Son of God

The Greek that is translated as “Son of God” in English is translated in Shipibo-Conibo as “God’s Child” and in Garifuna as “God’s offspring.” (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

Nida (1984, p. 113) remarks on this “It was a common expression in Hebrew to say that someone was the ‘Son of…’ something to express that they shared characteristics with that thing etc. Eg ‘Son of peace’ ‘son of thunder.’ Therefore ‘Son of God’ meant that Jesus shared characteristics with God. This wasn’t carried over into Greek and was interpreted more biologically.”

See also Son of Man and Sons of Thunder.

complete verse (1 John 5:6)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 John 5:6:

  • Uma: “Yesus Kristus, he is God’s Child who arrived in the world. Yohanes the Baptizer baptized him with water. His blood flowed when he died crucified. So, it is clear that Yesus is God’s Child, not only from his being baptized, but from his dying too And the Holy Spirit also affirms-the-truth that Yesus is God’s Child, and what the Holy Spirit says is certainly true.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Isa Almasi is God’s Son. We (dual) know that because when he was here in the world he was bathed/baptized with water and his blood flowed when he died. We (dual) know that he is God’s Son because of the water he was bathed/baptized in and the blood that flowed, not just because of the water. And God’s Spirit also witnesses that this is true, for everything that God’s Spirit says is really true.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Jesus Christ is the one whom His Father sent here to the earth. This can be perceived by means of water and blood. This is not perceived only by water which was His baptism, but rather also by means of the blood which was the flowing of His blood at the time He was nailed to the cross. The Holy Spirit is the one who testifies this to us (incl.) for what He says is always true.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When Jesu Cristo came to this earth, there were three-things which confirmed that he was the Child of God. The one, it was his being baptized in/with water. But it wasn’t only his being baptized which confirmed-it but rather his blood as well which flowed-down at his death. As for the third, it was the Holy Spirit, and all that he says is true. These three, what they confirmed regarding Jesu Cristo was the same.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “As for this Jesu-Cristo, he’s the one who came down here to the world. He was baptized in water. His blood was shed (lit.caused-to-drip) at his death. He really didn’t just have himself baptized in water, but rather he also caused his blood to be shed too. And the one who testifies to this is the Espiritu Santo, because wholly truth is what this Espiritu Santo gives-out/reveals.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “This Jesus Christ came here. It was made known that he was the Son of God when he was baptized in the water and when his blood was shed where he died. But not only was he just baptized, rather he was baptized and he was killed. The Holy Spirit himself gives his testimony about who Jesus Christ is and the Holy Spirit speaks all that is true.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “Jesus Christ came to this world, he was baptized, and he shed his blood dying. He did not come and just be baptized, but also he shed his blood and died. And the Spirit of God speaks about him. The Spirit speaks true words.”
  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “Jesus Christ came here to the world. He was baptized with water, he is the same one who spilled out his blood, he died, and not only was he baptized with water, but also he spilled his blood, in that he died. He is Jesus Christ, God’s Chosen-One. This is what God’s Good Spirit tells us, who shows us the truth.”
  • Tzotzil: “It is the Son of God, it is Jesus Christ that came and was baptized here in the world, that came and shed his blood on the cross. It was not only he came and was baptized. He came and shed his blood on the cross also. Thus the Holy Spirit tells us. He tells the truth. The Holy Spirit does not know how to lie.” (Source for this and two above: John Beekman in Notes on Translation 12, November 1964, p. 1ff.)


The Greek Iēsous is “only” a proper name but one with great importance. The following quote by John Ellington (in The Bible Translator 1993, p. 401ff.) illustrates this:

“In Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus Christ, Joseph is told that when Mary gives birth to a son ‘you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’ (1:21). This name is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name [Yeshua (יֵשׁוּעַ) which is a short form of a name meaning] ‘the Lord [Yahweh] saves.’ The name is very significant and is in itself especially dear to Christians around the world. (…) Unquestionably great importance is attached to the name of Jesus by Christians of all persuasions and backgrounds.”

