I recently received an email that caused me to reexamine the matter of Easter eggs:
"Easter eggs are an important part of Easter and no celebration is possible without these beautifully crafted eggs. But, how did Easter eggs start? While there are claims that Easter eggs have a pagan origin, sufficient evidence has not been found to support these claims. It was in the eighteenth century when the pagan link between Easter eggs and a goddess named Ostara, or Eostre in German, was established through Jakob Grimm."
I wonder why he tried to link Easter eggs and a pagan goddess together?
This was my response:
The source of that quote is incorrect. I think some folks have gotten tired of having their noses rubbed in the facts and they are pushing back with counter claims to ease their consciences.
Jacob Grimm (of Grimms' Fairy Tales fame) is not the earliest source connecting Easter eggs to pagan origins. Although he is commonly quoted, the earliest source is "Saint" Bede, who lived in the 7th century. Bede is the only native of Great Britain to ever be recognized by a Pope as a "Doctor of the Church" (so he's kind of a big deal among Catholic academics). He had access to a number of earlier sources dating back to the 3rd and 4th centuries that are no longer available to us today. Bede describes Eostre (whose name gives us both Ostara and Easter in English) as a goddess with fertility associations, which connects her to both rabbits and eggs (pagan symbols of fertility).
Easter, from Old English eastre, Easter, from Germanic *austrōn (meaning "dawn") which derives from Indo-European root aus- (meaning "to shine")1 The modern English word "east" also derives from this root.
The name Ēostre has the same linguistic origins with numerous other dawn goddesses found among Indo-European peoples. These linguistic connections lead to the reconstruction of an Indo-European dawn goddess; the Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture details an Indo-European "goddess of the dawn" that is supported by the evidence of cognate names and the similarity of mythic representation of the dawn goddess among various Indo-European groups. All of this evidence permits us to posit an Indo-European *haéusōs 'goddess of dawn' who was characterized as a "reluctant" bringer of light for which she is punished. In three of the Indo-European language stocks (Baltic, Greek and Indo-Iranian), the existence of a Indo-European 'goddess of the dawn' is given additional linguistic support in that she is designated the 'daughter of heaven'".2
On painted eggs:
Noruz is the Persian New Year which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years and predates the reign of Cyrus the Great, whose rule marks the beginning of Persian history. Haft Seen is a traditional table setting for Noruz which includes greenery and decorated eggs (for fertility). In modern Persia (Iran), the colored eggs are placed on the Haft Seen table and mothers eat one egg for each child she has.
In some early cultures, the nocturnal hare was actually considered a symbol of the moon. In addition to feeding at night, the hare's gestation period is approximately 28 days -- the same as a full lunar cycle. In European folklore, the rabbit connection to eggs is one based on confusion. In the wild, hares birth their young in what is known as a "form" -- basically, a nest for bunnies. When the hares abandoned a form, it was sometimes taken over by plovers, who would then lay their eggs in it. The locals would then find eggs in the hare's form.3
The character of the "Easter bunny" first appeared in 16th-century German writings, which said that if well-behaved children built a nest out of their caps or bonnets, they would be rewarded with colored eggs. This legend became part of American folklore in the 18th century, when an influx of Germans emigrated to the U.S.4
Today, Easter is a huge commercial venture with Americans spending over $18 billion in 2017.5
And the last time I checked, Easter, Easter bunnies, and Easter eggs still aren't found anywhere in the Bible. :)
A friend of mine recently asked if I had ever heard the claim that one of the Hebrew names of G-d (שַׁדָּי shaddai) meant "many-breasted one" or that this name revealed the female/goddess aspect of G-d. I had never heard anything like it, so I investigated this idea and (not surprisingly) discovered it has some severe flaws.
The substance of this claim is rooted in the idea that shaddai stems from the Hebrew word שַׁד (shad). While shad does mean "breast", shad is a masculine Hebrew noun that does not carry the same predominantly feminine connotation that it does in modern Western culture. For those unfamiliar with human anatomy, men have breasts, too, albeit of different form and function. But that's not even the problem.
