Bestowing a name is a very important decision. In fact, the giving of a name reminds us that we are co-creators with God, not just in bringing the child into the world, but in directing his or her path. Consider this. One of the defining characteristics of both creation accounts is the act of naming. God speaks the universe into existence in Genesis 1, and in so doing, his omnipotent utterance bequeaths a name to each aspect of creation. Similarly, in the Garden of Eden, one of the principal duties with which God entrusts man is the naming of the rest of the created order. Needless to say, Jennifer and I take this responsibility very seriously.
With our first daughter, Anna Sophia, we deliberated for a long time before settling on her name. We thought it sounded delightful and its meaning resonated with both of us. Anna means grace or gracious and Sophia means wisdom. Taken together, her name can mean grace and wisdom, graced with wisdom, or gracious wisdom. I personally liked that the name combined the biblical theological tradition with the Greek philosophical tradition. I hope my little Anna will be both a grace-filled woman of the Church and an independent-minded philosopher.
In considering a name for a second child, we had several favorites for similar reasons to those already mentioned with Anna. Some of the names we liked were Mary Catherine, Isabelle Rose, Olivia Marie, and Sarah Lynn. We settled on Sara(h) for several reasons. Two acquaintances had named their daughters Mary Catherine. Isabella is currently the second most popular name because of the Twilight series, so we didn’t want our daughter sharing a name with every other girl in the class. Jennifer did not prefer Olivia because of bad experiences with former students and acquaintances of the same name. We both agreed on Sara(h). We like what it means: princess. We also appreciate its biblical significance. It also sounds nice alongside Anna. Lynn means by the lake or pretty. The princess of the lake or the pretty princess suits us. Moreover, Jennifer’s mother passed on her middle name, Lynn, to Jennifer and so Jennifer wanted to continue that tradition. Hey, I can’t fault her for that since I love traditions myself.
What we cannot seem to agree on is whether we should go with Sara or Sarah. You would think that this would be a non-issue, but… I actually thought Sarah with an h was more biblical and thus more traditional. Besides, I reasoned, Sara without an h seems vogue, artsy, and trendy, all things which I could not in a million years relate to myself. It turns out I was wrong on the first count. The spelling of Sara(h) in the Latin Vulgate is Sarra and the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible translated the name to Sara, while the Protestant King James Bible translated it to Sarah. In terms of tradition, then, Sara is both closer to the Vulgate and the early Catholic rendering of the name. Wow, that was a stunner. Nowadays, most, if not every, translation of the Bible spells this biblical character as Sarah, hence my initial confusion and misunderstanding. I still think Sara is trendy and artsy, as the only two Saras that I have personally known or know of were either artists or somewhat quirky. However, those are not necessarily negative traits. I might not only like, but prefer, a quirky and artistic daughter. I still think Sarah with an h looks better next to Adam, Jennifer, and Anna, but my wife’s persistence and my new understanding of the Vulgate and the initial translations may sway me yet to Sara. What say you? Sara Lynn or Sarah Lynn?