New theory on the origins of the phrase “Jesus H. Christ”
A new theory has been published online which attempts to answer the question of where the “H” in the phrase “Jesus H. Christ” comes from as well as the meaning of the letter H in this version of God’s name.
Before looking at where H comes from, it’s important to know where the name “Jesus Christ” comes from. Jesus is an Anglicized form of the Latin name Iesus, while Iesus is a Latinized version of the old Greek name Ἰησοῦς (Iēsoũs). This Greek name is Jesus’s original name Hellenized in ancient Palestinian Aramaic יֵשׁוּעַ (yēšūă’) and is a short version of the Hebrew יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (y’hoshuaʿ): “Yahweh is Salvation.”
The central person in the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament is the hero Joshua, whose original name in Hebrew is y’hoshua. During the first century CE in Galilee and Judaea yēšūă’ was a common name. People familiar with the New Testament will recognize multiple people with the same name such as Jesus Justus, an apostle in Pauline Epistles and the Book of Acts; and Jesus Barabbas in the Gospel of Mark.
The theory was posted on Quora by Spencer Alexander McDaniel. McDaniel has claimed that the H comes from Christians use of monograms used to spell Jesus’ name without writing it in full.
The monogram McDaniel speaks about is “IHC.” This monogram consists of the first three letters of “Jesus” in Greek that later became confused in America with the Latin alphabet and transcribed it as “J, H, C.” With J and C standing for Jesus and Christ. However, they didn’t know what the H stood for.
The earliest evidence of the phrase “Jesus H. Christ” being used can be seen in Mark Twain’s autobiography. Mark Twain mentioned that the phrase was used commonly when he was young. In his autobiography, Twain recalls when he apprenticed to be a printer. The leader of the “Restoration Movement” Reverend Alexander Campbell ordered pamphlets for a sermon from the printer.
The printer dropped a few words and tried to avoid resetting three pages of text by abbreviating the name “Jesus Christ” to “J. C.” Reverend Campbell insisted that the printer must not diminish the Lord’s name and demanded a reprint. Annoyed by the Reverend, the printer changed the text to “Jesus H. Christ.”
— GeekAisleOfLesbos (@GeekAisle) June 28, 2019