Finding Character Names in the Bible

If you’ve followed JPC Allen Writes for very long, you know I love names and finding the perfect ones for my characters. For my cozy mystery series, finding character names in the Bible helped me create and organize my characters.

Make Characters Distinct

When I wrote “A Rose from the Ashes”, I had two families of three kids. To help the reader keep the families straight, I chose Bible names for the Malinowski family since I introduce them in a scene set at a church. But I didn’t want to pick popular Bible names–too generic. So I went with Aaron and Micah–and he’s called Micah, not Mike. The third kid in that family has a non-Bible name, but that’s because he has a family name.

One of the most helpful tips I’ve read on naming was in an early edition of Beyond Jason and Jennifer. The authors discussed how parents tend to select similar style names. Parents who name a son Richard are unlikely to pick Rainbow for their daughter. And a girl named Harvest probably won’t have a brother named John.

So, since the Malinowski kids had Bible names, I thought Bible names would make sense for other members of their family. Their grandmother is Lydia and her sister is Martha.

Make Characters Unique

If you want a character to stand out, choose a Bible name that’s been overlooked. Just make sure it’s easily pronounceable. Not many characters are name Adonijah, and there’s a reason for that. I picked Reuel to be the middle name of the Malinowski family name that’s passed from father to son. It’s easy to sound out and it’s not used much–unless you write epic fantasy.

Another approach to finding character names in the Bible is looking at places and words. I know of girls names Selah and Jubilee. You can also go the Puritan route and pick virtue names, like Truth or Providence. Jericho and Bethany have been used for awhile, but what about Sinai or Canaan or Kadesh?

What are your favorite names from the Bible? Has the Bible inspired you to name a child or a character?

3 thoughts on “Finding Character Names in the Bible

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  1. I like the old name Myra, and I discovered it’s the name of a port Paul sailed to. I haven’t used it yet for a character, but it’s always in the running for a female character. I think it’s good you brought up the point that usually families choose names that are similar in style. On that note, I’ve found the baby name websites to be helpful in that regard, because they often suggest, “parents who like this name also like these names,” so that has helped me when naming fictional siblings.

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