Easter

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An argument can be made that the Christian observance of Easter ranks as the most important event of the Church's Liturgical Calendar. While the Bible does not mention Easter (KJV is a mis-translation for passover), the fact that Jesus prophesied and fulfilled his death and physical ressurection is Blessed assurance to all who believe. St. Paul describes it best when he reasons in I Corintinans Chapter 15 that if Christ be not raised from the dead our faith is essentially moot and of no real effect. Yet, despite the significance of this event, I find it somewhat interesting that no fixed date exists on either our Liturgical calendar or even the Gregorian calendar to commerate its importance. We know that Christmas is always December 25th, Thansgiving is the 4th Thursday in November, even my 6 year old son's personal favorite, Halloween, is Oct 31st. But, no fixed date exists for Easter.

It may come as a surprise to some but Easter was originally a pagan festival (Germanic origin) used to celebrate the time of the vernal equinox (the day in the Spring when the sun crosses the equator resulting in day and night of equal length). Most historians agree that the Christian observance did not occur until the early 8th century, A.D. Conventional practice sets the Easter celebration according to Lunar, not Liturgical considerations. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the FULL MOON that occurs on or after March 21 (why this day??)- or one week later if the full moon falls on Sunday. This means Easter can occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25. Who can tell me right now the date for Easter during Gen Con year 2004? I know I can't. Now while I have read and studied some astronomy (as opposed to astrology) I don't quite understand why full moons and my Lord's resurrection must collocate for observance purposes. I thought full moons were reflective of evil superstitions and Satanical influences like werewolves, vampires and other ghastly creatures.

I believe that the lunar connection to the Easter celebration is sacriligeous and therefore favor a FIXED date, independent of full moons, half moons, cresent moons or no moons. Yes, I appreciate JFK's prescient challenge in 1962 about manned space travel by the end of that decade. What Neil Armstrong accomplished ranks as one of the most important events of the 20th century. The scientific mission of NASA should be a continuing fiscal priority. I look forward to the next lunar eclipse to share with my children the importnace of science. Warren Moon will undoubtedly be the first black QB elected to the NFL Hall of Fame. My point is, I am not an enemy of "moons", I just feel uncomfortable about this important celebration being intimately linked with cosmological phenomena isolated of spiritual significance. QED

-- Anonymous, March 28, 2002

Answers

Good Morning Brother After reading this I must stop to thank God for the Students and talents of the Gospel as yourself. Your points are both correct and timely. God Bless You and tarry on.

-- Anonymous, March 28, 2002

If memory serves, the Passover celebration is also tied to the Lunar calendar. I don't know if this is because it's how it's calculated within Judaism, or what. But it could have been that our celebration of Resurrection Sunday (as opposed to the pagan worship of the Fertilitiy Goddess, Mother Earth - Eastre) was originally closely linked to Passover. The Seder meal for Jews became the Last Supper for Christians. The Cup that Jesus would not drink was Elijah's cup, the last of several cups of the Seder meal.

Somewhere along the way there emerged the divergence, as evidenced by the fact that there are occasional years when the two traditions are not concurrent.

-- Anonymous, March 28, 2002


It was always my understanding that the timing of Easter coincided with the observance of Passover in the Jewish Calendar, and was not chosen because of pagan festivals and observances. Now, because the timing was coincidental to rites of spring and the equinox and such, it made it easier for early Christians to convert the pagans by shifting the focus of the pagans' yearly celebrations to the resurrection and not the rebirth of the earth-mother or whatever else was observed.

I think it is incumbent upon us modern-day Christians to make the distinction between what parts of the Easter season are directly associated with the resurrection and what parts are traditional hold overs from transitioning efforts from paganism to Christianity. I personally like the floating Easter date because it requires more diligence on the part of the observing Christian, as opposed to the rote methodology of starting to observe Christmas the day after Thanksgiving and culminating on 25 December every year. I believe we develop a sense of entitlement when things are handed to us the same way every time.

Peace and blessings!

-- Anonymous, March 28, 2002


I have in my possession The William Tyndale Translation of the New Testament. This version is the oldest English translation and it predates the King James Version by almost a century. Tyndale was fluent in 7 languages and this translation was begun in 1526. The translator was eventually tried for heresy, strangled, and burned at the stake for giving the Bible to the common people. Before this event he was able to translate the entire New Testament but only the first quarter of the Old Testament and the Book of Jonah. Many familiar quotes, which we attribute to King James but cannot actually be found in the KJV, come for Tyndale. The King James translators also borrowed from this work.

The Tyndale translation used the word "Easter" not just one but 14 times. Historians say that Tyndale was also the first translator to use the word "Passover" and that it was in fact a word, which he coined. When he came to Exodus 12:11 and 21 similar passages Tyndale realized that Easter could not be used in these passages Thus he coined the term "Passover," to assist readers with understanding the implication of the text. All previous translations left these passages untranslated in their original Hebrew or Greek forms. Tyndale's reason for changing these terms was that they were the ones, which would be most understood by English speakers. Tyndale also gave us the word "scapegoat."

The King James Version following Tyndale's example of distinguishing Easter from Passover realized that in Acts 12:4 the context would be completely lost if it read "Passover." Herod put Peter in prison during the days of unleavened bread, and therefore after the time which Tyndale called "Passover." Thus, the word Easter was chosen for this passage so that those English speakers already familiar with the Tyndale would understand exactly what it meant. Following this same trend we read in I Corinthians 5:7--"Christ our passover is sacrificed for us."