While Iēsous (pronounced: /i.ɛː.suːs/) is transliterated as “Jesus” (pronounced /ˈdʒiːzəs/) in English it is transliterated and pronounced in a large variety of other ways as well, following the different rules of different languages’ orthographies, writing systems and rules of pronunciation. The following is a (very partial) list of forms of Jesus in Latin characters: Chesús, Ciisusu, Gesù, Gesû, Gesü, Ġesù, Giêsu, Hesu, Hesús, Iesu, Ihu, Íosa, Ìosa, Isus, Isus, Isus, Isuthi, Îtu, Jasus, Jeesus, Jeesus, Jehu, Jeso, Jesús, Jésus, Jezi, Jézi, Ježiš, Jezus, Jézus, Jėzus, Jēzus, Jezusi, Jėzus, Jezuz, Jisos, Jisọs, Jisas, Jisu, Sisa, uJesu, ŵaYesu, Xesosi, ´Xesús, Ya:su, Yēēsu, Yeso, Yésʉs, Yexus, Yezo, Yezu, Yiisu, Yiitju, Yisufa, Yusu, Zîsɛ, Zjezus, and this (equally incomplete) list with other writings systems: ᔩᓱᓯ, Յիսուս, ᏥᏌ, ኢየሱስ, ܝܫܘܥ, Ісус, 耶稣, იესო, ईसा, イエス, 예수, येशू, യേശു, ජේසුස්, যীশু, ‘ঈছা, இயேசு, ఏసు, เยซู, យេស៊ូ, يَسُوعَ (note that some of these might not display correctly if your computer does not have the correct fonts installed).

Click or tap here to read more).

In some languages the different confessions have selected different transliterations, such as in Belarusian with Isus (Ісус) by the Orthodox and Protestant churches and Yezus (Езус) by the Catholic church, Japanese with Iesu (イエス) (Protestant and Catholic) and Iisusu (イイスス) (Orthodox), or Lingala with Yesu (Protestant) or Yezu (Catholic). These differences have come to the forefront especially during the work on interconfessional translations such as one in Lingala where “many hours were spent on a single letter difference” (source: Ellington, p. 401).

In Chinese where transliterations of proper names between the Catholic and Protestant versions typically differ vastly, the Chinese name of Jesus (Yēsū 耶稣) remarkably was never brought into question between and by those two confessions, likely due to its ingenious choice. (Click or tap here to see more).

The proper name of God in the Old Testament, Yahweh (YHWH), is rendered in most Chinese Bible translations as Yēhéhuá 耶和華 — Jehovah. According to Chinese naming conventions, Yēhéhuá could be interpreted as Yē Héhuá, in which would be the family name and Héhuá — “harmonic and radiant” — the given name. In the same manner, 耶 would be the family name of Jesus and 稣 would be his given name. Because in China the children inherit the family name from the father, the sonship of Jesus to God the Father, Jehovah, would be illustrated through this. Though this line of argumentation sounds theologically unsound, it is indeed used effectively in the Chinese church (see Wright 1953, p. 298).

Moreover, the “given name” of 稣 carries the meaning ‘to revive, to rise again’ and seems to point to the resurrected Jesus. (Source: J. Zetzsche in Malek 2002, p. 141ff., see also tetragrammaton (YHWH))

There are different ways that Bible translators have chosen historically and today in how to translate the name of Jesus in predominantly Muslim areas: with a form of the Arabic Isa (عيسى) (which is used for “Jesus” in the Qur’an), the Greek Iēsous, or, like major 20th century Bible translations into Standard Arabic, the Aramaic Yēšūaʿ: Yasua (يَسُوعَ). (Click or tap here to see more.)

Following are languages and language groups that use a form of Isa include the following (note that this list is not complete):

In German the name Jesus (pronounced: /ˈjeːzʊs/) is distinguished by its grammatical forms. Into the 20th century the grammatical rules prescribed a unique Greek-Latin declination: Jesus (nominative), Jesu (genitive, dative, vocative), Jesum (accusative), from which today only the genitive case “Jesu” is still in active use.

In Lamba the name ŵaYesu consists of a transliteration Yesu and the prefix ŵa, a plural form for “proper names when addressing and referring to persons in any position of seniority or honor.” While this was avoided in early translations to avoid possible misunderstandings of more than one Jesus, once the church was established it was felt that it was both “safe” and respectful to use the honorific (plural) prefix. (Source C. M. Doke in The Bible Translator 1958, p. 57ff.)

Translation: German

Auf Deutsch wird der Name Jesus (ausgesprochen: /ˈjeːzʊs/) durch dessen grammatikalische Formen hervorgehoben. Bis ins 20. Jahrhundert schrieben die grammatikalischen Regeln eine nur hier verwendete Griechisch/Lateinsche Misch-Deklination vor: Jesus (Nominativ), Jesu (Genitiv, Dativ, Vokativ) und Jesum (Akkusativ), von welchen heute nur noch der Genitiv-Kasus „Jesu“ aktiv verwendet wird.

Translator: Jost Zetzsche