James, Name of

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POSTED 14 DECEMBER, 2006

Why do you call the brother of Yeshua, “James,” when his name was clearly Ya’akov or “Jacob”?

The given name of the half-brother of Yeshua, most commonly referred to as James the Just, was actually Ya’akov or “Jacob.” The name Ya’akov, which appears in the Tanach or Old Testament for the Patriarch who was renamed Yisrael or “Israel” by God, was transliterated in the Greek Septuagint as Iakōb. Things get somewhat complicated in the Apostolic Scriptures or New Testament where a derivative form, Iakōbos, is also used. Modern Hebrew New Testaments such as the Salkinson-Ginsburg and UBS 1991 versions render Iakōbos as Ya’akov or “Jacob.” It is likely that Iakōbos was used by the New Testament writers to distinguish those who had this name from the Patriarch Ya’akov or Jacob. However, most English Bibles, rather than rendering Iakōbos as Jacob, render it as James. Some believe that this was done to appease King James I of England who commissioned the translation of the King James Bible, but this is an opinion and not a fact. It is notable that James is an English derivation of Jacob, and it was used to render Iakōbos, to differentiate it from Iakōb.

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