Header Image: Public Domain
Jesus means Hail Zeus is false
A meme doing the rounds on the internet

You may not have come across the image above before, or the similar variants of it, but it pops up on social media groups every so often. The underlying argument is quite ridiculous, but there does seem to be a sub-culture with Christianity which promotes this as fact quite vigorously. Having seen this get shared at least three times on Facebook in the last month, I decided to add a new category to the blog: Apologetics.

 

In here will be articles for defence of the faith, though sadly this particular one needs to be against those who are already meant to be a part of the same faith! But many people seem to accept these memes as truth without any further research, so here’s my quick apologetic against Jesus being some pagan deity name for “Zeus”.

Jesus doesn't mean hail Zeus
No, Jesus doesn't mean "hail Zeus"
Advertisement

The whole argument hinges on the sound of the suffix “sus” being similar to “Zeus” and is apparently also the Latin word for the Greek god’s name, and the “Je” meaning “Hail”, therefore Jesus means “Hail-Zeus”. The whole 'argument' shows a total lack of even very basic knowledge in ancient languages which can be found from multiple sources online. See the image to the right for a breakdown of the Greek words for "hail" and "Zeus". 

Another, similarly blasphemous argument, goes further to say that “Je-Sus” is a compound word, and that it means “Earth Pig” because in Latin, “sus” means “pig” or “swine” and the “Je-” means earth in Greek. Whilst the Latin part is technically correct the whole argument is wrong. For a start, “Earth” in Greek is γῆ (Ge) – there is no “J” letter, and the Greek letter gamma doesn't transliterate into a "J" either.

Secondly, “Jesus” isn’t a compound word (two separate words to make one single word). It comes from a single Greek word Ιησούς. And lastly, you can’t prefix a Latin word with ancient Greek word and say it has some sensible meaning! It’s two different languages which don’t mix like that!

 

Advertisement

But I digress. Back to the other “Hail Zeus” argument.

 

Claim 1: "PegaSUS means Horse of Zeus"

The first point is total nonsense, which doesn't bode well for the the rest. If you have to invent "facts" to prove your point, you've already lost the argument.
A quick internet search reveals the lies in this meme.

"The poet Hesiod presents a folk etymology of the name Pegasus as derived from πηγή pēgē "spring, well": "the pegai of Okeanos, where he was born."

A proposed etymology of the name is Luwian pihassas, meaning "lightning", and Pihassassi, a local Luwian-Hittite name in southern Cilicia of a weather god represented with thunder and lightning. The proponents of this etymology adduce Pegasus' role, reported as early as Hesiod, as bringer of thunderbolts to Zeus. It was first suggested in 1952 and remains widely accepted, but Robin Lane Fox (2009) has criticized it as implausible."
Pegasus Etymology

Advertisement

You can read plenty more about Pegasus, his origins in the mythology and how he got the name, herehere and here.

But let's keep going. If this meme is true, then some basic research should show it quite quickly.

Claim 2: "DionySUS means Wine of Zeus"

One thing is partially true: Dionysus' name does have a connection to Zeus. Except it's not as the image suggests.

See here:

"Behind the Name: Meaning, origin and history of the name Dionysos. From Greek Διος (Dios) meaning "of ZEUS" combined with NYSA, the name of the region where young Dionysos was said to have been raised"

Behind the Name


The "DIOS-" part is the only aspect related to the name Zeus!

The dio- element has been associated since antiquity with Zeus … The cult of Dionysus was closely associated with trees … the original meaning [is suggested] as "he who runs among the trees", or that of a "runner in the woods".”

Dionysus Etymology

 

Claim 3: "EpheSUS means Daughter of Zeus"

Ephesus seems to be harder to pin down on an exact etymology, as the name is potentially older than the Greek name. 

