Jesus or Yeshua? Is it wrong to call him “Jesus”?

In the earlier books of the Bible, the Hebrew counterpart of “Jesus” would be יְהוֹשֻׁעַ or יְהוֹשׁוּעַ (Yehoshua), which we write as “Joshua.” But in later biblical books, such as Haggai and Zechariah, that older Hebrew name is shortened to יֵשׁוּעַ (Yeshua [sometimes written Y’shua]).

This is an imperfect example, but it would be like earlier biblical books using the name “Joshua” and later books using the name “Josh.”

If you follow the historical development of the name across the centuries, we thus get:

-early biblical Hebrew: Yehoshua (=Joshua)

-later biblical Hebrew: Yeshua (or Y’shua)

-Greek: Iēsous

-Latin: Iesus

-Modern English: Jesus

Some people insist on calling him “Yeshua” instead of “Jesus,” but that ignores the fact that the Bible itself (!), in the New Testament, does not call him Yeshua but the Greek equivalent. We do not speak Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, or 14th century English, but modern English, so we use the modern spelling and pronunciation of his name.

Therefore, if you wish to call him Jesus or Yeshua or Y’shua, that’s all fine. What we cannot do is insist, legalistically, that he be called one to the exclusion of the others.

Written by Chad Bird