The New Testament
Jesus, whose life and teachings are detailed in the four Gospels of the New Testament, is the central figure of Christianity. (Get advice on names pertaining to his birth—Christmas!—and other holy days and holidays.) His name entered the top 100 in 1990 at #90 and has risen to #77. Many of the names of his 12 Apostles—Peter, Andrew, Matthew, Thomas, Philip, Bartholomew, John, James, Simon, Jude, James the Less, and Judas–continue to be beloved today, along with the names of early evangelists, Paul and Luke. Of these Matthew (#9), Andrew (#10), James (#15), and John (#19) were the most popular in 2007.
The most popular female name in history belongs to Mary, the mother of Jesus. A favorite of Catholic families, Mary was the most popular or second most popular name for girls in the United States for over 80 years, from 1880 to 1961. It is currently ranked at #93. Outside the U.S., Mary is known as Marie, Maria, Maura, and Madonna and hailed as Regina, Victoria, Deirdre, Pilar, Mercedes, Lourdes, and Concepcion.
Rising star: Stella. The Virgin Mary is also known as Stella Maris, or the "star of the sea." Popular in the late 1880s and in the first half of century, Stella slowly declined and then returned to the lists in 1997, rising from #907 to #244 in the past decade.
Women of the Early Church
Chloe, currently ranked at #16, was the name of a Corinthian woman described in Paul's letters. In Greek mythology, Chloe was the goddess of flowers, and wife to Zephyr, the West Wind. Other female names in the New Testament include Claudia, Julia, Lydia, Martha, Sapphira, and Susannah.
Rising star: Phoebe was a Christian woman who served as a deacon and benefactor in the early Church—and the first person Paul described in his letter to the Romans. In Greek mythology, Phoebe was one of the original titans, the mother of Leto, and grandmother to the twin gods Apollo and Artemis, and the goddess Hecate. At #338, Phoebe is being rediscovered as a girl's name, and was last popular in the 19th century.