English translations of the NT - why James, not Jacob?

AndrasAndras Shipmate
Apologies if this is an old question asked and answered long ago, but I'm wondering why English versions of the New Testament translate the Ἰάκωβος of the Greek and the Iacobus of the Vulgate as James rather than the obvious Jacob. The error - if that's what it is - certainly goes back as far as Tyndale.

I've heard it suggested that the AV translation uses James as a fawning compliment to James I / VI, but the Tyndale use of the same form seems to disprove that.

Comments

  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited July 11
    Some etymological explanations are offered here.

    A long long time ago I studied history of the (French) language as it arose from Latin; from what I learned there, a natural path from Iacobus to James, with the "k" sound disappearing and the "b" softening to an "m", especially before another vowel, seems entirely plausible without incorporating any fawning to kings.

    (The article notes that this resulted in the Spanish Jaime, although in French itself we have Jacques).
  • agingjbagingjb Shipmate
    Wycliffe and Douay-Rheims both use "James".

    The Vulgate has "Iacob" (apparently uninflected) for the patriarch and "Iacobus" (variously inflected) for the apostle.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    agingjb wrote: »
    Wycliffe and Douay-Rheims both use "James".

    The Vulgate has "Iacob" (apparently uninflected) for the patriarch and "Iacobus" (variously inflected) for the apostle.

    Probably because Latin writers saw its analogous declensions with Greek and Latinised them, so Iakobos was Latinised as Iacobus and declined like any other 2nd declension noun. Words from more distant languages like Hebrew or Aramaic were generally considered indeclinable, although they could perfectly well have been declined as 3rd declension which had no fixed ending for the Nominative Sing.

    Clearly the earlier Greek writers of the NT had been perfectly happy to find a way to decline non-Greek names.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Andras wrote: »
    I've heard it suggested that the AV translation uses James as a fawning compliment to James I / VI, but the Tyndale use of the same form seems to disprove that.
    I always heard it was to distinguish the (Jewish) patriarch from the (Christian) apostle.

  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    I always heard it was to distinguish the (Jewish) patriarch from the (Jewish) apostle.
    Fixed that for ya.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    tclune wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    I always heard it was to distinguish the (Jewish) patriarch from the (Jewish) apostle.
    Fixed that for ya.
    Well, yes and no. While I agree with how you fixed it, that is not the explanation I have heard. The Jewish-Christian distinction is the point, even if usually not explicitly stated, of the explanation I have heard, however misguided that reasoning may be.

  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    tclune wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    I always heard it was to distinguish the (Jewish) patriarch from the (Jewish) apostle.
    Fixed that for ya.
    Well, yes and no. While I agree with how you fixed it, that is not the explanation I have heard. The Jewish-Christian distinction is the point, even if usually not explicitly stated, of the explanation I have heard, however misguided that reasoning may be.

    Sorry, I couldn't resist twisting your tail. I understood what you were saying and was just being a jerk.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Well, as I said, I agree with the jerkish reaction. Perhaps I should have made that clear in my first post.
  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    Although at that point, probably we ought to fix the Patriarch's background...
    Although I haven't a clue what to (and am now intrigued, perhaps Semitic?).

    Back to the OP
    In French (New Geneva) it's Jacque's and Jacob
    German (Lutheran) Jakobus, Jakob
    Catalan (2015) Jaume, ???
    Italian (2008?) Giacimo

    That's only at first glance, looking at the book name (Matthew's apostle list for the Italian) and randomly in Genesis
    Over the weekend I'll have a look and see if there's any more interesting verses to find.

    Which suggests to me that the two names had been drifting apart for a decent while. Although it doesn't mean that the King James effect didn't lock it down ("We have a choice of Jacob, Jack or James...") Or maybe the English use went back encouraging other countries to use their own native variants.
  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    A somewhat whimsical linguistic wondering: If "Jacob" came first and morphed into "James", I wonder if the speakers of the 2nd version had bad teeth, or a different dental configuration, or simply didn't open their mouths much? Could help account for the sound shift.

    YMMV.

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    As @Eutychus says above, it’s not a big leap at all from Iacobus to Iacomusb and m are both bilabial (both lips closed) voiced consonants.
    Eutychus wrote: »
    (The article notes that this resulted in the Spanish Jaime, although in French itself we have Jacques).
    Diego is also a Spanish form of Iacobus (Sanctus Iacobus -> Santiago -> Diego).

  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    Actually, I was thinking of the "c" in "Jacob/Iacob" changing to the "m" in "James".
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Golden Key wrote: »
    Actually, I was thinking of the "c" in "Jacob/Iacob" changing to the "m" in "James".
    Ah, sorry.

