Posted Jan 03, 2013 by Michael L. Brown

I am continually amazed by how many people write to our ministry and ask us questions like this one, which came in last week: “Some Christians say we have to use the Hebrew name, Yashua. They say calling on the name of Jesus is calling on Zeus. That Jesus is a disguise name for Satan. What answers do you have for this? Where can we prove the name of Jesus is correct to use in its English translation and pronunciation?”

As bizarre as these questions are, the fact that they keep coming up means that they need to be addressed, so here are some simple responses (for more details, see 60 Questions Christians Ask About Jewish Beliefs and Practices, question #38).

The original Hebrew-Aramaic name of Jesus is yeshu‘a, which is short for yehōshu‘a (Joshua), just as Mike is short for Michael. The name yeshu‘a occurs 27 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, primarily referring to the high priest after the Babylonian exile, called both yehōshu‘a (see, e.g., Zechariah 3:3) and, more frequently, yeshu‘a (see, e.g., Ezra 3:2). So, Yeshua’s name was not unusual; in fact, as many as five different men had that name in the Old Testament. And this is how that name came to be “Jesus” in English: Simply stated, this is the etymological history of the name Jesus: Hebrew/Aramaic yeshu‘a became Greek Iēsous, then Latin Iesus, passing into German and then, ultimately, into English, as Jesus.

Why then do some people refer to Jesus as Yahshua? There is absolutely no support for this pronunciation—none at all—and I say this as someone holding a Ph.D. in Semitic languages. My educated guess is that some zealous but linguistically ignorant people thought that Yahweh’s name must have been a more overt part of our Savior’s name, hence YAHshua rather than Yeshua—but again, there is no support of any kind for this theory.

The Hebrew Bible has yeshu‘a; when the Septuagint authors rendered this name in Greek, they rendered it as Іησους (I­­ēsous, with no hint of yah at the beginning of the name); and the same can be said of the Peshitta translators when they rendered Yeshua’s name into Syriac (part of the Aramaic language family). All this is consistent and clear: The original form of the name Jesus is yeshu‘a, and there is no such name as yahshu‘a (or,yahushua or the like).

What about the alleged connection between the name Jesus (Greek I­­ēsous) and Zeus? This is one of the most ridiculous claims that has ever been made, but it has received more circulation in recent years (the Internet is an amazing tool of misinformation), and there are some believers who feel that it is not only preferable to use the original Hebrew/Aramaic name, Yeshua, but that it is wrong to use the name Jesus. Because of this, we will briefly examine this claim and expose the fallacies that underlie it.

According to the late A. B. Traina in his Holy Name Bible, “The name of the Son, Yahshua, has been substituted by Jesus, Iesus, and Ea-Zeus (Healing Zeus).”

In this one short sentence, two complete myths are stated as fact: First, there is no such name as Yahshua (as we have just explained), and second, there is no connection of any kind between the Greek name I­­ēsous (or the English name Jesus) and the name Zeus. Absolutely none! You might as well argue that Tiger Woods is the name of a tiger-infested jungle in India as try to connect the name Jesus to the pagan god Zeus. It is that absurd, and it is based on serious linguistic ignorance.

Here is another, equally absurd statement:
Basically, to keep it simple, “Jesus” is a very poor Roman translation from Latin, that was also poorly translated from the Greek, which IN NO WAY resembles His Hebrew name, “Yahushua.” Whew! Get all that? Moreover, according to the ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA, the name Ieusus (Jesus) is a combination of 2 mythical deities, IEU and SUS (ZEUS, a Greek god). In Gnostic and Greek mythologies they are actually one and the same pagan deity. So, it appears the name “Jesus” has some documented pagan origins. That’s not good! In fairness, some Messianic believers disagree and state that there is no definitive evidence to connect “Jesus” to “Zeus.” However, I disagree with them.

The response to this statement (which has as much support as the latest Elvis sightings) is quite simple: We know where the name I­­ēsous came from: the Jewish Septuagint! In other words, this was not some later, pagan corruption of the Savior’s name; rather, it was the natural Greek way of rendering the Hebrew/Aramaic name Yeshua at least two centuries before His birth, and it is the form of the name found in more than 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. This is saying something! The name I­­ēsous is also found in Greek writings outside the New Testament and dating to that same general time frame.

