Jesus: Joshua

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There is obviously quite some confusion as to how Jesus’ name was pronounced, and whether it was really the same name as Joshua.

This lead me to question whether the names of the Appostles and Biblical writers were different from the common Anglisization, and what their correct pronounciation was at the time of Jesus?

Well, sure. The bible was written in Hebrew, mostly (or Greek, for parts of the Christian bible), and the names in the bible are Hebrew, Greek, or Latin names, which then were changed into English.

I think these are reasonably accurate. I welcome any corrections.

Simon: Simon (SHEE-mon)
John: Yohannan (Yo-HAN-non)
James Yakob (YAH-kob)
Matthew: Matthai (mah-TYE)
Judas: Yuda (YU-da)
Phillip Phillipos (FILL- i- pos)
Thomas: Toma (TOE-mah)
Andrew: Andareos (ahn-dah-RAY-os)
Bartholomew: Bar Tolomai (bar-TOL-lo-mye)
Thaddeus: Thaddai (TODD-eye)
Simon Peter: (Simon the Rock) Simon Kepha (SHEE-mon KAY-fah)
Peter in Greek is Petros.
Mary: Maryam (MAR-ee-ahm)
Mark: Roman name, Marcus
Luke: Loukas (LOO-kahs)

Yoda is Judas! (well nearly) Thanks Diogenes the Cynic that is just what I was after.
Are James and Jacob anglicisations of Yakob ?

What about the names Paul and Saul are they pretty much unchaged?

And how about the Angels, Gabriel, Michael, et-al.

Probably Yehuda…unless Yuda is some Aramaic variant of the name.

Remember that, in the case of Hebrew and Greek, you’re dealing with transliteration, so that can complicate things.

Saul is pronounced Sha-ul.

Paul is Paulus.

No, I think you’re right. My mistake. Thank for the correction.


captain Amazing got this. Saul was pronounced sah-OOL (rhymes with Raul) and Paulus was pronounce as POW-lus

I/m not sure if the ancient proniciations are the same as modern Hebrew but I think it’s gah-bree-EL and Mee-kah-EL respectively.

That shoud be shah-OOL, with a “sh” sound in the first syllable. Cap got it right.

So does that mean the name change from Saul to Paul wasn’t nearly as simple a word change as the Anglisised words suggest.
Shah-OOL to Paulus doesn’t sound like a wordplay at all, just changing his name to Paulus (that does mean small doesn’t it?)

Yes, paulus means “small.”

And yes, the change in pronunciation was more significant than the written English forms would suggest. The reason for the name change is not exactly made clear in the Bible. Acts just stops calling him Saul and starts calling him Paul without explanation.

Thanks, it shows the change wasn’t simple wordplay, as if Tony decided to sign themselves Tiny to show humility. Was Paulus a common name at the time, or was it a word unused as a name before Saul/Paul.

It existed as a name before Paul of Tarsus. There’s even a mention of a Sergius Paulus in Acts 13.

I was told by a reasonably educated colleague ( a crackerjack copy editor who was well versed in classical languages ) that Matthew was actually of Greek derivation: Math-ew, “well learned”, much like Eu-gene, “well-bred.”

Also correct, or BS?

It sounds like your colleague was making an educated guess based on how it sounds in Greek. Matthai is a Hebrew name which means “Gift of God.”

In Greek, mathetes means “student” (and is actually the Greek word translated as “disciple” in the Gospels). There is also a Greek word eu (pronounced ay-oo) which means “well” or “good,” and I’m guessing that your friend assumed the name Matthew was Greek and made a best guess. Unfortunately, the name in Greek is not Math-eu but Matthaias. The “ew” is an Anglicization (from the Latin Matthaeus).

According to Acts, Paul was a Roman citizen, and it wasn’t unusual for citizens from non-Roman backgrounds to take Latin names in addition to their ethnic names.

That’s probably the best explanation but it isn’t explicitly stated in Acts and once Luke starts calling him Paul, he never calls him Saul again. Acts does say he “was also called Paul” (and henceforth starts calling him that) which would imply that it was name he already had rather than something he adopted. As you say, it was customary for a lot of people to have both an ethnic name and a Roman name (John Mark, for example).

If you’ve noticed, the switch from “Saul” to “Paul” in Acts comes at the same time he stops preaching to Jews and starts trying to convert non-Jews…so, I think the change is from the Jew Saul preaching to other Jews, to the citizen Paul, preaching to the entire empire, regardless of religion or ethnicity.