Where Did “Jesus” Come From?
This week (Dec 16) on Shabbat Night Live, do we know where Yeshua’s name came from? Modern Christianity would have us believe it was unique, but it actually comes from the Torah!
Keith Johnson explains how Yeshua’s name was politicized over the centuries to completely disassociate it from the language, history, and context of the Old Testament!
Watch the episode — included on this blog post.
While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:30) In light of the prevalence of the name of Jesus in Western discourse, particularly in the Christian popular culture of hymns, children’s books, and motion pictures, why has so little attention been devoted over time to the essential meaning of his name and its relevance to our salvation? How might this arguably underscore a larger ignorance among the faithful over both meaning and provenance in the Hebrew Bible canon?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How does the plethora of manuscript variants of the Greek New Testament demonstrate the need for a definitive nomenclature for the figure known to us as “Jesus”? Furthermore, how might such a development serve to inspire greater popular spirituality in the midst of our largely post-Christian culture of arbitrary and pretentious naming by individuals, with inconsistent and shifting senses of identification?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How does the Wycliffite translation of Matthew 1:1 with its reference to “Iesu” remind us of the democratic accessibility and global extent of English as a lingua franca, along with its hazards of ever-changing denotation and stylistic standards? How does the growing familiarity with vernacular scripture here and in those of other pre-Reformation figures such as Chaucer and Caxton remind us of the need for vigilance in our own study of biblical texts, to avoid anachronism and outright factual error?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How can Henry VIII’s promotion of a contemporary English Bible as part of his break with Rome be viewed as an example of the same politicization of scripture as that found in such efforts as the HeGetsUs campaign? How does a monarch’s consolidation of Christianity into an ecclesiastical department of state serve to undermine Yeshua’s identity in the process of making him more accessible to worshippers?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:30) How does a passage like Nehemiah 8:17 demonstrate both the strengths and the weaknesses of the King James Bible of 1611 as a source for scripture study and an articulation of doctrine for the private worshipper? How can the progressive establishment of a received orthography and standard pronunciation in Early Modern English be viewed as an unintended obstacle to recognizing the importance of genealogy and naming in the unfolding of Yeshua’s message through his life and ministry?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) In the landmark BBC series I, Claudius, there is a brief mention of a “Joshua Bar Joseph” as a cult leader in the provinces who was executed as a heretic. How does this darkly satirical reference draw our attention to the vagaries of casually equating the familiar names, Jesus and Joshua, without an informed sense of their etymology? How has the latter-day trend of new parents’ choosing random male names from the Old Testament served to encourage this confusion?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 41:00) Similarly, how has the explicit statement of meaning behind the name of Jesus in Matthew 1:21 been largely overlooked among believers, despite the widespread familiarity with the nativity story throughout Western culture? How might a rediscovery of this passage inspire greater exploration of the affinities between the two names under discussion and the divine rationale behind them?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) Ultimately, how might a greater popular spirituality be achieved among believers, particularly those who are lukewarm in their faith or practice of worship, by encouraging an association between Joshua, successor of Moses, and Yeshua, the Messiah? How is the allusion in Hebrews 4:8-10 an indirect expression of Yeshua as the fulfillment of the earlier figure’s identity as a liberator and exemplar of obedience?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) How does Moses’ gesture of changing Joshua’s name from Hoshea in Numbers 13:16 compel the faithful to recognize the inherent element of prophecy in the proclamation of names throughout scripture? How are the changed names experienced by such vital figures as Abram, Sarai, and Jacob galvanized for believers by the angelic declaration in Matthew 1:21, as part of YeHoVaH’s plan for our salvation?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) Aside from the elimination of any historical, linguistic, or cultural context for the life of Yeshua, what are the most egregious omissions in Servant Foundation’s HeGetsUs promotion? How is their conception of the “Jesus of radical forgiveness, compassion, and love” an oversimplification that avoids virtually any sense of transcendent faith that is predicated upon thorough knowledge and obedient practice of received doctrine?