Monday, April 18, 2011

Hislop Said What?

A study of the 'Easter is pagan' myth begins with Alexander Hislop and his work The Two Babylons.  Why?  Because in this work, originally released in 1853 and expanded in 1858, is where it is first stated that the word Easter is of Chaldean origin.  Here is the quote from the book:

"Then look at Easter.  What means this term Easter itself?  It is not a Christian name.  It bears its Chaldean origin on its very forehead.  Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Nineveh, was evidently identical with that now in common use in this country.  That name, as found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments, is Ishtar."

This all sounds good, but there are a couple of problems with Hislop's study.  He first asks what does the term Easter mean.  According to Webster's 1828 Easter is: A festival of the christian church observed in commemoration of our Savior's resurrection. It answers to the pascha or passover of the Hebrews, and most nations still give it this name, pascha, pask, paque.  Keep in mind, this dictionary was released just a few years before Hislop's book; what did Hislop know that Webster did not, or vice versa?  The second problem with Hislop's opinion on Easter is he never actually says why or provides his proof that Easter is Ishtar.  In the aforementioned quote he only states the similar pronunciation.  Hislop goes on in this section to speak about the addition of Lent and the background of eggs and their addition as well.  But he never says anything about the actual word Easter being pagan in origin except that it is similar to Ishtar.

Hislop concluded that Easter is Ishtar because of a grammatical similarity across languages.  And now today most of professing Christianity will repeat this myth that Easter is pagan based upon Hislop's faulty analysis and reasoning without even knowing it.


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