The Word “Easter” In The King James Version

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

What follows is a quote from Presbyterian Bible scholar Albert Barnes’s commentary on Acts 12:4, in which the King James Version has the word “Easter.” He lived in the 1800s, and is well-known as a firm believer in the Bible as the Word of God. Barnes’s introduction to his commentary on the New Testament speaks very highly of the King James Version. But he was not hesitant to say so when he disagreed with how it sometimes worded some verses. This is an example of it. The quote is taken from this website: http://biblehub.com/.
BARNES WROTE THE FOLLOWING: Intending after Easter – There never was a more absurd or unhappy translation than this. The original is simply after the Passover (μετὰ τὸ πάσχα meta to pascha. The word “Easter” now denotes the festival observed by many Christian churches in honor of the resurrection of the Saviour. But the original has no reference to that, nor is there the slightest evidence that any such festival was observed at the time when this book was written. The translation is not only unhappy, as it does not convey at all the meaning of the original, but because it may contribute to foster an opinion that such a festival was observed in the time of the apostles. The word “Easter” is of Saxon origin, and is supposed to be derived from “Eostre,” the goddess of Love, or the Venus of the North, in honor of whom a festival was celebrated by our pagan ancestors in the month of April (Webster). Since this festival coincided with the Passover of the Jews, and with the feast observed by Christians in honor of the resurrection of Christ, the name came to be used to denote the latter. In the old Anglo-Saxon service-books the term “Easter” is used frequently to translate the word “Passover.” In the translation by Wycliffe, the word “paske,” that is, “Passover,” is used. But Tyndale and Coverdale used the word “Easter,” and hence, it has very improperly crept into our King James Version.”

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