Tuesday 22 March 2016

Easter and the fertility goddess

We have been warning all our Western nations — and countries all around the world — that God will judge them for their lawlessness and evils (Joel 3:12-13). By the time you receive this letter, hundreds of millions of professing Christians will have celebrated one such evil — a pagan Easter Sunday — on March 27. Millions of Eastern Orthodox will observe Easter a month later, on May 1... Why do nearly all of our world’s 2.2 billion professing Christians participate in a non-biblical religious tradition named after a pagan fertility goddess? As I told our Atlanta audience, if any of you are observing that festival, you need to repent!

Richard Ames
Co-worker letter, March 18

Easter is evil. It's named after a pagan fertility goddess. Richard Ames thinks so, but is that really true?

Word derivations can be complicated, and false trails abound. There is a line of logic that connects Easter with an Anglo-Saxon goddess who rejoiced in the name Eostre. But there's a problem. The only source we have for this connection is the Venerable Bede, a monk in the 7th century. Everything we know about Eostre comes from Bede, and it's precious little. There's a very good chance that this name died out, and that the modern English term Easter has a quite different derivation.

All major languages except two refer to this festival by a term related to the Greek Pascha  (from Pesach - Passover). In Spanish it's Pascua, in Dutch Pasen, in Latin Pascha, in Italian Pasqua. The two exceptions are German and, obviously, English.

The modern English usage seems to come from the German Oster. Blame Martin Luther. When he translated the New Testament he chose Oster, a German word for resurrection, alluding to the metaphor of sunrise.

Up till Luther's time, the only English translation of the Bible, John Wycliffe's, used the word Pask. No mention of Eostre. Later, William Tyndale, who was greatly influenced by the Luther Bible, adopted the Reformer's preference and coined a new term, Ester. The King James translators, with the sole exception of Acts 12:4, went back to the earlier usage, Passover. The name Easter, however, stuck.

So, other than the German Oster, major languages other than English use a version of Passover. The English term Easter came into usage via the German and Tyndale's Bible. The whole Easter/Eostre issue is meaningless in most other languages. Even in English, the identification with Eostre is dubious.

Any questions? Probably best not to ask Ames.

There's a nice discussion of these issues here.


Anonymous said...


Doesn't that pretty much describe the LCG: The Lawless Cult of Gall?

Miller Jones/Lonnie C Hendrix said...

Good lesson in etymology - wish more folks in the ACOG culture were interested in the subject!

Byker Bob said...

Backwrite Bede into the Quartodeciman Controversy over which calendar to use in establishing the date, and we have yet another Armstrong conspiracy theory.


Anonymous said...

Yes, let's not ask Ames... it's particularly disturbing that none of the Armstrongist cults seem to want the truth.

And who knows?

If history had unfolded a little differently, do you suppose that we would have Passover eggs and Passover egg hunts on the lawn of the White House?

Say, is it possible to make hot cross unleavened bread?

Retired Prof said...

The least admirable thing about Old Testament morality is that performing the wrong rituals excites the Wrath of God more than just about any other transgression. Most Armstrongists keep this tradition alive, to the extent that it matters not at all what motivates the person who dyes an egg. The act itself is reprehensible enough to warrant the Lake of Fire.