It hit me like a ton bricks the other day when I was looking at the Greek word for the Messiah, "Ιησος", consisting of the letters iota, eta, sigma, omicron, and (final) sigma, and had an epiphany as to its pronunciation. I could see, without even speaking Greek, that it should be pronounced "Yesous" (with soft "s" in both instances). It immediately hit me that this word,"Ιησος", which so many say is pronounced "I-ey-Zeus" is not that at all - rather, it is the Greek phonetic transliteration of the the Hebrew/Aramaic "ישוע" (read right to left, yod, shin, vav, ayin, pronounced "Yeshua", sometimes written as "Y'shua".) "Ιησος" is the Greek phonetic equivalent of "Yeshua"!
I was recognizing that the Greek iota, "Ι", carried a "Y" sound. So I looked it up and found that I was right! Then next letter, eta, "η", carries an "e" sound, and right away I saw that the first two letters of ישוע had been phonetically translated into Greek as iota, eta!
The translators were not translating Y'shua's name into Greek! No! They were trying to phonetically pronounce it with Greek letters which sounded the same! This is exactly as we do with Hebrew/Aramaic words today when we are trying to sound-out a Hebrew/Aramaic word in English!
I continued looking at the letters of the Greek and soon found a one-to-one correspondence with the original ישוע. They had no letter for the "sh" sound of the shin, so it became a sigma with an "s" sound. The sigma-omicron ("so") is a diphthong which results in the "oo" sound of "Yesh-oo-a". The final sigma, though it is an "s" sound, is there for another reason. More about that in a moment.
My epiphany is that the Greek translators did not have a Greek word for "ישוע", so they spelled it in Greek how it sounded! This epiphany blows out of the water the idea that "Jesus" came from the Greek word for the Messiah, or that it is somehow tied to the Roman god "Zeus"! "Jesus" is simply a poor translation of the Greek "Ιησος" into English! That's all! (The "J", found in neither Hebrew/Aramaic nor Greek, came about over a much later time span as the letter "I" eventually became "I/J" and eventually the "J" became its own letter.)
Throughout the medieval period, the forms of the modern "i" and "j" were used interchangeably, and both forms represented the same letter. But the sound of the "J" in English today would have been a "Y" sound in early ages. "Jesus" is a poor translation because it is clear the Greek translators were simply trying to spell, phonetically the Messiah's name. What should have happened is this:
The Hebrew "ישוע" became the Greek "Ιησος" and the English translators of the Greek should have gone from Greek "Ιησος" to English "Yeshua" - if they had recognized that "Ιησος" was not a "word" but was a pronunciation. If only they had done that, the whole English-speaking world today would be calling the Messiah by His name! Yeshua!
Some say this is not important. They say, "what matters is that you know whom you are talking about when you say His name." Well, I think it matters a great deal. "Jesus" is not His name! Period. "Yeshua" is the Messiah's name! At least when you correctly pronounce the Greek "Ιησος", you say "Yesou" (with a soft "s") and you have actually said "Yeshua" as best you could in your Greek tongue. (You actually would say "Yesou" and not "Yesous" because the only reason for that final sigma, "ς" in print is because in the Greek language, the noun changes spelling to indicate case, number, and gender while in English, the spelling of the noun is not changed, rather, it is the word order in English which conveys case, number, and gender. In other words, the final sigma, "ς", is not actually a part of the name of the Messiah in Greek. "Ιησος" is in the nominative case (“Yeshua”); Iesou is in the genitive case (“of Yeshua”), and so on.)
Just look how awful is the pronunciation of "Yeshua" as "Jesus"! The soft "Y" sound is changed to the harsh "J" sound, the short "e" sound" is changed to a hard "e", that is, from the e in "hey" to the e in "heat". The soft "sh" sound becomes a hard "z" sound. And the final "ah" sound becomes "us"! If you lived in the time Yeshua walked the earth and saw Him and said "Pleased to meet you, Jesus", He would have had no idea whom you were addressing! "Jesus" simply is not "Yeshua"!
Let me give you an idea of how awful the mistranslated Name is. I grew up Methodist. I was 46 before I ever heard the word "Yeshua" as the Messiah! All I ever knew was "Jesus". Jesus loved me and forgave me. I had to do nothing. I never knew the Messiah Yeshua who actually said he'd spit me out of His mouth and lose my eternal life if I did not know Him and obey the Father. (John 17:3; Revelation 3:15-16).
I use "Yeshua" now that I know it is His name. I will use "Jesus" when I need to since, like me, the person I am addressing may have never heard the Messiah's actual name, but I will not say it is okay to pray to "Jesus" or to ask for forgiveness from "Jesus". The Messiah's name is ישוע and a good, phonetic transliteration of it is "Yeshua". By saying and writing "Yeshua" (or "Y'shua"), I know I am talking about THE Messiah who came to give me life for nothing more than my living in His Father's Torah.