I have heard it said that the name book of James would more properly be translated as something such as Joshua.

As James is a name of apparent Germanic decent, is it true as I have heard that the King, when the Bible was being translated, had them put his name as the translation instead?

  • 7
    Apparently, from this article, it was also James (or close) in the Wycliffe Bible (1395), the Tyndale Version (1526), the Bishop’s Bible (1568), and the Geneva Bible (1587).
    – user16825
    Dec 6, 2014 at 3:12

3 Answers 3


As a matter of fact, it appears from two etymological entries (in Etymonline.com) that "James" comes not from "Joshua" but from "Jacob":

masc. proper name, name of two of Christ's disciples, late 12c. Middle English vernacular form of Late Latin Jacomus (source of Old French James, Spanish Jaime, Italian Giacomo), altered from Latin Jacobus (see Jacob).

(entry James)

The entry on Jacob adds:

masc. proper name, name of Old Testament patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca and father of the founders of the twelve tribes, from Late Latin Iacobus, from Greek Iakobos, from Hebrew Ya'aqobh, literally "one that takes by the heel" (Gen. xxviii:12), a derivative of 'aqebh "heel."

Looking at the beginning of the letter of James, I see:

Ἰάκωβος Θεοῦ καὶ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοῦλος ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς ταῖς ἐν τῇ Διασπορᾷ χαίρειν.

that is (transliterated):

Iakobos Theou kai Kyriou Iesou Christou doulos tais dodeka phylais tais en te Diaspora khairein

Iakobos a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

It therefore seems that King James did not put his name into the Bible; he simply happened to have (accounting for transformations) the same name as the (nominal) author of the letter.


Another piece of evidence for "No, it's merely a coincidence" is that the Douay-Rheims translation, which is a Catholic translation slightly earlier than the Protestant King James translation, also uses "James" to translate the name of the author of this epistle.


Bibles before the King James used the word James for James and Jacob for Jacob. Although older bibles often use the glyph I for I and J.

My Coverdale 1537 facsimile containing the Tyndale translation has:

The Gospell of S. Matthew

Thys is the boke of the generacion of Jesus Christ the sonne of David/the sonne also of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac: Isaac begat Jacob: ...

The Epistle of Saynct James

James the servaunt of God and of the Lorde Jesus Chryst sendeth greetynge to the xii trybes whych are scattered here and there. ...

The Geneva 1560 also uses Jacob and James in the appropriate places.

See for yourselves http://textusreceptusbibles.com/Geneva

What is true is that in Hebrews 4:8 the King James has Jesus referring to Joshua:

Hebrews 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

This helps us understand that the word Jesus is a transliteration of a Greek word (meaning God with us), that itself is a transliteration of the Hebrew word Joshua.

  • Regarding "What is true is that in Hebrews..." are you saying that the King did that or the KJV did that?
    – iconoclast
    Aug 1, 2023 at 23:38
  • I am saying that's what is written without making any assumptions about who was the author.
    – David
    Aug 2, 2023 at 18:53
  • So you're referring to the KJV and not to King James himself?
    – iconoclast
    Aug 2, 2023 at 20:40
  • Yeah................
    – David
    Aug 3, 2023 at 3:17

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