That Letter J

Click here for further pronunciations of Jesus and God's name in numerous modern languages.

First, as an introduction, saying the word "I Am" in Hebrew

In Mishnaic Hebrew, saying the word "I am" as it was probably pronounced by Jesus 2000 years ago, was "Eh-hay-eh" Play

In early Hebrew, "I am/will be who I am/will be", as it was first spoken (in the first person) to Moses 3,500 years ago in Exodus 3:14. "Eh-hay-eh ash-er eh-hay-eh" Play

Now, about that Letter J.

 With the exception of Italian, the printing press in the 1600s formally established a new alphabetic letter "J" to be the consonant form for writing "I" in French, Spanish, Portuguese and English
The letter J as a starting consonant did not exist. Pronunciation of words starting with "I" can
only be estimated.
The letter "I" as a consonant became "J" – pronounced ZzheeThe letter "J" does not exist, "G" followed by "I" or "E" gives a soft "G" – pronounced ZzheeThe letter "I" as a consonant became "J" – pronounced Hota with the "H" more rasping – deeper in the throatThe letter "I" as a consonant became "J" – pronounced ZZhotaThe letter "I" as a consonant became "J" – pronounced Zzhay
with Hebrew (Ebreo) neighbourhoods named Giudecca
I-V-P-P-I-T-E-R – Jove, Father
In ancient Rome
Day Father – Dyeu Pater
Ancient Celtic – Dia
Ancient French – Deu
Ancient Greece – Zeu
Ancient China – Di
Ancient India – Deva
English Today – Divine
I-V-L-I-V-S – Julius
With the Greek word
I-E-R-V-S-A-L-E-M – Jerusalem
also written as HIEROSOLVMA "Holy Salem"
I-O-S-V-E – Joshua
**with the Greek word I-h-s-o-u-s
I-E-S-V-S – Jesus
Also with Greek word I-h-s-o-u-s

* In Italy, as elsewhere, there are many different spoken dialects. Italian slowly took over from Latin and French as a written language about 400-700 years ago, starting with Dante (1265-1321) in the Tuscan region in Florence.
** Most occasions of Joshua's name, Moses's lieutenant in the Old Testament (Yehoshua), use the five Hebrew letters "yod, he, vav, shin, ayin". On two occasions, Deuteronomy 3:21 and Judges 2:7, the letters "yod, he, vav, shin, vav, ayin" are used, and later, e.g. Nehemiah 8:17, an abbreviated form "yod, shin, vav, ayin" is used (Yeshua). This version, thought to be the original spelling of Jesus's name in Aramaic became the basis for the Greek word "I-h-s-o-u-s" (ye-sos) that was used for Joshua's name throughout the Septuagint, the Greek Bible translation that commenced in Alexandria around 280BC.

In today's Aramaic-speaking Assyrian church in the Middle East, the pronunciation is "Ea-shoa" Play

In Hebrew, the pronunciation is "Yeshua" Play

Now, because of how the starting sounds for Judge, Justice, Joshua, Jesus and Julius are pronounced today in these western languages, many have thought that "I" written in its place in Ancient Greek or Latin — as in I-V-L-I-V-S CAESAR — was most likely pronounced using the sound of the English "J" or "Zzh" rather than "Y" or "Ee".
The "Y" sound of course is the way most of the other, non-Romance European languages pronounce words that start with the letter "J", e.g. in Germany, where the letter "J" is pronounced "Yot" and Jesus is pronounced "Yesos".

But going back to ancient times, the "J" or "Zzh" sound may well have derived from the old Hebrew / Phoenician character (known as Zayin) the 7th letter in the alphabet which the Greeks had changed to the letter "Z". Also used from ancient times in numerical systems for the digits 1 and 10 ("Zehan" in Gothic "Tien" in Dutch "T"- last letter in Hebrew). Around 300 BC, the Roman censor Appius Claudius removed "Z" (Zee) as the 7th letter. Many Jews were imposing a death sentence on any speaking God's personal name outside the temple (i.e. blasphemously). Awkward if you were trying to keep the peace. Rome then created the letter "G" (Jee) in its Roman alphabet shortly after.

Now besides VPPITER and Zeu Pater, another example of a "Z" word in the Greek language gradually getting a "J" / "G" initial is the Greek word "Z-h-l-o-s" meaning "to be zealous or hot". It was written as "ZELOSVS" in Latin, later becoming "Jaloux" in French, "Geloso" in Italian, and "Jealous / Zealous" in English. "Zeal of your house has consumed me" John 2:17 — click here for other references on that word jealousy. And ziel, the Dutch word for soul/passion. The sea.

With regard to those four Hebrew letters for Jehovah "yod, he, vav, he" Play spoken to Moses in Exodus 6:3 and used extensively throughout the Old Testament, the Greek Septuagint version used a completely different word. Those four letters were translated, and vocalized as "Kurios", a Greek title for "the Boss" following a Jewish tradition of substituting its Hebrew equivalent "Adonai" my highly-valued master, protector, provider-see Gen 18:12, whenever reading the text in public. Next in 380 AD, the Latin Vulgate version followed suit with its word "DOMINVS". In his German translation, Martin Luther used the word "HERR". In most English translations, the word "LORD", in capitals, is used.

Jesus's name, spelt in Greek as I-h-s-o-u-s.

