Author Topic: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?  (Read 665 times)

Offline Xavier

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Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« on: July 26, 2018, 09:33:49 AM »
The epistle of "St. James" begins  "Jacobus, Dei et Domini nostri Jesu Christi servus" (usually rendered: "James, Slave of our God and Lord Jesus Christ").

St. Augustine says the treason of Judas signifies the ungratefulness of many of the people of Judah for all the gifts they received from God. So Judas signifies the people of Judah, that part that proved unfaithful to Christ. The faithful Judas, whom we Catholics call St. Jude traditionally, signifies the remnant who remained faithful. Is it not likely that Sancte Jacobe signifies the patriarch Jacob just as Judas signifies the people of Judah, from whom all the Jews descended?

In most non-English languages, the relation to Jacob/Yakub of the Old Testament is preserved. "Jacob I have loved", the Lord God said, and this St. Jacob/James was first Bishop of Jerusalem. God sent the Apostle there because He still loved an ungrateful people, and wanted them to turn to Christ and be saved. He was called "St. Jacob/James the Just", so manifestly holy was he. Finally, they killed him in ingratitude, after he defended St. Paul, and some even of the unbelievers said that for this very crime, Jerusalem would certainly be destroyed, as it was less than 10 years later. Recently, there was an archaeology discovery with the inscription referring to Jacob and they didn't realize for a while this was the English "James".

It seems it was Wycliffe first to translate this as James in the English language, and then of course there was the King James; of course we English speakers have now become so accustomed to speaking of James as James, we can hardly begin to call him "Jacob" now"; but he bears a similar name to the patriarch Jacob, from whom all Israel descended. Maybe both should be translated James otherwise?

What do you think? Is the translation James good enough, (and if so, should we also translate the Biblical Patriarch Jacob as James?), or should we speak of the son of Zebedee, the great Apostle of Spain, traditionally called Jacobi Majoris, as St. Jacob the Great? And, the other, the son of Alpheaus, the cousin brother of Our Lord, Bishop of Jerusalem, as St. Jacob the Just? Roughly transliterated, it is Yaakov in Hebrew, and Yakoboy in Greek, so in almost all non-English languages, including the most ancient, there is a difference.

"So how did the Jewish name Ya’akov become so Gentilized as James? Since the 13th century, the form of the Latin name Iacomus began its use in English. In the 14th century, John Wycliffe made the first Bible translation into English and translated Iakobus as James. (However, in both the Old and New Testaments he arbitrarily used the name Jacob for the patriarch). In all future English translations the name stuck, especially after 1611, when King James I sponsored the translation then called the Authorized Version but since 1797 called the King James Bible.

So what is lost by using James instead of Jacob? First, it has created an awkwardness in academic writing. Scholars providing a transliteration of James indicate Iakōbos, which even lay readers know is not the same. Hershel Shanks has noted that the reason Israeli scholars failed to understand the significance of the eponymous ossuary is that they didn’t connect James with Ya’akov 1 " https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/bible-versions-and-translations/james-or-jacob-in-the-bible/
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 11:13:43 AM by Xavier »
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Offline Michael Wilson

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2018, 10:10:08 AM »
In Spanish, Jacobus is translated as: "Jacobo", "Jaime", "Tiago."
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Offline Maximilian

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2018, 10:20:16 AM »
In Spanish, Jacobus is translated as: "Jacobo", "Jaime", "Tiago."

I believe that the "t" in "Santiago" goes with the "Sant," and the name of James is "Iago."
 
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2018, 12:21:54 PM »
Making a distinction between the names of the OT Patriarch and the NT Saint goes back at least as far as the Vulgate.  The name of the Patriarch is the indeclinable Iacob, e.g. Gen 37:1 "habitavit autem Iacob in terra Chanaan ,"  Matt 1:2 "Abraham genuit Isaac Isaac autem genuit Iacob".  In contrast, as already mentioned in the OP, the name of the NT Saints is the declinable Iacobus.

The Patriarch's name is a transliteration of the Hebrew, while the Saints' name is Latinized by adding the second declension case endings.  English translations continue this tradition by using the transliteration "Jacob" for the Patriarch and the Anglicized variant "James" for the Saints. 

The etymology of James is probably something like this:
Latin:  Jacobus
Vulgar Latin: Jacomus (nasalization of the /o/, loss of the b,  cf "comb")
Occitan: Jacme
Old French: Jammes
English: James

If St. Jerome thought it was a good idea to make this distinction, that is good enough for me.  The reasons for doing otherwise given in article cited by the OP seem to me to border on Judaizing. 
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Offline Heinrich

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Offline Daniel

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2018, 07:53:21 AM »
Vulgar Latin: Jacomus (nasalization of the /o/, loss of the b,  cf "comb")
Interesting. I knew that 'James' was a corruption of 'Jacomus', but I had wondered how you get from 'Jacobus' to 'Jacomus' to begin with. This makes a lot of sense.

