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.