Written over a span of hundreds of years, the Christian Bible is one of the world's most important religious texts. The Old Testament books, which scholars say were written between 1400 and 400 B.C., and the New Testament books—which are believed to have been written in a much shorter spurt during the first century A.D.—tell a story of the relationship between God and humans. The individual books tell classic stories, like Noah's Ark and David and Goliath, relay prophecies, and offer inspiration and comfort. They also include a whole host of characters, from kings to prostitutes to archangels.
While Christianity is not regarded as one of the oldest religions in the world, there's no denying that it has a long and culturally important history. Christianity is the largest religion in the world today, with more than 2 billion followers (roughly one-third of the global population)—a massive growth from its first-century origins as a sect of Judaism.
Many scholars and pundits have argued that much of U.S. culture has been shaped by Christianity. There may be laws in place regarding the separation of church and state, but with so many adherents it's impossible to separate the two completely. One place we can see this religious overlap in secular life is in baby names.
In this article, Stacker looks at 50 biblical names (25 for girls, 25 for boys) that are still popular today. Using data from the Social Security Administration, last updated in 2018, we've ranked the names by their popularity that same year. From Eve to Noah and everything in between, read on to find out which biblical monikers are holding strong nearly 2,000 years after the Bible was written.
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- Rank among all girl names: #442
- Babies born Eve in 2018: 716
Eve is one of the best-known women characters in the Hebrew Bible. The mother of humanity, Eve is infamous for asking Adam to bite from the forbidden fruit and causing the downfall of all of humanity. Rapper and actress Eve Jihan Jeffers shares her name with the Bible's first woman.
- Rank among all boy names: #51
- Babies born Isaiah in 2018: 6,614
One of the Bible's most important prophets, Isaiah, which means "the Lord is salvation," has an Old Testament book named after him. Christians believe that many of the prophecies made in his writings will be fulfilled with the return of Christ. Famous Isaiahs include Isaiah Washington, who played Dr. Preston Burke on “Grey's Anatomy.”
- Rank among all girl names: #440
- Babies born Selah in 2018: 719
The word Selah appears in the Hebrew Bible more than 70 times. As an esoteric concept found most frequently in the Psalms, Selah means “to stop and listen” or to reflect on what you have just heard. Lauryn Hill and partner Rohan Marley (Bob Marley's son)named their daughter Selah.
- Rank among all boy names: #49
- Babies born Thomas in 2018: 6,779
One of the 12 apostles of Jesus, Thomas is most famous for doubting. Hesitant to accept the other apostles' tales of the resurrection, Christians often see Thomas as a skeptic. “Forrest Gump” and “Castaway” alum Tom Hanks' full name is Thomas, as is New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady.
- Rank among all girl names: #408
- Babies born Sarai in 2018: 753
Sarai had her name changed to Sarah after the birth of her son. The mother of Israel, God promises her early in the Old Testament that she will see her lineage made into a great nation—although she remains barren until she is 90 when she and her husband Abraham give birth to a son called Isaac. Sarai Givaty, an Israeli actress who has appeared on shows like "NCIS" and "CSI," shares her name with the ancestress of her people, as does Sarai Gascón Moreno, a paralympic swimmer from Catalonia, Spain.
- Rank among all boy names: #48
- Babies born Nathan in 2018: 6,790
There are two important Nathans in the Hebrew Old Testament. The first was a prophet who told King David his throne would be established forever—and who told the people that Solomon must be the one to take the throne from his father. The other Nathan was King David's son, through whom's bloodline Jesus of Nazareth supposedly descended.
- Rank among all girl names: #320
- Babies born Phoebe in 2018: 1,018
Meaning pure or radiant as the moon, Phoebe was a small biblical character who delivered Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Only about 50 words of Romans are dedicated to her, but the name has endured even still. Phoebe Tonkin of “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals” fame shares her name with the Christian leader.
- Rank among all boy names: #47
- Babies born Asher in 2018: 6,802
Asher was the eighth son of Jacob and one of the originators of the 12 tribes of Israel. The Asherites have one of the least eventful histories of all the tribes, having never produced a king or a judge. Former Broadway star-turned-film-actor and rapper Asher Monroe carries the biblical moniker.
- Rank among all girl names: #303
- Babies born Miriam in 2018: 1,088
Moses' sister Miriam watched over him as he was sent down the Nile River, helping to ensure he landed in the arms of the Egyptian princess who raised him. Miriam is also the first woman in the Bible to bear the title of “prophet.”
- Rank among all boy names: #45
- Babies born Caleb in 2018: 6,929
While not an Israelite himself, Caleb is an exceptional example of faith: He's often referred to in the Hebrew Old Testament as having “fully followed the Lord.” Caleb, a right-hand man to Moses through much of the Old Testament, is also one of the spies that were sent to check out the land of Canaan. Caleb Followill, of Kings of Leon fame, carries this biblical name.
