A Reader Writes:
In the April newsletter, The Plastic Bible, Jacob has asked a question. I suppose it is actually rhetorical, and he doesn’t really want an answer, but I’m going to give him one anyway. The question is: “Where does the King James justify using the word “Easter”?”
Although the Greek plainly says pascha, which we would normally translate Passover, the context indicates that that is not what is meant here. Acts 12:3 says, “…Then were the days of unleavened bread.” Passover is the 14th of Nisan. That’s a single day and night. Followed by 7 days of unleavened bread. If it was during the days of unleavened bread, clearly Passover had been and gone. Herod was by no means concerned about doing away with anyone on the Passover. Jesus was sacrificed at Passover. Furthermore he was a pagan. Obviously he didn’t want to mess up his own religious feast, the one which comes from Eostre, Ashtoreth, etc. Whether the AV translators substituted Passover for Easter with complete understanding, or as it were accidentally, doesn’t really matter. The hand of God was on them and they got it right. Easter, Herod’s pagan festival, is the one which should be named here.
For the most part, I think it is an ok article, but Jacob says he can show “over 50 errors in the King James”. He shows 2 which are not errors at all. First, above, and second, calling the Holy Spirit “It”. How is this an error? In the Hebrew, the word for spirit is feminine, therefore “she” might seem more appropriate, and in Greek the word is neuter. Come on! Agree to disagree, but a mistake it is not!
If you don’t like the AV, just come right out and say so. But all this nonsense about King James himself is just that. Nonsense. Is Coverdale’s bible no good because King Henry (who authorized it to be read in churches in England) was a murderer and adulterer? The two men who are responsible for the New Greek New Testament were necromancers, Mariolaters and all sorts of heinous things, but “scholars” wax eloquent about their marvelous work. What’s the deal? King James had nothing to do with “his” bible other than authorizing it, as was his prerogative as King. He could equally have clapped everyone in irons and let the papists have their way. The Gunpowder Plot would have cured him of any trust he might have had on that score. I praise God he uses even wicked men to bring about His will. Be not deceived; God is not mocked!
Jacob was perhaps the first bible teacher we came across who uttered the phrase “but don’t take my word for it”. We will always be grateful to him for that. We pray God’s blessing on him, especially with his health issues. Perhaps stress might be less of an issue if he concentrated a little less on what the enemy is doing in our camp, and a little more on helping the saints sharpen their swords. Jacob’s really good at that.
Kind regards in Jesus’ name.
I understand this issue often moves people out of their comfort zone. But just because something is taught often does not make it right and I know we will have to continue the process of addressing such errors which continue to be repeated. I appreciate the passion displayed for God’s Word in inquiries such as these but there are a couple of points I would like to specifically address.
(1) Herod was culturally Roman but his grandparents were Idumean (Nabatean) converts to Judaism and, like his father Herod, practriced Judaism as a religion of political convenience. The Roman authorities as well as the Herodians and non-Herodians were very much indeed concerned with capital executions on holidays according to both Josephus and the Gospels (e.g., John 19:31). Alfred Edersheim also lists multiple mishnaic proofs for the same.
The Gospel of John is the most festal of the Gospels and shows the “Hag Shabbat” (sometimes called a “high Sabbath”) when the Sabbath falls on a holy day. The Seder night itself (Pesach) is counted as part of Hag Matzot (“Unleavened Bread” such as in John 14:12), and to this day Hag Matzot is referred to as “Passover Week” based on the Torah in Deuteronomy treating it as a Paschal theological unit. (See Deut. 16:1-8, where Pesach and Hag Matzot are treated as the same multi-day festival like the Feast of Booths and later Hanukkah.) In other words Seder night, First Fruits (1 Corinthians 15:20), Lag B’Omer, Hag Shabbat, etc. are ALL part of Passover based on Deuteronomy 16 and its references.
Therefore the term which the reader rightly identified as “Pascha” cannot be interpreted as “Easter”. The KJV contains a gross mistranslation. “Easter” comes from the 4th Century Patristic Quadridecimien schism and not from the Word of God.
This is why we strongly encourage acquiring what biblical scholars have come to identify as the proper “Sitz Im Leben” which means “life situation” or “setting in life”. We need to understand the proper historical and cultural setting in which Scripture was first given in order to properly understand not only its original intent for that first audience, but in how it is applied to everyone going forward. In this case I would suggest that the influences of what came to be known about and called “Easter” replaced the original, purer meaning of Pesach. Another way to put it is that a Western mindset centering on “Easter” which arose centuries after the original Gospels were written has unduly influenced subsequent translations, leaving behind the original 1st Century “Sitz Im Leben” of Passover Week as originally intended.
(2) In regards to the gender of the Holy Spirit, unlike English, there are many languages which incorporate gender as part of their grammar, one of them being Greek. Gender in this case does not have anything to do with sex but is an element of grammatical construction. For instance “Jesus” is obviously a male but when He is called “petra” in Corinthians, the Greek word “petra” is rendered as a feminine word. That does not make Jesus “feminine”, it is just that in the Greek language feminine words are treated according to a particular set of grammar rules. When translating “petra” into English, there is no sense of the Greek gender of the word because “rock” in English is gender neutral. (English uses pronouns to identify the presence of gender.)
The Holy Spirit is identified in Scripture (as is Jesus Himself) as being a “He”, as having a determinate gender. Jesus Himself refers to the Holy Spirit as “He”. Since nouns in English do not have a specific gender unless modified by an accompanying pronoun, the appropriate translation into English is “He” and not the gender neutral “It”.
This is often a difficult concept for English speakers who have not studied other languages which incorporate the concept of a gender assigned to each noun. (This is also true in Slavic languages as well.) Each noun is, in and of itself, grammatically “male”, “female”, or “neuter” and the rules of the language reflect this. This does not however, make whatever they are referring to as automatically being “male”, “female”, or “neuter”. Just because “petra” in Greek is a “feminine” noun does not make Jesus feminine because He is called “the rock”. The proper English translation would be, “He is the rock”.
Please Note: Neither I nor Moriel or any person at Moriel has a problem with the KJV but only with KJV “only-ism”. This school of opinion generally propounded by people themselves who are not literate in biblical languages. In fact, some of this movement’s leaders such as Gail Riplinger and Richard Engstrom are demonstrable frauds and charlatans. (The worst may be the racist and three times divorced and remarried Peter Ruckman.) Instead of presenting scholars and a body of credible academic work to support their position, the KJV-Only movement is dominated by a kind of lunatic fringe of conspiracy theorists and blatant liars such as Barbara Aho, Victoria Dillen, and Wendy Howard. Others like Tom Lamb are extreme to the point of being laughable. To those such as myself who have actually attained academic credentials and are fluent in biblical languages, it is distressing to see the impact of their influence upon the flock.
There certainly is a major problem with many modern translations and paraphrases such as Eugene Peterson’s The Message which can not hardly even be called the Word of God. But this serious challenge demands a serious, scholarly, and credible response. This is the very point of the sermon “The Plastic Bible” where attempts are made to replace the authentic with a counterfeit.