One suggestion is that it is "Probably from ἐπήορος (epḗoros, “overseer”)" or that is has formed through the Latinised form of the Greek Ephesos which was “Greek city in ancient Asia Minor, center of worship for Artemis”

Advertisement

Another suggestion is this:

Some have suggested that the name Ephesus may have had something to do with the Latin word apis, meaning bee, but although the bee was a dominant symbol of Ephesus and appeared on many of its coins, this etymology is commonly rejected. More attractive, and now generally accepted among scholars, is the hypothesis that the name Ephesus formed from the Hittite name Apasa, which belonged to the capital of an ancient federation called Arzawa, located in western Anatolia.

The name Apasa and thus Ephesus would thus literally mean Later Place

abarim-publications.com


So you see, there isn't even a REMOTE connection to Zeus in this one!

Advertisement

 

Which leads us to Jesus.

 

"JeSUS means what?"

Jesus, whose very name, when you know the truth of its etymology, will reveal that that it explains its meaning perfectly as praise to the MOST HIGH GOD (and not anything to do with Zeus).

Jesus: personal name of the Christian Savior, late 12c.; it is the Greek form of Joshua, used variously in translations of the Bible. From Late Latin Iesus (properly pronounced as three syllables), from Greek Iesous, which is an attempt to render into Greek the Aramaic proper name Jeshua (Hebrew Yeshua, Yoshua) "Jah is salvation." This was a common Jewish personal name during the Hellenizing period; it is the later form of Hebrew Yehoshua (see Joshua).
etymonline.com

 

If all of that sounds confusing, then see this image below which will hopefully visualise the transition of language a little better:

Etymology of the name Jesus
Etymology of the name Jesus

To put it simply, “The name Jesus is the Greek transliteration of either the name יהושע (Joshua) or its shortened form (ישוע) Jeshua … The name Jesus means Yah Will Save. The name Joshua is the Hebrew form of the Greek name Jesus, and most probably the name by which Jesus was known by His contemporaries.”

Advertisement

If you want to read further into the etymology of the English name “Jesus”, Carm has done a good article too, or for the more academically minded, there’s this 17 page linguistic Semitic essay by Avram Yehoshua, YAHSHUA, JESUS OR YESHUA? which goes into far more depth than I can cover here. Additionally, see the end of this article for all the various references on each point.

 

Hopefully this will help clear out the misinformation which gets thrown around the internet on social media, and be a good resource if you ever find yourself in a debate about this Jesus/Zeus nonsense.

 


Advertisement

 

Further Reading

Contribute on Patreon

Enjoying this? Consider contributing regular gifts for this content on Patreon.
* Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator's community and pay them for making the stuff you love. You can simply pay a few pounds per month or per post that a creator makes, and in return receive some perks!

Subscribe to Updates
Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 1.2K times   Liked 1 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to Blog updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS

‹ Return to Blog

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

How many apostles are there in the New Testament?

