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Easter as a Term for Resurrection Sunday

Acts 12:4 must be a famous, or maybe infamous verse in scripture, because it is the only time the term, “Easter,” amazingly enough appears in the English Bible. It’s somewhat controversial, because it translates the Greek word, pascha, which means, “Passover,” an annual Israelite festival commemorating Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Pascha, 27 times in the New Testament, and this is the only time translated, “Easter.” Yet, the King James translators translated it in this one occasion, “Easter.”

The modern versions translate it, “Passover,” and very often someone will degrade the King James translators for that translation. You may wonder where the term, “Easter,” comes from. William Tyndale was first to translate pascha, “Easter,” in the English Bible in 1525. Easter and the celebration of Easter have entirely Christian origins. The etymological derivation for the word is the German, “Oster,” seen in Tyndale’s translation, because he spells it, “Ester,” very much parallel.

In a footnote to his translation of the work of Eusebius, Christian Cruse wrote: “Our word Easter is of Saxon origin, and of precisely the same import with its German cognate Ostern. The latter is derived from the old Teutonic form of auferstehn, Auferstehung, i. e. resurrection.” Tyndale New Testament, the Geneva Bible, and the King James all translated pascha, “Easter” in Acts 12:4 because the day to which it referred was no longer Old Testament Passover time for Christians. They, like Jesus, would have seen it and continue to see it as a resurrection day, what Christians would know as “Easter,” meaning “resurrection.”

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