    The c just disappeared in English. It was the b that changed to an m. That’s how Latin Iacobus and then Iacomus became Italian Giacamo.

  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    I was under the impression it was Jacobus > Jacomus > James
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Yes, sorry. I didn’t mean to suggest James was from Giacamo—just that Giacamo shows the shift from b to m, but, unlike English, with the retention of the c.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Sorry, @Nick Tamen, actually I was responding to GK not you. Your analysis jibes with my understanding perfectly.
  • stonespringstonespring Shipmate
    Does anyone know more about how the Spanish name for St. James became Santiago? I can see Iago coming from Latin Jacobus, and a link above said Jaime became the commoners' way of saying the personal name James (as opposed to the learned Jacobo) at some point in the history of Spanish.

    But now we have Santiago as the name of St James, Jacob (not Jacobo) as the name of the OT Patriarch, and Jaime as a Spanish name for James. Is or has it ever been common for Spanish speaking people to name their children Iago? (Is the character in Othello Spanish?) Is Jaime the much more common name? How did the saint wind up with the name Iago?

    Is the name Jaime in the Spanish speaking world understood to be "named after" the saint? Does it seem weird that the saint's name in Spanish sounds so different?

    And if a child is named after the OT figure Jacob, has the name traditionally been Jacob or Jacobo?
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Iago = Diego. Lots of Spanish-speaking parents name their kids Diego.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited July 12
    It's Séamus in Irish Gaelic, with the S as a 'sh' sound, and Iago in Welsh.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Andras wrote: »
    I've heard it suggested that the AV translation uses James as a fawning compliment to James I / VI, but the Tyndale use of the same form seems to disprove that.

    Sounds like an urban myth to me; I'd want some solid evidence
  • stonespringstonespring Shipmate
    Was Jacob (ie, spelled the same way as the OT patriarch rather than the NT saint) a name given much at all to children by Christians in Europe prior to the Reformation?
  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    stonespring--

    And if a child is named after the OT figure Jacob, has the name traditionally been Jacob or Jacobo?

    I don't think either is used in Spanish, at least not modern Spanish. I think Jacobo is an Italian name. Though possibly as Giacobo. FWIW, YMMV.

    Oh, and I thought Othello was supposed to be (North?) African, and with darker skin than his hosts'.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Was Jacob (ie, spelled the same way as the OT patriarch rather than the NT saint) a name given much at all to children by Christians in Europe prior to the Reformation?
    Well, it probably depends on where in Europe. German Jacob or Jakob translates into either Jacob or James in English. (Though the apostle is Jakobus in German Bibles.)

    Is there another language where Yakov/Iacobus has developed into two such different forms that are both commonly used?
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Golden Key wrote: »
    Oh, and I thought Othello was supposed to be (North?) African, and with darker skin than his hosts'.

    Othello is, but Iago isn't, I don't think.
  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    edited July 12
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Is there another language where Yakov/Iacobus has developed into two such different forms that are both commonly used?
    The names in the Catalan bible seems to be almost identical to English (Jacob, Jaume). I don't know if it reflects anything.

    [To complete the set from earlier] Italian seems to have Giacobbe and Giacomo (which has the b->m) [they are rather similar]
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Thanks, @jay_emm!
  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    mt--
    mousethief wrote: »
    Golden Key wrote: »
    Oh, and I thought Othello was supposed to be (North?) African, and with darker skin than his hosts'.

    Othello is, but Iago isn't, I don't think.

    Ok, thanks.
  • stonespringstonespring Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    Golden Key wrote: »
    Oh, and I thought Othello was supposed to be (North?) African, and with darker skin than his hosts'.

    Othello is, but Iago isn't, I don't think.

    Is the character Iago supposed to be Spanish?
  • stonespringstonespring Shipmate
    Does anyone know about what it is like in (non-Greek) Orthodox Bibles, and in Bibles translated into non-Western languages by Western missionaries past and present, whether they were translating from Latin or from the original languages?
  • Ex_OrganistEx_Organist Shipmate
    Does anyone know about what it is like in (non-Greek) Orthodox Bibles,

    The Church Slavonic text has the same spelling in Old and New Testaments.

  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    Is or has it ever been common for Spanish speaking people to name their children Iago?

    There's a Spanish footballer called Iago Aspas who briefly played for Liverpool, so it's not unknown, but I have the impression that Jaime and Diego are both more common.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    Is or has it ever been common for Spanish speaking people to name their children Iago?

    There's a Spanish footballer called Iago Aspas who briefly played for Liverpool, so it's not unknown, but I have the impression that Jaime and Diego are both more common.

    I wouldn't say that Iago's a common name in Welsh-speaking Wales, but it's certainly in contemporary use.
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