TerryHomePage:Alleged KJV errors: Easter/Passover

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Regardless of your denominational affiliation or theological beliefs, please understand that this web page is not against you personally. This information is here to help you and encourage you to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith” (II Cor. 13:5), “the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12), “the Saviour of the world” (John 4:42), “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7). “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Gal. 2:16). “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.... For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:22,26). “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8,9). Please read the following with an open mind and let “the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” speak to your heart (Eph. 3:19); “and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:” (Isa. 1:18)

Alleged KJV errors: Easter/Passover

Many claim that the King James Version has serious 'errors' in it. The most quoted 'error' concerns the use of the word Easter in Acts 12:1-4. The original word, these believers maintain, should have been translated as Passover - not Easter! Let us now examine the passage concerned and see if that argument holds water.

Acts 12:1-4: Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 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.

To properly understand the sequence of events described above I will briefly explain some facts about the sacred calendar.

  • The first Passover occurred in ancient Egypt when Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews spared the lives of Israel's eldest sons and slaughtered the firstborn of Egypt. That event took place on the evening (night) of the 14th Abib (Nisan), the first month in the sacred calendar. The Passover, which is an event rather than a day, is now commemorated each year on the evening of the same date. The story is well known and is recorded in Exodus chapters 11 and 12.
  • After the Passover came the seven days of Unleavened Bread. The week of unleavened bread begins on the evening of the 14th Abib and finishes on the evening of the 21st Abib. This whole week is sometimes referred to as the Passover week: but, strictly speaking, its proper name is Week of Unleavened Bread . When the Passover and the days of unleavened bread are mentioned in the same passage, as in Acts 12:1-4, we can be certain that the Passover refers to the event which occurs on the evening of the 14th Abib and the days of unleavened bread refer to the week that follows. (i.e. 15-21st Abib or Nisan).

The events recorded in Acts 12:3-4 occurred during the days of unleavened bread . In other words, the Passover in that particular year had passed: it was history: it had gone. Why, then, would Herod wait for an event which had already passed? Surely Herod knew that the Passover had passed and that the days of unleavened bread were in progress.

What, then, was Herod really waiting for before releasing Peter? The answer is: Herod was waiting for Easter to come and go - just as the King James Version says. We can be confident that the translators of the KJV knew full well why in this passage they rendered the word 'Pesah' as 'Easter' and not 'Passover' as at other times. Their combined knowledge of Hebrew and Greek and the vast amount of manuscript evidence before them (thousands of copies, versions, and church-father citations etc.) were all used to arrive at every word in the King James Version. Are we, whose knowledge of these languages is microscopic by comparison, to challenge their judgment? The fact is that Herod, during the days of unleavened bread, was not waiting for the Passover - which had come and gone: he was waiting for Easter just as the KJV says.

The events in our story tell us that:

  • The Passover in that particular year was history.
  • The Days of Unleavened Bread (15th - 21st Abib) were in progress.
  • And Easter was approaching: after which Herod planned to bring out Peter.

The question now arises: Was the pagan festival of Easter known at that time? And were the Romans keeping Easter? The answer is - yes. The pagan festival of Easter, with its hot cross buns and Easter Sunday sunrise services was well known in ancient Babylon and Rome centuries before the events recorded in Acts 12. Let me quote a short passage about EASTER from Alexander Hislop's book The Two Babylons (ISBN 0 7136 0470 0)

Quote: "Then look at Easter. What means the term Easter itself? It is not a Christian name. It bears its Chaldean origin on its forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the QUEEN OF HEAVEN, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Nineveh, was evidently identical with that now in common use in this country. That name, as found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments, is Ishtar. The worship of Bel and Astarte was very early introduced into Britain, along with the Druids, "the priests of the groves" (page 103)

No scholar doubts the fact that Easter is a pagan festival which came down from ancient times, long before the Christian era. The next question is: Did some Israelites keep Easter and worship the QUEEN OF HEAVEN? Did they bake hot cross buns for Ishtar - Easter? The answer, surprisingly, is again - yes! Ancient Israel worshipped the Queen of Heaven - ISHTAR and they honoured her each year with special cakes (buns) and drink offerings. I quote Scripture:

Jeremiah 7:18
The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

Jeremiah 44:
18 But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.
19: And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?
20: Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying,
21: The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind?
22: So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day.
23: Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day.
24: Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt:
25: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows.