Although it is claimed that the Encyclopedia Britannica says that “the name Ieusus (Jesus) is a combination of 2 mythical deities, IEU and SUS (ZEUS, a Greek god)” it actually says no such thing. This is a complete fabrication, intentional or not. In short, as one Jewish believer once stated, “Jesus is as much related to Zeus as Moses is to mice.”

Unfortunately, some popular teachers continue to espouse the Jesus-Zeus connection, and many believers follow the pseudo-scholarship in these fringe, “new revelation” teachings. Not only are these teachings and practices filled with error, but they do not profit in the least. So, to every English-speaking believer I say: Do not be ashamed to use the name JESUS! That is the proper way to say his name in English—just as Michael is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name mi-kha-el and Moses is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name mo-sheh. Pray in Jesus’ name, worship in Jesus’ name, and witness in Jesus’ name. And for those who want to relate to our Messiah’s Jewishness, then refer to him by His original name Yeshua—not Yahshua and not Yahushua—remembering that the power of the name is not in its pronunciation but in the person to whom it refers, our Lord and Redeemer and King.

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TheWarriorOfTruth posted a comment · Aug 14, 2016
No offense and I'm just asking, but did you read his post? His concrete explanation why it's not "Yahshua"? He has a Ph.d in Semitic Language, he is Armanian (which is a plus as well), and he studied Hebrew and made various Hebraic research for many years. I also asked some Jewish rabbis, and other people who have formal schooling and are experts on ancient Hebrew language; with illustrating to me through the original historic text, they all say the same thing; Yeshua, it is. I think if we try to technically evaluate, in the real world, they are more credible and reliable than what you seem to claim. However, I'm currently watching the classes that you said. Are these people from Israel, or are they Jew or Aramaic? Do they have a Ph.d degree in Semitic language? How are you so sure that they have the physical and original evidence backing up their claim? Are their any researched based formal books about Yahshua? If you can, please share it to me. Again, I'm not here to offend, I'm just asking and I want to be enlightened too. English is my secondary language by the way; hence, if my English sounds aggressive it just means I am limited by the words I know; thus, affects my grammar construction. :)
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Yahgirl3 posted a comment · Aug 14, 2016 The true name is Yahweh Elohim Yahshua..If you need proof check out this link or just go on YouTube IDMR u could either watch arkport class or Lansing class spring field class or gatesclass. Anything you need so you could learn the truth. Yahshua bless
TheWarriorOfTruth posted a comment · Aug 13, 2016
Hi Dr. Brown. I hope you will answer my question. Some people claim that the Messiah's name is not "Yeshua", it's "Yahuah", since there's no letter "J" in the Hebrew language and also because Yeshua is Joshua, an English name. I honestly find this nonsensible and kind of annoying already for the fact that these "Yahuah" followers tend to claim that everyone who acknowledge the Messiah as Jesus is a follower of Babylon. I bet they bought the concept from a Pseudo article or blog. But I just want to know if you can still examine this claim?
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Roberto Beruffi posted a comment · Jul 18, 2016
hnava My name may be Roberto, but my parents could have called me Robert. Dr Brown's name is Michael, but had he been born in Spain to Spanish speaking Jewish parents, then I dare say that his parents might have called him Miguel because the Spanish name for Michael is Miguel. The Hebrew name for Jesus is Yeshua, just as in Italian it is Gesù or Jezusi in Albanian. You do not need to translate the name Roberto into Robert, and I wouldn't want anyone to call me Robert, but it isn't wrong on improper for any English speaking parents to call their sons Robert, if they were to choose to do so.
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hnava posted a comment · May 21, 2016
Hello Dr. Brown: As a Spanish translator with 15 years of experience (Im a Linguist as well), I have to disagree with you. You don't translate the name of person named Mike, as Miguel in a Spanish translation, he would still be Mike, unless it is only for adaptation for illustrution purposes, or maybe in fiction for a novel. Proper names in translations of real texts are hardly ever translated, because it would mean ripping the person of its identity. In translation words are not interchangeable, every word you choose for a translation has a profound meaning and impact on the person reading it. I believe the true name of God and his Son are very important, this is not a meaningless discussion as you seem to believe. For many people like myself, it has profound implications. So, I think the debate will continue and increase more and more. Thank you and God bless you.