tetragrammaton

Translation Errors In The King James Version: No “J” Sound Existed In Hebrew


All instances of the letter “J”, including Jehovah.

As many should already know, the KJV used the letter “J” to replace the sound of the Hebrew “י” (yod). To be fair, the use of the letter “J” was in flux for a long time, but in the early 1500’s the use and sound of the letter was already cemented. That is nearly 100 years before the KJV was completed.

How did the KJV and other early translators decide on the “J” translation rather than “Y”?

In 1524 Gian Giorgio Trissino made the argument based on the Greek and Latin translation of the Hebrew name Yeshua, which

Typography - Alphabet, Hebrew, Latin, Greek

Typography – Alphabet, Hebrew, Latin, Greek

later became Jesus. Trissino was able to identify the Greek “Iesus” a translation of the Hebrew “Yeshua,” as the Modern English “Jesus.” Thus the current phoneme for /j/ was born.

Unfortunately, this line of logic is not sound. Greek and Latin do not have a “J” sound like English does. They also lack the “Y” sound. The letter “I” ended up becoming the letter of choice to represent the Hebrew “י” (yod). English added the “J” letter much later than the rest of the letters. It was the last letter to be added to the alphabet. It initially had a lot of overlap with “I” sound. It’s also right next to the “I” in the alphabet and it even looks like an “I” (i/j).

I point all that out just to give a brief understanding of “J” development. The real issue is that the KJV translators leaned too heavily on the Greek and Latin translations of the Hebrew Yod. They translated it into “I” which later became a “J” in English. But we can directly translate the Yod into English using the “Y”. We don’t need to concern ourselves with how the Greeks and Romans translated it. The KJV translators only did so because of the limited understanding of Hebrew.

The Hebrew language was all but dead until the reformation period. This is why the early English translations relied heavily on the translation into Latin from the 4th century. It would be another 200 years before Hebrew made a full revival. This is why all modern translations removed the “J” and replace it with a “Y”.


In summary, the translators of the KJV were working with the information they knew to be true at the time. Unfortunately, that information turned out to not be accurate. As with many KJV issues, the translators had limited resources to work with. It’s not their fault. But times have changed and we have better information now. Holding onto old ideas that have been proven wrong or even just become outdated is irresponsible.


[Featured image from 924jeremiah.wordpress.com]