Oh yes, many ancient Israelites kept Easter. Modern Israelis still do. In summary we can say that when Herod, after the Passover and during the days of unleavened bread shut up Peter intending to bring him out after Easter, Herod meant exactly what the King James Version is saying. He meant Easter not Passover which had already come and gone. This means that every translation which uses the word Passover in Acts 12:3-4 is, strictly speaking, incorrect. Easter is the correct word, and the King James Version uses it.

Origin Of Easter

Centuries before the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, pagan nations celebrated the annual springtime festival of Ishtar (Ashtur, Eastre, Easter), the goddess of fertility. The origin of Easter dates back to ancient times, shortly after the great flood recorded in Genesis 6-9 of the Bible. It was in the city of Babel that the people created a tower in order to defy God. The biblical record tells us that Nimrod created Babel, Ninevah, Asshur and other cities, all known for lifestyles that promoted wickedness and perversion. Nimrod was known as the Sun-god (or Baal), his wife Semiramis was known as the queen of heaven (Ishtar or Easter), and her son Tammuz was known as the savior (or Nimrod reborn). Rites of spring were celebrated in Ishtar's honor at the vernal equinox (first day of spring). The first Sunday after the first full moon succeeding the vernal equinox was also sacred to her, and this pagan holiday was given her name -- Eastre. The full moon represented the "pregnant" phase of Eastre -- she was passing into the fertile season and giving birth to the Sun's offspring. Popular traditions such as the Easter Bunny and the Easter egg can be traced back to the practices established by pagans long before the Christian era. Due to their prolific nature, rabbits have long been associated with fertility and its goddess, Ishtar. Dyed eggs were already being used as part of pagan rituals at the dawn of history in various civilizations. When the Roman Emporor, Constantine “The Great” (A.D. (285)306-337), used the corrupt manuscripts of Eusebius (A.D. 260-340) and Origin (A.D. 184-254) to merge Paganism with Christianity in the fourth century, the Roman church quite naturally incorporated pagan customs and rituals into her many unscriptural doctrines (praying to saints, use of images in worship, purgatory, Mary worship, Sunday sacredness, celibacy of the clergy, etc.). And, unlike the disciples in the New Testament who suffered rejection and persecution for the word of God and their faithfulness to the scriptures (1 Peter 4:3,4), many apostate Christians simply accepted these false doctrines and teachings and chose to observe anti-biblical pagan holy days (holidays), thus limiting or avoiding persecution altogether.

The Encyclopedia Britannica informs us that the festival of Easter was not observed in the early Christian church:

“There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament, or in the writings of the apostolic fathers. The sanctity of special times was an idea absent from the minds of the first Christians.” “The name Easter (Ger. Ostern), like the names of the days of the week, is a survival from the old Teutonic mythology. According to Bede (De Temp. Rat. C. XV.) it is derived from Eostre, or Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month answering to our April, and called Eostur-monath”, was dedicated.(Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Ed., 1910-1911, p. 828)

Early English dictionaries concur:
“Easter, Aoster, Oster, a Saxon goddess whose feast they observed in Easter month, April.”
(An English Dictionary, 1717, Elisha Coles)

“EASTER [easter, of eastre, Sax. a goddess of the Saxons, in honor of whom, sacrifices were offered about that time of year, Ostern, Teut.]”
(An Universal Etymological English Dictionary, 1802, Nathan Bailey)

“EASTER, n. [Sax. Easter; G. ostern; supposed to be from Eostre, the goddess of love or Venus of the north, in honor of whom a festival was celebrated by our pagan ancestors, in April; whence this month was called Eostermonath.”
(American Dictionary Of The English Language, 1828, Noah Webster)

“Easter (easter), n. [AS. easter, eastran, paschal feast, Easter; akin to G. ostern; fr. AS. Eastre, a goddess of light or spring, in honor of whom a festival celebrated in April; whence this month was called in AS. Eastermonao]. From the root of E. east. See East.]”
(Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913, G. & C. Merriam Co.)

