Many of the originally Barbarian names in history were Christianized. Many Christian saints with Slavic/Germanic names were given similar-sounding Greek and Latin names. In this way "Kuzma" (blacksmith) became "Cosmas", "Mariam" became "Maria", a feminine form of the old Roman name Marius.

Was there a Greek or Roman name Jesus so that "Yehoshuah" was named Jesus in translation?

I found that *h₁esus meant "good" in PIE.

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    Just to point out, Yehoshua was the Hebrew name. The Aramaic name was the one used in Jesus' time, and was Yeshua. From there Jesus is a trivial transliteration with a Greek/Latin terminal -s added. Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 6:13
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    Alert: Your folk etymology of Κοσμᾶς is aggressively wrong. The female name Κοσμώ and the male ones Κοσμᾶς, Κοσμίας are attested in ancient texts. They derive from the verb κοσμέω, to order, govern, adorn. The name signifies propriety and quietness, so, for example, the female name was that of a priestess, etc... Christianity adopted it thrice from eponymous canonized individuals. Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 22:06
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    @CosmasZachos this is not a folk etymology, this is a Slavic name
    – Anixx
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 5:38
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    The Greek name Cosmas does not have a Slavic etymology. It entered Slavic languages through the orthodox Christian church. The three pairs of unmercenary twin saints introducing it to the church were Greek-speaking hellenistic middle-easterners. Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 15:22
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    You imply that it was used as a first name before the introduction of christianity, regardless of profession?? Hard to fathom. I hope you are not making unwarranted conjectures just because two words sound the same! Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 22:13

2 Answers 2


"Iesous" isn't a Greek-sounding name, and I can't imagine how there could be any influence from Latin. The name "Iesous" doesn't occur in Greek literature outside of Jewish and Christian contexts (first in the Septuagint, second century BC). According to the Wikipedia article on the name Yeshua, Jesus may have gone by Yeshua or even Yeshu. So the difference from the Greek form is not necessarily that great. Greek did not have the sound "sh" and seems to have borrowed foreign names that had this sound using "s". For instance, Samouel, from Hebrew Shmu'el and perhaps Kuros from Persian Kurush. (I expect there are many further examples, but these are all that come to me at the moment.)

  • To be honest, a Greek descendant of PIE *h₁esus is ēǘs. It means "good, noble". There is also a Proto-Celtic word *wesus, meaning the same.
    – Anixx
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 20:54
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    @Anixx "To be honest" (why even say that? would you otherwise lie?) that has absolutely nothing to do with iesous.
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 22:14

Your precise question was whether there was a Greek or Latin name spelt “Jesus” or similarly before the advent of Christianity. The answer is yes. The Hebrew name Yəhošuăʻ (Joshua) is spelt Ἰησοῦς in the Septuagint (the pre-Christian Jewish translation of the Old Testament).

  • Is this Greek or Latin name?
    – Anixx
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 1:20
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    It is etymologically a Hebrew name, but Ἰησοῦς is used by Greek-speaking Christians, and Jesus by Latin-speaking Christians, to refer to Jesus of Nazareth, among others.
    – fdb
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 10:38
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    Also, the 'J' comes from the spelling in German where it made a 'Y' sound. The Latin spelling was 'Iesous' as you'll find in Indiana Jones. :-)
    – sventechie
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 1:12
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    Well, not actually. The Latin spelling is IESVS or jesus. I and j are different forms of the same letter.
    – fdb
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 9:52

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