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Prof Ira

Thanks so much for writing, Chris. Your points are well taken. Here is another: Isn't it fascinating that Jews had Greek names, when the Maccabees began their rebellion against the Greco-Syrians in 175 B.C.E. to stop assimilation and eradication of Judaism. So the Maccabees won, and Hellenization still made its way into the culture. Sigh.

Oh, and please forgive me for taking time to replay. I have been having a technical problem.

Thanks for commenting.


chris M

May I add, There is people named Joshua in New Testament, there is no way any of the Gospel writers would have translated Their own Jewish names unless they had to and where ever they do it is mentioned.Levi- Matthew, Emmanuel/ Joshua/ Jesus , Peter Simon Cephas.When John the Baptist is named, Angel gives the name. When Jesus is named Angel gives the name. Why would gospel writer go to that length to tell where name came from then afterwards Translate it. Even those who first wrote it in Greek could have mentioned as in other passages where second names are mentioned.

chris M

Interesting discussion
But why does there seem to be a understanding that Hebrews didnt get greek names? Paul is identified with both Saul and Paul. So is Peter and Cephas and Simon. Gospels go to length to explain these names. Maybe they just had Greek names just as today most people have english names even though they are not english.

Ira Shafiroff

Thank you for reading my blog, Michael, and for commenting. The research you did on Andrew is interesting. I have learned something! As for Philip, as I indicated in the post, I just can't identify him with a Hebrew counter-part. So, you and I both remain in the dark. Perhaps someone else will be able to shed some light. Again, many thanks for reading my blog.


Michael Nelson

I have been kicking this name thing around for a while, and learning some Hebrew as a practical hobby. When I searched for a meaning of the name Andrew, I came back with manly. When I used Google translate I tried both manly and masculine, the result was the same Hebrew word, gabri. To me, this makes sense with the Hebrew name, Gabriel, meaning, man of God. So, Andrew's real name may have simply been Gabri. The one I am really having trouble with is, Philip. From Greek, it translates to, friend of horses. My searches have returned that there is no Hebrew equivalent. From cross-reference searches, I have found merea and chaver both translate to, friend, and horses is soosim. I have no idea if these have ever been used as names. Any thoughts? If anyone sees this, and has any input, my email address is howardstreethooligans@gmail.com

Ira Shafiroff

First, thanks for writing, Matthew! Second, as to your comment, you may well be totally correct. It is interesting why Andrew has a Greek name. Here is another explanation, which is not in any way inconsistent with your explanation: From a perspective of Biblical scholarship, we know that the first of the cannonized Gospels (Mark) was not written until 70 C.E. Thus, if these scholars are correct, we have a forty year delay from the time time that Jesus died until the Gospel was written. Many things can change or be reshaped during a forty year oral tradition that starts with Aramaic and/or Hebrew and ends up in Greek. Maybe Andrew's name was one of them. I don't know and, again, your explanation may be totally correct.

Thank you for writing, friend. Please continue to comment.



matthew callaghan

I still do not understand why Andrew, only known by a Greek name, be a brother of Simon Peter who was know by a Hebrew name. Could they have possibly been half brothers in a family where Andrew was of mixed blood?

Ira Shafiroff

Hello Simon! Thank you for commenting. The point that you raise is fascinating. I don't knwo the answer to it, but the answer you suggested could well be correct. What I wonder about is whether there is some lost Gospel that was written in Aramaic. Perhaps an original autograph would help solve the problem. Again, I don't know, but I thank you for reading my blog and commenting.



simon speechley

If Andreas is Greek for man (andros) wouldn't the Hebrew/Aramaic form be Adam? I guess the writers did not want to confuse the readers with so many men named 'Judas' or confuseAdam for the second Adam (Yehoshua). There is a lot of theologizing in many small words in NT.

(This just guess, I have no academic qualification to assert - am I on right lines?)

Ira Shafiroff

Hi Lea! Thank you for reading my blog. I am so glad you found it. Thank you also for taking the time to comment. Your view is a thoughtful and sincere one and is held by many Christians. I take a different path (and I say this with the utmost respect), as one who does not believe Jesus was the Messiah. In this regard, I quote from the ancient rabbis: "The righteous of all nations have a share in the World to Come." Who are the righteous? Those who practice the Seven Laws of Noah. See http://www.jesusandtheprofessor.com/2011/08/a-virtuous-life-for-jew-or-gentile.html This is the post that begins the explanation of the laws of Noah. You, undoubtedly, are a loving child of Noah.

Again, thank you for writing.

Oh, and by the way, I will soon be adding more posts.




