Surprisingly Common Name

In the Bible, Jesus is kind of a big deal. He is, in fact, pretty much the biggest deal – in the New Testament, at least (though the Christian argument would be that the Old Testament leads up to/foreshadows Him). He is, however, not the only Jesus in the Bible. There are several others – I’d know, I’ve read my Bible cover-to-cover.

We should also bear in mind that the English Jesus derives from the Latin (Iesus) of the Greek (Iesous) of the Hebrew (Yeshua). This means that none of the Biblical Jesuses (THE Jesus or otherwise) were technically named Jesus (a name that is four steps removed from the original). This also means that THE Jesus, and all the other Jesuses also technically have the same name as the Old Testament Joshua (incidentally, I’m pretty sure he’s not the only Joshua).

This raises the question of who the other Jesuses are. Rather than having to search through the entire Bible, I briefly scanned the Internet (i.e. Wikipedia) and here are the others I’ve turned up:

– Jesus ben Sirach, author of the Wisdom of Sirach. If you’ve never heard of him or the Wisdom of Sirach, I don’t blame you. It’s  a deuterocanonical book (meaning it’s only in Catholic Bibles) and even then, it’s pretty obscure. And not nearly as interesting as some of the rest of the deuterocanon (i.e. Maccabees).

– Barabbas (the guy Pilate pardoned), according to some early versions of the Gospels was also named Jesus, meaning, rather ironically, that both prisoners Pilate offered to pardoned were named Jesus

– those are the only two I can find without having to go digging through my entire Bible, but I vaguely remember some other people named Jesus

– also, in the Bible, we have several Joshuas, which, like I said, is a different transliteration of the same original name

– also also, Jesus (as a transliteration of some variation of Yeshua) was apparently a pretty popular name from the Hasmonean period to Bar Kohkba’s rebellion (incidentally, if you’re a HUMS student, you know what a Hasmonean and Bar Kohkba are) and occurs 71 times (that we know about archaeologically) in burial inscriptions from the Second Temple Period.

What you should take away from this is that THE Jesus wasn’t the Jesus, but was the most historically (and, depending on your religious views, theologically) important of them. You should also take from this that Biblical history is pretty cool/interesting – not necessary this specific aspect of it, but there’s some great stuff. I promise.


~ by My Core Beliefs on August 8, 2011.

One Response to “Surprisingly Common Name”

  1. That is fascinating. You just got me interested in Bible history.
    Though I’m not surprised that the name Jesus is related to Joshua, I would’ve never imagined that Barrabas had the same name… weird.
    Sirach has nice quotes about wisdom, though 🙂

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