At the time of this note, yours truly, the webmaster of this (truthmakesfree) website, is "not yet" a subscriber to any of the "sacred names" belief sytems. I still refer to our Savior as "Jesus," albeit, at times, in worship, when I am adoring Him by His many names and attributes, it is not uncommon for "Yeshua" and "Yehoshua" and such, to cross my lips: "O, blessed Lord, thou art very Salvation itself; Thy name is Jesus, Yeshua, Yehoshua, as it is written 'He shall save his people from their sins,' Yahweh, Yah, is Salvation." So, I may say "Yeshua" at times, but at present in my life (2011) I still call Him "the Lord Jesus." But Daniel Gregg's work (given below on this page) is helpful, for the correct and commendable posture it takes, of not dividing the body of Christ over the matter.
Everything below this point is the work of Daniel Gregg.
Is the name 'Jesus' derived from the Greek god 'Zeus'?
Here is our analysis of the theory that 'Jesus' is derived from 'Zeus.' The theory that 'Jesus' comes from 'Zeus' is believed by Torah Movement Gentiles who have discovered that His real name was not 'Jesus.' His real name is or This is pronounced Yeshua or Yehoshua, in the Hebrew. Should we disrespect the usage of "Jesus" just because it is not correctly pronounced? This paper will show the reason why 'Jesus' should not be disrespected, and why the Torah Movement Gentiles who claim it is from a pagan origin are wrong.
First, there are many faithful believers in Yeshua who have used the name "Jesus" and who are saved, and who are not worshipping a false God. There are also many who believe in "another" Jesus who is not the Jesus of the Bible. But also, we who know Yeshua, know that there are many who follow "another" Yeshua, who is not the "Yeshua" of the Bible. I believe that some of the Torah movement Gentiles who say they believe in Yeshua are really not His followers. Why do I say this? Because they condemn Christians who say "Jesus" and they disrespect it wherever they go, thereby demonstrating that they do not understand the gospel of mercy. "Jesus" is an incorrect pronunciation, but it is not worthy of disrespect either, and those who use it must not be made to feel guilty of transgression for a mere mistake of pronunciation.
The Origin of the Name Jesus
Let's look at the origin of 'Jesus' for a moment. Jesus is derived from Middle English (ca. A.D. 1066) and then is derived from Old English and then is taken from Late Latin (A.D. 300-700) and then is taken from Greek and then is taken from Hebrew, 'Yeshua,' 'Yehoshua'. This is according to The American College Dictionary.
First the Jerusalem Congregation mandated the use of the nomina sacra devices, so that all early Papyri or MSS used it. By this the Hebrew words were meant. Here is a chart of the nomina sacra in the NT.
Then in the 4th century, scribes who no longer knew or cared about the Nazarene use of the Name expanded the devices into normal Greek. This then got translated into Late Latin as 'Iesu,' and then into Old English as 'Jesus,' but the 'J' was still pronounced like the German 'J,' i.e. it had a 'Y' sound as 'J' still has in German to this day. The terminal 's' owes its existence to the final 's' of the nominative case in Greek. The removal of the 'sh' sound from the second syllable of Yeshua is due to the fact that Greek does not have an 'sh' sound. The waw sound 'oo' in the second syllable was impacted by the French Normans who invaded England in 1066 c.e. So also the 'J' sound, which after 1066, began to be hardened to the French 'J' which is the origin of the Modern English 'J'. The end result is a word 'Jesus' which cannot be recognized as 'Yeshua.'
We can break this down into steps.
1. A formal title of Messiah: Yehoshua Ben David
2. Messiah's everyday name: Yeshua.
3. The difference between Yehoshua and Yeshua is like the difference between "Daniel" and "Dan" or "Josh" and "Joshua Ben Zadok".
3. The nomina sacra symbols for Yeshua in the early were Papyri: . These forms were in the earliest Greek Manuscripts. The practice was to use these symbols to stand for the Hebrew insertion of Yeshua into the text. Here is an example in the manuscripts.
4. The fourth century Greek translation was: . By the 4th century, the scribes had discarded the nomina sacra of the Jerusalem Congregation. This is where the proper pronunciation was lost initially. They were now saying [ee] [ay] [soo] s.
5. Later Greek: . The later Greek modernized the font. This was purely an orthographic change.
6. Late Latin: Iesu. (Translated to Latin, intial 'y' sound still intact; 'sh' still missing. Greek nominative sigma ending dropped).
7. Old English: Jesus [Yesus, Iesus]. (Influence of Greek sigma ending restored. 'Sh' still missing. 'Ayin' still missing.
8. Middle English: Jesus [Jee zus]. (Intial 'Y' sound lost to French influence by the Norman invasion of 1066 c.e.; 'Waw' sound lost also.
9. Modern Comparison. Y vs. J. 'ee' vs. 'ay' 'z' vs. 'sh' 'uh' vs. 'oo' 's' vs. 'ah'
Therefore, we must conclude that 'Jesus' was not derived from Zeus, but that
it is the result of the glottal-chronological history of the translation of the
original Hebrew. Any relation to 'Zeus' is
only similarity of sounds. After that all relationship
ends. Knowing the proper pronunciation, Yeshua, is not what
saves the faithful. No one will be acquitted of sin by saying
divine names properly.