Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter in the King James Version (KJV)

Did you know that the word "Easter" appears in the KJV.  Surprisingly yes.  A friend, who questions the validity of the Churches celebration of Easter, called this a "sick theological mistranslation."  While "sick" is probably not the best word to describe it, mistranslated in this case is probably true.

However, it is interesting because given the erudition of the translators of the KJV, which is still praised for its style and accuracy, their choice of the word "Easter" reflects that the word communicated something to the readers of the time.

Here's an entry from the The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia the the Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids: 1980 by J.C. Connell who, questions that usage, but also says the "Easter" (festival celebrating the Lord's resurrection) might have been held in Apostolic times:

Easter (KJV) rendering of "to pascha" in Acts 24:4; correctly tr. "the Passover" in the other Eng. VSS. KJV trs. all the other twenty-eight instances of "to pascha" as "the Passover." "See Passover."

The derivation of the name "Easter" is uncertain, but according to Bede (De Ratione Temporum, XV) it is derived from "Eastre", a Teutonic spring goddess, to whom sacrifices were offered in April. The pagan festival prob. gave way to the Christian celebration of Christ's resurrection.

It is held by some that the annual celebration of the Lord's resurrection was observed in apostolic times. They see an intimation of Easter in 1 Corinthians 5:7, 8 which is very doubtful. The earlier written evidence for an Easter Festival appears in "the paschal controversy" over the correct date for Easter, which began with the correspondence in A.D. 154 between Polycarp , bishop of Smyna, and Anticetus, bishop of Rome (Euseb. Hist. V 23-25). By this date, therefore this festival must have been generally observed throughout the Christian Church.

He also questions the KJV translation when he says "...correctly tr.[anslated] "the Passover in the other Eng.[lish] VSS [versions]. Probably, because at that time Acts, the church at large at not yet started celebrating the Lord's resurrection. But he also calls into the question the derivation of the word "Easter" from the pagan goddess...something which other scholars today are doing.

Connell also says that, with good reason, that 1 Corinthians 5:6,7 probably does not refer to the celebration of the Lord's resurrection.

However, he does not question that "Easter" or the Lord's resurrection, was celebrated by the church at large by A.D. 154.  I suspect that this is because Paul instructed Timothy to "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead..." (2 Tim. 2:8) was being taken literally by the church and that they did this "remembrance" or celebration early on, certainly by A.D. 154.

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