  1. If spoken using its Hebrew / Aramaic equivalent, perhaps pronounced as Ea-shoa, or Yeshua bringing to mind the children crying in the temple "Ya-sha-nna" — "Save, now, please" Matthew 21:15 quoting Psalms 118:25.
  2. If spoken by the Jews of Jesus's time in the Koine Greek, perhaps pronounced as Yesos, with those first two letters "I and H", in Hebrew "yod" and "he", that mean "He will be" (your saviour). First declared in Numbers 13:16, when Moses renamed Hoshea to Jehoshua. And they link right back to the four Hebrew letters "alef, he, yod, he" pronounced as eh-hay-eh Play and spoken as "I Am" in Exodus 3:14 and as "I will be (with you)" in Exodus 3:12.
    In John 8:58 and Matthew 28:20, the Greek words are: "Ego Eimi", pronounced in modern Greek as e-go ay-mee Play. That word "Ego" became a silent "g" sound in many of the modern Romance languages, becoming "io" in Italian, "I" in England, "yo" in Spain, "eu" in Portugal, "ic/ich" in German, "ij" in Dutch, and the more explosive "Je" in French.


  3. And next the Aramaic and Greek influence silenced the sound of that capital "I" in the classical Latin spoken in Rome, perhaps around the time that Constantine established Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) as his capital city in 330 AD. Note Constantine although Latin speaking was born an easterner. His family came from that area, a country anciently known as Macedonia. Then with St. Patrick's gospel to Ireland, it became in Gaelic Íosa, pronounced "Eesa" then "Yosa" in Scotland Play
    But elsewhere, Roman Tuscany (whose language became modern Italian), Roman Gaul (which became French), Roman Britain (which became ***English), and Roman Spain (which became Spanish and Portuguese), they continued to pronounce it with a variation on the "Zzh" sound in Iesus and in later Italian as Gesu (having a soft "G") meaning "Jehovah" (Ancient Latin-"JOVE" Modern Italian-"Geova") and "Saviour".
    *** An alternative word "Hælend" — "Healer" was employed in the Wessex Gospels, written in Old Saxon / Old English.
    And then, with the invention of the printing press, they created a new letter "J" in the early 1600s.

Interestingly, the change of the sixth Hebrew letter "vav" Play from its harder "F" / "V"-like sound/shape and a second, softer "U" / "W"-like sound/shape occurred in Greek and Latin, then spread worldwide.

The Greeks used that double-stroke "Y" letter early in their numerals, calling it a "Digamma" ("Double three") i.e. Gamma Γ Digamma Ϝ, before introducing its upper shape in their alphabet as a rounded letter "U", a variation on "Y", later calling it "ewp-silon", or "Simple U".
Instead of its dentilabial "F"-sound, they introduced a bilabial "Ph" letter Φ (where the teeth don't show), calling it a "Phi" (pronounced today as "phee", and in the US as "phai"). Classical Greeks and Romans are thought to have used the sound of an aspirated P, somewhat like the "ph" in uphill, forming the "ph" digraph used in Latin, French and English.

In Latin, and the later alphabets the sixth character "F" was then used for their own words.

The Romans printed the rounded "U" character using a "V" shape, similar to their numeral for "5" ("qvinqve"), pronouncing it with a "w" sound. After 800 AD the Germans introduced VV into words which they now called a "vee" — in Italian a "doppio vee", in French a "doo-bla-vay", but in English and American a "double-you"

By 1300 the Greek "U" and the Roman "V" were two distinct characters with the "V" character in Italy known as a "voo", in many places a "vee", and in German a "fow" (as seen in their spelling of "Vater" for Father, pronounced as "Faa-der".

Latin had discouraged use of the Greek letter "Y", it was a foreign letter — the Greek "ee", or in German Ypsilon ("Simple ee"). In English it was pronounced "wee", becoming "why".

The Greek letters x and t

Sent: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 2:10 PM
Subject: Chatting about X and also the shape of the cross

The letter "X" started life as the sound "K" in Greek and Latin, transitioning into the sound "KS".
So in Greek, the K sound highlights the word "Xristos", the anointed one, that word used by Peter in Hebrew, "Ha-Mashiach", The Messiah.
Referenced in Daniel 9:25-26, first referenced as Jacob's anointed pillar in Bethel in Genesis 28:11-19, and then alluded to by Jesus in John 1:51

Hi all

Chatting briefly about the shape of the cross that killed Jesus, apparently it was the Jehovah Witnesses and a hyperdispensationalist chap called E. W. Bullinger who gained a lot of notoriety in 1877 (and also since) by insisting that it was on a crux simplex (a single stake) that the Lord was crucified, and that it had been Constantine who confused the issue by saying it was a "t" shape i.e. what was called a crux immissa.

Interesting theory, except there's been a lot of literature discovered, written long before Constantine was born, indicating it was on a "t" shape, a Tau, pronounced "T" (in Hebrew the Mark of life see Ezekiel 9:4-6). Early records like the Epistle of Barnabas associated that "t" shape, not only with Jesus on the cross, but also with Moses when, somewhat tiredly, but having help from Aaron and Hur, he continued to stretch out his arms as the Israelites battled the Amalekites. Exodus 17:12.

And from a "strength transferral" point of view, what was death to the Lord, was the means of life to all of us who receive him

So while the Greek New Testament word was a stauros, a stake, or a pole, and used from ancient times for execution, the Romans were most cruel in their massive use of their own word crux in many shapes to deter rebellion, to give criminals torture and death through strangulation, inventing this Latin word that is used worldwide to mean a "Cross", an "X", a crossing point, a crux, a crunch point, becoming cross, becoming heated up, the great unknown.

Pictures of our inability, and God's ability, Hallelujah .

Article extract from Wikipedia: Crucifixion#Cross_shape

For those interested, here's another link to some of that early literature.

Blessings all Steve

Stephen Williamson Computing Services Pty Ltd


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