God has many names throughout the Bible: Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), Elohim (Genesis 1:1), El Roi (Genesis 16:13), among several others. What about Jesus Christ? Every language has a different name for him, a different pronunciation. But does he have one true and proper name?
Yeshua Hamashiach means Jesus the Messiah. The original Hebraic name for Jesus would’ve been yeshu’a. Does this mean that we’ve pronounced Jesus’ name incorrectly this whole time? Does he only go by the name Yeshua Hamashiach? And has paganism corrupted Jesus’ name to the name we now pronounce?
This article will argue that although those who lived during Jesus’ time may have pronounced his name like “Yeshua,” we do not forsake our prayers or petitions unto the Lord by saying “Jesus” or “Hisus K’ristos” or “Isus Krist” or any other pronunciation in any other language.
God calls us to call upon his name, whether Jesus or Yeshua Hamashiach.
Where Did The Controversy of Yeshua vs. Jesus Start?
“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”
To say the Bible and Ancient Greek culture rubbed each other the wrong way is an understatement. From the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes IV to the Sadducees absorbing one too many Hellenistic traditions, those in Jesus’ day and beyond had a sore spot when it came to Hellenization.
Jesus’ name from Yeshua Hamashiach got Hellenized from the Greek word “IZEUS” or son of Zeus. This, of course, would be a far cry from proper theology if we took Jesus’ name to mean “Son of Zeus.” After all, Antiochus Epiphanes IV desecrated the temple by putting a statue of Zeus within it.
The idea that Jesus’ name came from anything related to the Greek pantheon would’ve been repugnant to Jews and Christians alike.
Of course, Jesus’ name may also have been a transliteration. After all, they wrote the New Testament in Greek, and so not all names will translate using the same letters across alphabets of different languages. The Latin transliteration took the Greek IESOUS and changed it to IESUS, where we get the English version “Jesus.”
It’s important to note the distinction between a translation and transliteration. In Spanish, my first name is Esperanza (translation). If we were to transliterate my name, it would probably be Jop (the J makes an “h” sound, and the ō makes a long “oh” sound).
No matter what the case, if they called Jesus “Yeshua” back during his day, shouldn’t we call him the same? Wouldn’t it be weird if our own names got pronounced differently in different languages? Do we lose power in Jesus’ name if we say “Jesus” instead of Yeshua?
Why Can We Say “Jesus” Instead of “Yeshua”?
We have a number of reasons why we can pronounce Jesus’ name as “Jesus.” God will still hear our prayers no matter if we call him “Yeshua,” “Jesus,” or any other transliteration of his name.
We do have to keep in mind, many Messianic Jews and other groups within Christianity will only use the name “Yeshua” to highlight the fact that Jesus was a Jew, and because the name “Christ’ or “Jesus” has had some bad connotations associated with it due to church misuse and abuse of that name.
So, in other words, we can pronounce Jesus’ name as “Jesus,” but if we do meet a Christian who chooses to pronounce the name as “Yeshua” or “Yeshua Hamashiach,” we should respect their choice to do so.
Another reason we can use the name “Jesus” is that God has commanded us to preach his gospel unto every nation. By transliterating Jesus’ name, we have the ability to reach others through a pronunciation they can recognize and say themselves (Mark 16:15).
Alphabets and letters can differ a lot from nation to nation. There are certain letters in the Russian alphabet I cannot pronounce because I haven’t trained my vocal cords to move in that way.
However, we can use different names of God in prayer and should consider Yeshua Hamashiach as one of them. Each name of God conveys a different meaning, and Yeshua reminds us of Jesus’ witness to the Jewish people on earth, his Jewish heritage, and we are reminded of how the New Testament completes the set-up of the Old Testament.
Why Does This Matter?
Ultimately, there is no one true name for Jesus, but every name of Jesus has incredible power. We can respect those who choose to say Yeshua Hamashiach and find ways to incorporate that name into our prayers and our own lives.
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Hope Bolinger is an editor at Salem, a multi-published novelist, and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,100 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy released its first two installments with IlluminateYA, and the final one, Vision, releases in August of 2021. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.