What's in a Name?

Nearly every time I'm asked my name, my answer is immediately followed by another question, usually "Where's that from?" or "What does that mean?"

Recently, I've answered the first question by saying, "It's the Latin transliteration of the Hebrew name which Matthew is the Greek transliteration of" which is more honest than saying "It's Hebrew" but also may be more than most people want to know, and doesn't really give them much that's useful to go on.

When I have more time, I tell the story of Mattathias of Modin and his sons, the Maccabees. The way I tell this story has also changed considerably over time, and changes with my audience.

I don't think I've ever satisfactorily answered the second question, and I don't think anyone else has either. What does it mean that I am named Mattathias (and not perhaps Matthew or Methuselah)? Has the name become a part of me? Have I become a part of it?


  1. For me, the name has become part of you. What I identify as Mattathias, is the insightful, unique person that is you; which, coincidently, is synonymous with the uncommonness of your name in our society.

  2. are these the questions? All of them?

  3. I've always wanted to know if I'm my nickname, or not. In some ways I love that I have two names that are mine, but other times I wonder which fits best. (Ironically enough, I was just grumbling to myself about people calling me "Liz" this morning. THAT name is not mine.)


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