We read in Lk 2:21 , how Jesus was named :

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

As for the case of John the Baptist, there was difference of opinion on how he should be named, as we see in Lk 1: 59-63:

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.”

Now, the formal naming ceremony of a baby does not in any way take away the right of the parents in calling it by the name they like most, just to strike a chord of communication with the new-born child. Such a name could also derive from the names of objects like honey, pearl, amber etc. varying from culture to culture. It is also possible that Joseph and Mary addressed the Infant as Jesus from the very day of his birth, without ever giving him a pet name. (On the contrary, they could have given him a pet name and kept using it even after the formal naming ceremony). My question therefore is: Are there any traditional/apocryphal teachings on by what name Jesus was called until the 8th day after his birth? Inputs from any denomination are welcome.

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    Joseph was commanded to call the child 'Jesus' by the angel of the Lord, in a dream. There is no evidence whatsoever that Joseph or Mary called the child anything else. Matthew 1:25 is quite specific about this, as it is an important point.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 9:09
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    Many denominations today practice infant baptism, where the baby is "christened" with a name. That name is almost always the same name that the parents had been using before the ceremony. No one ever asks the parents what they called the infant before that. What reason do you have to think Jesus's case would be any different? Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 14:39
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    @RayButterworth Because that is not in accord with Jewish practice.
    – Mary
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 19:29
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    To the closer(s): if @Mary's answer is correct, wouldn't this then become a good question? And if so, should a good question's worth depend upon whether someone has a good answer for it? Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 23:52

2 Answers 2


He wasn't.

To this day, Jewish boys are not named until the eighth day, and Jewish girls until the Sabbath after their birth. It is polite, when talking to Jewish parents before then, to ask not what the baby's name is, but what it will be.

Likewise, the Gospels speak

While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.

So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child.

The Gospels don't call him by name because He had no name.

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    "when talking to Jewish parents before then, to ask not what the baby's name is, but what it will be". The answer would be improved (e.g. I'll up-vote it) if it had an authoritative citation for this practice. That would answer my earlier comment "What reason do you have to think Jesus's case would be any different?". (Sometimes questions aren't as rhetorical or sarcastic as they appear.) Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 20:08
  • Thanks, Mary . But your second reason that Jesus was without a name when the shepherds visited him, calls for re-thinking. The narration of the visit of Magi which is believed to have happened much after the eighth day, also does not mention the name Jesus as we see in Mtt 2: 10-11 : When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 7:38
  • minhag - Is there any source for not sharing a baby's name before the bris? - Mi Yodeya talks about this tradition, but there's no clear consensus, nor any authoritative statement. Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 4:50

By what name was Jesus called until the 8th day after his birth?

There is no reason to believe that Jesus was called anything other than Jesus before his circumcision and the official recognition and naming of the Child Jesus.

To my knowledge there is no tradition or apocrypha that states the contrary.

It could be possible that Mary and Joseph employed terms of endearment in regards to the Child Jesus, like many parents do with their infant children, but it is simply speculation.

  • Mtt 1: 20-23 reads: .".... angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, .. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” Is it possible that Mary and Joseph called the Infant ` Emmanuel" till he would formally be named Jesus at the Temple ? Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 7:10
  • @KadalikattJosephSibichan Yet again, this is nothing but supposition without any evidence.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 12:00

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