Jesus' surname

Was Christ his family name (eg. was he the son of Joe and Mary Christ?), or was it an honorific given to him. If so, anyone know what his surname was?

No; Christ means the same as Messiah - it is a title, not a surname.

The idea of surnames was still under development back then; he probably would have been ‘Jesus the carpenter’s son’


The Master speaks. What was Jesus’ real name?

You sometimes see him refered to as Joshua ben Joseph.

I knew it would be there somewhere, I just couldn’t track it down :rolleyes:.

You’d expect it, but in fact he’s usually called son of Mary, or sometjhing that is translated “the Nazorene”. I’ve seen it transliterated as Yeshu ha Notzri" Some thing this means “Jesus of Nazareth”, but I understand that there aren’t any contemporary references to a town of Nazareth. So some think it means “Jesus the Nazirite”, or something like that. Interesting stuff.

Notzri, BTW, is Hebrew for “Christian”.

His last name was Jones – you know, like that band! :slight_smile:

Isn’t his full name “Jesus H. Christ Almighty”??


The “ben Josheph” designation might need a bit more expaination. “ben” means “son of” in Hebrew. You still see it all in many Israeli names today. And, BTW, Arabic being very similar to Hebrew, has “bin” or sometimes “ibin” with the same meaning (e.g., Osama bin Laden). Not to imply a lilnk between these two men other than both speaking semitic languages

Christ is a Greek word (actually Kristos) that is often translated as “the annointed one”. So Jesus Christ is an anglicized version of a bilingual name (Y’shua Kristos) that contains an honorific.

For an interesting, critical refreshing take on the life of Jesus, I’d suggest you pick up Jose Saramago’s “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ”.

Just to expand on John Mace, the Aramaic language was in common use at the time. It’s very similar to Hebrew – sort of like the similarity between Spanish and Portugese, I guess. The Aramaic patronym is “bar”, as in the coming of age ceremony “Bar Mitzvah” (“son of commandment”). So the man’s name might have been Yesu bar Yoseph. Now I’m going to go see what Unca Cecil has to say.


Interesting. I had wondered why some Jewish surnames had “bar” instead of “ben”. Never thought a bout Aramaic…

On the Arabic “ibin” side, you have all the Saudi roayl family members who use “ibin Saud” (or sometimes you see it transliterated as “ib’n Saud”) at the end of their (usually long) names.

It’s ibn, only one vowel, never ibin (so don’t add an apostrophe to make it ib’n. because there’s no vowel missing from between the b and the n). The form bin is a colloquial variant.

Actually, the Classical Arabic word is ibnu, but the final short vowel is usually dropped in pronunciation and transliteration. Also, the initial vowel i- represents a waslah in Arabic, which means that it’s elided (dropped) in the presence of the final vowel in the word that precedes it, resulting in the form bnu.

Therefore in the Classical Arabic of the Qur’an, the name “Jesus son of Mary” is Îsá bnu Maryam. You elide (run together) the first two parts in pronuciation, so it’s pronounced ‘Îsabnu Maryam. Is that clear?

When ibn comes at the beginning of a phrase, no vowel preceding it, then the initial vowel i- is kept, for example Ibn Sa‘ûd.

Actually, Ibn Sa‘ûd was a bloke who lived in the 18th century. His descendant who founded Saudi Arabia in the 20th century is conventionally called Ibn Saud in English, but in fact his real name was ‘Abd al-‘Azîz ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmân Âl Sa‘ûd.

The word Âl means ‘family’, so the family name is actually Âl Sa’ûd. The word for ‘family’ is Âl, capital A, long vowel, no hyphen, not to be confused with the definite article al-, which should always have a lowercase a, a short vowel, and followed with a hyphen to avoid confusion.

As for Jesus’s family name, dude, people didn’t use family names in that time and place. There are still some cultures in the present day that get by just fine without any family names or surnames, hard as that concept is to grasp in a society where every official form has a family name field you have to fill in or the computer won’t accept it. Not all the particular cultural traits of modern America are necessarily universals.

and then there is this viewpoint

That certainly is a new slant that I’ve never heard before.

Actually, “Iesous” is a Greek transliteration of “Y’shua”. What is interesting is that, when the name was coined, there may have been a bit of wordplay. Yeshua means, roughly “YHWH is salvation”. Iesous is related to the Greek “iasthai”–to heal. Eusebius, for example, stresses this connection in his commentary on Acts.

Unlike Iesous, “Xristos” is an outright translation rather than an attempt to render the same sounds in Greek. It is a translation of the Hebrew “Meshiach”, which means “anointed”.


Are you sure about “ibin”? Where doe “bin” come from, then? Is that just a mistaken transliteration, or is it another word entirely?

Ibin does look wrong now that you mention it.

Both “ibn” and “bin” are legitimate–they’re regional variations like “Mac” and “Mc”.

(However, “O” and “O’” are not actually valid variations. “O Conor” is correct. “O’Conor” is a bizarre Englishism.)

Mace, I had already answered your question before you asked it.

To elaborate: Colloquial Arabic doesn’t use the final short vowels of Classical Arabic, which show the case inflections.

Therefore, when the initial i- is elided, and the final -u are dropped from the full form ibnu, you would be left with a vowelless word, *bn. (The asterisk is used to show a hypothetical form that never actually existed.) You can’t have a vowelless word in Arabic. So the colloquial pronunciation just sticks a vowel into the middle of it, providing an easy-to-say invariant form bin.

All you have to do to verify that there is no such word *ibin is to check any Arabic dictionary, such as the widely-used A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic by Hans Wehr.

The difference between ibn and bin is that the former is Classical and Modern Standard Arabic, while the latter is colloquial. Classical/Standard Arabic is the only acceptable version of the language for use in writing; the colloquial is almost never written except in cartoon balloons and TV sitcom scripts.