Jesus means nothing, Yeshua everything: Messianic Judaism versus Christianity?

“Messianic Jews” refuse to call themselves Christians for many reasons. One reason is that although they have the same Messiah, they practice different religions. (See here). Another reason is that “Christ” is Greek, and they consider things (and words) Greek to mean nothing. Strange, because the NT is written in Greek. But then the riposte would ostensibly be, “the NT was or should have been written in Hebrew (Aramaic?).”

When it comes to people’s names in the Babelian world we live in, it is often difficult to pronounce a foreign name. I live in South Africa where there are seven official African languages, as well as English and Afrikaans, which make nine official languages. In recent years many English and Afrikaans place names have changed to sometimes unpronounceable African names (for many English and Afrikaans speakers). For example, Clocolan → Hlohloloane/Hlohlolwande, Ficksburg → Joalabeholo, Harrismith → Mengkhoaneng, Witsieshoek → Phuthaditjhaba These African names were the original names of these places before they were changed by White rule. It goes without saying that an African would be delighted if you used these names, and would even more so if you pronounced the names correctly.

To return to the New Testament: The apostles John, Matthew and Mark were Jews and had Hebrew birth names, which they must have used among their fellow Jews. There must have been some non-Jews who could pronounce the guttural “ch” (as in the Scottish word “loch) and so probably called John by his Hebrew name Yochanan, which I’m sure would have delighted John (John is English for the Greek “Ioannis” Ιωάννης informally: Γιάννης). John/Ioannis/Ιωάννης would, of course, not have been insulted or felt diminished if a non-Jew did not want to call him YoCHanan. At the time, Aramaic, not Hebrew, was the lingua franca of the Jews.

Many Jews in Judea in the time of Jesus/Yeshua must have also known some Greek and Latin as well, which were the official languages across the Greek Empire conquered by the Romans circa 60 BCE. All the Jews living outside of Judea in the diaspora during the Greek Empire 300-60 BCE – who were the majority of Jews in the world – spoke Greek, and had Greek names for social use. No doubt, some/many also had Hebrew birth names (as well). These Jews knew little Hebrew. Translations of the Torah use translated names, for instance, Abraham, instead of Avraham; Moses instead of Moshe, etc. (“Moses” is closer to the original Egyptian than the Hebraised “Moshe”).

On a secular and lighter note; would it be wrong for an English person who knows no German to ask a German who knows English: “Do you speak German?” Or would that mean nothing (that is, be of no significance) to a German? Should the English person – in case he meets his prospective German (who knows English, of course) – ensure that he knows the German for “German,” namely, “Deutsch” to ask the right question, namely, “Do you speak Deutsch?” What about “Do you speak Paruski?” “Do you speak Ivrit?”

Imaginary dialogue: English person who speaks German meets someone whom the English person thinks is German:

English person – “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

“German” person? – “Nein  lenkviches ekshept Cherman.”

To return to Jesus, which I would wish everyone, including all Messianic Jews, to do: All Christians worth their salt know that “Jesus” means Saviour. There’s the silly homophonic notion that the Greek “Iesous” means “son of Zeus.” the New Oxford Dictionary of English gets it right. The Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iēsoûs) is a Hellenisation of the Hebrew יהושע (Yehoshua) or Hebrew-Aramaic ישוע (Yeshua ), which means “saviour.” “Jesus the Christ” is an ubiquitous appellation throughout the NT. I don’t see any humongous difference between ”Yeshua haMashiach” and ”Jesus Christ.” Unless one is into Gematria, I see no difference at all after a Christian is told that Jesus is Greek for Yeshua (Zeus! right) and Christ is Greek for Mashiach. Shuck off them Greek hangups. Get a life.

All I need now is for a fellow Jew to tell me that all this name stuff is mythical nonsense because he will insist that although there may indeed be Zulus in Africa there certainly wasn’t a messianic Yeshua in Judah. Hmmm.

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17 thoughts on “Jesus means nothing, Yeshua everything: Messianic Judaism versus Christianity?

  1. Your headline says it all!

    Jesus–not a figure named in the Jewish Bible; no relevance to Judaism
    Yeshua (transliteration of the Hebrew name “Joshua”)–a prominent figure of the Jewish Bible, of substantial importance to Judaism
    Messianic–a Jewish invention, from the Jewish Bible; defined as awaiting the great-grandson of King David’s human father, who will live only once, die only for his own sins, and establish everlasting peace and universal acknowledgement of G-d’s one-ness before dying
    “Messianic Judaism”–Christianity
    Christianity–a gentile creed, from the Greek “new testament”; defined as believing a demi-god with no patrilineal Davidic heritage died for other peoples’ sins, established the last 2,000 years of unbroken peace for us, and gave rise to the worship of a three-party godhood panoply, and that he’ll later come back to life to provide us with yet further entertainment

    • Anon says, “Christianity–a gentile creed, from the Greek “new testament”; defined as believing a demi-god with no patrilineal Davidic heritage died for other peoples’ sins, established the last 2,000 years of unbroken peace for us, and gave rise to the worship of a three-party godhood panoply, and that he’ll later come back to life to provide us with yet further entertainment.”

