Names & Their Power

Most people are not aware that the significance of names has changed over the course of history. In the period before the common era a person’s name was believed to be a thing of power. A name could be used to curse or to bless, and could convey a haecceity, or a person’s individual essence. This tradition has persisted in Judaism, where most pious believers would never speak the name of God, and even the English common noun is often spelled ‘G-d’. Moses’ first commandment is really about not misusing the power of the name of God. The tradition of a woman taking the surname of her spouse is a consequence of the societal patriarchy extant throughout most of human history. As society has changed in that regard, more marriages have given rise to hyphenated surnames. Religions that have remained highly patriarchal are much less accepting of merging surnames.

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