- Rank among all girl names: #265
- Babies born Ruth in 2018: 1,234
One of the only women in the Hebrew Bible with her own book, Ruth—a widowed Moabit—becomes devoted to her mother-in-law Naomi, converts to Judaism, and re-marries a wealthy landowner named Boaz to become an ancestor of King David (and, eventually, Jesus). Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shares her name with the Old Testament character.
- Rank among all boy names: #43
- Babies born Andrew in 2018: 7,234
Andrew was another of the 12 apostles of Jesus and the brother of fellow apostle Peter. While he doesn't have his own gospel, some evidence shows Andrew's involvement in some of Jesus' great miracles, like the feeding of the 5,000. Modern-day famous Andrews include Andrew Garfield and Andrew Luck.
- Rank among all girl names: #251
- Babies born Ada in 2018: 1,288
Ada, which means ornament or adorned, is given no more than a passing mention in the Old Testament. We know that Ada (spelled Adah) was a polygamous wife of Lamech who gave birth to two sons, Jabal and Jubal.
- Rank among all boy names: #41
- Babies born Joshua in 2018: 7,364
Joshua was Moses' assistant and had been with the prophet since his youth. Credited as a spiritual leader, he eventually led the Israelites into the Promised Land. Actors Josh Hutcherson of “Hunger Games” and Josh Duhamel of “All My Children” fame are both named Joshua but go by the shortened version of the name professionally.
- Rank among all girl names: #214
- Babies born Rebecca in 2018: 1,442
The wife of Isaac and the mother of Jacob and Esau, Rebecca is one of the only women in the Bible who is given a love story. A typical Old Testament woman, she is modest, meek, and beautiful, a perfect companion for one of God's chosen people. There are dozens of celebrities who share the name, such as Rebecca Romijn and Rebecca Mader.
- Rank among all boy names: #35
- Babies born Gabriel in 2018: 8,335
Gabriel is one of only two angels mentioned in the Bible. In it, he plays an important role in the Nativity story as the angel sent to Mary to tell her that she will give birth to the son of God. He seems to be unique even among angels as he is specifically referred to as “having stood in the presence of God.”
- Rank among all girl names: #212
- Babies born Joanna in 2018: 1,444
While not one of the 12 apostles, Joanna was a disciple of Christ who closely associated with him throughout his life. Apparently present at Jesus' death, Joanna was also with him throughout much of his life, traveling alongside him and helping contribute to his mission financially. Joanna Gaines of “Fixer Upper” fame shares a name with the devout woman.
- Rank among all boy names: #34
- Babies born Isaac in 2018: 8,417
One of the most important figures in the Old Testament, Isaac was the miracle son of Abraham and Sarah and the father of all of Israel. The most famous Biblical story including Isaac is the near-sacrifice of his life in order to test his father's faith.
- Rank among all girl names: #198
- Babies born Rachel in 2018: 1,544
Rachel was Jacob's wife and the daughter-in-law of Isaac. Married to the same man as her older sister, Leah, Rachel experiences a period of barrenness but eventually gives birth to Joseph, Isaac's favorite child and an eventual leader in the Hebrew nation. Rachel's name has endured, and several celebrities—including Rachel Bilson, Rachel McAdams, and Rachel Weisz—carry her name.
- Rank among all boy names: #33
- Babies born Levi in 2018: 8,440
The most well-known Levi in the Bible is the third son of Jacob, born by his first wife Leah. The head of one of the 12 tribes of Israel, Levi's descendants became priests and took charge of the Hebrew sanctuary.
- Rank among all girl names: #154
- Babies born Ariel in 2018: 1,810
Ariel means “Lion of God.” It is also used by Isaiah to as a symbolic name for Jerusalem, although in that case, scholars debate how exactly it should be translated. Ariel Winter of “Modern Family” fame shares the biblical moniker.
- Rank among all boy names: #29
- Babies born Luke in 2018: 8,577
Only mentioned by name three times in scripture, Luke also has gospel named after him (which most biblical scholars agree he probably wrote). He was not an apostle of Jesus but knew plenty of those who surrounded him including Paul, Matthew, and Mark. The Gospel of Luke is unique in that it contains several stories and parables that are not found anywhere else in the New Testament, which many scholars explain by pointing out that his book was written for a Gentile audience rather than a Jewish audience.
- Rank among all girl names: #153
- Babies born Esther in 2018: 1,831
The only woman aside from Ruth to have her own book in the Bible, Esther is married to King Ahasuerus, whose grand vizier, Haman, is intent on wiping out all of the Jewish people. Through her bravery and cunning—and several dinner parties—she convinces King Ahasuerus to kill Haman instead, thereby sparing the lives of her people and becoming the nation's hero.
