Many realise that for Easter, languages such as Russian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Hungarian, Latin, French, Italian, Dutch and Portuguese use a word sourced in “pascha”, the Greek for passover. There are some who suggest the English word “Easter” derives from the Babylonian goddess Astarte, the Assyrian goddess Ishtar.
Venerable Bede (673-735 AD), said that the English word “Easter” originates from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre/Ostara, the goddess of the spring, venerated at the vernal equinox.
Eosturmanath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month,” and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance. (De temporum ratione Ch. 13)
But there is a theory different to Bede’s.
The word “Easter” is equivalent to the German Oster which is related to Ost, the rising of the sun, “East”. Oster is related to the Teutonic auferstehen, resurrection.
Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible uses the word Oster for the Passover before and after the Resurrection. He used Osterfest for Passover/Easter and Osterlamm for Passover lamb:
Eg. Luke 22:1 Es war aber nahe das Fest der süßen Brote, das da Ostern heißt.
Luke 22:7 Es kam nun der Tag der süßen Brote, an welchem man mußte opfern das Osterlamm.
John 2:13 Und der Juden Ostern war nahe, und Jesus zog hinauf gen Jerusalem.
John 2:23 Als er aber zu Jerusalem war am Osterfest, glaubten viele an seinen Namen, da sie die Zeichen sahen, die er tat.
1 Corinthians 15:7 Denn wir haben auch ein Osterlamm, das ist Christus, für uns geopfert.
John Wycliffe made the first English Bible in 1382. He translated from the Latin. He transliterated pascha to pask or paske. Tyndale, after him, introduced the word ‘Ester’ into the English Bible. He introduced many popular words and phrases into English and created the word “passover”. The King James Version revised Tyndale’s work, keeping about 90% of its wording. It uses Easter only for Acts 12:4; elsewhere it used Tyndale’s neologism “passover”. Contemporary translations generally use only one word, passover, to translate pesach/pascha.
Does it matter?
Do you have or know about other theories?