Names part 1
April 13, 2009
Since my sister Annette posted about how she named her babies a while back I thought I should do the same. I’ll spread it out over more than a single post, though.
The basic agreement we had was that, while we would both consult on the names, Julia would pick the boy names and I would pick the girl names. If we’d known how many of each we would end up with we might have done things differently, but of course before we had any we didn’t know we would have so many boys.
One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 8:18:
Behold, I and the children the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.
So while I didn’t consider naming any of them Maher-shalal-hash-baz or Shear-jashub (or even Isaiah) I did think it would be good to have names that actually mean something. I also thought I would like names that also belonged to ancestors or spiritual leaders. So I tried to pick names (and encourage Julia to pick names) that had a spiritual meaning or tied them to an ancestor or prophet or, if possible, both.
So we come to our first child, a girl, and here is the story of her name.
One semester at BYU I took Pearl of Great Price from Hugh Nibley. His pedagogical style was completely traditional: he lectured all semester and then at the end of the year had a final exam, all essay questions, that was the sole determiner of your grade. He also didn’t cover the whole Pearl of Great Price in one semester; fall semesters he taught the Book of Moses, and spring semesters he taught the Book of Abraham. I took the class in Spring, so I got the Book of Abraham.
As I was going through the test, one of the questions was “What do bees have to do with the Book of Abraham?” I decided to skip that question and come back to it after answering the others, but when I got to the end I forgot to go back and turned in the test without answering it. (It’s been so long now I’m not sure what I might have said, but I do remember that the bee was a royal symbol in Egypt, and he told us a legend about bees building a honeycomb in Asenath’s mouth to purify her before she married Joseph. And of course there’s the part about Deseret in the Book of Ether.) Well, not answering that question doesn’t seem to have affected my grade, but it still bothered me. Now, one of my great-great-great-grandmothers was named Sarah Melissa Holman Johnson, and Sarah was the name of Abraham’s wife (it means “princess”) and Melissa means “honeybee”, so I decided if I ever had a daughter I would name her Sarah Melissa. And that’s how our first child got her name.