August 1, 2020


By Eloise Graham

City Nicknames can make history difficult to understand

I was in a Bible study group and found myself getting more and more frustrated at keeping towns and people straight. Take “The City of David.” Bethlehem is often referred to as The City of David. But there is also a section of Jerusalem near one of the walls that is also called the City of David. Confusing! And take the name John. Well, there is John the Baptist who is a cousin of Christ. But there is John the Apostle, and the sons of Zebedee, James and John, and John Mark, who just happens to be the Apostle Mark. Why couldn’t there just be a clear writing of everything so that we could understand it. We must consider it was written by local people and the readers of the time understood it.

Then I thought about how we name things today and if 500 or 1000 years from now, will people have a hard time understanding the history? If we talk about the Big Apple or the City that Never Sleeps, we understand that New York City is what we mean. But will people in the future scratch their heads and wonder what we are talking about? If I write about the Windy City, you know I mean Chicago. Two hundred years from now will someone in India know what I mean? I am from Kansas, so I know that The Little Apple is in reference to Manhattan, Kansas. But how many people from out East or in California know that? We have MoTown and Motor City for Detroit, Crossroads of America and Naptown refer to Indianapolis, Flint, Michigan is Buick City, Los Angeles is known as the City of Angels and Seattle is the Emerald City.

I will have to say Naptown and Emerald City were unknown to me. That made me conclude that to better understand reading the Bible, I need to know more about the ancient culture, the customs, the peoples, the geography in order to comprehend the writings of the time.

Filed Under: History