Judith Tropea, author of children's books, is also the author of Classic Biblical Baby Names: Timeless Names for Modern Parents. (Bantam Dell, New York, 2006). In this interview, Judith shares some of her insights on choosing a biblical baby name.
The subtitle of your book is “Timeless Names For Modern Parents.” Why is it important that a name be “timeless”?
A name lasts a lifetime, and as we all know, trends change through the course of one’s life. A timeless name will last with your baby forever, without grouping him/her together with the slew of other “Alexis’s” from the 80s, or “Brittany’s” from the 90’s or whatever other decade your baby was born. A timeless name never goes out of fashion, and is one that will stand through your child’s life without preconceived notions as to what that child should be.
Some of the names in the Bible may be considered unusual, and until recent years, people in the general population tended to stay away from uncommon names. In the last decade or so, people have become more accepting of names that stray a bit from the ordinary, and in fact, many parents are specifically looking for names that will help their children stand apart.
In your introduction, you state that “the Bible is a rich resource waiting to be mined.” Why do you think it has not been deeply mined so far?
Frankly, there are more choices for boys’ names in the Bible so there is a larger variety of biblical boys’ names for parents to choose from.
In 2005, the top 10 names for boys (SSA data) included no less than 8 biblical names. For girls, the number was 2 out of 10. This discrepancy has been fairly consistent for many years. Why do you think boys’ names tend to be more biblical, and girls’ less so?
The “meaning” is the literal translated meaning of the word or name from the original language. The “spiritual connotation” is what the name has come to mean in the context of the story or its use in the Bible.
You provide a great deal of information for each name in your book. In that regard, what is the difference between “meaning” and “spiritual connotation”?
Why did you feel it was important to give the “background story” with each name?
I thought the background story would be helpful for parents who are trying to choose a name of spiritual importance, so they can see where the name originally came from, and what reference there is to it in the Bible. Having the whole story gives a better dimension to the name than simply saying, it means a single thing.
For the last 50 years or so, Adam has never been out of the top 100 names in the U.S. Eve, on the other hand, has never made it into the top 500. Why do you think that is?
It’s hard to say, but I would guess it may be because Eve is not really looked upon with the same kind of forgiveness as Adam. Eve is the one who fell first, by simply entering the discussion with Satan and is often viewed upon as almost an accomplice to Adam’s fall. So, perhaps people shy away from the name because of the connotation of a temptress who wreaked a lot of havoc for mankind.
Can you pick 3 biblical boys’ names, and 3 girls’, that you feel would be appropriate for modern parents, that are presently largely overlooked or forgotten?
Boys: Asher; Barak; Jakim
Girls: Dannah, Ivah, Zaccai .
If you had to pick one reason why a biblical name can be such a wonderful gift to a baby, what would that reason be?
A biblical name gives a baby a connection to spirituality that may be a springboard to finding spirituality later in life.
If prospective parents are expecting twin boys, what biblical names might you suggest? Twin girls? Boy and girl?
Twin boys: Bartholomew and Nathaneal
Twin girls: Cassia and Myra
Boy and Girl: Noah and Calah
You have obviously done a great deal of research for your book. Are you a student of the bible first, or a student of names, or both?
I have been a student of the bible first, and subsequently my interest in names led to this book.
What do you feel is most unique about your book, compared to other biblical naming books?
This book provides a wealth of background information on each name, and where it appears in the bible that gives parents a more substantial frame of reference for the name than what is given in other books.
Among all the biblical names, what are some of your personal favorites?
Boys: Adin; Darius; Gabriel
Girls: Bethany; Calah; Rachel
You may also want to see our page about Biblical baby names, for a list of suggestions of biblical boy's and girl's names."