Friday, September 30, 2011

What's to a Name?

Hello, all ye faithful readers, (I’m listening to the theme from Superman, and I’m feeling all regal and such…thus the “ye.”)

Just this past Thursday, September 29, was the Feast of the Archangels in the Roman Catholic Church. As such, I’ve always found this feast interesting. The topic of angels is inexhaustible, and I’ve always found it quite fascinating. But before I get too off-track…to the point:

The names of the three Archangels have always fascinated me. Not so much the names as their traditional Hebrew meanings. I will give the meanings below, but first a note on the importance of names.

The name we give to something has such an incredible impact on the thing itself. Names define it. It gives it meaning. It allows us as humans to understand the things that are named. Whether it be people, places, things, descriptions, concepts, ideas; the reason we know what these things are is because of the name that is given to them. The name of a thing is the word that describes what it means to be that thing. The study of etymology, or where a word comes from, is a fascinating one. For example, the very word etymology comes from the Greek word etumon meaning “true meaning” and the Greek word logia which is itself derived from logos meaning “word, speech.” So, we get the study of the true meaning of the word. Another favorite of mine is circumbendibus, which comes from Latin roots, and is defined as, “a roundabout way of saying something in a roundabout way.”

For personal names, the meaning of the name gives it all that much more purpose and depth. I recently wrote an essay on the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, and discovered for myself the importance of the Name. To know one’s name is to know one. In the case of Christ, this is no different. Of course, I pray the Name of Jesus, not the name of Steve (or Chad or Greg or Melanie, for that matter.)

I encourage you to think about this. Ponder the importance of the name of Jesus. Pray with it.

Below are included a list of just a few Biblical names and their meanings.

Michael: From the Hebrew Mikha’el, meaning, “Who is like God?” A rhetorical question, the name implies that there is no one like God.

Gabriel: From the Hebrew Gavri’el, meaning, “Strength/Strong man of God.”

Raphael: From the Hebrew Rafa’el, meaning, “God’s healing.”

Samuel: From the Hebrew Shemu’el, meaning, “God has heard.”

Emmanuel: From the Hebrew Immanu’el, meaning, “God is with us.”

Adam: From the Hebrew word for, “Man.”

Andrew: From the Greek Andreas, derived from aner, means “Man."

Peter: This one is just too cool. So, in the Bible, Jesus tells Simon that he will be called Peter, the rock upon which the Church is built. In the original Aramaic, the name was Cephas and it means, “rock.” The Greek word for rock is Petras, where we Anglos get Peter. The Spanish word for rock is Pedras, where they get Pedro. The old French word for stone is Pierre.

Matthew: From the Hebrew Mattiyahu, meaning, “Gift of Yawheh.”

Jesus: From the Aramaic Yeshu’a, derived from Hebrew Yehoshu’a, meaning, “Yawhweh is salvation.”

For more names and their meanings, visit this website: Leave a comment if you find your name and its meaning.

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