Additionally, some modern researchers suggest that the original notion that the word Easter is derived from Eastre, or Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of spring and the worship attribitued to her is somewhat inaccurate. They believe that Easter more accurately comes from the Germanic word which in English is rendered as "east," referring to the rising of the sun, a metaphor for the Resurrection of Christ. This belief is born out by Malachi 4:2 and the German term "Ostern", from which the English words "east/eastern" (where the sunrise occurs) is derived. Since English is a Germanic Language the word Easter is, therefore, used to describe this Feast. Even though ostern probably also has its root in ňostre, the context in which it is used is totally different--e.g. not truly relating to the worship of the goddess. Most other languages still use some form of the word "Paschal".

Early Christians observed Easter on the same day as Passover (14-15 of the Hebrew month Nisan, a date governed by a lunar calendar). In the Second century, the Christian celebration was transferred to the Sunday following the 14-15 Nisan, if that day fell on a weekday.

In 325 AD the Christian Church set Easter as the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon (sometime knows as the Ecclesiastical Full Moon). Until 1582 these date were the same for both the Orthodox and the Western Christian Churches. In 1582 the Western Church replaced all calculations based on the Julian Calendar with those of the Gregorian Calendar. However the Orthodox Church calculations based on the Julian Calendar are still in use. Therefore the dates on which Feasts are celebrated in the Orthodox and the Western Church,not always, but often differ.

-- Anonymous, March 29, 2002


Greetings in His Name

I am sure when we read the Scriptures we see clearly that the Passover Meal was celebrated, followed later on by the Lord's Supper.

This year the Passover was on Thursday as celebrated by the Jews. Clearly a clue to the day of cruxifixion, as according to the Bible, Jesus was crucified on the same day as the the Passover.

Exodus 28 calls for the first Lamb to be killed at 9am. This corresponds with the time Jesus was nailed to the Cross. The Passover Lamb had to be killed at 3pm, corresponding to the time Jesus died.

Whilst the high priest was busy with the Passover Lamb behind the curtain at the Holiest of Holy, that very same curtain was torn in two.

Would the Thursday be an answer for the THREE DAYS AND NIGHTS ?

Love Clive

-- Anonymous, April 01, 2002



One correction to my previous post is that the correct spelling of the translator of the first English Bible should be William Tindale, rather than Tyndale. Some portions of this translation may be found online.

It is also interesting to note that Tindale was an anabaptist--a practice for which he would have been expelled from the AME Church. This of course in no way diminishes his great contribution of giving the WORD to English speakers.

-- Anonymous, April 01, 2002


Thanks Brother Matthews for the informative dialogue regarding 'easter'. It would be good news to hear of Resurrection Sunday. To proclaim "He is Risen" is a declaration of our faith not because it's easter, but because He arose from the dead just as He said He would.

The good news is to be proclaimed, "He is Risen" and much more so to proclaim that He's risen in our lives. He's resurrected us to newness of life, i.e., planting, growth, and new birth.

Because the easter holiday is attached to the fertility goddess, I've learned over the years to refer to the day as Resurrection Sunday and not easter. Because the holdiday has become like Christmas, kwanza, halloween, valentine's day, etc. just another commercial day, I'm learning to let folk celebrate it as they would like to, I just don't have to participate, I just inform them of the difference.

For once in my life as a Christian, a pastor stood up for Christ and announced, no bunnies, no baskets, no eggs, no hunt, no candy at God's House. God bless and keep him is my prayer. God's house has been desecrated for so long with our way of doing things until my heart, my spirit, my very soul leaped for joy upon hearing the announcement. Just as David's heart panted after the waterbrook so my heart pants after Thee O God.

Thanks be to God for a man of God who will stand up for Jesus no matter who gets upset because 'we've been doing it this way every since I've been in the church." Does that make it right?

Let's follow Jesus through the week following Palm Sunday, after the fig tree incident, He went to the temple, read what happened in Matthew 21:12, Mark 11:15, Luke 19:45. John 12 is a must read.

Open our eyes Lord and help us see Jesus.

-- Anonymous, April 02, 2002


Thanks Robert for clarifying the correct date (325 AD)for the establishment of Easter. Your indefatigable pursuit of truth is a great inspiration for this Zion. The First Council of Nicea really made some incredible contributions like this and other matters pertinent to the development of Christianity. Now Rev. Pillay's comment about when Christ was actually crucified is vitally important and bears additional thoughtful discussion. As he suggests the traditional recognition of Good Friday presents a real problem considering Jesus' prophesy of identifying his death and resurrection similar to Jonah's big fish experience - three days and three nights. Years ago, I listened to a Fred Price sermon which provided a rejection of Good Friday celebrations based precisely on Rev. Pillay's thesis. If Christ was crucified on a Friday and reappeared on Sunday morning something is amiss about the 3rd night. As a layman I find support to Clive's alternative but it sure would be beneficial if seminary trained clergy can contribute to this apparent conundrum. QED

-- Anonymous, April 02, 2002

Greetings in the Triune Name of Jesus

I don't really know about you'll in America, but here in South Africa the folks like to have things dished out on a platter.

Think along the lines of the celebration of Pentecost. Then refer to your Bible again and confirm that Jesus was indeed cruicified at the same time of the Jewish Passover.

Your answer will be clear when you have sorted out the celebration of Pentecost and what happened to the "other" Day"

Love

hope the suspense send you back reading, reading and more reading

Clive

-- Anonymous, April 04, 2002


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