Casper

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Casper
Journey of the Magi.jpg
Casper is considered one of the traditional names of the Biblical Magi (Kings). From Persian kaehbaed, khazana-dar, or ganjvaer, all meaning ‘treasure bearer’, it was ascribed by popular tradition in Europe to one of the three Magi. The supposed remains of the Magi were taken in the 12th century from Constantinople to Cologne, where they became objects of veneration.
Gender Male
Origin
Word/name Chaldean, Old Persian
Meaning "Master of the Treasure" "Imperial"

Casper (occasionally styled Kasper) is a personal name derived from Chaldean that means means "Treasurer". The origins of the name have been traced as far back as the Old Testament and variations of the name have been adopted by a variety of cultures and languages.

Origins[edit]

The name is derived from Gaspar which in turn is from an ancient Chaldean word, "Gizbar", which according to Strong's Concordance means "Treasurer". The word "Gizbar" appears in the Hebrew version of the Old Testament Book of Ezra (1:8). In fact, the modern Hebrew word for "Treasurer" is still "Gizbar". By the 1st century B.C. the Septuagint gave a Greek translation of "Gizbar" in Ezra 1:8 as "Gasbarinou". There are numerous modern variations such as Gaspar (Spanish and Portuguese), Gaspare (Italian), Gaspard (French), Kaspar (German, Persian, Dutch), Kašpar (Czech), Casper (English), Kacper (Polish), Kasperi (Finnish), Kasper (Danish), Gáspár (Hungarian),and Kaspars (Latvian).

By the 6th century, the name Gaspar was recorded in mosaic at the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy as one of the traditional names assigned by folklore to the anonymous Magi mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew account of the Nativity of Jesus. The letter "G" in the name Gaspar was clearly different from the letter "C" used elsewhere, suggesting that the name Gaspar preceded the name Caspar, and not the other way around as some have supposed.

The Western tradition of the name Gaspar also derives from an early 6th Century Greek manuscript, translated into the Latin "Excerpta Latina Barbari". A pseudo-Venerable Beda text, called "Collectanea et Flores", apparently continues the tradition of the name Caspar: "Secundus nomine Caspar" (P.L., XCIV, 541). This text is said to be from the 8th or 9th century, of Irish origin. As a surname, Gaspar survives today in Spanish, Portuguese and French, although the latter adds a silent d. It also survives in the Armenian name, Gasparian.

Use of the name in Europe[edit]

The basic names Gaspar, and its variants Caspar and Kaspar, along with Melchior and Balthazar or (Balthasar), the other two saints, wisemen, and kings depicted in the above basilica became family names and spread throughout Europe. Eventually, there would be dozens of variations due to suffixes (e.g. "-son","-sen", "-ovitch","-ski", etc.) and variations of spelling, pronunciation, and alphabets. For example, since "s"(Hungarian)="sh"(English)="sch"(German)="sz"(Polish), and since "s"(English, German, Dutch)="sz"(Hungarian), it is easy to see how Kaspar could become Kaschpar or Kaszpar. Some of them if written in Russian or Armenian would be totally unrecognizable if seen, but recognizable if heard.

In British and American English, the initial a in Gaspar, Kaspar, Caspar, etc. is now pronounced as in the word "hat", whereas in continental Europe, it remains as in the word "father". This, and other changes in English pronunciation, took place between 1200 AD and 1600 AD and are now known as the Great Vowel Shift.

Records indicate by the late 18th century a number of immigrants to America were changing the a to o in the first part of their names and -ar to -er in the last part, most likely to more closely approximate the continental European (rather than British) pronunciation. Examples include:

Individuals named Caspar[edit]

Individuals named Casper[edit]

See also[edit]