Thursday, July 27, 2006

Baby names

So here’s the question that every mother and father ask themselves: what to name that bundle of love?

Nowadays, many parents name their kids after their favorite celebrity, but the Puritans had a rather different set of criteria. The late F. F. Bruce has an interesting little article on this subject in A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, 532-35.

For example, they used to name their daughters after one of the theological virtues like Faith, Hope, Charity, Grace, Patience, & Prudence.

Quite a contrast to Paris Hilton.

The boys were frequently given OT names, and I don’t just mean vanilla gray names like Sam and Dave, but more colorful names like Shadrach, Abimelech, and Zerubbabel.

When was the last time you heard of a boy by the name of Zerubabbel?

Has a nice alliterative rhythm, don’t you think?

But the Puritans could get a good deal more creative with hyphenated names like Flee-fornication Andrews and Jesus-Christ-came-into-the-world-to-save Barebone.

No, I didn’t make that up.

Don’t you think Flee-fornication would be an excellent name for your teenage son?

Oh, and here’s my personal favorite: Hew-Agag-in-Pieces Robinson.

Just the thing to intimidate the schoolyard bully.


  1. The founder of the Independent Chapels in Aberystwyth and Llanbadarn Fawr was Azariah Shadrach. A current notable Welsh Minister is the Rev. Teifi (pronounced 'Tivey') Ebenezer.

  2. Oh, and a famous evangelist from the turn of the last century was Seth Joshua.

  3. There was a young man named Zerubbabel,
    Who swallowed an India-rubber ball.
    The rubber ball burst;
    Zerubbabel cursed;
    His language was quite indescrubbable.

  4. > "The founder of the Independent Chapels in Aberystwyth and Llanbadarn Fawr was Azariah Shadrach"

    Giving babies the name "Azaria[h]" has, I would estimate, dropped to zero since 1980. This case was a Chandra Levy- or Scott Peterson-style media circus, enlivened by the fact that the Chamberlains were Adventists and their stoic faith that "God is still in control" was interpreted by a secular Australian culture as "They must have sacrificed the baby in the wilderness."

    Curiously, though, the name Jayden remains as popular as ever in this country.