Theophoric name

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A theophoric name (from Greek: θεόφορος, theophoros, (in neu adj. form) "names derived from a god", lit. "bearing or carrying a god")[1][2] embeds the name of a god, both invoking and displaying the protection of that deity. For example, names embedding Apollo, such as Apollonios or Apollodorus, existed in Greek antiquity.[3]

Theophoric names were also exceedingly common in the ancient Near East and Mesopotamia, where the personal name of an individual included the name of a god in whose care the individual is entrusted. The practice, called in onomastics theophory, refers to this naming convention of adding a god's name (or the local equivalent of the generic term for god) to an individual's proper name.[4][5][6] Traces of such names are found today in names such as Theodore (theos, "god"; dore, origin of word compound in Greek: doron, "gift"; hence "God's gift"; in Greek: Theodoros) or less recognisably as John (deriving from the Hebrew "Yohannan," meaning "Yahweh is gracious").

Classical theophoric names[edit]

Christian theophoric names[edit]

Some Christian saints have polytheistic theophoric names (such as Saint Dionysius, Saint Mercurius, Saint Saturninus, Saint Hermes, Saint Martin of Tours).

Germanic theophoric names[edit]

Rarely, Germanic names contain the element Wod (such as Woðu-riðe), potentially pointing to an association with the god Odin. In connection, numerous names containing wulf "wolf" have been taken as totemistic, expressing association with Odin in the earliest period, although -ulf degenerated into a mere suffix from an early time (Förstemann 1856).

Hinduism[edit]

Some traditional Hindu names honor Hindu gods or goddesses. Often, the same name is ascribed to multiple deities.

It is not uncommon to find Hindus with names of gods. Shiva, Krishna, Ganesh, Durga, Radha, and Sita are all names of Hindu gods or goddesses as well as being personal names for Hindus. Hindu gods themselves have multiple names, so it is not always apparent if an Indian name is the name of a god or not.

Islam[edit]

Further information: List of Arabic theophoric names

Judaism and biblical[edit]

El[edit]

See also: El (god)

Yahweh[edit]

See also: Yahweh and YHWH

The name of the Israelite deity YHWH (usually shortened to Yah or Yahu, and Yeho or Yo) appears as a prefix or suffix in many theophoric names of the First Temple Period. For example, Yirme-yahu (Jeremiah), Yesha-yahu (Isaiah), Netan-yah, Yedid-yah, Adoni-yah, Nekhem-yah, Yeho-natan (Jonathan), Yeho-chanan, Yeho-shua (Joshua), Yeho-tzedek, Zekharya (Zechariah).

"Yahū" or "Yah" is the abbreviation of YHWH when used as a suffix in Hebrew names; as a prefix it appears as "Yehō-", or "Yo". It was formerly thought to be abbreviated from the Masoretic pronunciation "Yehovah". There is an opinion[7] that, as Yahweh is likely an imperfective verb form, "Yahu" is its corresponding preterite or jussive short form: compare yiŝtahaweh (imperfective), yiŝtáhû (preterit or jussive short form) = "do obeisance".

However, the name Judah (Yehūdah) is not an example: here the ye- is a verb imperfective prefix, and the name means "He adds [a son to my family]". Some other examples of "y-" in biblical Hebrew names are also verb imperfectives.

In the table below, 13 theophoric names with "Yeho" prefixes have corresponding forms (in bold type) where the letters "eh"' have been omitted. There is a theory by Christian Ginsburg that this is due to Hebrew scribes omitting the "h", changing Jeho (יְהוֹ) into Jo (יוֹ), to make the start of "Yeho-" names not sound like an attempt to pronounce the Divine Name.[8][9]

Table of theophoric names with "Yeho" and "Yo" prefixes[edit]

[Note that theophoric names with "יוֹ" [i.e. "Yo"] are written in bold letters.]

