What was Jesus’ middle name? No, Jesus does not have a middle or last name; they simply did not exist during Jesus’ time. Only Jesus and sometimes an extra distinguishing name were used. For example, Jesus of Nazareth is also regarded as Jesus the Carpenter and Jesus the Son of Joseph and Mary.10
Christ is not a surname but a title that means “the anointed one,” which is another term for the Messiah. It should be spelled out as “Jesus Christ,” as it is the proper way to phrase it.
First Things First: What Does Jesus Christ Mean?
First, let’s ascertain the meaning and origin of “Jesus Christ” — and it will be a long journey.
The name Jesus is the Anglicized form of the Latin name Iesus. This is derived from the ancient Greek name Ἰησoῦς (Iēsoũs). This, in turn, is a Hellenized form of ancient Palestinian Aramaic יֵשׁוּעַ (yēšūă‘). It is a shorter version of the Hebrew (y’hoshuaʿ), which means “Yahweh is Salvation.”
y’hoshua is the Hebrew form of the name Joshua, the main character of the Old Testament book of the same name.
For this reason, yēšūă‘ was one of the most popular male names given during the first-century CE Judea and Galilee.
Even more, persons who share the same name appear in the New Testament. For example, look at Jesus Barabbas in Mark’s Gospel and Jesus Justus, an apostle.
Is Christ Jesus’ Surname?
Christ is commonly used as Jesus’ surname, although it is an epithet rather than a name.
Christ comes from the Latin term Christus, derived from the Greek word Christós, which meant “anointed one” in ancient Greek. In the New Testament, the word is used as a Greek translation of the Hebrew title māšîaḥ.
The title of māšîaḥ was not reserved for a single individual. It was, rather, a catchall designation for whoever was held in high esteem as God’s anointed. In Isaiah 45:1, for example, the title is given to Cyrus the Great, shah-in-shah of the Achaemenid Empire. This is because of his role in liberating the Jews from Babylonian captivity. Additionally, he allowed them to journey to their homeland in 539 BCE to reestablish their Temple.
Jesus H. Christ — What is Jesus’ Middle Name?
Now that this has been addressed, we can discuss where the term “Jesus H. Christ” most likely originated.
The Chi Rho monogram is recognizable to the majority of Christians. It consists of the overlapped capital variants of the Greek letters chi and rho, the initial two letters of the Greek word Χριστός. It is a creative shorthand that early Christians used to refer to Jesus without writing his entire name.
However, there is a second monogram used to signify Jesus that is less well-known: the IHC monogram.
In contrast to the Chi Rho monogram, which consists of the capital variants of the first two letters of the Greek word, the IHC monogram consists of the first three letters of Ἰησoῦς, which, as you may recall, is the Greek translation of the name Jesus.
In this monogram, the first letter is the Greek iota, which looks like the Latin letter I and sounds like the “I” in machine or the “y” in yellow. The next letter is the Greek eta, which makes a long E sound but looks like the Latin H. The last letter is the lunate sigma, which is the form of the Greek sigma that resembles the Latin C and sounds like the “s” in the word “sun”.
In contrast to the Chi Rho monogram, which consists of the capital forms of the first two letters of the Greek word Χριστός, the IHC monogram consists of the first three letters of Ἰησοῦς, which, as you may recall, is the Greek spelling of the name Jesus.
In this monogram, the first letter is the Greek iota, which looks like the Latin letter I and sounds like the “I” in machine or the “y” in yellow. The next letter is the Greek eta, which makes a long E sound but looks like the Latin H. The last letter is the lunate sigma, which is the form of the Greek sigma that resembles the Latin C and sounds like the “s” in the word “sun.”
These are the first three letters of the Greek name Iesous, as it appears in the ancient New Testament manuscripts written in Greek.
At some point, perhaps in the early 19th century, however, naive Americans who were habituated to the Latin alphabet but unfamiliar with the Greek alphabet misinterpreted the IH monogram’s letters for the Latin letters J, H, and C. They agreed that the J must represent “Jesus” and the C must signify “Christ,” but no one could determine what the H represented. Some people, it would seem, have arbitrarily decided, “I think H has to be his middle initial!” So what really is Jesus’ middle name?
Early Evidence of the Usage of “Jesus H. Christ”
The term “Jesus H. Christ” developed into mild profanity and a source of cheekiness. American novelist Mark Twain noted in his autobiography that the term was already commonplace when he was a young child.
Twain narrates an amusing incident about the time he was an apprentice printer in the 1840s, when the evangelical preacher Alexander Campbell, head of the “Restoration Movement,” asked the printer for some booklets for one of his sermons.
When the printer dropped some words by mistake, it saved time by shortening “Jesus Christ” to “J. C.” rather than redoing three pages worth of text. Reverend Campbell was adamant that the printers not “diminish” the Lord’s name, so he requested that the printer repeat three pages of text that had already been set to include the entire name.
Because he was so irritated by the reverend, the printer reset the text, but rather than writing “Jesus Christ,” he wrote “Jesus H. Christ.” The narrative by Mark Twain is not the first known usage of the term, but it is an early example of its use.
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