YESHUA OR JESUS?
Not too long ago I was witnessing to a woman who owns a local feed store when a gentleman joined our conversation and began to spout off about pronouncing the name of Jesus as Yeshua. His point was that no one is saved if they pronounce the name of Christ using the English name; only the Aramaic name counts. As a result I was not able to finish witnessing to this lady at that time due to this foolish interference.
Unfortunately, this is an issue that the ignorant and unsaved bring up a lot, and it is one that is leading many in the patriot and common law movements down the road to destruction.
I do know Aramaic and have never once met a “Christian” Identity member cult member who knew Aramaic or Hebrew at even an elementary level. Every time that I have presented one of these cultists with a Hebrew text they run away or change the subject. It seems odd to me that a cult based upon reverence for the Aramaic language would put no emphasis on learning the language.
What this belief does is that it cuts out anyone who speaks the name of Yeshua in a language that does not include those phonemes, or those in which there are phonological shifts with those particular phonemes. Y and J frequently shift from one language to another.
Even most nonlinguists know that the German J is pronounced like Y in English. It is pronounced like English H in Spanish. In French it is pronounced like S in pleasure. The Greek Iesu is closer to Yeshua than the English Jesus. The German Jesu (Yesu) is much closer to the Greek pronunciation than English is.
Does this mean that we have deviated farther from God than the Germans or Greeks? Where do the Spanish fit?
Is Jesus (Hesus) closer to Yeshua, or is English? Or does this mean that those languages that do not phonemically match up with Aramaic cannot be saved unless they learn the Aramaic pronunciation?
Does that mean that it is necessary for us to be able to pronounce the Ayn correctly? The last letter in Yeshua was not actually a vowel; it was a pharyngeal consonant with a vowel attached, or a voiced glottal stop. The pronunciation of this letter dropped out of Hebrew and Aramaic at some point in history, but we do not know that it was not pronounced in the dialect spoken by Jesus. I suspect that it was. It is still pronounced today in Arabic. Are we lost if we pronounce it as modern Aramaic speakers do? It was, and still is, treated as a glottal stop, although it is no longer voiced today. I’ve yet to hear a member of the name cult pronounce the glottal stop.
What about people with speech impediments? Can they get saved if they cannot make the SH sound properly. I could not when I was a small child until I took speech classes. Was I barred from salvation prior to attending those classes? It is fortunate for me that there is no trilled R in the name of Christ, because I haven’t been able to properly trill an R even after 27 years of language study. S and SH shift with great frequency between languages. This is very true with Semitic languages, but also is extremely common between various Indic languages, as well as between members of the larger Indo-European family. Is their salvation affected by this common phenomenon? What stupidity it is to suggest this, but I have heard it implied more times than I care to count!
Greek does not have an SH sound, so SH was substituted with s (often pronounced as Z), as it is with the name of Moses, Samuel, Saul, Solomon and many others. This does not change the base meaning of the name, which is either “salvation” or a contracted from of “whose salvation (or help) is Jehovah”. Of course, those who don’t know Hebrew or Aramaic would have no more of an idea that the name of Christ means by using the Aramaic than they would by using the English equivalent, unless someone tells them what it means, and even then they cannot be certain that their definition is precise since both of the above definitions are plausible.
The same sound shift took place in English. In addition both the Hebrew and Greek Ys becomes J in English. This is true, not just with the name Yeshua, but with the names of Joshua, Jeremiah, Jehoshaphat, Jonah, Jezebel, Jarel, and my own name, John. Contrary to what these Identity characters seem to imply, this is due to a Germanic sound shift, and has no theological connotations whatsoever. There is scarcely a name in the Hebrew Bible that is pronounced in English the way that it is in Hebrew or Aramaic.
Moses is Moshe. Solomon is Shlomo. David is Dahveed. Samuel is Shmuel. Why aren’t these characters pronouncing their names correctly if it matters so much?
It is common to hear New Agers who claim to be Christians harp on this issue. Fake Christian, and fake patriot, Len Horowitz is one of the worst. This man, who is undoubtedly heavily demon-possessed, claims that original name Bibles should be used and endorses a new biblical names “Bible” version. This is a man who sells an $888 crystal-oriented computer program that prays for one’s wishes in absentia much the way his counterpart Tibetan demon-worshippers use prayer flags! He even wrote a book on a phony Bible code that was channeled, and is full of Kabala and Hindu philosophy. Some endorsement!
It is not surprising that many of these people tend to have low standards. I have noticed that many members of the name cult seem to swear like sailors, they tend to have no standards of modesty, and they frequently smoke and drink. I have never once heard one of these characters witness to anyone, and many of them ridicule the idea of witnessing to the lost all. What their theology amounts to is no more than using the name of Jesus as a mantra, or a magic name for admittance into heaven. They use, or almost use, the Aramaic pronunciation of the name of our Lord, and this makes them spiritually superior to those who have actually bowed down to Jesus in obedience, and who accept his word without having the audacity to correct it. It is a great shame that this teaching has made such progress within the patriot community.
John Hinton, Ph.D.
Bible Restoration Ministry
A ministry seeking the translating and reprinting of KJV equivalent
Bibles in all the languages of the world.