How Christ’s original Hebrew name Yeshua became Jesus
Is the name that is known to all and revered by billions not the actual name of the Christians’ Messiah? As neither English nor Spanish were around the time when Jesus was alive, it turns out he was called something entirely different by his family, friends and followers. But what?
Jesus and his followers were all Jewish so they had Hebrew names and the “J” does not exist in Hebrew nor does it in Aramaic the spoken language of the time. Most scholars therefore believe Jesus’ real name therefore was Yeshua; a fairly common Jewish name of the time.
As Christianity spread to all corners of the world people started pronouncing the name differently. (Today Jesus is pronounced with a hard J in English and with a soft H in Spanish.)
The name has not only evolved through the spoken but written word as well. When the Bible was written first in Greek the “sh” in Yeshua became an s and the authors added another s at the end of the name to make it more masculine. Later when the Bible was written in Latin the name, the translators rendered the name as “Iesus.” As Latin was the preferred language of the Catholic Church, most believers started calling Christ Iesus.
But how did Iesus become Jesus? According to some historians the name originated in Switzerland of all places in mid-15th century when English Protestant scholars fled to Geneva to escape persecution by the catholic Queen Mary the First. There these scholars which included some of the brightest minds of their time produced the Geneva Bible, which first used the “Jesus” Swiss spelling.
The Geneva Bible became an enormously popular translation not just in Europe but the New World as well and by 1769, most English translations of the Bible started using the Jesus spelling.
And this is how Christ’s Hebrew name Yeshua became Jesus.