The word shaddai doesn't stem from the root shad, it stems from shadad (שָׁדַד) which means to be burly and (in a figurative sense) powerful. How can we be sure? Let's examine history.
A friend recently contacted me and asked about some information he had seen on Facebook:
For centuries, people have wondered why the Bible records that 153 fish were caught by the disciples after Jesus told them to throw their nets on the opposite side of the boat in John 21:4-12. As I have mentioned before, EVERYTHING in the Bible is there for a reason. People would have figured out the mystery long ago if they had bothered to learn Hebrew. In Hebrew, every letter has a number attached to it. The Hebrews used their alphabet as a numbering system. The numbers attached to the letters in a Hebrew word could be added together to give a numerical total. The number 153 is the numerical total for the Hebrew words "Ani Elohim"--I AM G-D. When Jesus caused the disciples to catch exactly 153 fish, He was declaring to them that not only was He the Son of G-d, but that He was G-d Himself. Tell your Muslim friends who say that Jesus never claimed to be G-d that yes, He most certainly did!
A friend of mine recently shared an astounding fact. 90% of children who grow up in evangelical homes make a decision to follow Christ but only 22% of that group are still following Christ by age 35.
Before they are 35 years old, 80% of children who grew up in evangelical homes are not following Christ.
I had to check this out.
In part 1 of this series, we noted that Ernst Haeckel's inaccurate sketches of embryos in various stages of development from 1847 were still being used in public school textbooks as late as the early 2000's. In a similar fashion, certain ideas within Christianity that have been debunked by archaeologists, historians, and modern Biblical scholars also continue to be presented as truth to an unsuspecting audience.
The first error we addressed was an inaccurate view of first-century Judaism's teaching on salvation that was presented in a small booklet mentioned previously. A second error also had me shaking my head in disbelief.
In 1847, Ernst Haeckel created sketches of embryos in various states of development and used them in his biology textbook entitled Anthropogenie. Modern science has proven these images to be inaccurate at best and outright fraud at worst.
Although the images were debunked in the early 1900s, they were still being used in school textbooks as late as 2004 .
Christians who believe in the Biblical account of Creation point to continued use of Haeckel's images as proof that lies are being presented as evidence of evolution to unsuspecting public school students. They are demanding that it stop and their common chant is "Truth above all!"
Unfortunately, certain ideas within Christianity that have been debunked by archaeologists, historians, and modern Biblical scholars also continue to be presented as truth to an unsuspecting audience. We should follow the exhortation of Paul from 1 Thessalonians 5:21, "Put everything to the test. Hold on to what is good."
The Hebrew word for "atonement" (kippur) literally means "a covering" but in the context of the Levitical priesthood and sacrifices it has to do with ritual cleansing. The root word, kopher, means "a ransom". The "kippur"/atonement offerings are literally the ransom or price of ritual cleansing... and that ransom involves blood.
In Leviticus 14:52 the blood of a bird is used to cleanse a house with "leprosy":
Movieguide.org recently released their 2014 annual report and made the observation that for the first time in their 22-years of reporting, religious, family-friendly, and patriotic movies made up nine of the top ten grossing movies in 2013. They found the top movies with faith-centered themes of redemption earned over 400% more on average than those with a non-Christian worldview. It would seem that Hollywood has taken note and they're beginning to deliver more of what Christians want.
Or are they?
If a person has a fair amount of exposure to Mainstream Christianity, and a familiarity with the Bible, he may notice that Mainstream Christianity often de-emphasizes the Old Testament and puts a disproportionate amount of emphasis on Paul's epistles. I would hesitate to say that any part of the Scriptures can be overemphasized. However, if we give uncalled-for weight and emphasis to certain parts of the Bible, and neglect what the rest of the Scriptures teaches about an issue, we will probably develop and imbalanced view of that particular issue.
By volume, Paul's epistles make up approximately 5% of the Bible. Paul's writings are holy Scripture, but neither Paul nor the Holy Spirit expected us to give more weight and authority to these epistles than we do to the Old Testament or to the rest of the New Testament.
