An interesting literary feature within many of the narratives of the Gospels and Acts relates to the way in which certain names – ‘Simon’, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, ‘son of Jonah’ and ‘son of John’ – are used distinctively in conversation or direct speech. These names differ in nature and narrative function, but as a group they share two characteristics. First, in the majority of cases where they appear nothing in the narrative context demands the choice of the particular name in question, nor is it easy to attribute a theological motive for its presence. Secondly, while these names sound natural on the lips of the characters in the narratives, they are seldom employed when the narrator speaks with his own voice, and seem not to have been in common use among those a step or two removed from the time or place portrayed in the narrative. Their use, then, appears to reflect a concern to portray details realistically. This article seeks to examine this feature more closely, and then to consider how an observable attention to realistic detail might contribute to our understanding of the origin of the material in which it occurs.