- Rank among all boy names: #27
- Babies born John in 2018: 9,119
John was a disciple of Jesus and the author of the first, second, and third book of John as well as Revelation. John is arguably one of the most popular Biblical names of all time, and there have been plenty of famous modern-day Johns including John Stamos, John Cena, and John F. Kennedy.
- Rank among all girl names: #126
- Babies born Mary in 2018: 2,327
Mary was the mother of Jesus and easily among the most famous women in the Bible. From the joy of the immaculate conception to the sorrow of the crucifixion, Mary is a part of the New Testament's most major stories.
- Rank among all boy names: #23
- Babies born Joseph in 2018: 9,555
There are two important Josephs in the Hebrew Bible. In the New Testament, Joseph is Mary's husband and the earthly father of Jesus. In the Old Testament, Joseph was the last of Jacob's sons, the favorite who was given the coat of many colors and sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Christians often view the Old Testament Joseph as a prefiguration of Christ.
- Rank among all girl names: #116
- Babies born Maria in 2018: 2,595
Maria is another iteration of Mary. Aside from the mother of Jesus, there were a number of important Marys in the Bible, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus.
- Rank among all boy names: #22
- Babies born David in 2018: 9,697
Anointed the King of Israel, and a direct ancestor of Jesus, David was a skilled musician, a strong warrior, and a giant killer. There are several famous modern-day Davids including David Schwimmer and David Bowie.
- Rank among all girl names: #94
- Babies born Delilah in 2018: 2,982
In the Old Testament, Delilah—whose name in Hebrew means "night"—is responsible for the death and destruction of the last judge of the Israelites, a man named Samson. Blessed with great strength, Samson confides in Delilah that if his hair is cut off he will lose his power. Delilah sells that information to the Philistines who promptly cut off his hair and imprison him.
- Rank among all boy names: #21
- Babies born Samuel in 2018: 9,734
Samuel is an Old Testament character who was both the 13th judge of Israel and a prophet. It was during his lifetime that the Arc of the Covenant was taken from the land of Israel by the Philistines. Actor Samuel L. Jackson is one of the most famous present-day Samuels.
- Rank among all girl names: #93
- Babies born Julia in 2018: 2,989
A minor character in the Bible, Julia appears only once, in Romans 16:15. In his letter to the Romans, Paul sends a direct salutation to Julia, who could have been a member of the imperial court. In 2018, almost 3,000 Julias were born—perhaps someday one of them will be as famous as Julia Roberts or Julia Child.
- Rank among all boy names: #20
- Babies born Matthew in 2018: 9,924
Matthew was both one of the 12 disciples and one of the four evangelists. He was a tax collector before leaving the world behind to follow Jesus, and tradition says that he died a martyr in Ethiopia after spending years traveling around as a missionary. Actor Matthew McConaughey shares a name with the disciple.
- Rank among all girl names: #89
- Babies born Lydia in 2018: 3,184
Biblical readers meet Lydia in Acts after Paul travels to the city of Philippi in order to help establish a church. Lydia, a purple cloth dyer, is one of the first people with whom Paul comes into contact, and she quickly becomes one of the founding members and early leaders of the church. It's rare to see a woman highlighted like this in the New Testament.
- Rank among all boy names: #15
- Babies born Daniel in 2018: 11,173
An Israelite by birth, Daniel spent most of his life living as an exile in Babylon. He's most famous for being thrown in the lion's den by an angry King Darius and escaping without a scratch. Daniel Radcliffe is one example of the enduring popularity of this name.
- Rank among all girl names: #67
- Babies born Sarah in 2018: 3,734
As a sign that God's promise to her would be fulfilled, Sarai's name was changed to Sarah shortly before the conception and birth of her only son, Isaac. While both Sarah and Sarai made this list of 50 biblical names that are still popular today, Sarah is far more common. Examples of famous Sarahs include “Sex and the City” alum Sarah Jessica Parker and Sarah Ferguson, the duchess of York.
- Rank among all boy names: #14
- Babies born Michael in 2018: 11,620
The only other angel mentioned by name in the Bible, Michael's name means “who is like God.” The angel, who is always depicted as fighting against evil, has an incredibly important and detailed role in the biblical narrative: he stands guard over Israel and has an important role in the end times (as specified in both Daniel and Revelation). The ever-popular name has been given to a handful of today's celebrities including swimmer Michael Phelps and actor Michael B. Jordan.
- Rank among all girl names: #64
- Babies born Naomi in 2018: 3,821
Naomi is Ruth's mother-in-law, famous for playing matchmaker between her daughter-in-law and the kindly and rich Boaz. Her name means “pleasant” and many hopeful parents, like Naomi Watts' and Naomi Campbell's, have hoisted it upon their daughters.
