The King James Only Easter Bunny Trail

This being Easter weekend, I thought it would be fun to revisit one of my previous posts that examines one of the more obvious translational errors in the King James Bible: Acts 12:4
It reads:
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.
This verse is taken from Luke’s account of Peter’s arrest. If you remember the context, Luke describes how Herod begins to persecute the Christians, particularly some of the prominent leaders in the Jerusalem Church. He starts with killing James, the brother of John, and when Herod sees that his actions pleased the political Jewish leaders, he has Peter arrested and imprisoned. If we take verse 4 as it is translated in the King James Bible, or to borrow from certain KJV advocates, the AV, the verse seems to indicate that Herod intended to bring Peter out after the Christian Easter celebration to have him publicly executed.If we do take the KJV as meaning that Herod was waiting until after the Christians’ Easter Sunday passed, then a serious problem is raised:

Why would Herod have Christian leaders killed, then turn around and show honor to Easter, the religious holiday celebrated by the very Christians he is persecuting?

It doesn’t make sense.

Any good study Bible, however, will point out in a footnote that this is an unfortunate translation, because the Greek word used to translate Easter is pascha and should be translated as Passover, referencing the Jewish holy day. In fact, pascha is translated as Passover in the KJV every other place it is used by the biblical writers, and rightly so, because it is so clear from the context that it is the Jewish Passover.

The translation of Passover, then, would make Acts 12:4 read with a whole lot more sense. Herod, in order to show his friendly political side to the Jews, would wait until after they celebrated their holy day in order to deal with this Christian schismatic.

Now, how does the King James Only advocates deal with this obvious mistake? I can remember when I was first learning about KJV onlyism and Bible translations that I was troubled by what I thought was a mistake. Surely God’s divine providence working in the lives of the KJV translators would not direct them to make a horrible mistake like this? Here I had my informed reason conflicting with my imaginative KJV onlyism. I was so disturbed by the verse, and what my study Bible footnote told me, that I wrote to the one person I thought could help me with an answer: G.A. Riplinger.

Keep in mind that at the time I wrote her, I believed she was a man. She initialized her name so as to hide from her readers the fact she was a woman. My letter began with “Dear Sir.” You can imagine my dismay when I found out much later that the G.A. was the name of a woman.

At any rate, Gail did in fact write me back and sent two articles along with her letter. One was written by Sam Gipp, the other did not have a name on it. So what exactly does the person do who believes God’s Word is only preserved and fixed in one English translation so that if anyone “revises” or attempts to “correct” it, that person will be guilty of changing the very Word of God?

Why of course… make up some fanciful “interpretation” that exonerates the KJV’s clumsy translation, and that is exactly what these two articles did.

The KJV only defensive response can be boiled down to two key arguments:

1) King Herod was a pagan, not a Jewish believer, so he would be the last person celebrating the Passover. Herod the pagan would be involved with the worshipofIsthar or Astarte, the Chaldean name for the “Queen of Heaven.” Our English word “Easter” is derived from it, argues the KJVO apologist.

2) More importantly is Acts 12:3, a key verse in understanding why God had the KJV translators use Easter instead of Passover when they translated pascha. The last sentence reads Then were the Days of Unleaven bread. The solution hinges on the word Days. The Passover began the 14th day of the first month of the Jewish calendar. The Days of Unleavened bread started after Passover. Peter was put into prison during the Days of Unleavened bread, which means the Passover had already come and gone. There would be a contradiction created if we change the KJV from Easter to Passover at Acts 12:4. So this is an instance of God maintaining the integrity of His revelation.

Let’s examine these clever solutions one at a time.

First, there is no historical evidence any where suggesting that Herod was a religiously practicing pagan. It would had been political suicide if he were. If anything, Herod was a secular pagan who recognized his need to retain a good working relationship with the Jewish leadership. He wanted to keep his post and the last thing he needed was problems with the Romans because the Jews were complaining about his paganism.

But more telling is the claim Easter is a word that comes from a Chaldean goddess. This is entirely false. Again, no historical proof exists suggesting that anyone, especially a public political figure like Herod, practiced any form of Chaldean goddess worship in Israel at that time. More significantly, however, is that Easter derives from Eostre, a Saxon goddess of the dawn (hence the word “east,” from where the sun rises), not from a Middle Eastern Chaldean goddess. Herod could not know about a goddess from a culture he never knew existed and that was thousands of miles away from where he lived.

Then lastly, the Days of Unleavened bread are never separated from the actual Passover day in the Bible. The two descriptions are one and the same and are used interchangeably to describe the same holiday. Even the KJV itself affirms this in Exodus 12:15-18 and 13:6-7, Leviticus 23:5-6, and Numbers 28:16-25. Luke 22:1 could not be clearer (c.f. Exodus 23:15) where it states, the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.

