A bold new theory that was recently published online offers an answer to the origins of the phrase "Jesus H. Christ" and the meaning of the letter "H" in this particular version of God's name.
The theory, first posted on Q&A website Quora by Spencer Alexander McDaniel, claims that the misunderstanding essentially stems from the Christians' use of monograms used to spell Jesus' name without writing it fully.
The monogram in question, “IHC', the author notes, is comprised of the first three letters of the Greek spelling of the word "Jesus".
"At some point, however, presumably sometime in the early 19th century, ignorant Americans who were accustomed to the Latin alphabet and who knew nothing of the Greek alphabet mistook the letters of the IHϹ monogram for the Latin letters J, H, and C", the author postulates.
And while they apparently decided that "J" and "C" stand for "Jesus" and "Christ" respectively, the meaning of the letter "H" seemed to elude them.
"Apparently, some people just concluded, 'Hey, I guess H must be his middle initial!'" the theory's author remarked.
Noting how the phrase "Jesus H. Christ" then became "somewhat of a joke" and was used as a mild expletive, he also recalled one of the earliest instances of its use, found in the autobiography of Mark Twain himself.
Describing his work as a printer's apprentice, Twain mentions how he was tasked with printing pamphlets for evangelical preacher Alexander Campbell, the leader of the "Restoration Movement".
And when the printer accidentally dropped a few words, he decided to fill in the missing words by abbreviating "Jesus Christ" as "J.C.", rather than resetting whole three pages of text.
Rev. Campbell, however, insisted that one must not "diminish" the name of the Lord and had the printer reset the text, which prompted the annoyed printed to spell the Saviour's name as "Jesus H. Christ".