What is Jesus’ real name?

Has Jesus’ real name become Lost in translation?!

What is Jesus’ real name?

Jesus, pronounced as ‘Geezus’ in the English language, originates from the Latin form of the Greek name Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous). The Greek Ἰησοῦς is a rendition of the Hebrew name “Yeshua” (ישוע), which also has variants of Joshua or Jeshua.

jesus name

By the time the New Testament was written, the Septuagint (the original Greek biblical translation (LXX) had already transliterated the Hebrew ישוע (Yeshua`) into Koine Greek (also called Biblical Greek) with the result being Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous).

Hebrew and Aramaic read from right to left and the first letter in the name ישוע (Yeshua) is the letter yodh (י).


The translation went as ‘phonic’ as possible and since Greek had no equivalent to the Hebrew letter yodh (י) or the sound, they went with the closest sound in Greek they had, a modified iota (I) in the form of Ἰη 

The Semitic letter Yodh (י) originally came from the Phoenicians, which gave rise to the Greek Iota (Ι), Latin I, J, Cyrillic І.

When Jesus’ name was being translated, they used the capital letter iota Ἰ with an eta η with it to raise the sound. Ἰη made the phonic sound closest to the Hebrew yodh (י).

The next letter was ש‎ shin [ʃ] and this letter was replaced with σ sigma [s].

Hebrew Shin

This made the sound יש to Ἰησ which sounds in English as yesh or ye’s

The next letter sound was the Hebrew Waw (vav) ו, this in Greek was sounded as οῦ

Hebrew Waw/Vav

The diphthongal [a] vowel of Masoretic Yehoshua` or Yeshua` would not have been present in Hebrew/Aramaic pronunciation during this period, and some scholars believe some dialects dropped the pharyngeal sound of the final letter ע `ayin [ʕ], which in any case had no counterpart in ancient Greek.

ע – hebrew letter ayin

This made the translation of Jesus name from Hebrew ישוע (Yeshua) to the Greek Ἰησοῦ (Iēsou)

A masculine singular ending ς [-s] was added in the nominative case, in order to allow the name to be inflected for case (nominative, accusative, etc.) in the grammar of the Greek language. Basically, the ending s in Jesus was added when it was translated into Greek to indicate “Jesu” was male.

The Greek writings of Philo of Alexandria and Josephus frequently mention this name. It also occurs in the Greek New Testament at Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8, referring to Joshua son of Nun.

From Greek, Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous) moved into Latin at least by the time of the Vetus Latina. The morphological jump this time was not as large as previous changes between language families. Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous) was transliterated to Latin IESVS, where it stood for many centuries.

The Latin name has an irregular declension, with a genitive, dative, ablative, and vocative of Jesu, accusative of Jesum, and nominative of Jesus. Minuscule (lower case) letters were developed around 800 AD and some time later the U was invented to distinguish the vowel sound from the consonantal sound and the J to distinguish the consonant from I.

Similarly, Greek minuscules were invented about the same time, prior to that the name was written in Capital letters: ΙΗΣΟΥΣ, iota-eta-sigma, or ΙΗΣ sometime as: ΙΗϹ or IHS with a line over the top ΙΗϹ, ΙΗΣ, ΙΣ or IHS.

jesus name
IHS monogram, with kneeling angels, atop the main altar, Church of the Gesù, Rome.

Most often simply expressed as ⳨.

A solidus minted under Anastasius I Dicorus (struck in Constantinople between 507–518)

Modern English Jesus derives from Early Middle English Iesu (attested from the 12th century). The name participated in the Great Vowel Shift in late Middle English (15th century). The letter J was first distinguished from ‘I’ by the Frenchman Pierre Ramus in the 16th century, but did not become common in Modern English until the 17th century, so that early 17th century works such as the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible (1611) continued to print the name with an I.

From the Latin, the English language takes the forms “Jesus” (from the nominative form), and “Jesu” (from the vocative and oblique forms). “Jesus” is the predominantly used form, while “Jesu” lingers in some more archaic texts.

Over the past 2000 years, His name changed from Hebrew and Aramaic “Yeshua” to the modern English “Jesus” (pronounced as: Geezus).

Here are some other modern variations of “Jesus” in other languages:

  • Albanian: Jezusi
  • Arabic: `Isà عيسى / Yasū` يسوع
  • Aramaic/Syriac: ܝܫܘܥ (Isho)
  • Irish: Íosa
  • Korean: 예수 (Yesu)
  • Mongolian: Есүс
  • Russian: Иисус (Iisus)

Regardless how you say His name or what you call Him, he knows you’re talking about him. 
Besides, Jesus cares about your heart, not whether or not you pronounce His name correctly.


Source: This article was used by permission by the author from Chapter 9 “Jesus’ Name” from the book Asteroid Apophis and The Apocalypse written by Njord Kane.

Kane, Njord. Asteroid Apophis and The Apocalypse. Spangenhelm, 2017. ISBN 978-1943066261.
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