Ish(u), Ye(ho)shua, and the nomina sacra.

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Post Reply
User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 7462
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Ish(u), Ye(ho)shua, and the nomina sacra.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Apr 04, 2020 4:02 pm

Much talk about Ish(u) and Ye(ho)shua of late.

The nomina sacra in our manuscripts change according to the Greek declension. The nomen for the nominative Ιησοῦς, then, is ΙΣ, and this is the form which matches a Greek transliteration for Ish(u). The genitive of Ιησοῦς, however, is Ιησοῦ, which cuts down to ΙΥ in the manuscripts. The dative is the same as the genitive in this case. And the accusative is Ιησοῦν, which cuts down to ΙΝ.

A sample from Vaticanus:

Nomina Sacra in Vaticanus.png
Nomina Sacra in Vaticanus.png (110.69 KiB) Viewed 1623 times

If the original name in the Christian texts was Ιησοῦς, then, the process by which we got our manuscripts is as follows:
  1. Ιησοῦς was original, with Ιησοῦ and Ιησοῦν in the genitive or dative and the accusative, respectively, as grammar demands.
  2. Ιησοῦς abbreviated to ΙΣ, Ιησοῦ to ΙΥ, and Ιησοῦν to ΙΝ, in accordance with most of the other nomina sacra. This was done even in the case of Joshua, the Hebrew hero, in Hebrews 4.8 (in the nominative, in this instance).
If ΙΣ was original, how do proponents of this hypothesis reconstruct the sequence resulting in our extant manuscripts? Was ΙΣ declined into the oblique cases like Ιησοῦς was? Do we have instances of this in Greek?

Thanks.

Ben.

PS: The manuscripts usually mark each nomen sacrum with an overline, as well, as one can see in the scans of Vaticanus.
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 12046
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Ish(u), Ye(ho)shua, and the nomina sacra.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Apr 04, 2020 4:41 pm

I had written another post in the other thread which brought up this objection as well as a few others. The facts are:

1. whether its Jesus or Ish your explanation (the standard explanation) of the way the nomen sacrum functioned is the same for either 'root'. Both are equally viable explanations.
2. I would argue that the nominative ΙΣ is better explained as Ish (because of its simplicity, it requires less imagination). If start wither ΙΣ you can see it as the Greek rendering of the Hebrew אִישׁ. No further explanations required. That's what appears there on the page. Unlike Ἰησοῦς which requires adding more 'hidden' letters, imagination, explanation etc.

Trobisch seems to think that the nomen sacrum was a specific characteristic of orthodox manuscripts. If that's true they might not have been used by the Marcionites. It's hard to know what to expect. I've mentioned the evidence. Justin says the name is 'man' (Marcovich https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/12945 says Justin is saying it means the Hebrew אִישׁ) or Jesus. Origen says that ΙΣ is the Greek rendering of אִישׁ. Irenaeus says that the nomen sacrum (whatever it was) doesn't go back to Ἰησοῦς. What more do you want? Why is Ἰησοῦς preferable to the Greek rendering of pre-existent Hebrew angel/God named אִישׁ whom Philo, Marqeh, Samaritans, Jews, Christians and Karaites all acknowledges existed in the very passages the Christian Lord was said to have appeared by the early Church Fathers? I am not sure it's even either/or with respect to Jesus. Maybe both figures existed in the same narrative as we see with the early Valentinians like Theodotos.

Likely in antiquity if you were talking about the God you meant 'Ish' and if you meant the crucified refuse left on the Cross you meant Jesus.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 7462
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Ish(u), Ye(ho)shua, and the nomina sacra.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:27 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 4:41 pm
whether its Jesus or Ish your explanation (the standard explanation) of the way the nomen sacrum functioned is the same for either 'root'. Both are equally viable explanations.
If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that writing Ish(u) as ΙΣ, in whatever Greek case, worked the same as for Ἰησοῦς. So the genitive would be ΙΣΟΥ, the accusative ΙΣΟΝ, or some such. Is that what you are saying? That the nominative, ΙΣ, was not actually an abbreviation, but the other cases, ΙΥ and ΙΝ, were abbreviations?
I would argue that the nominative ΙΣ is better explained as Ish (because of its simplicity, it requires less imagination). If start wither ΙΣ you can see it as the Greek rendering of the Hebrew אִישׁ. No further explanations required. That's what appears there on the page.
If that were all that appeared on the page, I would agree with you 100%. But we have far, far more on the page than that:
  1. We have the overstroke in most manuscripts. What does the line over ΙΣ mean if ΙΣ is already the word itself?
  2. We have the multiple other nomina sacra, each of them with their own overstrokes in most of the manuscripts. If ΙΣ is just ΙΣ, with no missing letters, then what are ΘΣ, ΚΣ, ΧΣ, ΥΣ, and ΣΗΡ, among others?
  3. We have examples of nomina sacra abbreviated by suspension rather than by contraction. What does ΙΗ ΧΡ mean, for instance, in Revelation 1.5 in papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1079 (Ƿ18)? The Egerton gospel, too, uses this suspended form.
  4. We have at least one example of the particular nomen sacrum ΙΣ which has to mean Jesus/Joshua/Ye(ho)shua: Hebrews 4.8 (in Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus, among others), in which ΙΣ has to mean the Hebrew hero Joshua. It cannot mean Ish here, can it?
Unlike Ἰησοῦς which requires adding more 'hidden' letters, imagination, explanation etc.
This would be true if we did not have an entire system of abbreviations for important names in the Christian manuscripts. But we do. Within that system, to render Ἰησοῦς as ΙΣ (with an overstroke) is completely expected (every bit as expected, at least, as reducing Mister to Mr.). Would you suggest otherwise?
Trobisch seems to think that the nomen sacrum was a specific characteristic of orthodox manuscripts. If that's true they might not have been used by the Marcionites. It's hard to know what to expect.
Yes, it is very hard to know what to expect from manuscripts which no longer exist. But it is easy to tell what is going on with the system of nomina sacra which we do possess.

