Why Joshua As The Divine Name?
We only use Joshua as the divine name. We do this in our Testimony family of texts and in our daily devotionals. We are often asked why. There are several parts to the problem and a little history. Read on to understand our thinking.
In the New Testament, the Greek based Divine name is Jesus. This is a Greek form of the name Joshua, as in Joshua son of Nun. In regular Bible understanding this is just a New Testament name.
Of course the birth narrative calls him out as Immanuel or God With Us. So to many this birth account supports the idea that this is the Divine name.
Most translations of the Bible use variations on the world 'Lord' across places in the Old Testament where a different divine name is used. This Lord convention covers over a multitude of textual and historical problems. Titles like 'Lord Jesus' thus make some sense. But it leaves many problems.
Aramaic New Testament
The problem gets strange when we compare Greek and Aramaic. In general we believe the Aramaic NT to be closer to the inspired form. Aramaic is the base line for our manuscript recovery work. It was the common spoken language of most of the people we read about in the New Testament.
The Church Of the East even goes so far as to claim Aramaic Primacy. Support evidence to their claim includes a scribal tradition unmatched in the Greek speaking world. They were maintaining Aramaic manuscripts until war stopped the work around the year 1800. A similar tradition was matched by Jews and the Hebrew Old Testament.
Both groups were doing what would be expected if they believed they had the inspired text. The Greek world never had a similar tradition especially early, because they likely knew they were not holding an inspired text.
When we use Aramaic for the New Testament, we find the same spelling for Jesus as is used for Joshua son of Nun. Which is why we ultimately choose that name. If we are to keep names matched from original texts and English we either must use Joshua in the New Testament, or put Jesus into the Old Testament. So it would become Jesus as Moses' young aide.
If we do not do this, then we are not being faithful to what the text says. There is only 1 name in both of these places.
This observation, and the need to keep English as close as possible on a word-for-word basis to Aramaic, is why we first started using the name Joshua instead of Jesus in the New Testament.
It helps this discussion, if even a little, to understand a little about the Greek language. Generally speaking, word order is not significant in Greek. Word endings carry more meaning than we are familiar with in English.
The tail of the name Jesus, that final 's' is added because of the needs of Greek. It is not needed, and does not exist, in the Aramaic.
Once you see that final 's' as needed by Greek grammar, then the name Jesus and Joshua start to converge. J is the same and the s/sh pair is a well known sound system change going back to the time of the Book of Judges.
So in our Bible Research Bible, which we audit against the Peshitta, the divine name Jesus is rendered as the divine name Joshua. The spellings are the same, and Joshua, in English, is a better transliteration than Jesus. This is still not perfect, but it follows the conventions used for all other biblical names as they are brought into English.
The Old Testament, with a different textual history and a different religion using it, has a different set of problems. These problems existed before the New Testament was written. In Acts 4, for example, the inspired writer explains there was only ever 1 divine name.
By making this key point, the inspired Acts author means that our villainous editors also performed certain key vocabulary word substitutions. Including, but not limited to, the divine name.
English translators seem to know this, and paper over the problem by using various capitalized forms on the word 'lord.' This is deceitful, and a convention we do not follow.
Instead, in the Bible Research Bible only, we use 'Yahvah' as the Old Testament divine name. This maintains a 1 to 1 map from original terms to English.
This is unusual, but no unheard of. We did not invent this term. But, consider dropping vowels from this name, and the remaining letters are a match to the 4 letter divine name in the Hebrew Old Testament.
So this is an unconventional, but accurate, transliteration. Jehovah would be a more conventional transliteration of the same name. Jehovah was used in the 1901 ASV translation, which was not commercially successful because it was unpopular with the Bible purchasing public. Buyers did not want to diverge from their KJV toting friends.
The Aramaic text for the Old Testament usually uses the same spelling of the same names as found in the Hebrew text. This is NOT always the case, and there are some consonant changes. Reuben, in Hebrew, becomes Rebil, in Aramaic, for example.
These sorts of conversions usually leave most of the letters in the name alone, and they follow a few letter conversion rules.
But when we look at the divine name in Hebrew, the Yahvah term, we do not find any name at all in the Aramaic. Instead there is a term that is known to both Aramaic and Hebrew that means 'master.' Indeed, the English term 'master' is similar to this term, and may have come into English from that early term.
This is profound. It indicates an ancient change to the divine name, where 1 side was using a name, and the other side decided instead to use a title.
