Can I name my baby ‘Jesus’?

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Can I name my baby Jesus


“Why is it considered unthinkable to name your child ‘Jesus’ in Western/Northern European cultures when it is common in other cultures and countries?” — a Facebook follower

Neddy:  I am a Latina pastor, so I am very used to having church and family members called Jesus, José, Maria, Pedro, etc. We named our son Francisco, remembering St. Francis of Assisi’s teachings around loving nature.

In the Latino culture, names are a way to honor our children. It is also an ongoing prayer: “Lord, please lead my son/daughter in the ways of (Jesus, Mary, Francis, etc.)." Names are an expression of our culture. We call our Lord Jesus, but that was not his name either. “Jesus” is the English version of something that sounded more like Yeshua, Joshua or Isho. Our God is the God who has no name. Worrying about using the name Jesus, but not Joshua, is really not knowing the history of the name. It also misses the point that if God did not worry about coming to the world in the form of a man, or using a human name, why should we?

What a good question! Names are both personal and communal in many cultures. And cultural traditions play a big role in how children are named. In the Spanish Middle Ages when Spain was under Islamic rule, the custom of naming a son “Jesus” was seen as a Christian protest to all those boys who were named Muhammad. Culturally, then, this custom has persisted even though the reason for its beginning has disappeared. 

I don’t know. But I’m confident it’s more cultural than scriptural or theological. I don’t know of any Bible passage preventing anyone from naming a child “Jesus.” And for that matter, his Aramaic name, Yeshua, can become the Hebrew Joshua or the Greek Jesus; so there are plenty of Westerners who’ve given their sons the same name. They just haven’t realized it!

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