- Rank among all boy names: #13
- Babies born Jacob in 2018: 11,770
The son of Rachel and Isaac and the twin brother of Esau, Jacob tricked his father into giving him the birthright which rightfully belonged to his brother. He went on to marry sisters Leah and Rachel, who gave birth to 12 sons who would become the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob is most often remembered as an ancestor to the nation of Israel.
- Rank among all girl names: #54
- Babies born Anna in 2018: 4,145
Another minor biblical character, Anna is a Jewish prophet named in the gospel of Luke. She was praying at the temple in Jerusalem one day when an infant Jesus arrived with his parents. Realizing immediately that he was the Messiah, Anna gave thanks to God for sending his son to redeem her city. Her name means “grace” or “favor.”
- Rank among all boy names: #12
- Babies born Ethan in 2018: 11,854
Mentioned in the Bible as a wise man, Ethan the Ezrahite was also the author of Psalm 89. One famous Ethan today is Ethan Hawke of “Training Day” and “Before Sunrise” fame.
- Rank among all girl names: #41
- Babies born Leah in 2018: 4,995
The first wife of Jacob, Leah was the mother of six sons who went on to become the heads of six of the 12 tribes of Israel. Leah was always in fierce competition with her sister, Rachel, for their husband's attention and favor, which led to some unseemly tricks. Literally translated, the name can mean “weary” or “cow.”
- Rank among all boy names: #8
- Babies born Lucas in 2018: 12,585
Lucas is an iteration of the name Luke, who was one of the four evangelists. The name Lucas means “light-giving” or “luminous,” a very fitting moniker for the physician who brought the story of the “light of the world” to non-believing Gentiles.
- Rank among all girl names: #33
- Babies born Hannah in 2018: 5,629
The patron saint for would-be-mothers who can't conceive, Hannah longed all her life for a child but was unable to have one. When she did eventually become pregnant, miraculously and in her old age, she left her son Samuel at the temple to be raised by the priest Eli as a sacrifice to God. She had five children after Samuel, but it was her initial sacrifice that warranted her a place in biblical history.
- Rank among all boy names: #7
- Babies born Elijah in 2018: 12,886
Elijah was an Old Testament prophet who witnessed several of God's miracles in his own life, including being fed by ravens and running farther than the human body alone could carry him. His name means “the Lord is my God,” and the story of his life is told throughout the first and second book of Kings. Elijah Wood of “Lord of the Rings” fame may have been named after this biblical character.
- Rank among all girl names: #25
- Babies born Chloe in 2018: 6,626
Chloe is mentioned in only one verse of the Bible, Corinthians 1:11. All we know about her from the text is that she lived in Corinth, knew the apostle Paul in some capacity, and owned a house that hosted many people. The name Chloe means “blooming” or “young green shoot,” and is often associated with fertility. It was the most popular girl's name in Northern Ireland from 1997 to 2002, showing how enduring the moniker is.
- Rank among all boy names: #6
- Babies born Benjamin in 2018: 13,381
Jacob's youngest son, Benjamin, is often referred to as a righteous child because of his loyalty to his father and his brother Joseph when everyone else turned against them. Benjamin's name means “son of my days.” While today this name is often shortened to Ben, many famous people throughout history—like Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Bratt—have shared their name with this head of one of the 12 tribes of Israel.
- Rank among all girl names: #13
- Babies born Elizabeth in 2018: 8,513
In biblical history, Elizabeth is the mother of John the Baptist and the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Like many other women in the Bible, her pregnancy is miraculous, as she had previously been barren and was advanced in age. Queen Elizabeth, Elizabeth Hurley, and Elizabeth Warren are all famous Elizabeths who share this name.
- Rank among all boy names: #4
- Babies born James in 2018: 13,525
There is evidence that James, an apostle of Jesus, was also his first cousin (James' mother, Salome, was Mary's sister). The first of the apostles to suffer martyrdom, James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I 14 years after Jesus' crucifixion. It is not believed, however, that this James is the one who wrote the New Testament book titled “James,” and the author of that letter remains unknown.
- Rank among all girl names: #11
- Babies born Abigail in 2018: 9,796
An Old Testament heroine, Abigail becomes the second wife of David after her first husband's death. As a character, she is not very developed and doesn't appear firsthand in many of the stories of David's life. However, she is known to be a devout wife and a woman of faith. Abigail Breslin of “Little Miss Sunshine” fame and Abigail Spencer of “Mad Men” are two of Hollywood's most famous Abigails today.
- Rank among all boy names: #2
- Babies born Noah in 2018: 18,267
Perhaps one of the most famous biblical stories of all is Noah and his ark. Obeying God's commandment to build a massive ark and fill it with two kinds of each animal as well as his family, Noah and his crew become the only survivors of a worldwide flood. Noah is listed in the “Faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11 as one of most righteous and faithful men and women who led up to the arrival of Jesus.