Monday, October 10, 2011
Bottom of the Barrel: Barnabas
In 2010, 9 American boys were given the name Barnabas.
I can definitely see Barnabas appealing to a certain crowd. I live in a city in the Northeast, where I see plenty of under-5s named Julius, Sebastian, and Lucius. If you're trying to name little Leonidas's brother, Barnabas seems like a reasonable choice. I would imagine that most modern boys named Barnabas go by Barnabas, not Barney.
While St. Barnabas was an important member of the early Christian church, I can't really see it being a popular choice among modern American Christians. It seems to me that Christians who wish to signal their Christianity through their children's names have borrowed heavily from the Old Testament. Nothing says Christianity like Judaism, so we have lots of little Jeremiahs (#52) and Josiahs (#77) running around, not to mention the Levis (#70) and Elijahs (#18). It's not that early Christian names like Matthew and John have fallen out of favor — though Peter, Paul, and Mark have seen better days — they're just so unremarkable after long generations of use that they don't really signal "Christian" in the aggressive way that Hezekiah does.
What do you think? Barnabas: urban hipster or brother to Nehemiah? Neither? Both?