Jesus, Thief on Easter
Recently, I have seen two conflicting, yet equally helpful discussions of the use of the word “Easter” to celebrate Resurrection Sunday.
Dr. Tim LeCroy’s post argues that Easter, counter to common pronouncement, is not pagan in origin, but is a reference to the vernal equinox and the change of the sunlight in Spring, this change coming in the East. Tim also sees this as part of God’s design that the Lord should be raised at the vernal equinox, bringing the light to the world. This is more normal to the Bible than you might realize, since the Hebrew festivals are actually set according to things like moons and equinoxes…. Take a read of Tim’s work; it is high quality and worthy of a gander.
Doug Wilson’s CanonWired video takes the usual line of saying the name comes from a Germanic Fertility Goddess, and I don’t fault someone for thinking it is the same as everyone always says it is. (Tim provides good evidence to the contrary). Doug’s argument however, is that paganism is made void and we have seen the victory of Christ over this paganism. He cites Hosea 2.17. I like that Doug takes this approach, and while I favor Tim’s etymology, I know that Tim also values the reasoning that follows Doug’s initial assumption.
So I think both are helpful. And in the vein of etymology, and with the spirit of Doug’s acceptance of the word, Easter, I want to add the following note.
Esther (Haddasah renamed in Persia) is “Star,” but it is also the word for the Persian Venus. In the New Testament we read from the 2nd Gospel, Mark: Markos, which is a contraction of martikos, which means “dedicated to Mars.” The New Testament also uses the Greek terms Hades and Tartaros in making the understanding of death plain to a people who already had terms of rough equivalance. Jesus conquers hell. Jesus conquers Mars, the God of Pagan warfare. And Jesus conquers the Persian Venus/Aphrodite, the Goddess of Pagan love and even of luck.
But it goes both ways, the Bible uses pagan terms, but there are also pagan terms that the Bible claims to own first.
Iapetos in Greek mythology is most likely a deification of Japheth. Noah or one of his sons shows up as Utnapishtim in Gilgamesh, and this same flood is found in the Greek Deukalion, as well as in flood stories from cultures from China to Australia (results of the biblically described, global flood).
Now I want to take you down a little trail that I think has a fun end – so stick with it: James Jordan points out that Job may be the one refered to in Gen 10.29-30 as Jobab. Eber and Joktan are brothers, and instead merely of following Eber straight on through the Messianic line, Genesis also provides 13 descendants of Joktan.
26 Joktan fathered Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan.
Why does the Genealogy take us down the trail away from the Family of Abraham? The thirteenth name is Jobab or “Father Job.” Who we probably know as a rough contemporary of Abraham, and the author of Job. (This info can be found in Jordan’s lectures on Gensis).
Here’s a fun addition I would like to set forth. I think there is good reason here for following the name:
- Job Father
- Job Piter (in old Latin)
- (Jub Piter)
Jupiter is also in Latin called what? Jove. Or more simply: Job. Maybe plenty has been written on this one, but I don’t know. Any comments for or against this idea would be welcomed.
But regardless of whether Jobab is Jupiter, the point should remain: we must remember that God made the world, and that the Pagans have always borrowed from God’s history, and from real history, turning truth into something that distracts from the true God.
There is a good theological reason for all this: The Holy Spirit isn’t afraid to use pagan half-formed concepts in explaining the real, Trinitarianly created truth. And that truth is: God made the world, not Satan. And God is happy to take his stuff back. But Satan, from the beginning has been a liar and a theif. Stories have origins and either God is true and every man is a liar who defies him, or the Bible is just a bunch of junk. But if we can give credence to a resurrected man offered to satisfy the justice of a Holy God, then we ought to start letting God tell us what the origin of story is.
Moses did Miracles and Janes and Jombres did weaker imitations of the work of the Spirit. The same imitation has happened throughout history. Isis and Osiris didn’t invent resurrection. Remember that resurrection happens in Gen 1, over and over: The day was made to die and be resurrected daily. And God fleshed it out on day 4 when he set the Sun to clock this daily period. In Genesis 2, Adam dies in a deep sleep and is resurrected with a wife and a covenant. In Genesis 2 and 3, the world dies, and the promise of victory is given. In Genesis 14 Lot is captive and Abraham brings him back from doom. In Genesis 15 Abraham dies in deep sleep and is resurrected as an adopted son of a Covenant. In Genesis 16 Sarah is as good as dead and yet in Genesis 21 the Lord gives her the pleasure of a child. In Genesis 22 Isaac is as good as dead and yet, the Lord provides a ram on the mount where Isaac’s great great seed future will be crucified for the sins of the world. In Genesis 32 Jacob wrestles with God, and yet he lives. In Genesis 37-50 Joseph dies with blood on his coat and gets buried by his brothers in a pit, and then is resurrected and sold to Midian, then he dies as Potiphar’s wife steals his coat, and he is resurrected as King of Egypt. The theif on one side raised to life, and the thief on the other damned as wicked. Joseph says to the living, “when you come back to the kingdom, remember me.” All of this is preparation for the great great grand nephew of Joseph who would come out of Egypt himself and move back to Israel so he could die between thieves.
Look at it. Someone is stealing.
God is a concept weak and mockable, his miracles stolen from the dreams of pagans just as weak and just as fallible, and just as false. The better judgment of wisdom is seen in the pagans, because when their time passed, they knew their ideas should stay dead. But this Yahwist nonsense won’t stay dead. And what do Christians say?
Satan steals from God, and his goal is to leave the world with a difficult memory. But the idea that paganism remembers God’s history in partial memories, half-truths, shadows and echoes is no more difficult than the concept that God could raise Jesus from the dead. In fact, the resurrection is child’s play in comparison to the idea that a holy God would forgive us for our recalcitrance, stiff necks, hard hearts and ears full of wax.
But this is why Jesus comes to love the church as the goddess of love, and lets her shine as his morning star. This is why Jesus makes war on the god of war, and says that his disciples are devoted to the Son of God instead. This is why: because all the earth belongs to God, and though we have short memories, God does not. And he will have his name rewritten over the works of man so that true credit can be given where glory must be seen as due.
In Hosea 2, as Doug, pointed out, we are told God will erase the memory of old Baals. This he has done. Bible students study hermeneutics (interpretation) without batting an eye to ask who Hermes is. And we interpret Mark without reference to Mars. We hear Paul at the Areopagus and have to be taught about Ares. And men will continue to know Jesus and will continue to have to learn that Apollos was not just a teacher of the gospel, he once was a deity in Rome.
But that power, the power of Jesus to steal from the pagans, is the power to own what is already his. And we most powerfully know this power in the resurrection of Jesus. The day when he said evening is mine and morning is too. The moon is mine, but the sun is too. Death is mine and LIFE! …Life is mine too. Easter, wherever the name comes from, belongs to Jesus. And when you die in deep sleep tonight on Saturday, remember that you will rise again tomorrow, only because the God who owns all things, also owns Easter Sunday.
–Cross-Posted at Subtext—
Luke Welch is a conservative in politics. He has a master’s degree from Covenant Seminary and preaches regularly in a conservative Anglican church in Maryland. He blogs about Bible structure at SUBTEXT.