There is not a single verse in the Bible instructing us to celebrate Christ's resurrection, death or even his birth. If God had wanted us to keep these days holy, one would think that at least one verse would mention it. There are no Bible examples of the apostles or the disciples keeping any of these pagan “holy days” or practicing any of these heathen customs. There are, however, a number of scriptures in the Bible instructing us not to borrow the customs of the heathen or pagans to worship the true God: “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen... For the customs of the people are vain:”(Jer. 10:2,3). “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them... and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God:”(Deut. 12:30,31). “that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.”(Lev. 18:30). Just why do so many professing “Christians” celebrate un-biblical/anti-biblical pagan holidays? Compromising the commandments of God with the comfort of the world is almost as old as man himself. It is almost always easier to go with the flow of the world than it is to go against the current of popular tradition. With the exception of a small remnant of faithful Bible believing Christians, practically the whole world (Hindu, Muslim, Mormon, Jewish, Pagan, even atheist) celebrates Easter (and Christmas (in some instances the names may have been changed, but the customs are unmistakably pagan in origin). The apostle John said, “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”(I John 4:5,6). The questions now presented to the professing Christian:

(1) Is your final authority the Holy Bible which is “the word of God”? Or is your final authority “your tradition” and the desire of your “own heart”?
(2) Will you be among the remnant of “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus” who “shall suffer persecution” “for the word of God”? Or will you be among the many compromisers and “seducers” who “shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived”? (Prov. 28:26; Matt. 15:3-9; Mark 7:6-16; II Tim. 3:12,13; I Pet. 1:25; Rev. 1:9; 6:9; 20:4)

:“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15).

The following information is from The History of The Reformation of Religion in Scotland by John Knox.

“The establishment by St Columba of a seminary in Iona was highly favourable to the cause of literature both in Scotland and England. How far it tended to promote evangelical religion, does not clearly appear. The form of sound words, and the image of Christian worship, are often long retained after the living spirit of the gospel is gone; and nothing proves more clearly the fact of its departure than an overweening attachment to superstitious practices, and an observance of rites and seasons which God has not ordained. When the apostle Paul found the churches in Galatia observing days, and months, and times, and years, he expressed his fear that he had laboured among them in vain. These things were an evidence of their declining in their spiritual state, and departing from the faith. Long before this period of our history, we find our Christian ancestors stickling about the proper time of keeping Easter, when they ought to have rejected it altogether as an observance which God had not required. In the time of St Columba, the controversy was revived, and after a keen contest the eloquence of those who favoured the church of Rome prevailed. St Columba yielded, whether from conviction, or from some other cause, we are not told; "and the Pope found in the Abbot of Iona himself, a sedulous and devoted convert to the new lunar cycle." Russel's Prelim. Diss. to Keith's Scottish Bishops, p. lxxv.

“About the same time the feast of Christmas was introduced to our ancestors. "The vulgar persuasion is," says Buchanan, "that these festivities celebrated the birth of Christ, when, in truth, they refer, as is sufficiently evident, to the lascivious rites of the Bacchanalia, and not to the memory of our Saviour's nativity." It is probable that this was originally the Gothic pagan feast of Yule, or Zul, so called in Scotland to this day; see Dr Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary on the word, Yule. We know the Popes instructed their missionaries not to abolish, but rather adopt the heathen rites of the people among whom they introduced Christianity, and adapt them to Christian worship. This was the source of innumerable corruptions; and with regard to this festival, it not only opened a door for all manner of licentiousness, but also bound the churches to the acknowledgment of a thing as true which never has been proved,—that Christ was born on the 25th of December, which rests on no credible authority. Our neighbours in the south condemn our reformers for rejecting this holiday. With much more reason we wonder at their retaining it.” (The History of The Reformation of Religion in Scotland, John Knox, 1831, Introduction pp. 13, 14) (see also Acts of The General Assembly of The Church of Scotland, 1638-1842, p. 19)