Next in the evolution of naming came the attachment to previous fathers. “There was a certain man whose name was Elkanah, son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephramite.” (1 Samuel 1:1). In some cultures it is not unusual for the person’s last name, his real last name, to include 30 progenitors. In the everyday world, the person with the grand name shortens it for convenience and government records. I knew a Paul Susarikanon. That part was just five syllables of his really long true name. It was an honorable thing to know his full name in that culture. The use of computers further limits these types of surnames with only a few spaces available in the name field.
In the 1500’s, place names surfaced as surnames. John of York, John of Nottingham, or John of Boughton House are examples. Later in that century, a person’s trade could become a part of the scheme. Russell Smith, Richard Carpenter, and Anita Baker are examples. As the population continued to grow, middle names became useful. This gave people a multiple choice for nicknames, too. My friend John P. Smith averred the name “Johnny” and took up his middle name Parker as his common name with friends.
Now we have password names, social media names, and algorithms for our use in encryption. Some have a website name, too. In a way, [email protected] is a form of name. The true rebels are people like Beyonce, Prince, and Madonna holding to a single word.
When Cindi and I lived in Spain, we researched all the Chinese restaurants in our town of Torremolinos. At our favorite, we found a preferred waiter who was Chinese. I asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “ You are American so my name is Charlie.” I said, “ What is your real name? What Does your mother call you?” He surprised us when he responded, “Carlos”. He was a fourth generation Spaniard after all.
The most published name of all is Jesus. He says in Revelation 2:17, “I will give to him (who overcomes) a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” Yes, that same Jesus, the Christ, has a unique name chosen for you that he will personally hand to you when you meet with Him in Heaven. Now THAT is certainly special, isn’t it?