Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Pagan?

If you've interacted at all with internet atheist types, then you've run across the old canard that Easter is derived from a pagan ritual. I've never really known what the big deal is, unless they're trying to imply that Jesus never existed and this ritual somehow morphed into what it is today, which is highly implausible, and not even remotely suggested by the majority of historians. It would more than likely be scoffed at.

However, I was curious as to whether Christian did co-opt a pagan ritual to celebrate Christ's resurrection. This article disputes the claim.

The author makes these points:

  1. Even if Christians did co-opt the celebration, so fllippin what? Christians have often tried to redeem the cultures they lived in, and if they took over this so that they could celebrate Christ's resurrection, more power to them.
  2. The earliest claim we have that Easter was derived from a pagan fertility goddess worship ritual is from the 8th century by the Venerable Bede. The culture he was speaking of, however, was converted relatively late to Christianity, and so if Easter was celebrated prior to those dates, Bede's account of Eostre is insignificant. There is in fact evidence that Christians celebrated Easter by the second century.
  3. Professor Ronald Hutton has criticized Bede's sketchy knowledge of supposed pagan rituals, and says that he makes a mistake with Eostre as well.
  4. There is no evidence outside of Bede's account that would support the claim that the pagan goddess Eostre existed.
  5. The name "Easter" was more likely derived from the latin phrase "in albis ("in white")which Christians used in reference to Easter week, found its way into Old High German as eostarum, or 'dawn.'"
  6. The title of the celebration has never been the issue. It is what we are celebrating that is the issue.
Praise God for He is risen!

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