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Reason and Revelation Volume 38 #8

Question and Answer: Should Jesus Be Called "Yeshua"?

Q:

“Do you know if there’s any truth to the claim that Jesus should only be called ‘Yeshua’ or that the name ‘Jesus’ is a corruption done by pagans or occultists (it’s been claimed that KJV was influenced by freemasonry, or that it was supposed to sound like Zeus)? Additionally, what evidence is there that the NT was originally written in Greek (vs. Hebrew vs. Aramaic)?”

A:

The Hebrew word transliterated “Joshua” in our English versions of the Old Testament  (pronounced yeah-HO-shoo-ah) is equivalent to the Greek term “Jesus” (pronounced ee-ay-SOOS). Though God Himself miraculously instigated several new languages at Babel (Genesis 11), we do not know what those languages were nor do we know what single language was spoken prior to that event. God has given no indication whatsoever that Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek are “sacred” languages that must be emulated. Instead, what we learn from the Bible is that God fully expected His Word to be translated into the multitude of languages that He knew would come about gradually as societies, ethnic groups, and nations developed. There is no evidence in Scripture that God assigns special reverence to, or expects verbal exclusivity for, the names “God” or “Jesus” in a particular language. The Jews refused to pronounce the divine name (approximated by English words like “Jehovah” and “Yahweh”) and so historically did not know how to pronounce it. The claims of pagans and occultists are irrelevant. One must produce the evidence from Scripture that God commands a specific spelling or pronunciation. Hispanics have the same word, “Jesus,” which they name their children, pronounced “hay-SOOS.” It has the same spelling in both English and Spanish. By the reasoning of those cited, differing pronunciations of the same word are unacceptable. Their theory shows a woeful lack of understanding regarding the functioning of human language.

Regarding the second question, there are well over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, some dating back close to the first century. There is a mountain of evidence from historical and religious writers in the early centuries of Christianity that record the linguistic state of affairs at the time. Once again, where is the evidence that the New Testament was originally written in a language other than Koine Greek? The evidence does not exist. It is true that Jesus probably spoke Aramaic while He was on Earth. But God the Holy Spirit chose to communicate the divine will via the most common, prominent language of the day: Koine Greek. A host of Hellenistic Jews at the time spoke Greek and relied on the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint; cf. Acts 6). In fact, most of the quotes of the Old Testament found in the New Testament are from that version. When people postulate an imaginary Aramaic New Testament that lies behind the Greek New Testament that we have, they are merely speculating without solid, sufficient evidence—which they are under obligation to produce.

However, let’s suppose that those who make such claims are right, that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. Why did God not see to it that it was preserved and passed down to us? Answer: we must not need it! We can confidently say that we have God’s Word intact in our 21st century based on the variety of proofs that exist by which the New Testament text has been recovered/ascertained (see the DVD Has the Bible Been Corrupted? available through AP).




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