The internet is chock-full of weird rumors. One such weird rumor claims that Jesus' real name is actually Yĕhōšuă‘, therefore the Christian Church has been lying about who he was.
The rumor implies that because Jesus' real name is actually Yĕhōšuă‘, and the Christian Church has been calling him Jesus for many years, Christians have either been lying about his real identity or fooled into worshipping the wrong Jesus... if that is his real name.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
First, let's come clean. Yes, Jesus' name is actually Yĕhōšuă‘. (Wow. It feels great to get that off my chest...)
Yĕhōšuă‘ (Hebrew) is also known by the English name Joshua. Joshua simply means "God rescues" - very fitting for Jesus.
It is important to note that Jesus is actually Yĕhōšuă‘ in the same way John is actually Yôḥanan. Why? Because John is originally a Hebrew name spelled Yôḥanan.
When a name goes from one language to another it is adjusted to accommodate the new tongue.
Here's a short list of more names that were changed from language to language:
So, Jesus is simply the English name for Yĕhōšuă‘.
JAY VS. YEH
"Okay," says the weird internet rumor creators, "but why is it pronounced Gee-sus and not Yeh-sus closer to the original Hebrew? Christians must have changed the pronunciation of Jesus' name for some sinister reason."
Good question - why the "J" instead of a "Y" at the beginning of Jesus?
When Yĕhōšuă‘ was translated from Hebrew to Latin thousands of years ago, it first went through Greek. If you remember, Alexander the Great Hellenized the known world, so many things (including names) were transliterated into Greek. Therefore, from Hebrew, Yĕhōšuă‘ became Iēsoûs (Greek).
Then came the Romans, who spoke Latin. Iēsoûs (Greek) was transliterated again into Iesus (Latin).
Finally, Iesus comes to English as Jesus, pronounced the same way as Yeh-sus. But since English has gone through many, many pronunciation changes over the years, most notably after the Norman invasion of 1066, the pronunciation changed quite a bit. Remember, after 1066 English went from sounding very Germanic to slightly French. Oui oui!
One big change was J being pronounced juh (like job) instead of yuh (like young). Thus, Jesus (pronounced Yeh-sus) becomes Jesus (pronounced Gee-sus). Consequently, German probably pronounces Jesus, the same spelling, closer to it's original Latin pronunciation since they pronounce J's as English Y's.
So, at the end of the day, if it makes you feel closer to the truth, call Jesus by his true Hebrew name Yĕhōšuă‘. But, this would be like calling your friend named John by his true Hebrew name Yôḥanan, which is weirder than this internet rumor about Jesus.
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Kyle Beshears lives in Cambridge, England, is the author of Robot Jesus and Three Other Jesuses You Never Knew and blogs at Dear Ephesus on church issues and apologetics.