On the surface, the KJV solution does sound credible. I can see how a person who is clueless about ancient pagan worship practices and the reign of Herod during the time of the Apostles could possibly believe the KJV claim about Herod’s paganism.

But the clincher is the distinction KJV onlyists make between the Passover and the Days of Unleavened bread. Regardless of what a person my know about ancient paganism, once he or she does any meaningful believing Bible study (something KJV advocates are always calling for), it becomes painfully obvious the “Days of Unleavened bread-Easter instead of Passover” defense doesn’t hold any water and is designed solely to protect the text of the KJV. It falls apart under any amount of serious scrutiny. It is time to kick this fat Easter rabbit and move on.

I wrote a more extensive article on the subject at FBT that you could read here, and just for fun, check out Sam Gipp’s original article I referenced up above.

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19 thoughts on “The King James Only Easter Bunny Trail

  1. Which picture? The giant rabbit or the rabbit walking upright, wearing breeches and smoking a pipe?The giant rabbit, as far as I am being told, is for real.Fred

  2. The giant rabbit, as far as I am being told, is for real.As a snopes-onlyist, I have to agree.Charles Churchillhttp://thepreacher.cac2.net

  3. Considering Tyndale coined the word passover for the Hebrew word don’t you think he just ‘may’ have known what he was doing using easter in Acts 12:4? I mean, you want to present it like it is some kind of unconscious blunder that Tyndale and others versions leading up to the AV 1611 used easter when obviously it wasn’t that. The Geneva didn’t use easter, so it was obviously a conscious decision on the AV translators part to use it. And just considering the fact that of the 29 times the word is used 28 time it was translated by Passover suggests that they sort of maybe were aware that they were using ‘Easter’ in that one out of 29 times.

  4. Very good, now let the KJV only people deal with two “mistakes” Doulos and paskhah, we are not ‘anti KJV’ we are just anti ‘KJV only’ keep up the good work.

  5. U-w-C stated,Considering Tyndale coined the word passover for the Hebrew word don’t you think he just ‘may’ have known what he was doing using easter in Acts 12:4? (Fred) Tyndale didn’t coin the word easter, it was already in English usage, but he did use the word for all of the references to pascha in his original translations of the NT. This was primarily because easter had replaced Passover in the minds of the Westernized Christians. The Trinity Bible Society, the one group that still reprints the TR, goes into detail about this in an article I linked in my fuller article on the subject that I mentioned and linked in the post. It’s linked at the bottom, so I refer you to that. I mean, you want to present it like it is some kind of unconscious blunder that Tyndale and others versions leading up to the AV 1611 used easter when obviously it wasn’t that. (Fred) It wasn’t unconscious of Tyndale, but it ultimately proved to be a blunder on his part and even he realized that when he began to translate the OT. He recognized that in order to be as precise with the historical narrative of Exodus, he couldn’t rightly translate pascha as easter. So he coined a new word for it in that context, Passover, which is a good transliteration of the Hebrew original. As his NT edition went through various revisions, and subsequent translations began to be published. The Geneva didn’t use easter, so it was obviously a conscious decision on the AV translators part to use it. And just considering the fact that of the 29 times the word is used 28 time it was translated by Passover suggests that they sort of maybe were aware that they were using ‘Easter’ in that one out of 29 times.(Fred) The Geneva didn’t use the word easter at Acts 12:4 because like many of the previous English editions, the translators recognized there was an anachronistic problem with using a word which was understood to be a Christian celebration of Christ’s Resurrection when translating what was obviously a word indicating a Jewish celebration with its history in Exodus. Why the KJV translators retained it in the instance of Acts 12:4 probably had more to do with recognizing the legacy of Tyndale than being accurate with the text. Hence the problem KJV-onlyists have arguing for an infallible English Bible being the only Word of God.

  6. >Why the KJV translators retained it in the instance of Acts 12:4 probably had more to do with recognizing the legacy of Tyndale than being accurate with the text.This is silly. “recognizing the legacy of Tyndale” over being accurate with the text was hardly a priority with the AV translators and their approach to their task.Anyway, more foundationally, try to see the difference between the authority of man and the authority of God. The former is comfortable to one’s Adamic nature. Recognizing and accepting the latter is the death of one’s Adamic nature.

  7. Ct stated,Tyndale, as stated, coined the word *passover.* Not *easter*, but *passover.*(Fred) I needed to be clearer. He used easter first for all the instances of pascha in the NT, because it was the NT that he translated first and revised more. Easter was already in English usage. He had to coin “Passover” because the Christian “easter” would be anachronistic, as well as inaccurate, as a translation for pascha. He later, before he was killed, wanted to revise his NT by changing Easter to Passover. He didn’t finish that task and later translators began the process, until all of the NT references of pascha was translated as passover. This is silly. “recognizing the legacy of Tyndale” over being accurate with the text was hardly a priority with the AV translators and their approach to their task.(Fred) It is just a guess. The Trinity Bible Society guess, by the way, not mine, and they are pro TR. It is no more silly than the KJV translators following King James’s prescribed list of rules for translating that were really meant to preserve High Church Anglicanism and undermine the Geneva Bible than offer an honest Bible translation. Anyway, more foundationally, try to see the difference between the authority of man and the authority of God. The former is comfortable to one’s Adamic nature. Recognizing and accepting the latter is the death of one’s Adamic nature(Fred) So it is your opinion that the KJV translators were operating under the authority of God as opposed to the authority of man? How do we determine such a position of authority and how are they not operating according to the Adamic nature anymore than the Geneva translators before them and the ESV translators after them?