This is an example of a crime scene investigation which we see all the time. You can game this out in various ways to figure who was the criminal and why.
Our current understanding is there was some other divine name, Joshua, we believe, that was removed by an editor across the entire OT. Ezra, perhaps.
The Hebrew text started with this conversion, and then Aramaic followed later. The Aramaic text is older than Hebrew, and goes back to the prophets fleeing to Aram. It existed in parallel to the Hebrew.
So, we think the Hebrew side, perhaps at Ezra's direction, put in the Yahvah divine name. Then future scribes had to clean up the Aramaic.
The scribes responsible for making the Aramaic textual edits were revolted by the edit. They would not have wanted to put in a false name. So, instead they changed it to a title. At least this way they would have thought they were at east not liars in their work, even if being forced to make the change.
The Hebrew tradition of never pronouncing the divine name also supports our position. If the Yahvah term was NEVER the real divine name, then never speaking it is one way to not blaspheme.
That there were disputes over the Old Testament divine name was not lost on the New Testament writers, either. Think about Acts 4 again.
The writer of Acts 4 points out that here only ever was 1 divine name. This could be taken in several different ways. But let me suggest the point made in Acts 4 was there can only be 1 divine personal name.
We believe the New Testament divine name, Joshua, is the original inspired Old Testament divine name. This is what the Acts 4 writer intended us to understand.
In The Testimony and our other related works, you will find the Old Testament divine name always rendered as 'Joshua.' This following the direction of Acts 4. We use this name throughout Old Testament based material instead of Hebrew's Yahvah, and instead of Aramaic's Master.
The letter based recovery software knows to expect the Joshua term as inspired. We will monitor this point as we work through that problem.
This substitution causes Joshua of the New Testament to be seen visiting Abram in the Old Testament. Joshua, in the New Testament, said he did this in Abraham's day. But, that meeting does not happen in standard Bibles. In our working drafts of The Testimony, this meeting is seen in both places.
This substitution also means Joshua of the New Testament interacted face-to-face with every key prophetic person in the Old Testament. Including Noah, Abram, Moses, Samuel and the other prophets.
We use Joshua as the divine name in all of our writing, and in our regular conversations with him. Throughout this website and most of our related scripture apps we use the divine name Joshua. Do not be surprised. Do not be offended.
Jesus answers prayer to him by the name Joshua should you address him by that name. There was a group of us who went through this name change at the same time, and we all saw it. If you know how to ask him, he will agree.
What we know about Jesus, though, is quite different than what we know about Joshua. This is why he prefers being addressed as Joshua.
Named For Joshua Son Of Nun
There is a detail in the stories dealing with Gabriel's appearances that very much matters to this discussion.
Gabriel comes to announce 2 miraculous births at the start of the New Testament. Those are John, and then following a few months later Joshua.
John is a miracle because of the age of his mother. Joshua is a miracle because his mother has not slept with a man.
There are different responses to the names of these sons. The crowds object to John's name because there is no one in his family with that name. Zechariah, for example, would be an example of someone with the same name. This, of course, being the Old Testament Zechariah.
Both of John's parents overrule the crowds and say that John is his name, even though this name is not in the family. Once both parents agree, the crowd is satisfied.
In the case of Joshua, though, there is no similar objection.
There is a parallel construction between these 2 births. As readers we are supposed to spot the differences and we should be able to figure out who this namesake might be.
The answer is Joshua Son Of Nun. This is a contradiction in stock Bibles but an important clue as to his inspired family line.
You can also riddle out Gabriel, and learn even more, but we are discussing Joshua, not Gabriel here.
The idea that Joshua, son of Mary, is the same god as appeared to Abraham has profound theological implications.
First, the entire text is whole. There is no longer a division in the gods between the OT and NT.
This seriously elevates Joshua in terms of how and when he has personally appeared to people throughout history.
The trinity theology springs in part from the editor's desire to make the new Christian sect into a son of their own older Jewish religion. Their Yahvah term is the personal name of their god. Jesus is a son of that god. This is their implied theology. Christian leaders later create trinity to paper over the textual problems.
This series of historical encounters, where Joshua appeared to others in history, changes what he might do in the future. It means that, theoretically, Joshua could appear now to people too. Not just as a vision, but bodily, with a meal, just like with Abraham.
So when we use Joshua, instead of Jesus, we are drawing on a profoundly different understanding of who, exactly, he is. Because this name corrects problems identified in Acts 4, we are restoring him to his position as God. Not as the son of a false god edited into the text by Babylonians.