By putting a disproportionate amount of emphasis on these letters that Paul sent to various churches, we fail to follow the example of Paul, who told the Ephesians, "I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Ac.20:27). By neglecting certain parts of the Bible, we ignore Paul's declaration that "all Scripture is inspired and is useful." (2 Tim. 3:16).
Discover more in the full article, The Ghost of Marcion.
While Jesus was on earth, he and his disciples practiced the religion that God gave to the Israelites through Moses. The guidelines they followed were found primarily in the Torah*, which is the first five books of the Old Testament -- the writings of Moses. The Torah contains a variety of information including history, the Ten Commandments, and instructions pertaining to finance, government, family, health, farming, dress, feasts, and worship.
It was at some time after the death of Jesus that Christians stopped observing the Old Testament laws. Exactly when that change occurred is not clear in the Bible. Many people believe the change was made by Jesus himself immediately after the resurrection. However, there is compelling evidence in the book of Acts that the change did not occur until much later.
How much later? Find out in the full article.
The Messiah's Hebrew name is usually transliterated as either Yeshua or Yahshua. Under normal circumstances I would not bother to write an article about something as trivial as the difference between the vowel sounds "e" and "ah." There is a need to address the subject, though, because some people who use the Yahshua form say untrue things about those who use the Yeshua form. The opponents of the Yeshua form claim that this pronunciation is the result of a Jewish conspiracy to hide the Savior's true name. Those who call the Messiah Yeshua are accused of perpetuating a Jewish conspiracy and "denying His name" or "degrading Him" by their use of the Yeshua form. If you have never read or heard these outlandish accusations, you probably will eventually.
Read more of Dr. Botkin's article.
Otherwise entitled, "Why Do We Seem to Exchange One Idol for Another?"
Update:The weekend of Jan 10-13, Tim Hegg visited our group in San Antonio. While he was here, he addressed some of the concerns we initially aired in this article. We revised the article and reposted after some clarifications were made.
In the Fall 2012 issue of Messiah Journal from First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ), Boaz Michael makes an impassioned plea to his readers that they reconsider and reject One-Law and Two-House teachings as particularly insidious forms of anti-Semitic replacement theology.
He is right.
Some "One-Law" groups disregard the fact that the Torah itself makes distinctions between different groups. This is a form of idolatry in which Torah observance becomes the object of desire regardless of what the Torah and the apostles actually say.
"Two-House" theology ignores the fact that that the apostles rejoice at Gentiles (rather than "lost tribe members") coming to salvation. This is a form of idolatry in which biological heritage in Israel becomes the object of desire regardless of what the Apostolic Writings actually say.
The Psalm11918.org team is pleased to announce our partnership with Gary Mink in delivering his insightful observations and commentary about the Sacred Name Movement.
The Psalm11918.org team has designed and implemented Mr. Mink's library of information on a new website at www.sacredname.com
Please take a look and let us know your thoughts about the design and information on that site!
For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.
- The apostle Paul (Romans 10:2)
In September, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released the results of their "U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey". [If you would like to take a shortened version of the survey online it is available here. -ed]
The results were summarized in a FoxNews.com article that stated:
Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers [out of 32 questions], while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15.
Hispanic Catholics were the lowest scoring group with 11.6 questions answered correctly.
Recently the men of my congregation met and discussed several matters regarding our community. One of the matters discussed was the increase in email traffic which focused on the activities of the current U.S. administration and the concern it was generating among some of our families.
News and rumors regarding violations of the constitution, health care rationing, socialism, geriatric euthanasia, government funded abortion, and other serious matters abound. Some emails have alleged government conspiracy. The prophet Isaiah had a few words to share about that:
"You are not to say, 'It is a conspiracy!' In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. (Isaiah 8:12-13)
These echo the very words of the Messiah:
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
I recently saw this video on You Tube entitled DID JESUS GIVE US THE NAME OF THE ANTICHRIST? The author of the video proposes that Messiah Yeshua gave us a warning regarding the name of the antichrist in Luke 10:18. He suggests that a Hebrew translation of the passage would essentially read "I beheld Satan as lightning from heaven [Hebrew: barak obamah]". After watching the video I became curious and decided to investigate the matter for myself.