roamin' catholic: karin rosner

What’s Your Name, Little Girl?

Posted on: February 27, 2011

My name was supposed to be Jennifer (from the Welsh, “pure and yielding”), just like thousands of other baby girls born in the US during 1970.  My grandmother hated the name. Apparently the British nurse in charge of the post-war refugee camp was named Jenny. Nana had legendary hatred for Jenny, and with a stamp of my grandmother’s Austrian foot, I became called “Karin”. To make my life difficult, my name was not Americanized. I was Kah-rin. Achtung, Baby!

I gave up on anyone pronouncing or spelling my name correctly when I was about four years old and started Pre-K. I just went along with whatever anyone wrote or pronounced. Sometimes, teachers would make an effort to spell my name right.  My own aunts and uncles would misspell my name on birthday cards, Christmas cards… only my birth certificate proclaimed the truth about my name.  As a grown-up, I switch between the American and the German style pronunciations depending on how many other people share my name (or anything sounding like it from Keren to Kyryn) wherever I work. I’m thinking about making some kind of formal announcement and asking everyone to pronounce my name “Kah-rin” permanently.

Karin comes from the Greek root name that also includes “Katharine” and “Karen” – it means pure. Regardless of which name I received, Karin or Jennifer… I was “pure”.

Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with incidents of naming.

There is no mention in Genesis 3 of God naming the first man, exactly. Adam (which comes from the Hebrew word Adom denoting clay or earth). God tries to find a suitable partner for Adam and the first man then names all the creatures of the earth. Not only until after the creation of the first woman and the expulsion from Eden does Adam give a name to his wife,  Eve (in Hebrew, Adomah)  meaning meaning “mother of all the living”. (Gen 3:20)

Name switches run throughout the Old Testament. Abram and Sarai (in Gen 17: 5- 15), and Jacob (Gen 32: 27- 28; 35:9-15;  46:2-4) all receive significant changes in their names to signify what God is doing in their lives and in the history of their offspring. God reveals his own name to Moses before sending him on his mission, I am who I am. (Exodus 3: 14). There are dozens of incidents of naming and  re-naming running throughout the Old Testament. Most importantly for Christians, we believe that the Son of God, the Living Word was named even before he became incarnate. Christians believe that when Isaiah prophesied in &:14, he proclaimed that the Messiah will be called Immanuel, “God With Us”.

Before Christ was born, Luke’s Gospel (1:18) tells us that the Angel Gabriel told John the Baptist’s father Zechariah exactly what his child’s name was to be. Zechariah  was literally dumbstruck and doubting, and was made mute until he wrote out the new baby’s name for all to see. “His name is John”. (1:63) In Hebrew, John is Yochanan, meaning “God is gracious”.

Mary (in Hebrew, Miriam, which alternately has been cited to mean “beloved”. “bitter”, “rebellious” or “strong” depending on the source)   mother of Jesus, was a shocked, but had no doubts when Gabriel told her what to name her son, Yeshua (or Joshua) “God saves”:

“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31-33 TNIV)
Early in John’s Gospel, Jesus changes a signifcant person’s name. Simon BarJona is brought into the group, and he becomes Cephas or “Rocky”! We know him as Peter;  in Latin, Petrus.

“And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter ).”  (John 1: 41 TNIV)

Later on, The Book of Acts relates the story of Saul (in Hebrew “asked for”), a man who vehemently attacked and persecuted new followers of Jesus. After his dramatic experience and change of heart, experiencing the Risen Christ, he changes his own name to Paul (in Greek, “small”) and begins his mission to the Gentiles. (Acts 13:9)

God had some kind of hand in every name change. The questions that I’ve been pondering this week are, “What does God call… you? Does your name mean anything to you? Do you think that your name is coincidental? What does your name mean to the God who created you?”

What do you think?


2 Responses to "What’s Your Name, Little Girl?"

Our daughters’ name is Mara ok ….. now how would u pronounce….. Sara or Tara? ,I would use the (apple) sounding A .
Well for some reason since she was a little girl everyone wanted to call her Mara with the (Mark )A SOUND .I don’t get it never will .She has gone throughout her 24 years correcting people as I’m sure you have . I think it bothered her more during school than now but I’d have to ask her .
Anyhow I figured there was a twist on pronunciation of your name ,but was’nt positive !!!! Now I think I know it’s Kah-rin? with some flem lol . Yes/No???

Thinking about the “flem”. I think you are right. It’s a guttural “r” in the middle.

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