| 22nd May 2018 | Gifts of the Spirit

Often in any discussion on the gifts of the Spirit and whether they are still active today (Cessationism vs Continuationism), the topic of Apostles comes up and whether the gift/office is still active today in the Church. Detractors of the Continuationist position will often quip that ‘if there were modern-day apostles, they would be world famous!’ – though I’m not sure why. Even the original Twelve weren’t “world famous” in the sense that they mean. But I digress. This isn't a question of practice, or opinion, but to examine the Scriptures to see what they say about the gift. Scripture gives us an indication that this gift, or role, wasn’t just for the original Twelve, and it also says how long we should expect the gifts (all of them) to be in operation within the Church. Paul writes about this to the Ephesus church in his letter: Ephesians 4:11-13 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. (emphasis mine) This is sometimes called the “Five Fold Ministry”. Compare this with 1 Cor 13:8-12, which parallels this thought using sightly different words about coming to maturity and being fully grown, and of seeing Jesus “face to face”. To put it simply, these gifts don’t end until we meet Jesus face to face, either in death or at The Resurrection, which makes complete sense if these five major roles are to “to equip the saints” and for “building up the body of Christ”. So if these five gifts are for the continued benefit of the whole Church body, then it makes sense that we should see others who possess them, and the apostolic gift is often the most controversial one (along with prophet). So let's see how many apostles there were in the pages of the New Testament: Acts 1:13 When they arrived, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. Acts 1:26 Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias. So he was numbered with the 11 apostles.   That's 12 so far. Romans 1:1 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God’s good news   Now we have 13. Some contend that Paul was the true replacement for Judas, but even if he was (which I don’t believe) and there were no more than twelve apostles, then we wouldn’t see any others – but we do. So let's continue counting: James, the half brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem church—Galatians 1:19 Barnabas – Acts 14:14 Apollos – 1 Corinthians 4:6-9 ("...us apostles..." v.9) Timothy and Silvanus – 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:7 Epaphroditus – Philippians 2:25.  While some Bibles translate the word as “messenger”, the Greek word apostolon is actually “apostle” (as in other places – see endnote). Two unnamed apostles – 2 Corinthians 8:23 Again, this is translating apostolon as "messenger" rather than “apostle”. This should make around 21 apostles now, including the Twelve and Paul. (22 if you count Judas as an original apostle before his betrayal). There are then potentially two more in Romans 16:7, Andronicus and Junias, who are called "prominent among the apostles". Scholars debate the meaning of the phrase here as whether that means they were "prominent apostles" or that the apostles considered them "prominent" in their work. If we include them, it makes the count 23 so far. And if we include Jesus, "the apostle and high priest of our confession" (Hebrews 3:1), then we have 24 apostles mentioned throughout the NT (or 25 if we include Judas in the count). Now, obviously the initial Twelve were special i...

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

| 01st April 2018 | Easter

Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! What a wonderful day to remember and praise, but not just because Jesus was raised to new life, but because in that moment it sealed the promise of our own hope in God. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, we can now be partakers in that new, eternal life! 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” "Where, O death, is your sting?" Paul writes, showing the fulfillment of this prophecy in Christ. This should now be our battle cry as we go forward in Christian life; death has no hold over us who are sealed by the Holy Spirit through baptism, raised to new life in Christ. I won't go into this topic too much now, as I've written on it plenty before here and here. I just wanted to focus our minds on the victory we have because of Jesus and what he did for us this day, centuries ago. I'll close with this worship song which celebrates the resurrection, which I really like. Focus on the words of the song and praise God for Jesus! Happy Easter, everyone. ...

How was Jesus a sacrifice?

| 25th March 2018 | Lent

So often we hear this phrase said about Jesus, that he was “the lamb of God” and that he “takes away the sins of the world” — but what do those things mean and how did he take away sin? John 1:29The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (cf. Jn 1:36) The New Testament writers repeatedly refer to Jesus as a lamb; but not only that — as a ransom too. Jesus even introduces himself that way at one point: Mark 10:45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. (cf. Matthew 20:28) To better understand the terminology and analogy we need to go back to the Torah, the Old Testament, and look at this from a Jewish perspective and what the sacrificial lamb initially meant. The main comparison that is drawn between Jesus and the old sacrifices, is that of the Passover lamb. The link between the two is really quite amazing and to be honest, I didn't realise just how much of this Jesus fulfilled in himself until I was writing this. First we need to go back to the very first Passover to see what it meant for Israel. The whole story can be found in Exodus 12, but the relevant parts to the lamb are about how it should look and be prepared, and the reason for the blood covering: Exodus 12:5-7, 13 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. […] The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. The instructions about the Passover meal also go on to say that no bones of the lamb may be broken (v. 46) and that nothing must be left overnight (v. 10). Already I’m sure you can see some of the parallels with Jesus and other prophecies and Scripture concerning him in these ways, primarily in the Psalms, and specifically John 19:33; Numbers 9:12 and Psalm 34:20 concerning his bones not being broken. But it doesn’t end there — even the day that Jesus was crucified aligned with the Passover sacrifice of the 14th of Nisan (by our calendar, April), and later died that evening. The Jews asked Pilate to let them take the bodies down that same day (which was unusual, but done because of the Sabbath), so that meant that Jesus wasn’t left overnight, thus fulfilling the obligations of the Passover ritual! The apostles obviously recognised these parallels, as they refer to them in their epistles — see 1 Peter 1:18-20, 1 Corinthians 5:7 and basically all of Revelation. But how does this help us in our sins? The Passover wasn’t a sin offering, yet somehow the death of Jesus in this way saves us from our sins. To better understand this, and to grasp why in various places Jesus is called our “ransom”, we need to go back to the reason for the original Passover, not the ritual. Passover was what God did when he delivered his people from the slavery of the Egyptians. The blood of the lamb was the symbol that they belonged to God, and so escaped death. Originally the paschal lamb was about Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and slavery, now Jesus is the greater lamb who rescues us from slavery and bondage to sin by his blood. The blood on the doorposts covered the Israelites from the angel of death, and now by Christ's blood that covers us, we are saved from eternal death (Hebrews 9:11- 14)! Paul covers this topic of sin as our master which we are slaves to quite often (Romans 6:16-18), and how through Jesus we have been set free by being baptised into his death, so that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ (Romans 6:4-6). Romans 6:11 So you also mus...