      Anon Yeshua (Jesus) came back to life on the third day after His crucifixion and atoning death for our sins and remains alive! After His ascension to the heavens He (Messiah) was seated at the right-hand of His Father in heaven as King David foretold in Psalms 110:1-5.

      • In case there are any Jewish readers here, I am going to correct missionary David Cook’s seriously mistaken comment about the messianic prophecy contained in the Jewish Bible:

        Jesus represents a fulfillment of none of it.

        For instance, the Jewish Bible foretold that when the messiah comes, the Jews will all be gathered together in Israel, wars will end, disagreement over which religion is true will evaporate, no one will get sick or die anymore, and the Jews’ Temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem on the spot now occupied by an Islamic mosque.

        Claims that Jesus was a fulfillment of Jewish messianic prophecy are thus ahistoric and counter-Biblical.

        As to David Cook’s assertion that Jesus is sitting by G-d’s right hand, there is no way to know for sure if it’s true since we can’t see the heavenly court’s seating arrangement. All we know is that Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecy and that that, at least according to David Cook’s theory, the seat at G-d’s right is reserved for the person who will.

        If anyone would like scriptural (ie, chapter and verse) citations to support any of the messianic prophecies I outlined here from the Jewish Bible, please post a request–I left them out for brevity’s sake.

  2. God looks at the heart, and language is just an expression of information. Albeit extremely important in the translation and passing down of records, to understand these things – this is left up to the scholars doing the translation. – and we know that God has ensured that the precious scriptures have endured all these millenia.
    It really is just babble to go on about whether our Lord should be addressed as Yeshua or Jesus – since, as you point out Raphael, both have the same meaning and this is established then to be the correct English name for our Lord and Saviour.

    • Jesus MEANS NOTHING………………………. Jesus & Yeshua Are Nothing of The SAME…………………………….. Yeshua Means Salvation & Jesus Means ZERO………………………….

  3. Just look at life itself and the intricate language encoded into DNA. No one understands it – Scientists are still trying to figure it out – yet without it there is no life. God’s Word is the information that comes from God. Correct translation is the only vital thing so that all the living can understand and have not only physical but eternal life.

  4. Anon, I belive that there is religion of the kind that men use as a possesive crutch and then there is Truth – One Living God who rescued us from our wretched situation created by our own sin.
    Sin spreads & grows – it will ultimately destroy the earth. Since God created all things at the beginning to be Very Good – it is evident over time and the law of entropy that through Sin, the destruction of our world began – (and as we see it now, degeneration is rapidly happening in all things physical around us as well as social and spiritual)

    But back to Religion, anon. Remember that God is eternal and He Has been true to his promise that ALL Nations will be blessed – as it is God’s desire that none are lost.

    1.Genesis 18:18
    Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.

    Genesis 22:18
    and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

    Psalm 22:27
    All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,

    Psalm 67:2
    so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.

    Im not cared about titles such as Messianic Christianity & Messianic Judaism. Only the truth, and I believe that the Scriptures are God-inspired. Are the word of God. 🙂 🙂

    • Karen,

      The Bible, the word of G-d, doesn’t report that men are totally depraved, or that one person’s death can atone for another’s sins, or that there are three distinct persons in “the godhood”; it certainly doesn’t say that Joshua and Jesus are the same person! In fact, Jesus isn’t even mentioned in the Jewish Bible–Paul dreamed him up for his “new testament”.

      Your pronouncement that you’ve discovered the truth of Christianity by circumventing Biblical linguistic shortcomings (such as “G-d is not a man” in Num. 23:19) is intellectually unacceptable, even ludicrous. Yet I acknowledge your freedom to choose to believe whatever you want to, my gentile friend. Will you return that courtesy by not trying to proselytize me and my fellow Jews?

  5. Anon, admittedly I had to look up Proselytize & was astonished that you would use this word – yourself being a commenter on the blog of a fellow Christian! I would like to further discuss the issue and reply to your last comment however in sympathy of your latest perspective I would prefer to be invited (i certainly did not expect offence to be taken!) If you’d like my response to your last comment please kindly advise further ~

  6. The Messianic Church believes Yeshua (Jesus of Nazareth)

    is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. They observe the Sabbath from Friday (at sunset) to Saturday (at

    sunset), along with the feasts described in Leviticus 23 and in the brit hadashah, such as Passover and Sukkot.

  7. From Kevin DeYoung’s “Do Not Lose The Term “Christian”:

    Sometimes you find people who are a little hipper than thou who conspicuously eschew the title “Christian.” They would rather we called a “Jesus follower” or a “disciple of Jesus of Nazareth.” There’s no problem in using this biblical language, unless it is to steadfastly avoid other kinds of biblical language. In our day there is a certain casualness about “following” someone. It’s what you do on Twitter. It’s what you do when you settle on a school of thought. You follow Keynes or you follow Hayek. Following is pretty safe. Being called a “Christian,” however, is a little dicier.

    Just like the first century.

    Almost certainly, the believers in Antioch were first called “Christians” as a put-down. It was an insulting jab they came to own for themselves, much like the Puritans and the Methodists would later do. There was something about these believers in Antioch–their distinguishing characteristic to the world was that they were of Christ.

    Full post here:

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2013/07/12/do-not-lose-this-term-christian/

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