Strong's # Hebrew word Strong's Transliteration
Strong's Words Compounded
English Spelling
3059
יְהוֹאָחָז
Yehow'achaz
Jehovah & achaz [# 270]
Jehoachaz
3099
יוֹאָחָז
Yow'achaz
"a form of 3059"
Joachaz
3060
יְהוֹאָש
Yehow'ash
Jehovah & 'esh [# 784]
Jehoash
3101
יוֹאָש
Yow'ash
"a form of 3060"
Joash
3075
יְהוֹזָבָד
Yehowzabad
Jehovah & zabad [# 2064]
Jehozabad
3107
יוֹזָבָד
Yowzabad
"a form of 3075"
Jozabad
3076
יְהוֹחָנָן
Yehowchanan
Jehovah & chanan [# 2603]
Jehochanan
3110
יוֹחָנָן
Yowchanan
"a form of 3076"
Jochanan
3077
יְהוֹיָדָע
Yehowyada
Jehovah & yada [# 3045]
Jehojada
3111
יוֹיָדָע
Yowyada
"a form of 3077"
Jojada
3078
יְהוֹיָכִין
Yehowyakiyn
Jehovah & kuwn [# 3559]
Jehojakin
3112
יוֹיָכִין
Yowyakiyn
"a form of 3078"
Jojakin
3079
יְהוֹיָקִים
Yehowyaqiym
Jehovah & quwm [# 3965]
Jehojakim
3113
יוֹיָקִים
Yowyaqiym
"a form of 3079"
Jojakim
3080
יְהוֹיָרִיב
Yehowyariyb
Jehovah & riyb [# 7378]
Jehojarib
3114
יוֹיָרִיב
Yowyariyb
"a form of 3080"
Jojarib
3082
יְהוֹנָדָב
Yehownadab
Jehovah & nadab [# 5068]
Jehonadab
3122
יוֹנָדָב
Yownadab
"a form of 3082"
Jonadab
3083
יְהוֹנָתָן
Yehownathan
Jehovah & nathan [# 5414]
Jehonathan
3129
יוֹנָתָן
Yownathan
"a form of 3083"
Jonathan
3085
יְהוֹעַדָּה
Yehow'addah
Jehovah & 'adah [# 5710]
Jehoaddah
3087
יְהוֹצָדָק
Yehowtsadaq
Jehovah & tsadaq [# 6663]
Jehotsadak
3136
יוֹצָדָק
Yowtsadaq
"a form of 3087"
Jotsadak
3088
יְהוֹרָם
Yehowram
Jehovah & ruwm [# 7311]
Jehoram
3141
יוֹרָם
Yowram
"a form of 3088"
Joram
3092
יְהוֹשָפָט
Yehowshaphat
Jehovah & shaphat [# 8199]
Jehoshaphat
3146
יוֹשָפָט
Yowshaphat
"a form of 3092"
Joshaphat

Table of Theophoric names with "Yah" and "Yahu" suffixes[edit]

Strong's # Hebrew word Strong's Transliteration
Strong's Words Compounded
English Spelling
3470
יְשַׁעְיָה
Yesha'yah
yasha [# 3467] & Yah
Jeshajah
3470a
יְשַׁעְיָהוּ
Yesha'yahuw
yasha [# 3467] & Yahu
Jeshajahu
5418
נְתַנְיָה
Nethanyah
nathan [# 5414] & Yah
Nethanjah
5418a
נְתַנְיָהוּ
Nethanyahuw
nathan [# 5414] & Yahu
Nethanjahu
138
אֲדֹנִיָּה
'Adoniyah
'adown [# 113] & Yah
Adonijah
138a
אֲדֹנִיָּהוּ
'Adoniyahuw
'adown [# 113] & Yahu
Adonijahu
452
אֵלִיָּה
'Eliyah
'el [# 410] & Yah
Elijah
452a
אֵלִיָּהוּ
'Eliyahu
'el [# 410] & Yahu
Elijahu
3414
יִרְמְיָה
Yirmeyah
ruwm [# 7311] & yah
Jirmejah
3414a
יִרְמְיָהוּ
Yirmeyahuw
ruwm [# 7311] & yahu
Jirmejahu
5166
נְחֶמְיָה
Nechemyah
nacham [# 5162] & yah
Nechemjah

Referring to other gods[edit]

Theophoric names containing "Baal" were sometimes "censored" as -bosheth = "shameful one", whence Ishbosheth etc.

Some names might be controversial theological statements: Bealiah could mean Baal is Yahweh and Elijah could mean Yahweh is El (and vice-versa, respectively).[citation needed] On the other hand, as traditionally understood, these names simply mean "YHWH is Master" and "YHWH is God."[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "theophoric". Merriam-Webster online dictionary. 
  2. ^ θεόφορος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  3. ^ Shendge, Malati J. The Language of the Harappans: From Akkadian to Sanskrit, 1997. p 24. "It may also be interpreted as theophorous names, i.e. the name of the god forming part of the name of an individual. The usage is theophorous because besides the eponymous Asura, each individual of high or low status has a personal name."
  4. ^ Zadok, R. The Pre-hellenistic Israelite Anthroponymy and Prosopography, 1988. p 16. "The Period of the Judges (J) The theophorous names constitute a sizable minority (almost 40%). Many of the hypocoristica possibly originate from compound theophorous names (e.g., Abdon, Gerd, J21 1 1 1 1, 2141 12)."
  5. ^ Benz, Frank L. Personal Names in the Phoenician and Punic Inscriptions. p 233. "Any one of the three major types of elements, divine name or theophorous, nominal, or verbal can make up a Phoenician-Punic hypocoristic name. The divine name hypocoristic is the least attested. The simplest formation is that of a single ..."
  6. ^ Drijvers, H. J. W. Cults and Behafs at Edessa, 1980. p 21. "The proper names, which are mainly theophorous ones, may increase our knowledge of the religious feeling of the people of Edessa and of the cults practiced by them, insofar as their theophorous elements reflect existing beliefs."
  7. ^ Anson F. Rainey, How Yahweh Was Pronounced, QUERIES & COMMENTS.
  8. ^ Christian Ginsburg, Introduction To the Massoretico-Critical Edition Of The Hebrew Bible, p 369
  9. ^ Scott Jones, Jehovah

External links[edit]