The Name Game

Some people are wondering at my use of Hebrew names a few posts back.
They wondered if I went legalist or if I knew something they didn’t.
Maybe someone reading this is wondering if they should be using the
Hebrew or Greek or Latin names.

First off, Paul’s name in Greek is Paulos…it means small or little.
That’s the name that’s actually in the greek text. In Spanish the name
is Pablo. Same name, just the translation. Paul, everyone knows, had
two names. I’ll call the Greek name his Civil name and his Hebrew name
his cultural name. That name is translated as Saul in English, but is
Sha’ul in Hebrew. So why would I use Sha’ul instead of Paulos when
speaking about Paul in the last two posts…especially when the text
literally says Paulos? Especially when the last time Saulos or Saul is
actually used is in Acts 13:9? I’ll hold off on that bit.

Jesus’ name in the Greek text is Iesous. In Hebrew, his name would be
Yeshua which is short for Yehoshua or Joshua (amazing that and part of
a completely different post). But why would I use Yeshua when the text
uses Iesous? What is my justification?

I think Paul’s drive of becoming your audience is a good point (1 Cor 9:19-23; 10:31-33). If
you’re going to speak to an ethnic group, sharing with them the message
that God wants them to hear, you should speak their language. I have a
dreadfully hard time with this. Being an ethnic Latino, parents being
first generation immigrants, you would think my Spanish would be
better, but it’s actually horrid. Even so, when I speak to other
Hispanic folk, I don’t refer to our Lord as Gee-zuhs but as Hay-soos
(obviously, phonetically written).

If I’m going to write to an audience that may be of ethnic Jewish
descent, I try as often as possible to use Hebrew names—even though the
text doesn’t refer to them as such. Some Jewish folk find a great
offense in using Greek names for Jewish people, especially considering
the things the Jews have suffered at the hands of the Grecian armies.
So much so that some honest believers find themselves using the Hebrews
Name Translation instead of other versions, simply because of the
Hebrew names. My ethnic Jew uncle, a professing believer in Jesus the
Anointed, has a huge problem with Martin Luther’s teachings simply
because of where he went in his thinking later in life.

So there you go, it’s out—I call them all by the names I want to use
whenever it fulfills my purpose. I admit it. Hope you don’t feel
offended if I keep doing it. I’m not saying that I do it even close to as good as Paul, but I gotta shoot for something.

Actually, no one is wondering or asking. I just didn’t get a chance to do some studying last night. Or maybe I have ulterior motives.

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply