The Name of Jesus

The 66 books that comprise the many variations of the Holy Bible were written in a time long before the English language had first begun to surface. English, as we know it today, did not exist during the times of the apostles. In fact, it did not first begin to surface until hundreds of years after the time of Christ. Over the centuries, following the time of Jesus’ ministry, the translations evolving through the English vernacular took on many forms.

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On occasion, words and phrases found in the bible do not live up to the context of their original usage. Which is one reason I believe the spirit has led me to delve into the ancient languages for clarity and understanding.

I was intrigued when as a younger man I first heard a preacher use the name Yehoshua when referring to Jesus. I wanted to learn why they called him Yehoshua.

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To walk us through the ages, I’ll use a passage in Matthew chapter 1 as an example.

The earliest notable claim to the English language is referred to as the Wessex Gospels of 1175 which was a west Saxon dialect of the “Old-English” language. There were very few copies of the Wessex Gospels published and were said to have been distributed in very troublesome times.

Liber generationis iesu christi, filii dauid, filii abraham. Soðlice abraham gestreonede ysääc. Ysääc gestrenode iacob. Iacob gestreonede iudam & his gebroðre.” (Old-English “Wessex Gospels”, Matthew 1:1-2)

Believe it or not, that was the English language at the time.

Those not familiar with old-English dialect may be able to place the name of Jesus Christ in this passage (which happens to be very close to the original Greek spelling of “Iesous”), the other words, not so much.

The Wycliffe bible was later published, sometime around 1382. Below is the Wycliffe version of Matthew 1:

The book of the generacioun of Jhesu Crist, the sone of Dauid, the sone of Abraham. Abraham bigat Isaac. Isaac bigat Jacob. Jacob bigat Judas and hise britheren.” (Wycliffe bible, Matthew 1:1-2)

We see the “I” in the name of Iesous used in all previous translation up to this period of time replaced with the letters “Jh”. Needless to say, the spelling of English words has changed considerably over the years – English was not always what it is today[[i]], not even close.

The first officially authorized English version of the Bible, known as “The Great Bible” (due too it’s massive physical size), was published in 1539. You may recall having watched any number of movies where a priest during the middle ages would read a passage of scripture from a book about two feet tall and eight inches thick… That was an accurate representation of “The Great Bible” which was offered only to priests. Common folk were not permitted to possess bibles for themselves.

Thys ys the booke of the generacyon of Iesus Chryst, the sonne of Dauid, the sonne of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac. Isaac begat Iacob. Iacob begat Iudas and hys brethren.” (The Great Bible, Matthew 1:1-2)

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The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (KJV – Revised Standard Oxford Edition 1769, Matthew 1:1)

Low and behold, by 1769 Dr. Benjamin Blayney completed his “Revised Standard Oxford edition” of the 1611 KJV and had finally corrected all the spelling and grammar mistakes God had made while preserving His book throughout the centuries. Ah, yes… The old man corrected God bible history joke… classic.

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So many names… so many titles… I wonder, could there be a name above all names? Did you know the bible tells us Jesus has a name that no man has ever known? Could it be possible there’s something we are missing?

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And much, much more… see the chapters page for more details.

To read the full chapter, please consider purchasing the book (click here) or request a free copy by emailing Philip directly at philipjwalls@gmail.com


[i] A detailed study can be found on line at http://thehistoryofenglish.com/

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