I preached last Sunday on the lectionary readings of Isa 7.10-16 and Matt. 1.18-25. Since the names of Immanuel (God with us) and Jesus were central to the account of who Jesus is, that’s what I focused upon.
Immanuel seems pretty straight forward, but the name ‘Jesus’ is one that I can’t ever remember hearing much about in the academy or the church. If I’ve heard anything, people most often point out the name Yeshua, but that doesn’t get English speakers any closer to the OT connections. The anglicised name we would recognise is Joshua. This first became clear to me a couple of years back when I was translating through Hebrews, where Joshua shows up in 4.8, and lo and behold his name is the same as Jesus in Greek. I’ll have to do some more reading on the connection.
The other learning opportunity for me was to track down the background to the H. in the ‘Jesus H. Christ’ name that you hear on the street rather than in the church. I was told that it wouldn’t be appropriate to bring it up in a service, but since I was looking into Jesus’ name, I thought I would look into it. Who would have thought there would have been a Wikipedia page on it? Essentially, it stems from the nomina sacra IHC for IHCOYC (or Ιησους). For those that don’t know Greek, they would assume the C from uncial Greek (which is Σ in modern Greek) stood for Christ. Therefore, the IHC would be Jesus’ initials. Coming out of a nonliturgical background, I wouldn’t have ever come across this at church, but the pulpit cover at our church has a lowercase form ‘ihs’. Probably the most practical part of my sermon was to explain to them what that ‘ihs’ stood for (without the modern interpretation).