Isn’t Yeshua the correct spelling for Jesus’ name?

Question: Isn’t Yeshua the correct spelling for Jesus’ name? I heard the name Jesus came about from a bad translation.

Jesus’ name means, “God saves.” But let’s go back a little and explore Jesus’ name. In Hebrew, the name Yeshua was fairly common. It is a variation of the name Joshua, a name that we encounter in the Old Testament. It is likely, although not proven, that Yeshua was the Hebrew form of Jesus’ name. From Hebrew, this name was then transliterated into Koine (common) Greek as Iesous. Since Greek has no “sh” sound, that was “lost” in translation. From Greek, the Lord’s name was translated into Latin as Iesus. The English name, Jesus, of course, comes from this Latin version. In early English, the letter “J’ was pronounced as we pronounce a “Y” today. Thus, in addition to the name Jesus, today we use a “J” sound for other biblical people and places such as Jerusalem, Jonah, and Jordan. In Hebrew, each of these would begin with a “Y” sound. So the name Jesus did not come to us from a “bad” translation but rather through a process of transliteration from Hebrew, to Greek, to Latin, and finally to English. What was not lost, however, is the original meaning: God saves!

Joe Paprocki

Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including The Bible Blueprint, Living the Mass, and bestsellers The Catechist's Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith (all from Loyola Press).