Jesus, Yeshua or Yahshua?


Jesus, Yeshua or Yahshua?

Tuvia Pollack | November 10th, 2019 |

The name "yeshua" in hebrew (Photo: Tuvia Pollack)

I want to start with a warning. I am a bit of a history nerd and a language and grammar nerd. This question tickles both of those bones. This will be a pretty nerdy article. Sorry not sorry. Let’s get going.

If your name is Peter and you plan a trip to Puerto Rico, would you book the plane ticket and hotel room under the name Pedro? Of course not. That’s ridiculous. If you had to “translate” your name like that you would be forced to introduce yourself as Pierre in France, you would be Petros in Greece and Pekka in Finland. No one does that.

Anymore.

In today’s international world, we can’t imagine a system when names need to be translated like this. Our name is what it is and we carry it with us wherever we go. But it was actually not that long ago that translation was the custom. My grandfather’s name was Heinrich, and when he came from Germany to Sweden in 1939 they initially registered him as Henrik. A Swedification of his German name. Many Americans probably have stories of how their ancestors’ names were americanized as well, when they arrived to the US. It was a different world.

In the time of Jesus this was how it worked. If your Hebrew name was Yochanan, then it was Iohannes in Greek. If it was Te’oma in Aramaic, it was Thomas in Greek. And if your name in Hebrew was Yehoshua or Yeshua, then it was Iesous in Greek.

When we write Hebrew with our alphabet there is no “correct spelling.” All we can do is try to render the sounds as closely as possible. You can spell Zion as Ziyon, Tsiyyon, or Tzion. Yo