Below Is the Permission to Publish This Essay
I am attaching a short article on the Jesus=Zeus myth. I happen to be Greek and the whole idea sounds like a very bad joke because, as I try to point out, there is absolutely no relation between the two names in the Greek language, only in English. Feel free to publish it on your website if you want, I leave it up to you.
The Jesus Zeus Myth
One of the common accusations against the name Jesus in the Sacred Name movement is that the Greek form Ιησους (pronounced Iesus), from which the English “Jesus” ultimately derives, is a Greek corruption that aims to invoke Zeus. The main argument in support of this assertion is the similarity in sound between the last syllable of the English form “Je-sus” and the sound of the name Zeus. The theory is propounded in a number of Sacred Name publications including the dictionary at the end of The Scriptures, a “restored” version of the Bible published by the so-called Institute for Scripture Research, and Lew White’s “best-seller” Fossilized Customs.
I quote from Fossilized Customs p. 18 where Lew White, in apparent approval, quotes from a book called Dictionary of Christian Lore and Legend by J. C. J. Metford:
“It is known that the Greek name endings of sus, seus, and sous, (which are phonetic pronunciations for Zeus) were attached by the Greeks to names and geographical areas as a means to give honor to their supreme deity, Zeus. Examples are Parnassus , a sacred mountain in Greece ; the Greek deity of wine and son of Zeus, Dionysus; the Greek hero of the Trojan War was Odysseus… There are plenty of other Greek words that end with ‘sus, like the city of Tarsus (meaning ‘sweat of Zeus’), and Pegasus.”
The above quote also appears in the book The Scriptures, a “restored” version of the Bible published by the so-called Institute for Scripture Research.
Before we look a little closer to the above claims, first let us see how the name Zeus is pronounced in Greek, for, after all, it is the Greeks who are supposed to have messed the whole thing up. In English Zeus is pronounced as "züs" because the -eu takes the sound of a -u or the sound of the -oo as in "zoo".
In Greek, however, the name Zeus is written Ζευς and is pronounced as “Zefs” (with a strong e and a strong f sound) as follows:
Ζ sounds like the -z in Zebra
ε sounds like the -e in there
υ sounds like the -f in fly
ς sounds like the -s in sauce
Now, I can hear you thinking, how in the world could the letter “u” sound like an “f”. It is very simple. In Greek when the letter “u” follows the letter “e” or the letter “a” it sounds either as an “f” or as a “v” (unless two dots are placed over it like this: ϋ). This eu or au combination is called a diphthong and is one of the simplest rules of pronunciation in the Greek language. Every Greek knows it.
Furthermore, while the letter –s in English can sound almost like a –z as is the case with the first –s in the word Jesus, in Greek the –s/V always has a soft pronunciation clearly distinguishable from the –z sound. Again, this is a very simple rule of Greek pronunciation that every Greek is aware of.
If you put the above two pieces of info together it becomes evident that in the Greek language ZeuV and IhsouV do not sound alike at all!
Ζευς has a strong –z sound; a strong –e sound; and a clear –f sound; all of which are lacking in IhsouV.
Ιησους has a soft –s sound; and a –u sound (ou in Greek corresponds to the English -u and is pronounced like the –oo in zoo); both of which are lacking in Ζευς.
In fact, the only similarity of sound between the two words in Greek is the final –s sound, which happens to be the most common ending in the Greek language!
Now, a word about the final –s and the quotation I gave above from the book Fossilized Customs. Is it true that the Greeks added a sus, seus or sous ending to names to make them sound like Zeus? The answer is a resounding NO. The person who wrote this (and those who quote him) obviously knows extremely little about the Greek language.
First of all, some of the names he cites like Parnassus and Tarsus are not even Greek. Every self-respecting Greek linguist knows that place names and words in Greek ending in –ssus like Parnassus, are actually pre-Greek, i.e. they were in use before the Greeks arrived and before Zeus came to the scene!
Second, Parnassus, Tarsus, Odysseus, Pegasus and the other words he cites as examples of Zeus-like endings, in Greek do not end in –sus, –s eus or –sous.
- Parnassus in Greek is spelled and pronounced as Parnassos.
- Tarsus is spelled and pronounced as Tharsos.
- Odysseus is spelled and pronounced as Odysseas.
- Pegasus is spelled and pronounced as Pegasos.
It is evident that none of these, or any of the others he mentions sound like, or parallel the pronunciation Zefs, which we saw above is the way the Greeks pronounced Zeus.
Finally, it is worth noting that any suggestion the final –s in the word Jesus was added to make the name sound more like the name Zeus is a blatant lie. The letter –s is simply the most common ending not only of masculine names but also of masculine nouns in general, and also of adjectives and pronouns. Its purpose is not to remind people of Zeus but simply to facilitate declension.
We have seen above that in the Greek language there is no similarity of sound or spelling between Zeus and Jesus. Anybody who knows even a little Greek knows this. The question therefore that arises is this: if there is no similarity in Greek between Zeus and Jesus, why does why does J. Metford, Lew White, the Institute for Scripture Research and many Sacred Name teachers make this association? Why does this myth persists among Sacred Name groups?
There are two options. Either these people know that the association is not valid but prefer to use it since it suits their purposes, in which case they are blatantly lying; or, they know next to nothing about the Greek language. I would like to think that Sacred Name people are honest enough not to lie. Which leaves only the second option – namely that they know next to nothing about the Greek language.
This ignorance on their part is not excusable. When they say that the name Jesus is related to Zeus, it is a very serious accusation. They should do some SERIOUS research before they make such a claim. I mean, would anyone accuse his neighbour of stealing one million dollars if he did not have some hard evidence to back the accusation? If we don’t dare accuse and condemn fellow humans without tangible evidence, how can they make such claims about the name of the Saviour without first doing some basic research?
The fact that the so-called Institute for Scripture Research also regurgitates this myth makes a farce of the claim that they are a Research Institute. I mean, what kind of research did they do on this issue? Did they even bother to ask a Greek about it? Did they check to see the Greek pronunciation? Any Greek could have told them how foolish the assertion is. Really, what kind of research did they do before publishing such rubbish?
One of the things I learned since childhood is that truth can stand the test of scrutiny. I invite the good people involved in the Sacred Name movement to study well before publishing such superfluous and foolish accusations because in the end, it is not only their record that they tarnish; they also shoulder responsibility for the poor souls they carry to deception.