consonant in early Old French shifted to the J pronunciation we have in English today through palatization and affrication. The pronunciation of Biblical names in English that begin with a J was taken over from French in early Middle English. So even though Jesus was spelled with an I in the 1611 King James, it would have been pronounced with a J sound. The same thing goes with other words borrowed from early Old French like the word "joy", which used to be spelled "ioy". The letter J as an independent letter was taken over from a stylized version of the letter I and was used whenever the I was supposed to have the J sound. Here is a YouTube video I did that goes into more detail:How We Got the Name Jesus in English.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.