Names from the Bible remain popular as American parents consider their options for naming both boys and girls.
Jacob was the most popular baby boy name in 2007, according to the Social Security Administration, which releases the most popular baby names each Mother's Day. Jacob has topped the list since 1999.
Rounding out the top 10 list of boy names, in order of popularity, were: Michael; Ethan; Joshua; Daniel; Christopher; Anthony; William; Matthew; and Andrew. Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Daniel, Matthew and Andrew are all names that can be found in the Bible.
Jacob, in the Bible, was the grandson of Abraham and son of Isaac. He fathered the 12 tribes of Israel and also had a twin brother, Esau. Incidentally, the most popular twin boy names are Jacob and … Joshua. Joshua was the successor to Moses.
Emily topped the list of most popular baby girl names, followed by: Isabella; Emma; Ava; Madison; Sophia; Olivia; Abigail; Hannah; and Elizabeth. Of those, the last three are names of biblical women.
"Strictly speaking, biblical names should refer only to the names of people who are mentioned in the Bible," say the experts at BabyNamesGarden.com. "However, there are many names in use today that have biblical roots, although they are not necessarily the names of actual persons in the Bible." It points to names like Hope and Grace as examples.
The Web site Biblical Baby Names shows how even seemingly non-biblical names can have that biblical tie-in. For example, Isabella, it claims, is related to Elisheba, which is the Hebrew name that has been translated as Elizabeth in Greek. Biblical Baby Names also claims Emma as a derivative of Emmanuel, links Madison with the Hebrew word Magdala (of Mary Magdalene fame), and on and on.
BabyNamesGarden.com points out that the Bible names fewer women than it does men, so there are fewer female names to choose from. It also claims that girl names have historically been more varied than boy names. Together, those facts explain why the top ten girl names reveal fewer names directly from the Bible.
"Experts also may be surprised by the extent to which American parents are naming their daughters after spiritual and philosophical concepts," read the SSA release. "One of the most popular names for girls (rising this year to number 31) is Nevaeh, which is 'Heaven' spelled backwards."
"Heaven" itself made the list as the 263rd most popular girl name. Other similarly themed names were: Destiny (No. 41); Trinity (No. 72); Serenity (No. 126); Harmony (No. 315); Miracle (No. 461); Charity (No. 673); Journey (No. 692); Destini (No. 914); and Essence (No. 930).
Mary, the name for Jesus' mother, ranked 93rd this year. It has been inching lower on the list since 1961, when it was the No. 1 name for baby girls. It had held that spot consecutively, with the exception of six years, since the records began in 1880.
Eve, the name of the first woman, according to the book of Genesis, has never ranked higher than No. 414. Last year it came in at No. 618.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.