Slate published the Explainer’s Christmas Roundup a few days ago, and it includes some interesting facts about the name Jesus:
On Dec. 25, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Was the Messiah the first to have that name, or were there a lot of Jesuses running around back then?
Many people shared the name. Christ’s given name, commonly Romanized as Yeshua, was quite common in first-century Galilee. (Jesus comes from the transliteration of Yeshua into Greek and then English.) Archaeologists have unearthed the tombs of 71 Yeshuas from the period of Jesus’ death. The name also appears 30 times in the Old Testament in reference to four separate characters—including a descendent [sic] of Aaron who helped to distribute offerings of grain and a man who accompanied former captives of Nebuchadnezzar back to Jerusalem. (Read more on the name Jesus.)
The name Jesus/Jesús is common in the U.S. right now as well. It’s been given to thousands of babies per year since the ’70s, and it’s ranked among the top 100 boy names in the nation for two decades.
But the related name Joshua is even more common. It’s been given to tens of thousands of babies per year since the ’70s, and it’s ranked among the top 10 boy names in the nation for over three decades.
Hundreds of baby boys have also been named Yeshua within the last decade.