- Easter or Passover
by Jack Moorman
THE CRITIC SAYS: "A most unfortunate
translation! In each of the 28 other New Testament passages the Greek 'pascha'
is translated 'Passover'. The same is true of the Hebrew pesach, it is
always 'Passover'. Why this one exception in Act 12:4? Further, the word
'Easter' was not used in the Christian sense until much later."
- "And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to
take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when
he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to
four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to
bring him forth to the people" (Acts 12:3, 4).
- ANSWER: You may be surprised to know that the word "passover" did not
even exist before William Tyndale coined it for his Version of 1526-31. His
was also the first English Bible to use "Easter." Previously the Hebrew and
Greek were left untranslated. For example, in Wycliffe's Bible, which was
based on the Latin, we find pask or paske.
- An article which appeared in The Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly
Record states: "When Tyndale applied his talents to the translation of the
New Testament from Greek into English, he was not satisfied with the use of
a completely foreign word, and decided to take into account the fact that
the season of the passover was known generally to English people as 'Easter'
... Tyndale has ester or easter fourteen times, ester-lambe
eleven times, esterfest once, and paschall lambe three times."
- "When he began his translation of the Pentateuch he was again faced with
the problem in Exodus 12:11 and twenty-one other places, and no doubt
recognizing that easter in this context would be an anachronism he
coined a new word, passover and used it consistently in all twenty-two
places. It is, therefore, to Tyndale that our language is indebted for this
meaningful and appropriate word" (date of article not known).
- The English version after Tyndale followed his example in the Old
Testament and increasingly replaced "Easter" with "Passover" in the New
Testament. When we come to the Authorized Version there remained but one
instance of the word "Easter" -- Acts 12:4.
- It is precisely in this one passage that "Easter" must be used, and the
translation "Passover" would have conflicted with the immediate context. In
their rush to accuse the Authorized Version of error, many have not taken
the time to consider what the passage actually says: "(Then were the days of
unleavened bread) ... intending after Easter to bring him forth to
- To begin with, the Passover occurred before the feast of unleavened
bread, not after!
- "And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of
the Lord. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven
days shall unleavened bread be eaten" (Num. 28:16, 17). See also
Mark 14:12, 1 Cor. 5:7, 8, etc.
- Herod put Peter in prison during the days of unleavened bread, and
therefore after the Passover. The argument that the translation
"Passover" should have been used as it is intended to refer to the entire
period, is ruled out by the inclusion of "these were the days of unleavened
bread." Scripture does not use the word "Passover" to refer to the entire
- Peloubet's Bible Dictionary says: "Strictly speaking the Passover only
applied to the paschal supper and the feast of unleavened bread followed"
- Therefore, as the Passover had already been observed, and the days of
unleavened bread were in progress, and yet Herod was still waiting for
"after pascha," we can only conclude that the word must be taken in a
broader sense. History in fact does indicate a pagan and Christian
interchange with the word through the translation "Easter."
- A.W. Watts writes, "The Latin and Greek word for Easter is pascha, which
is simply a form of the Hebrew word for passover -- pesach" (Easter --
Its Story and Meaning, p. 36).
- Thus, the word came to be associated with both Christian and pagan
observance. And it was to this latter that Herod was referring.
- In an excellent study, from which some of the above has been drawn,
Raymond Blanton explains (in quotations from Alexander Hislop) that Easter
is Isthar, the queen of heaven and goddess of spring. Blanton says, "The 'pascha'
that Herod was waiting for was evidently the celebration of the death and
resurrection of Tammuz, the Sun god. The sunrise services today are a
continuation of that pagan worship."
- " ... The great annual festival in commemoration of the death and
resurrection of Tammuz, which was celebrated by alternate weeping and
rejoicing and which, in many countries, was considerably later than the
Christian festival, being observed in Palestine and Assyria in June. To
conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual
policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated,
and, by complicated but skillful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no
difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity -- to shake
hands" (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, p. 105).
- Continuing his quotation from Hislop, Blanton shows: "The term Easter is
of pagan origin. It bears its Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter
is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of
heaven (p. 103)."
- The connection between the word Easter and Tammuz is thus: "The wife of
Tammuz was Ishtar (Astarte), who is called Mother Nature, who being
refreshed by spring rains brings life. When Tammuz died she followed him
into the underworld or realm of Eresh-Kigal, queen of the dead. In her deep
grief Astarte persuaded Eresh-Kigal to allow her messenger to sprinkle
Astarte and Tammuz with the water of life. By this sprinkling they had power
to return into the light of the sun for six months. After which the same
cycle must be repeated.
- "Thus, the goddess of spring or the dawn goddess is responsible for the
resurrection of Tammuz. Easter is a joint worship of the two. This Satanic
myth is interwoven with the sun's cycle of vernal equinox (dawn) and autumn
equinox (sunset)" (from The Flaming Torch, Jan-Mar. 1987).
- Dake's Bible adds, "Easter ... is derived from Ishtar, one of the
Babylonian titles of an idol goddess, the Queen of Heaven. The Saxon goddess
Eastre is the same as the Astarte, the Syrian Venus, called Ashtoreth in the
Old Testament. It was the worship of this woman by Israel that was such an
abomination to God" (1 Sam. 7:3; 1 Ki. 11:5, 33; 2 Ki. 23:13; Jer. 7:18;
44:18) (p. 137 N.T.).
- This was the "pascha" that Herod was waiting for before releasing Peter.
As an Edomite, he and his people had a long association with Babylon and her
mystery religion (cf. Gen. 14:1-4).