  8. The receive traditional text holds the authority of God. Texts discovered (hurray, scholars!) after being missing for well over a millennia and constructed (yea! scholars!) endlessly into scores of competing versions of varying and continuously sliding degrees of rank corruption (not to mention the numerous other problems the Alexandrian manuscripts and the people who champion them have) hold nothing but the authority of man within them. Adamic nature refuses to recognize the authority of God and is very comfortable with the authority of man.

  9. On "Easter"At my university, I learned Old Norse (and other useless things), the source of the vast bulk of northern heathen lore. I have also checked other relevant sources in Old High German and other arcane places. I know all the original sources of our heathen forefathers' mythology because there are so few. I am thoroughly convinced there never was any Anglo-Saxon or Germanic or Nordic goddess known by any etonym of Easter.The belief that our word comes from some heathen goddess traces to no less than the Venerable Bede (ca 632-735), who wrote something like: "Eostur-month, which is now interpreted as the paschal month, was formerly named after the goddess Eostre, and has given its name to the festival." I think he made this mistake owing to the similar sound of Eastre with As(h)tara.I am convinced that our word "Easter" means and has always meant "rising" or resurrection. From my otherwise useless study of Germanic linguistics (by the way, that's not German but Germanic; they're different notions), "easter" is akin to "yeast" which also rises."Easter" is native English and "resurrection" a Latin loan-word.Thus, "Easter Sunday" = "Resurrection Sunday" and always has.

  10. Hey Perpetual student person whose profile is conveniently unavailable and thus hides his/her's identity in a cowardly way. You do know my article I link to at my Fred's Bible talk site pretty much debunks everyone of those KJV only articles you link here. You have anything fresh that I haven't seen before?Fred

  11. Pingback: Answering the Claims of KJV-Onlyism | hipandthigh

  12. Pingback: Easter Link Roundup | hipandthigh

  13. Easter was a pagan holiday then. It was the name of the month in which Christ was crucified. Easter was the name of the pagan goddess that they worshipped on that day.

  14. Naomi writes,
    Easter was a pagan holiday then. It was the name of the month in which Christ was crucified. Easter was the name of the pagan goddess that they worshipped on that day.

    How exactly would a pagan holiday that is primarily celebrated in Europe be celebrated in ancient Palestine?

  15. Facts about Easter as found in Acts 12:4
    • Easter corresponds to the Jewish Passover, the name of which it bears in most of the European languages.

    • Easter in the context of Acts 12:4 has an archaic meaning of Passover.
    Oxford English Dictionary (the big one for big boys)
    Easter

    †2. The Jewish passover. Obs.
    971 Blickl. Hom. 67 Hælend cwom syx da¼um ær Iudea eastrum. c1000 Ags. Gosp. Mark xiv. 1 Æfter twam da¼um wæron eastron. 1398 Trevisa Barth. De P.R. ix. xxxi. (1495) 366 Ester is callyd in Ebrewe Phase, that is passynge other passage. 1535 Coverdale Ezek. xlv. 21 Vpon ye xiiij. daye of the first moneth ye shal kepe Easter. 1563 Homilies ii. Whitsunday i. (1859) 453 Easter, a great, and solemne feast among the Jewes. 1611 Bible Acts xii. 4 Intending after Easter to bring him foorth.

    • Both sides in this debate often commit the fallacy of Semantic Anachronism – this is when a late or modern use of a word is read back into earlier literature.

    • Previous English versions demonstrate that Easter meant Passover
    Ex. Coverdale Joh 6:4 And Easter ye feast of the Iewes was nye.

    • Passover is not just one day as it includes the feast of unleavened bread, just as Easter is also a weeklong festival
    Ez 45:21 In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.
    LK 22:1 Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.

    • Easter and Passover were celebrated on the same day for centuries; certainly this would have been the case in Acts 12:4.

    • Christians celebrate Easter at every Lord’s Supper and not just once a year.

    • Easter is NOT advanced revelation found only in the English Bible. All Reformations Bibles have the meaning of Passover in Acts 12:4 even when using the equivalent English term of Easter.
    Ex. Polish Wielkanoc

    • Easter is NOT wrong, but it is archaic in meaning as found in Acts 12:4.

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