Scholars and Their Middle Names

Why do so many scholars use their middle names (or initials) on their publications?  I can’t imagine that they introduce themselves like that or grew up being referred to by their full names (unless they were in trouble and their moms wanted them to know it), so what gives, is it just something that folks are expected to do once they get a doctorate?  I suppose I can understand if the name is common and they want to distinguish themselves from all the others out there but how often does that really happen?



30 thoughts on “Scholars and Their Middle Names

  1. I believe that N T Wright uses this mechanism to differentiate his published works.

    N T Wright = Academic theological

    Tom Wright = Popular works for anyone to read.

  2. In my very small home town, there are over eleven people named Bill Birch, or some form of it. But there’s only ONE William Watson Birch (and of course I mean that in more than one sense, haha). I rather like the use of the middle name/initial.

  3. Alex: I have a middle name and a confirmation name and not many people know the latter (nor will they ever!).

    Kyle: Hmm… I’m guessing Geert or Gerhard or something of the like. ;-)

  4. Books sell better with three names/initials.
    That’s what the publishers say.
    And that allows me, if I ever write a book, to compare myself with Don Carson and put D.A. on my cover.

  5. Take it from one, G. Lee Millspaugh, that there are other suitable times in life to go by one’s middle name other than academic accomplishment or plotting the untimely demise of a world leader. I’m curious if my G. and Kyle’s are the same?

  6. Lee: I don’t know, it bugs me a bit, but that stems from my childhood. I went to school with one, Joseph Nicholas Infante, who affectionately went by the name of Nick. My objection was always that his name wasn’t Nick, it was Joseph, and who ever heard of someone shortening their middle name?!! In any event—does the G. stand for Gandalf?

  7. Nick: I have most certainly heard of someone shortening their middle name (or having it done for them ;-) ). I’ve gone by Alex almost my whole life, which is shortened from my middle name: Alexander. Remember, there is no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, middle name nor first name among us in Christ ;-).

  8. Alexander (If that’s your real name): Not you too! I will ignore your tortured abuse of holy writ to support your heresy and just transport myself back to a better time where ignorance was bliss! :-P

  9. While I’m not a Dr yet, I started using my middle initial with my first name on the off chance that I might publish something worth reading. I did this partly because one of my relatives is a medical doctor in South Carolina, and his name is Carl A. Sweatman.

  10. Carl: I can understand it for distinguishing purposes. I wonder what the likelihood of you being confused with your relative are though seeing as how your fields don’t tend to overlap too often.

  11. Qohelet (or would you prefer Danny Jr.?): I’m saddened to see this middle name shortening being pushed on an innocent child! And congrats! I hadn’t seen the announcement.

  12. What a divine name – Danilo Rafael, what fabulous taste. I hope when he grows up he is proud of it and doesn’t call himself Rafa! Are you Daniel or Danilo? Danilo is far more lyrical and I’ve always loved Rafael as a name.

  13. I do too, but then there was Raphael, the Italian artist whose name symbolises the end of a period in art I adore… and with ‘ph’, there is less tendency to shorten it to Rafa. Mind you I get shortened to Steffie (not that I mind a bit) and I’m steph with a ‘ph’ not ‘f’ which is ugly in Stefanie, not that I’m not ugly but I don’t think my name with a ‘ph’ is…

  14. That’s right, I remember you said that … on that terrible post where you said I said something I didn’t!! :-P I think Danilo is a lovely name. The reason I include my middle name so much is for my mother’s sake in a way. She put alot of effort into choosing names for her children that she thought went well together and by the time she had me, the 6th, she was running out of names she really liked. So I wanted to show her I appreciated her effort. Nobody else in my family uses their middle name. But she and everyone else in my family call me steph, or steffie (or steffles). Everyone here thinks I say my name is steeef because apparently that’s how they say I pronounce it… not very nice sounding, what a terrible accent I have!

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