View Message

<  >
Subject: Re: Gottfried and Gottlieb - Christian names in origin, or heathen names?
Author: Andy ;—)   (guest, 217.224.96.224)
Date: May 9, 2005 at 12:24:13 PM
Reply to: Gottfried and Gottlieb - Christian names in origin, or heathen names? by Lucille
There are quite a number of German names starting with "Gott-". They were not coined at the same time, some are old, others fairly young, some were translated from other languages or reinterpreted.

Recent coinages are:
GOTTHELF/GOTTHILF ("God, help!")
GOTTLOB ("Praise God!")
FÜRCHTEGOTT ("Fear God!")
and others. They appeared in the 17./18. century in Germany among the so called Pietist,s an evangelical movement within (and sometimes outside) the Protestant church, that put a lot of stress on a personal and somewhat emotional relationship to God. Giving such names to your children would express your wish that they should fear God or praise God or experience His help in their lives.

GOTTFRIED („God“ + „peace“) and GOTTLIEB („God“ + „love“?) are older names and of heathen Germanic origin. The Germanic word for "God" was "gutha", it was neuter by gender and could refer to any pagan deity around. When the Germanic tribes came in touch with Christianity (in times of the migration of nations or later during the mission among the Teutons), the gender was changed to masculine and „God“ of course now was the Christian God. „Friede“ (peace) was now referred to the peace granted by the Christian God.
With GOTTLIEB it is not clear at what time the second part of the name suffered a reinterpretation. Originally it meant „son, descendant“ (from Old High German „leiba“), but was influenced by „lieb“ („dear, beloved“). It may also be a translation of the Greek THEOPHILOS and the Latin „AMADEUS“ (like FÜRCHTEGOTT is a translation of the biblical name TIMOTHEOS). They were both revided during Pietism (see above) and maybe the new understanding of the names didn’t spring up until then.

Something similar happened to GOTTOLD. This was a form of GOTTWALD („God“ + „rule“), but came under the influence of „hold“ („gracious“) and was understood as „in the grace of God“.

Other names were not neccesarily interpreted in an Christian way, they spread just because some Saint happened to bear a name like GOTTHARD („God“ + „brave“) or GOTTSCHALK („God“ + „servant“)

So there is a multiple use of the element „God“ in Germanic names, both heathen and Christian – and there is a story to it.

Andy ;—)

Because this message is archived you cannot respond to it.

Messages in this thread: