In my writing today, I considered how today is called Wednesday, the middle of the week.
Who named the days of the week? Who came up with that? What period or person, or culture and now we follow it with no questions asked. We assume it’s right.
What other day would it have been called? We name things to categorize them. What if there weren’t any names for things?
The world just is without names; it just is. Man attaches names to things. He names them, and yet perhaps they are nameless.
The Babylonians named each of the days after one of the five planetary bodies known to them (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) and after the Sun and the Moon.
This was the custom later adopted by the Romans. For centuries the Romans used a period of eight days in civil practice, but in 321 CE Emperor Constantine established the seven-day week in the Roman calendar and designated Sunday as the first day of the week.
Some of the oldest names we have are those of Hebrew origin. Their meanings typically fit with their respective “name stories” in the Hebrew Bible.
For example Adam (“earth”) and Eve (“living”) go without saying.
Below are some other examples:
- Lamech (Noah’s father) named his son whilst saying “He shall comfort us.” (Genesis 5:29)
- Apropos, Noah means “rest, peace, comfort” – something he brought to mankind after the Great Flood subsided.
- Abraham means “father of a multitude” – the ultimate patriarch of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
- Sarah named her son Isaac (“laughter”) because God gave her great cause for joy when he was born (Genesis 21:6).
Many Old Hebrew names feature God’s name in its core meaning: Michael (“who is like God?”), Daniel (“God is my judge”), Matthew (“gift of God”), Isaiah (“God is salvation”), Gabriel (“man of God”), Samuel (“God listens”), John (“God is gracious”), Nathaniel (“God has given”), Jeremiah (“God exalts”)…and the list goes on.
The book of Exodus has many names that we are familiar with, such as Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Many of these names are believed to have Egyptian roots because this is where they were born.
The Impact of Greek Names
Also in Ancient Greece, the earliest evidence of naming practices is used for compound names. For example: two elements with completely different meanings brought together in some meaningful way, reflecting their own cultural values.
Some of the most famous examples are:
- Αλεξανδρος (Alexandros) “defender of mankind”
- Νικολαος (Nikolaos) “people of victory”
- Φιλιππος (Philippos) “lover of horses”
- Γεωργιος (Georgios) “worker of the earth”
- Theophoric (God-bearing) names were also used in the pre-Christian Era
- Διονυσιος (Dionysos) “Zeus of Nysa”
- Δημητριος (Demetrios) “earth mother”
- Ἀπολλόδοτος (Apollodotos) “given by Apollo”
- Θεοδωρος (Theodoros) “gift of God”
Theodoros later came to be repurposed easily from pagan to Christian times.
The New Testament, originally written in Greek, had a profound impact on the spread and persistence of Greek names in Western Civilization.
The Ancient Romans and the Three Names
Also, the Ancient Romans developed what is known as the tria nomina (“three names”), which was firmly in place by the first century BC.
Initially reserved for members of the aristocracy, the tria nomina spread across the greater society for utilitarian reasons—it made for easier identification.
The tria nomina is made up of the Praenomen (given name), the Nomen (clan name) and the Cognomen (nickname).
Examples of the praenomen might be:
- Quintus (“fifth” born child)
- Lucius (child born at the “light” of dawn)Gaius (“rejoicing”)
The nomen reflected the child’s most important public name, an indicator of his clan membership and therefore social status.
- Aurelius (“gilded, golden”)
- Aemilius (“rivaling”)
- Julius (“relating to Jupiter”)
Finally, the cognomen, (an extra personal name given to an ancient Roman citizen, functioning rather like a nickname and typically passed down from father to son, a name or nickname.)
- Rufus (“red-haired”)
- Cato (“prudent”)
- Severus (“strict”)
- Cicero (“eloquent”)
Like modern nicknames, cognomen were not always favorable Below are some examples that may describe this:
- Brutus (“stupid”)
- Nasica (“big nose”)
- Crassus (“fat”)
- Bibulus (“drunkard”)
Cognomen were eventually inherited and passed down with pride despite any original negative meaning.
What was more important was the status of the name, which was elevated by the men who made something of it.
~ Stephen Hanson
Stephen Hanson of In His Truth Ministries came to The LORD is a special way in 1975 and has prophesied regularly since. In these end-time birthing pangs we are reminded that judgment must first begin with the household of God. Will we be prepared and ready?