John and Jesus in Arabic

Do Arab Christians and Moslems have different names for the same biblical personages?

I remember a Jordanian Moslem from the town where Herod had his palace (the one where the Baptist was beheaded) telling me the name for John was Yohanna.


Checking the account of John the Baptist in an Arabic Bible we find in Matthew 3:1 the name used is يُوحَنَّا Yohanna. Jesus, from Matthew 1:1 is يَسُوعَ Yasua.  While we’re there let’s get from Matthew 1:16 the names of Mary مَرْيَمَ (Mariyam) and Josephيُوسُفَ  (Yousef), parents of Jesus. In the same verse there is also the word for Christ الْمَسِيحَ –Maseeya.

But in Arabic there is more than one Mariyam and more than one Yousef. Aaron, brother of Moses had a sister Miriam the prophetess. In Exodus 15:20 she is called مَرْيَمُ Miriam, same as the mother of Jesus. Joseph يُوسُفَ (Yousef) who was sold into slavery in Egypt (Genesis 39:2), the same as the carpenter Joseph. There is also more than one Jesus, the name Joshua يَشُوعُ (Yashua) (son of Nun and aide to Moses) being cognate (?) with Jesus, but not spelled the same here in Numbers 11:28.  But isn’t s/sh a shiboleth somewhere in the Bible?*


On to the Koran. First, Jesus. Koran 3:45 has the names Jesus عِيسَى (Issa),  Maryيَٰمَرْيَمُ (Mariyam) and Messiah ٱلْمَسِيحُ (messeeya) . A few passages further on (3:39), John the Baptist is called بِيَحْيَىٰ Yahya. Apparently Joseph the carpenter doesn’t rate a mention in the Koran, but Joseph who was sold into slavery to Egypt has his own book of the Koran where he is called يوسف Yousef, or in the fully voweled classical Koran version يُوسُفَ.

And in Spanish (from the same Bible portal as the Arabic):

John the Baptist-Juan el Bautista



Joseph-José (The Egyptian Joseph is also José.)

Joshua (son of Nun, Moses’ aide)=Josué (hijo de Nun, asistente de Moisés)


*Judges 12:5-6:

5 The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the Gileadites asked him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he replied, “No,” 6 they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’ ” If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.

The Hebrew for “messiah” appears to be מָשִׁ֫יחַ transliteration: mashiach, phonetic spelling: (maw-shee’-akh).

One Response to “John and Jesus in Arabic”

  1. Lonni Says:

    God showed, by virture of His own Name, the value placed on personal names. Jesus equals Yeshua equals Savior. Christ equals Christos equals Annointed One which is equivalent to Messiah. Therefore, Jesus Christ is the Annointed Savior.

    “There is no other name …by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

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