Many who visit this site may wonder why I prefer to use the name Y’shua instead of Jesus, especially if I do not consider myself to be a Messianic or Hebrew roots believer specifically. (To be clear, I am also not a “sacred-namer,” one who typically believes that only the “correct” pronunciation is valid).
In short, I prefer using the name Y’shua because Hebrew names have meaning. The name Y’shua means “God saves,” or “God is salvation.” It is a combination of Hebrew words, with the prefix “Yah” from “YHVH” (God) and “yasha” (to deliver). Using his Hebrew name helps me to be mindful of the culture and mindset in which Y’shua lived, and from which the Bible came. It reminds me to always keep thinking in Hebraic ways when seeking to build doctrinal values.
If we were to translate the name Y’shua directly into English, it would not be “Jesus” but it would be “Joshua.” Carrying the Hebrew consonants more directly into English, his name would be Yehoshuah or Yahoshua depending on which vowels one inserts between the consonants. It would be pronounced yeh-(ho)-SHU-a, or yah-(ho)-SHU-a. Some English variants include Yeshua or, as I have chosen to use, Y’shua. (I still have some articles on this site that use the Yeshua variant).
Therefore, to try to keep the pronunciation as close to the Hebrew, it seems more practical to me to spell it like it would when spoken in Hebrew: Y’shua (with the emphasis on the second syllable, Y’-SHU-a).
Some people prefer to spell it “Yahshuah” in order to keep the “Yah” in the name, since Y’shua said, “I am come in my Father’s name…” (John 5:43). However, Y’shua coming in his Father’s name does not simply mean the Father’s literal name (Yah), but that he came as a full representative of all of the Father’s authority and character, i.e., everything the Father’s name represents. Granted, there are multiple ways “Yah” can be represented in Y’shua’s translated name, such as Yahshuah, Yah’shuah, Yahshua, etc., but in all fairness, I prefer to keep things simple and meaningful. The key thing for me is retaining a close approximation of the Hebrew pronunciation which provides an understanding of the meaning that the Hebrew words convey, because they relate exactly what the purpose of Y’shua was and is: to embody and enact God’s deliverance of his people.
By contrast, the name “Jesus” is simply an English transliteration of the Greek transliterated name “Iesous.” The Latin “Iesus” was also an intermediary transliteration. Therefore, “Jesus” in English doesn’t really have any distinct meaning except as a doubly-transliterated Greek word through Latin. So by using Y’shua, I feel it is one step closer to the pronunciation of his original Hebrew name through by-passing the Greek and Latin, and I am able to retain a measure of the Hebrew meaning of “God is salvation.”
Beyond the etymology and translations, however, I also prefer to use Y’shua over Jesus because of all of what I consider to be doctrinal “baggage” that has become attached to the Graeco-Roman version of Jesus over the centuries of historic Christian thinking; things like the trinity, hell, and various atonement doctrines which I believe are primarily philosophical constructs of this Graeco-Roman type of thinking.
In recent years, as I have continually grown in my understanding of the Bible story from a Hebraic perspective, my view of Y’shua and the kingdom of God continues to change dramatically. I can no longer support some of the theological dogmatism of Calvinism, Arminianism, Premillenialism, and any number of other “isms” of men which I believe have infected the purity of the kingdom message, and separated God’s eternal people with artificial, theological distinctions.
Please understand my purpose is not to condemn or criticize anyone who currently holds these traditional understandings about Jesus, because I also believed them for many, many years. I am simply sharing in the most direct way why I now believe what I believe, and how I have grown to come to this understanding. This is one of the main reasons I write these articles and create videos: to share my path of growing in the faith, and to open dialogue with other believers that we may sharpen one another.
While not exhaustive, this brief essay is the simplest and most direct way I could think of in presenting my reasoning for using the name Y’shua instead of Jesus. In summary, I like to remain mindful of the Hebrew meaning of his name, and the culture from which he speaks. Additionally, as many of the doctrines associated with the Graeco-Roman Jesus are no longer representative of my beliefs, I prefer to use his Hebrew name as a distinction between the Hebraic Y’shua and the Graeco-Roman traditions that are attached to the name “Jesus.”
If you believe another representation of Y’shua’s name is more faithful and meaningful, perhaps you can share your thoughts in the comments below.