Hello! I ran across this blog as I was doing research on Peter. I have been studying Shem Tob's Hebrew Matthew and the "Roman Catholic Church". I would like to take a moment and reflect on something that may be the Big Picture rather than one of a smaller brush..... The moment that we accept Yeshua/Jesus we become apart of the house of Israel. We are no longer lost. We are grafted into through Abraham. The house of Israel is apart of the grafted ones of Joseph~ Mannaseh and Ephraim from an Egyptician "Gentile" mother but Jacob adopts them as his own. Look at the book of Revelation and how Mannaseh is apart of the tribe. We were adopted into Israel if we do not have any blood lines from The house of Judah (Jews). There are many different ways how the Bible talks about certain groups of people and identifies them and calls them as such. Where the two sticks join and become one again, Ezekiel 37:16. Be blessed. YeHoVah does not and will never be able to be put into a box. He is everywhere. If you are not under the house of Israel serving the Almighty what house do we belong or who do we serve? We can only serve One master. Shalom! Lea

Prof Ira

Thank you for writing, Roger, and for reading my blog. You are, of course correct in what you write: Andrew could not have been a Greek Jew, at least not by birth. Yet, although the Maccabees fought against assimilation, assimilation nonetheless took place. Thus, perhaps, this explains the Grecian name for Andrew. Could it be that the parents of Andrew and Peter were assimilated? Just a thought, and certainly not a defintive answer on my part.




andreas was the brother of Shimon or Cephas (Peter).So it is out of question he was greek jew or or greek gentile. SO must be an original names for him and Philips, who both were from the land of Canaan.

Prof Ira

Thank you, Lasse, for reading my blog and for commenting. The reason that I believe that Jesus believed his message was for the Jews alone was because he stated in several places that such was his mission: to teach to the "lost sheep of Israel." See Matthew 10:6 and 15:24. Jesus also would not, at first, help the Canaanite women, analogizing Gentiles to "dogs." See Matthew 15:26-27. Of course, there are other passages where one can take a contrary view. See Matthew 21:42-43 (which some commentators interpret as meaning that the Jews would lose their status as the Chosen People, which itself then creates theological problems with an irrevocable covenant that becomes revocable). Well, Lasse, I hope this at least helps you somewhat. Obviously, there are many interpretations, and mine is just one of many.

Thank you, again, for writing.

Shalom, friend.



Hello I came across your blog as I was looking for a source of the original names and origins of the twelve apostles as well as Mary Magdalene as she is called. You mention that jesus was concerned with teaching jews, but many followed who weren't Jewish. His message was love and the path was through "him" was he concerned with culture and heritage more than with the soul. What does your research say? I find it often we translate messages of prophets and leaders into structures that fit our mentality as opposed to opening our minds to their limitless.

Ira Shafiroff

Thank you, George, for reading and commenting on my blog. Very informative!


Andrew derives from the greek word "ανδρείος" (andreios) which derives from the greek word "ανήρ" (anir). Ανήρ means "man", ανδρείος means "brave". So probably Andrew is just a greek translation of a hebrew name just as Peter's name was. Therefore it may as well be that both brothers had hebrew names as expected only we never learned Andrew's.

Prince Uzi

It is weird that many don't take in to effect what you said "the 12 tribes were Hebrew" there were 12 disciples and Yahshua was sent to free Israel, so how could anyone but paul who was no disciple had been greek?

Ira Shafiroff

Thank you, again, Jonathan, for writing! The points you make are very interesting. What you suggest is certainly possible. I will have to give it more thought! As for Alphaeus and Lebbeus, well, I don't know what they mean. I have, quite frankly, never run across these names before. Are they found in the New Testament or some other writings? I just don't know. I hope to hear from you again, soon, Jonathan. Again, thank you. Ira


Ira, it certainly sounds like it does have a noted impact on the Roman quest for maintenance of the social order.

In our modern era many do not appreciate just how significant names were then.
Almost all, if not every disciple seems to have two names, maybe one Jewish and one not. Its logical the twelve disciples like the twelve tribes have Jewish names. Though it could be more akin to a Shaul (Saul) and Paulos (Paul) type of thing.
Or perhaps where only one has come down to us there was a second but it simply wasn't recorded.

Another intriguing possibility is that names that are clearly not original Andrew, Philip, Thomas is that they had a relatively common name that would have caused confusion if they were known by it, so they were known more by their non Jewish names instead. Not Judah (Judas) as that clearly was used more than once. But just possibly Joshua (Jesus). Could it have originally been Jacob (James) Barzoanerges, Levi Mattitayahu (Matthew) (OK this one doesn't fit so well), Nathaniel Bartalmai (Bartholomew), Simon Peter and Jesus Andrew, or Jesus Thomas, radical suggestion - perhaps - but it is just possible.

Oh and perhaps you could clarify for me, what does Alphaeus and Lebbeus mean?

Ira Shafiroff

Again, I thank you, Jonathan, for taking the time to comment. You are, of course, correct: If Andrew were a Greek, so, too, was Simon Peter, his brother. Isn't it odd that parents would give one chld (Simon) a fully Hebrew name, while give the other (Andrew) a fully Greek name? I certainly do not have a definitive answer to this one! I do offer a possibility, however: Could one parent have been a Greek Jew while the other was a Judean Jew? Hence, the naming was a compromise of sorts?

Your other comments are true, too: that Jesus' group was indeed a "radical bunch." Do you think this has any impact on the Roman quest for maintaining the status quo and social order? Take care. Ira


If Andrew was a Greek Jew then Simon Peter his brother would have to have been one too.

Interestingly Andrew could be rendered "Butch", with his brother Peter "Rocky" and Philip "Hoss". With the other disciples including the two sons of thunder, a zealot (violent revolutionary), and a daggerman (sicarii) they make for a radical bunch.

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