Jesus vs. Yeshua: A Phonetic Analysis

More and more these days, people within many of the various branches of Christianity are feeling drawn (perhaps “led” is a better word???) to the early Jewish roots of their faith. One of the ways this is taking shape is in the way believers have begun saying the name of the Lord. For many millions, the name Jesus, has so far and will continue to, suffice them in all aspects of their walk with God. Others, however, are seeing a need to divest themselves of the current English transliteration and Anglicization and pronunciation in favor of the Aramaic/Hebrew name Yeshua.

For some, this has caused quite a stir, and if one was so inclined, they could search the internet to see just how divisive the debate has become. Personally, I am not looking to add to the debate by arguing with anyone; rather my contribution is merely one of data. I want people to be informed, so they can decide for themselves which approach to the Savior, or rather, the name of the Savior, to take. As the title suggests, the data I intend to provide below is in regards to phonetics, or the study of the sounds of language.[1] So, without further ado, I give you a phonetic analysis of the name of Jesus versus the name Yeshua…

Phonetically, we pronounce the name Jesus like so:

[GEE-zuss] or, more formally, [dʒiːzəs][2], [3]

Yeshua is pronounced like so:

[ye-SHOO-ah], or more formally, [yēšūă‘] [4]

Every phoneme[5] in each name is completely different from the corresponding one. See the list:

The Letter “J” Versus The Letter “Y”

J = voiced post-alveolar affricate /dʒ/ (i.e. a hard “g” sound, as in jeans)[6]
Y = palatal approximate /j/ (as in yes)

The Letter “E” Versus The Letter “E”

E = close front unrounded vowel /iː/ (as in geese)
E = close-mid front unrounded vowel /e/ (as in trestle)

The Letter “S” Versus The Letters “SH”

S = voiced alveolar fricative /z/ (as in zip)
SH = voiceless post alveolar sibilant /ʃ/ (as in shun)

The Letter “U” Versus The Letter “U”

U = mid central vowel /ə/ (known as “schwa” in English, as in salami)
U = close back rounded vowel /u/ (as in “loose”)

The Letter “S” Versus The Letter “A”

S = voiceless alveolar fricative /s/ (as in confess)
A = open mid-back unrounded vowel /ʌ/ (as in rut)

To simply:

/dʒ/ versus /j/, or “J” versus “Y”

/iː/ versus /e/, or “E” versus “E”

[z] versus /ʃ/, or “S” versus “SH”

/ə/ versus /u/, or “U” versus “U”

/s/ versus /ʌ/, or “S” versus “A”

Phonetically, or in the individual sounds of each name, it is quite clear that Jesus and Yeshua ARE NOT THE SAME NAME AT ALL.

They don’t even bear a passing resemblance, phonetically speaking (not to mention syllabically). Just say them out loud one after the other after the other for awhile. If we took someone else’s name and evolved or changed it as much phonetically speaking, if we tried to address them with the evolved or changed version, they wouldn’t know we were addressing them and would correct us and tell us that the evolved or changed version isn’t their name.

And yet the Son of God seems to respond to either pronunciation, whether in prayer, in the working of miracles, or in baptism, and/or etc.

What then does this suggest?

To me, it suggests the following:

1.) The name of our Lord isn’t a magic charm or incantation dependent upon an exact pronunciation (although we can all agree, I think, that his name isn’t Ted, or Brian, or Henry, or some other non-resembling variation of whatever name).

2.) The name of our Lord is the appellation for an actual, living person who is capable of knowing whether or not we mean or intend to refer to Him whether we say His name just right or not (so long as we aren’t trying to completely rename Him, as in the parenthetical example above).

3.) That Hebrew is not a sacred or divine language; God responds to every tongue. This means no one becomes automatically more spiritual or more invested with divine power from on High because they call the Lord Yeshua instead of Jesus.

4.) That the Sacred Name[7] crowd is picking a fight with everyone else that God didn’t ask them to pick

5.) That it comes down to personal preference

6.) That being the case, no one should judge another for their personal preference

7.) That the Lord would have us unify around Him, as a person, and not dis-unify against Him as if He is merely a name

In conclusion, I hope this analysis has added to the knowledge base of anyone who takes the time to read it. Additionally, I hope that as believers in the Son of the Father, we can all agree that regardless of how we say His name, it is Him, as a Person, and not merely His name, that we trust, honor, love, and obey.

Peace and God bless,

The Votive Soul

_________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] The data I am providing in this blog is being given a technical presentation, according to the standard practices of linguists who study phonetics. In order to not go past the reader who might not be familiar with such a technical presentation, I will be adding various explanatory footnotes as seem required.

[2] When words of any language are written phonetically, as opposed to orthographically (that is, according to how they are actually spelled), they are traditionally placed in brackets, as the reader will see throughout.

[3] When it comes to writing a word phonetically, it should be noted that occasionally, unfamiliar symbols instead of letters are used by linguists, to indicate the sounds typically produced by whichever letter in question, as seen here, with the following: ʒ

[4] In phonetics, when a word is written according to its sound, as opposed to its spelling, often times various diacritical marks are placed into the word, as guides to pronunciation. For example, a short, horizontal line above a vowel indicates the vowel should be pronounced according to its “short” form. For this analysis, it’s not overly important for the reader to be able to make sense of such marks, as they are used sparingly and in this case, don’t have any bearing on the final conclusions.

[5] A phoneme is the total available units of sound any one letter can make; that is, a phoneme is the sum of every available allophone (allophones are all of the smallest possible units of sound any particular letter can make. For example, the letter “s” can sometimes sound like the letter “z” instead of “s”. These two different sounds of the letter “s” are examples of allophones). Additionally, the phonemes of a word are all of the various distinguishable sounds pronounced in the given word so as to separate one word from another. When written phonetically, phonemes are written like so: /a/, that is, with two adjacent forward slashes to the right and left of the phoneme in question.

[6] From here on in, the language becomes quite technical. What is, for example, meant by the phrase “voiced post-alveolar affricate” (and etc.)? Briefly, such words are indicators of where in the mouth any given phoneme is articulated, and how, with the mouth (including, the tongue, lips, and teeth) any given phoneme is made. For an in-depth look, try the following: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_of_articulation

[7] See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Name_Movement

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~ by votivesoul on 04/13/2016.

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