Onoma 49 Call for Papers

Onoma 49 (2014): Names and religion

Guest editor Per Vikstrand, Uppsala

Call for papers

Names and religion are intimately bound together on several levels and in several ways. As regards personal names, these often reflect the religious conviction of the name givers. It would be not entirely wrong to assert that in the Christian world most personal names rely on the Bible or Christian tradition in the form of saints or missionaries for their existence. In the Indo-European languages, personal names with religious associations are a common trait and such names make up an important part of the anthroponomasticon in many languages.

A large amount of place names emanates from tales and myths in which supernatural beings of different kinds are connected with significant places in the landscape. This seems to be a global phenomenon. But place names, made obscure by the passing of time and language change, can also act as agents for stories and myths, woven around a reinterpretation – if you like a “folk-etymology”– of the name in question. From such names there is only a short step to the mythological names – that is names of persons, beings and places in the myths. The etymologies of mythological names are often invoked to enlighten characters or deeds in the stories of which they form a part. It is my belief that an onomastic approach to such name – based on the understanding that they actually act as and must be treated as names – have much to contribute to the understanding of myths.

The subject of names and religion has as far as I know never been approached in an international forum. Although much work has been done on a regional basis, very little knowledge on the subject trickles over the barriers of languages and we are in want of global and inter-language perspectives. This number of Onoma is a first, humble attempt at bridging over this omission of knowledge.

I invite scholars in the field of onomastics, history of religion and anthropology (and others that might feel called upon) to submit studies of different aspects of the theme names and religion. It is my firm belief that the glimpses of knowledge from different cultures and religions thus provided can enrich our understanding of the complex relationship between names, naming, myths and religious beliefs. I would especially like to encourage studies that deal with indigenous religions and languages outside the Christian and Islamic cultural spheres. Studies concerned with ancient European cultures such as the Greek, Roman, Celtic or Old Norse would also be most welcome, as would, of course, investigations with a more contemporary approach.

If you would like to participate in this issue of Onoma, please submit a title and a short abstract by September 1, 2013, to per.vikstrand@sofi.se. Accepted authors will be informed by October 1, 2013, and deadline for the articles will be February 28, 2014.