The proper name Jesus /ˈdʒiːzəs/ 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.

Luke 1:31

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.

The angel actually said,

you are to call him Yeshua.

What is the Catholic explanation for translating Jesus's name? Jesus's name should be original because that's what the angel said his name is.

In my native language, we don't say "Juraj Krik". Do you know who is Juraj Krik? No! It's George Bush. Nobody actually knows him under the translated name either. Everyone knows him under his English name.

Why is it ok to translate Jesus's name? Doesn't the translation diminish the authenticity or even the authority of his name? Or what really matter is the person's individual attitude towards the name? Well, from the history we can see that it also matters when it comes to how we use the form, not just the content. We can also see that during exorcisms, I think they mostly use the Latin translation.

Note: Adam & Eve stayed the same almost in all languages. So if Jesus is new Adam, his name should be the same in all languages too.

  • 1
    OP, you should understand the difference between translating and transliterating. As far as I know, Ἰησοῦς isn't translated; it's transliterated. Transliteration of a name into another language is necessary and practical since very few if any languages share all the same phonemes.
    – user900
    Oct 28, 2016 at 2:36
  • The quote beginning, "The proper name Jesus" was found in a June 2013 post, attributed to Wikipedia. The text is not in current wiki, but presumably can be found in history.
    – Bit Chaser
    Dec 13, 2019 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


On June 29, 2008, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, wrote to the presidents of all conferences of bishops, prohibiting use of the term Yahweh in the liturgy, particularly in hymns and Psalm translations. The same reasons should also apply to Yeshua the Hebrew name of Jesus. Here is an excerpt from that Letter to the Bishops Conferences on The Name of God:

When in fact St. Paul, with regard to the crucifixion, writes that “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9), he does not mean any name other than “Lord,” for he continues by saying, “and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:11; cf. Is 42:8: “I am the Lord; that is my name.”) The attribution of this title to the risen Christ corresponds exactly to the proclamation of his divinity. The title in fact becomes interchangeable between the God of Israel and the Messiah of the Christian faith, even though it is not in fact one of the titles used for the Messiah of Israel. In the strictly theological sense, this title is found, for example, already in the first canonical Gospel (cf. Mt 1:20: “The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.”) One sees it as a rule in Old Testament citations in the New Testament (cf. Acts 2:20): “The sun shall be turned into darkness. . . before the day of the Lord comes” (Joel 3:4); 1 Peter 1:25: “The word of the Lord abides for ever” (Is 40:8). However, in the properly Christological sense, apart from the text cited of Philippians 2:9-11, one can remember Romans 10:9 (“If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”), 1 Corinthians 2:8 (“they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”), 1 Corinthians 12:3 (“No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit”) and the frequent formula concerning the Christian who lives “in the Lord” (Rom 16:2; 1 Cor 7:22, 1 Thes 3:8; etc).

Michael Marlowe has written an excellent article worth reding on the issue of translating the names of God. The last paragraph of it should succinctly summarize his view.

Other “Sacred Name” cults put great emphasis on the use of the tetragrammaton, and also upon the supposed Hebrew form of the name of Jesus, for reasons that are not always clear. Some seem to believe that particular Hebrew pronunciations of the names for God and Christ are a mark of the true Church, and that there is even something wrong with using the Graecized and Anglicized form “Jesus” instead of “Yeshua,” or “Jehoshua,” “Yahshua,” or whatever pronunciation is being put forth as most authentic. The New Testament writers obviously cared nothing for all that. It stems from the dilettantish interest in Hebrew that one often finds among modern Pentecostals, Adventists, and other unorthodox people, who fancy that they are “restoring” something essential to true Christianity by using Hebrew names and words which the writers of the New Testament did not feel any need to use. These Hebrew words are then invested with sectarian significance. We sense that their desire to use a different name for God is connected with a tendency to reject the concept of God associated with historic Christian orthodoxy. Their Yahweh is not our Lord, their Yeshua is not our Jesus, their Messiah is not our Christ. Probably an inordinate interest in using the tetragrammaton also involves the same superstitious thinking that led some people in ancient times to use it as a magical word, with the idea that the power of the Deity can be summoned by the correct intonation of his name. This does not honor God, it spurns the custom of the apostles, and it would probably not have been tolerated by them.

The use of “the Lord” to represent the tetragrammaton will no doubt continue to be normal in English Bible versions. The example of the apostles, confirmed by two millennia of tradition, is not to be set aside lightly. The interests of scholars who wish to call attention to the use of the Name are adequately served by the use of the capital letters which indicate where the tetragrammaton occurs in the Hebrew text.

After having a thorough study we should learn that using the exact original names of God should not matter to us. The Hebrew Roots movement among Churches is very helpful which remind us of the Jewish roots of Christian religion, however we should be careful not to fall in the trap of sacred name cults. Overemphasizing on certain names of God would lead to similar heresies like "Seventh Day Adventists" who overemphasize certain day of God. May be in the modern world under globalization many non-English speakers easily pronounce George Bush, but it might not have been same in old times. Names when translated to other languages get changed due to linguistic reasons. Here is a similar question addressing- Why do English translations sometimes, but not always, transform names instead of just transliterating them?


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