Saturday, June 1, 2013

Messiah Joshua of Nazareth

Time to get real about the English name J-E-S-U-S.

συλλήψῃ ἐν γαστρὶ καὶ τέξῃ υἱόν καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν
Luke 1:31

Simply put, the name “Jesus” is an artificial construction developed from a Greek-to-Latin-to-English transliteration1 of the Hebrew name we write as “Joshua” (Yĕhowshuwa` [יְהוֹשׁוּעַ]). There is no such name as “Jesus” in any language of the Old or New Testament. “Yeshua”, what Messianic Jews commonly call Jesus, is a transliteration of the later, shortened form of Joshua (Yeshuwa` [יֵשׁוּעַ]), but the actual English pronunciation of His name is “Joshua”.

Here’s how Wikipedia puts it:
"Jesus" is the English of the Greek transliteration of "Yehoshua" via Latin. In the Septuagint , all instances of the word "Yehoshua" are rendered as "Ἰησοῦς" (Iēsoūs), the closest Greek pronunciation of the Aramaic "Yeshua" (Hebrew word #3443 in Strong's, Nehemiah 8:17).[9][10] Thus in Greek Joshua is called "Jesus son of Naue" (τοῦ Ναυή) to differentiate him from Jesus Christ. This is also true in the Slavic languages following the Eastern Orthodox tradition (e.g. "Иисус Навин" (Iisús Navín) in Russian).
Now let’s take a look at how this name is treated in our English Bibles:

The epigraph from the Gospel of Luke above is written in Koine Greek, the language in which most of the books of the New Testament were originally penned.2 The word in red is a conjugated form of Iēsous [Ἰησοῦς], the name translated “Jesus”. In the New King James Version of the Bible, this reads:
you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.3
Now let's go to the first part of the Greek version of Acts 7:45:
ἣν καὶ εἰσήγαγον διαδεξάμενοι οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν μετὰ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ κατασχέσει τῶν ἐθνῶν
Again, the word in red is a conjugated form of Iēsous, but this time, the NKJV translates it as “Joshua”—which isn’t a mistake, since it is clear from the context of the verse that Joshua, the son of Nun and successor of Moses, is meant. The NIV, the ESV and the RSV all translate the name Iēsous in this verse as “Joshua” and in Luke 1:31 as “Jesus”. Even the Spanish RVR gives us Josué (Joshua) in Acts 7:45, but JESÚS (in all-caps!) in Luke 1:31.

Tellingly, the KJV gives us “Jesus” for both—with all-caps only in Luke—which, although it is at least consistent, does still continue the practice of favouring the more artificial Latinate name over the correct English one.

The reason this use of two different names is a problem for us is because it not only perpetuates the early de-Judaizing of the Church by Constantine by turning the Messiah into a Gentile; it also breaks the correspondence between the two Joshuas: The faithful Joshua of Exodus leading God’s people into the Promised Land, rather than Moses (who represents the Law), is a shadow (Col 2:17, Heb 8:5; 10:1), a living picture, of Joshua the Christ leading believers into the spiritual Kingdom through His righteousness, not their ritual.

To our hurt, this vital doctrinal relationship between the OT and the NT has been entirely obscured by our not calling the Saviour by the same name as the successor of Moses: Joshua. It’s time we gave up our superstitious adoration of a false name—and all the apostasy that was brought in with it—and ejected this ancient error…in the name of Messiah Joshua of Nazareth.


1. To transliterate a word means to take it from one language and represent the form and/or sound of it, not the meaning, in the corresponding characters of another alphabet or language (E.g. the Hebrew שַׁבָּת is transliterated into Greek as σάββατον and into English as “Shabbat”).

2. There is evidence, compelling in my opinion, but still controversial amongst scholars, that Matthew originally wrote his gospel in Hebrew. See also, Nehemia Gordon’s The Hebrew Yeshua vs. The Greek Jesus.

3. The NKJV's use of all-caps here preserves the KJV translators’ English rendering of the Nomina Sacra found in many Greek manuscripts.


  1. What? But we can't give it up because there is power in the name of Jesus! We must finish every prayer in the name of Jesus to make sure God, the angels and Satan know that we are evoking the power of the one true God - God will have to answer and Satan will have to cave and all hearers will know that we are proper Christians and, and and and...

    Ok - I know there is no power in the 'name' of Jesus but there is immense, life changing, earth shattering power in the 'being' of Messiah Yeshua who we call Jesus. He knows we are referring to Him but I agree with you totally that we should rid ourselves of the anti-Judaic name 'Jesus' - not because we want to re-jewdiase but because it robs us of some of the deeper understanding of the scriptures, as you say.

  2. would also stop--or severely hamper--the perpetuation of the superstitious beliefs in the word "Jesus", which you lampoon well in your 1st paragraph.

    And of course you're right; He knows who we mean, because He can look at our heart (read: our understanding). But once we know Jesus is not His name, that is, once our understanding changes, I think it's important for the sake of anyone listening (or reading), to use His real name (Joshua or Yeshua) and then, if they are curious, to explain it to them, so they, too, can understand. It's how we build the Body in Truth.

    If they are simply shocked and angry and want to kill you for blaspheming His Holy Name then, well, then you move on to find someone with ears to hear...

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Careful you don't make a religion out of using the name 'Yeshua'!