Just pointing out, I don't think that St. Jerome had much to do with it. The distinction between declinable and indeclinable forms is found in the Greek text itself (and presumably in the Old Latin too). Whether the distinction is significant or not, I have no idea. There are a few other subtle distinctions as well which have not made their way into the English.
 

Offline Jayne

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2018, 09:29:33 AM »
Just pointing out, I don't think that St. Jerome had much to do with it. The distinction between declinable and indeclinable forms is found in the Greek text itself (and presumably in the Old Latin too). Whether the distinction is significant or not, I have no idea.
That is why I said the distinction went back at least as far as the Vulgate.  The linked article said:
Quote
In the 14th century, John Wycliffe made the first Bible translation into English and translated Iakobus as James. (However, in both the Old and New Testaments he arbitrarily used the name Jacob for the patriarch).

Wycliffe was not being arbitrary at all.  He was reflecting a distinction made in the Greek and maintained by St. Jerome in the Vulgate.  Since Wycliffe was translating the Vulgate, it would have been strange for him to have done otherwise. That the article's authors make such a claim suggests that they have a poor grasp of the subject or are perhaps promoting an agenda.  There is no good reason to introduce their proposed novelty of translation when there is such a long-standing tradition, whether or not we see any significance to making the distinction.


« Last Edit: July 29, 2018, 09:46:47 AM by Jayne »
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Offline Vetus Ordo

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2018, 10:33:48 AM »
Is Ioannes really best translated "John"? Why not Yohanan or Yehohanan?

We could go on.
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Offline Xavier

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2018, 12:08:04 PM »
Ioannes is consistently translated John! While I don't consider this a big issue, the heretic Wycliffe is no authority at all. I can show you at least ten non-English languages where it is translated Jacob/Yakob in both cases. That seems to me a much more reliable tradition. But let me research it more: the angle I would pursue is whether any of the Fathers, Greek or Latin, considered Jacobus as typifying Jacob/Israel in the same way that St. Augustine considered Judas to typify Judah in betrayal.
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Offline Bonaventure

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2018, 12:40:14 PM »
It comes from Giacomo and Jaime.

How did we get Louis from Clodovicus?

Clodovicus
Ludovicus
Ludwig
Louis

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Offline Jayne

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2018, 02:55:59 PM »
I can show you at least ten non-English languages where it is translated Jacob/Yakob in both cases.

Really?  I started randomly checking Bibles in other languages and found Italian making a distinction between Giacobbe and Giacomo, French between Jacobe and Jacques, Norweigian between Jakob and Jakobs, German between Jakob and Jakobus, and Portugese between Jaco and Tiago.

In 5 samples, I did not find any counter-examples.

While I don't consider this a big issue, the heretic Wycliffe is no authority at all.

This distinction was not introduced by Wycliffe (despite the claims of that article) and his lack of authority is irrelevant.  The Vulgate, the authoritative version recognized by Catholics, made a distinction between the name of the Patriarch and that of the Saints.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2018, 03:02:39 PM by Jayne »
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2018, 03:21:39 PM »
In 5 samples, I did not find any counter-examples.

I realized later that I had only checked European languages, so I looked at a Korean Bible.  It too made a distinction between the names:  야곱  and 야고보  (pronounced /yakob/ and /yakobo/)

That's six for six.
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Offline Vetus Ordo

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2018, 04:12:20 PM »
Ioannes is consistently translated John!

But not Johanan (or Joanan) from which the Greek Ioannes comes from.

After all, the high priest son of Joiada is translated as Joanan in all Old Testament translations, not as John (or Ioannes), in the Book of Nehemiah. The Greek Septuagint in Nehemiah 12:22 reads οἱ Λευῖται ἐν ἡμέραις ᾿Ελιασίβ, ᾿Ιωαδὰ καὶ ᾿Ιωὰ καὶ ᾿Ιωανὰν καὶ ᾿Ιδούα, "The Levites in the days of Eliasib, Joada, and Joa, and Joanan, and Idua."

John the Apostle and John the Baptist were Joanans in their original languages. Yet, the name was translated and adapted into Greek and subsequent languages. Perfectly normal and really no argument at all.
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Offline GloriaPatri

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2018, 05:32:16 PM »
Is Ioannes really best translated "John"? Why not Yohanan or Yehohanan?

We could go on.

Even better, why not call Jesus "Joshua" or even "Yeshua"?

Xavier, the fact is that Iacobus is the etymological root of both Jacob AND James.
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: Is Jacobus really best translated "James"? Why not Jacob?
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2018, 06:28:02 PM »
I did not read the article that Xavier linked to, but I think the issue here is that despite the etymology, most English-speakers do not see any connection between the names 'Jacob' and 'James'. So if the two New Testament Jameses are supposed to be types or antitypes of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob, or of the Israelite people or of the northern kingdom called Israel (both of which are named after patriarch Jacob's new name 'Israel'), then English-speakers are likely to miss the typological connection.

But whether there is any typology going on, I have no idea. (I wasn't even aware of any typology involving the Judases until Xavier pointed it out...)
« Last Edit: July 29, 2018, 06:33:23 PM by Daniel »
 
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