Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
The Best of The Question Box
by Father I.J. Mikulski
(From the July 19, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. What is the original foreign name of Jesus Christ? Does it have special meaning? I have seen some different spellings of that name in different languages. How was our English name derived from his own languages since he did not speak English?
A. We speak and read English so let’s use the English version of Jesus Christ. Most languages do not have matching alphabets, of course, so we use transliteration as best we can. The newspaper presses don’t have Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic alphabet letters.
Greek has no “J” so it’s easy: lesus. So is Christos for “anointed.” Jesus Christ is the Anointed Savior.
Hebrew and Aramaic render his name “Yeshua” which was quite common and “masiah” for “anointed.” Christians professed their belief that Yeshua was the masiah sent by God.
Jesus Christ is mentioned by three Latin historians: Suetonius, Tacitus and Josephus. Josephus (d. 100 AD) said “Jesus, a wise man, if he can be called a man, accomplished incredible deeds and taught all men who receive the truth with joy.... The Christian sect, which is named after him, survives to this day.”
Reputable historians suspect that last line is the work of a Christian interpolator who glossed over the original work of Josephus. What goes around comes around. We have people today who re-write parts of the Bible, glossing over controversial parts while giving prominence to their favorite lines. That’s dishonest tampering but it has been done.
Q. I’ve been thinking about a name for my soon-to-be-baptized daughter. Can you tell me if Priscilla is a good Christian Catholic name?
A. It’s one of the best. Priscilla received honorable mention by St. Paul (1 Corinth. 16:19).
It’s a diminutive form of Prisca whose Latin meaning is uncertain. She was the wife of Aquila (Eagle). When Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome she accompanied her husband to Corinth.
They met St. Paul there and invited him to be their guest. Their home soon became the center of the Christian community where they celebrated Eucharist. Paul thanked them for their hospitality and for risking their lives for that little group of converts.
Q. It’s a familiar prayer that ends with “world without end. Amen.” I keep wondering if we can take that literally meaning our world just goes on forever and ever. The Bible says the world will end with terrible calamity and destruction from winds and fires. Why don’t our prayers reflect that?
A. In the era of Latin liturgy we closed our public prayers with “Per omnia saecula saeculorum,” which was a code phrase meaning “for all ages of ages” or “forever and ever,” a polite way of saying “Lord, you’re in charge of everything beyond the end of this world.”
Our physical world, to the outermost galaxies we haven’t discovered yet, will end sometime. The eternal world, the timeless element of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will exist forever – so we have been told. That’s the world without end.
People have always had a prurient interest in predicting “end times.” We cannot build a case by lining up Bible quotes about wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters, fires on the earth and family rebellions (Matt. 24:6, Mark 13:7 and Luke 21 :9) because there has never been a time when there were no wars, disasters or family troubles.
Pity the peasants of Siberia in 1908 when a meteorite flattened their world for 60 miles around and people 100 miles away were bowled over by the blast. If they knew Luke’s passage that there will be fearsome sights and great signs from the heavens” they may have panicked in the streets.
The end will come for us when we transit this world to the eternal world, not when this earth is incinerated or evaporated. In the meantime, smile when you see supermarket tabloids quoting Scripture, especially if they expound the Book of Revelation.