If ΙΣ came first, then the sequence was ΙΣ to Ἰησοῦς and then back to ΙΣ/ΙΥ/ΙΝ again (because there is nothing clearer than that ΙΣ means Ἰησοῦς in our extant manuscripts), this time with an overstroke and embedded in a system of abbreviations stretching across multiple manuscripts. If Ἰησοῦς came first, then the sequence is simpler: just Ἰησοῦς to ΙΣ.
I've mentioned the evidence. Justin says the name is 'man' (Marcovich https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/12945 says Justin is saying it means the Hebrew אִישׁ) or Jesus. Origen says that ΙΣ is the Greek rendering of אִישׁ. Irenaeus says that the nomen sacrum (whatever it was) doesn't go back to Ἰησοῦς. What more do you want?
What more do I want? I want evidence that does not consist of patristic authors making theological points of the very subject matter under discussion. That is where they ought to be expected to be the least trustworthy. Do they tell you how to account for the other nomina sacra into which Ἰησοῦς to ΙΣ fits like a glove? Do they tell you how to account for the suspended form in the nominative, ΙΗ?
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Sun Apr 05, 2020 12:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 12046
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Ish(u), Ye(ho)shua, and the nomina sacra.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:38 pm

I am sitting in my car waiting for a pizza from a chain that doesn't deliver to my home address. I am saying

1. Justin clearly thought ΙΣ was the original nomen sacrum. https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/12945. So too Irenaeus although it's less clear with Irenaeus

Are you with me so far? Let's take this step by step. Hurtado completely fucked this whole discussion up with his usual arrogance. The place to start is Justin not Hurtado
Last edited by Secret Alias on Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 7462
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Ish(u), Ye(ho)shua, and the nomina sacra.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:42 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:38 pm
I am sitting in my car waiting for a pizza from a chain that doesn't deliver to my home address. I am saying

1. Justin clearly thought ΙΣ was the original nomen sacrum. So too Irenaeus although it's less clear with Irenaeus.

Are you with me so far? Let's take this step by step.
I think you are probably right about what Justin and Irenaeus thought; or at least I can stipulate it for the sake of argument. They thought that ΙΣ meant ἄνθρωπος, which implies that it meant Ish(u).
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 12046
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Ish(u), Ye(ho)shua, and the nomina sacra.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:44 pm

In Justin's case it's just ish. Harvey's arguments are weak about ishu. "Two and a half" letters could be almost anything
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 7462
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Ish(u), Ye(ho)shua, and the nomina sacra.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:46 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:44 pm
In Justin's case it's just ish. Harvey's arguments are weak about ishu. "Two and a half" letters could be almost anything
Okay, fine. So what comes next? Justin derives Jesus both from Ish and from Yehoshua. What does this mean for us?
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 12046
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Ish(u), Ye(ho)shua, and the nomina sacra.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:47 pm

If we start with Justin then ΙΣ = אִישׁ is a valid interpretation. Origen confirms that Greeks rendered אִישׁ as ΙΣ in Greek. I don't need to argue whether Christians saw ΙΣ and thought אִישׁ. They did. That much settled. Right?
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 12046
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Ish(u), Ye(ho)shua, and the nomina sacra.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:49 pm

Yes he also sees it as Ἰησοῦς but interestingly Irenaeus denies that interpretation.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 12046
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Ish(u), Ye(ho)shua, and the nomina sacra.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:52 pm

But if you had to choose. There is only one natural choice. The LXX and Origen saw אִישׁ and said "that's ΙΣ." No one in the history of the world saw יְהוֹשֻׁעַ and said "that's ΙΣ." It's unnatural. It's not an exaggeration to say אִישׁ is ΙΣ. That matters when deciding which came first.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Post Reply