Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Jerusalem versus Jerosolym in the Bible

The Catholic blog Canterbury Tales has an interesting post about the geographic implications of the spelling of "Jerusalem" and "Jerosolym" in the Greek New Testament and the Latin Vulgate translations of the Bible.

The cases of Jerusalem and Jerosolym can be confusing to some.  For instance, Saint Paul mentioned meeting Saint Peter in "Jerosolym" (Gal 1:17) but refers to "that Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our mother" (Gal 4:26).

After reading more cases of these spellings it becomes clear that "Jerosolym" solely refers to the capital of Israel while "Jerusalem" denotes heaven such as with St. John's books.


Saint John uses only Jerosolym in his Gospel (13 times), and he uses only Jerusalem in the Apocalypse (3 times). In his Apocalypse, Jerusalem always refers to the Holy City, which is Heaven.

The reasoning for this spelling difference is based off a play on words.


The y spelling (Jerosolym) derives from the Greek Hierosolym, which includes the Greek root for sacred cultic words. Hiereus is priest. Hieron is temple. The Greek writers made a Greek play-on-words to denote Jerusalem as a Hierosolym (a “temple” city). 

2 comments:

Dina said...

Interesting!

Dan tdaxp said...

Interesting! I didn't know this... it doubtless avoided some conclusion:

"See you in Jerusalem!"
"What, why? The traffic on the Damascus Road is terrible with all the construction. And the Municipal Council's tax on Inn's have made it nearly impossible to get a room. And frankly, the archery team is third-rate, at best..."
"I meant Jerusalem, not Jerosolym."
"Ah, gotcha!"