So, what name are you considering for your brand new, or soon-to-be brand new baby? Well, if you live in the USA and are of European descent, the chances are it will be a biblical name. This is even more likely if it is a boy!
There are few places in the world where biblical names as popular as in the US. For centuries, American parents-to-be have turned to the Bible for divine baby-naming inspiration. But why is this? Well the answer lies in its Puritan history. The split between the Roman Catholic and Protestant religions in England led to serious conflict between the two groups in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Puritans came into being as an extreme religious faction of the Protestant faith. The continued persecution of the Puritans led to their immigration to the New Land - the USA. This explains the dominance of Old Testament names – and biblical names in general - in America.
For many, many years, the bible was used as a primary source for naming babies – hence the term, ”Christian name.” The bible is actually one of the world's largest resources for baby names, containing literally thousands of names, sourced not just from characters in the bible, but also places, flowers, jewels, plants, etc. In addition, there are many popular derivatives of the traditional biblical baby names. Interestingly, the Protestants always preferred names from the Old Testament, whereas Roman Catholics have preferred the names of Saints. Hebrew names also come mainly from the Old Testament.
Biblical baby names have remained extremely popular throughout the centuries because, not only do they sound great, but they also have wonderful meanings and a deep spiritual significance because they're part of fascinating stories from the Bible; stories which often highlight the best of what man or woman can offer the world. For example, not only is Adam a nice name, but it also means “A man of the red earth” and how nice for a god-fearing Adam to know that he is named after the first man in existence, according to the Bible. Aaron is a beautiful-sounding name, with an even better meaning – “Exalted.” Aaron was the brother of Moses in the Bible.
Although biblical baby names remain popular, they are much more popular when naming boys than girls. This is because parents tend to be much more adventurous when naming girls, given the potential effects that having an unusual name can have on a boy. If we look at historical baby naming trends, we see that Mary (Jesus’ virgin mother and the most popular biblical baby name for girls of all time) was ranked number 1 for 60 years from the beginning of the 20th century. Since then it has fallen rapidly and now sits at number 63.
By contrast, my own name Michael (“Who is like God” – one of the Archangels) was firmly in the number 1 position for the last 40 years of the 20th Century and has remained solidly at number 2 ever since.
A look at the current list of most popular names in the US tells an even more significant story about the popularity of boys’ biblical baby names. The 2004 list for girls has only 3 biblical names in the top 10 list – Hannah (5th), Abigail (6th) and Elizabeth (10th). By contrast, in the boys’ list, 9 of the 10 names have biblical origins - Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew, Ethan, Andrew, Daniel, Joseph, and Christopher. The first 7 of these occupy the top 7 positions, headed by Jacob (“Held by the heel”), which has been in top spot since the start of the new century.
If your are looking for a name that sounds nice and is meaningful and spiritual at the same time, biblical baby names will always fit the bill.
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Michael Barrows' website has great info on baby names, baby name lists and lots of baby resources. Get your free ebook packed with baby tips for new parents, visit the biblical baby names website.
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