What did Jesus actually sacrifice?

| 18th March 2018 | Lent

Sometimes the question, or accusation/criticism maybe, is posed by atheists and critics of Christianity that Jesus didn’t really sacrifice anything because he is God and also because he got his life back three days later. So where’s the sacrifice if you know that what you give up will be given back, and given back even better than you previously had it? It’s an interesting question, and one that should cause us to stop and think about what we, as Christians, say to non-believers in case the question is ever given to us. Most people will say Jesus  gave up his life for us – but is that such a big deal if he knew he’d have it back in three days; and then to be taken up to heaven and resume his Godly-divine status he had before the incarnation? Well, yes. Obviously all the pain and suffering that Jesus had to endure before his death was a big deal, and it showed, as we can see from the Gospels when Jesus says to his disciples that he is “deeply grieved, even to death” (Matt 26:38). Luke 22:42-44‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. We can see from the quote above that Jesus really wasn’t looking forward to this, despite knowing its purpose. He even needed an angel to come to physically come to him to give him the strength to go on with this plan! Suggesting that this was a walk in the park for Jesus and making light of what he was about to go through is just ignorance of the reality of the situation. There’s also a significant detail in the Luke passage above which gives us a medical insight into what Jesus was going through in these moments: the sweat of blood. This is actually a rare condition known as Hematidrosis, and in certain conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress and/or mental anxiety, the blood vessels that feed the sweat glands break and result in actual blood seeping through. This in itself shows just how much stress Jesus was under in the lead up to his execution to cause such a thing to happen. Modern day research also shows that this condition still manifests in people awaiting execution today. So even if you knew that you would be resurrected in a few days time, I am sure that you wouldn’t really want to go through a Roman flogging and crucifixion –  some of the most brutal ways to be tortured and executed in human history! There’s lots of atheist memes on the internet making digs at this idea of what it means that Jesus sacrificed himself. “Jesus came back to life, so he basically sacrificed his weekend for you”, or similar types of jabs, totally missing the point. Typical atheist meme So what did Jesus sacrifice if he only lost his life temporarily? Everything about his pre-incarnate self. Where once a spirit, now a glorified body. Where once only divine, now fully God and fully man. The incarnation had eternal consequences for the Godhead. Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t just about dying, it was about taking on our humanity eternally. The eternal God now united forever with humanity. Jesus wasn’t only the “visible image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) whilst on earth, no; he is forever that now. Like John says in his opening chapter about the coming of the Word into our world: he became flesh (John 1:14) and has stayed that way. This is the “mystery of godliness” (as some translations have it) that Paul talks about in 1 Tim 3:16, where he states that Jesus was “revealed” or “manifested in flesh” and later taken up in glory. Look at when Jesus was taken up into heaven in Acts 1:11, the angels say to the disciples watching that they will see Jesus “come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” – ie., bodily. But we know from the accounts in the Gospels that Jesus’ body was no lon...