Richard Oliff: Where have all the Jesuses gone?

Richard wonders why nobody in the UK is called Jesus
Richard wonders why nobody in the UK is called Jesus
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This year I interviewed the actress Hayley Mills.

I was immediately reminded of an old film, Whistle down the Wind, where some children found a fugitive from justice sheltering in a barn, somewhat akin to a stable.

Their assumption was that this was Jesus.

A thought then occurred to me. Followers of religion have, by tradition, taken to giving names to their children that reflect their beliefs.

The Abrahamic faiths are no exception, often choosing the most revered names that reflect their respective convictions.

Whether they are Abraham, Ruth, Mohammed, Manha, Mary or Joseph, many of our chosen names are or have been an indication of devotion to ancient ways of life.

What has puzzled me for some time is the reluctance of many western, in particular Anglican-Episcopalian communities, to name a child Jesus –Eashoa in Aramaic.

Though the name is relatively common in some Spanish-speaking countries, the name has never been adopted, for example, in the UK.

If it had I think I may have met one during the past 58 years.

I once had step-grandchildren called Joshua, Jonah and Noah, names that derive from the Old Testament, almost as if their parents were circling around the name that “may not be used”.

The first time I remember encountering anyone with the name Jesus was that of an equestrian show jumper on TV.

I think he was Portuguese or Mexican. It has always stuck in my mind as somewhat of a novelty.

Surely it can’t be irreverent as there are millions around the world who have Jesus as their given name.

It can’t be as simple as a dislike of the name: so why aren’t our nurseries and schools full of little boys called Jesus happily playing alongside Miriam and Parvez?