Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread
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The purpose of this study is to compare and to evaluate the terminology used to denote the time of year when the event in Acts 12: 3, 4 took place. A negative rating here does not necessarily mean a negative rating in the comparison of other passages. Likewise, a positive rating here does not necessarily mean a positive rating elsewhere.

The two verses, as they are translated in the King James Version, are quoted. The words in underlined, bold type are compared here in other versions. The definite article in each case is omitted. The versions which use the listed forms of translation are named. An evaluation is given for each. In the summary, the most accurate words are discussed in terms of the description in Leviticus 23.


Versions Compared

 

AAT An American Translation (Beck)
AB Amplified Bible
ANT The Authentic New Testament
CEV Contemporary English Version
CJB Complete Jewish Bible
CLNT Concordant Literal New Testament
CNT Cassirer New Testament
CTNT Centenary Translation of the New Testament
DHB Darby Holy Bible
DRB Douay-Rheims Bible
EBR The Emphasized Bible
GW God's Word
HBME The Holy Bible in Modern English
HBRV Holy Bible, Revised Version
IB Interlinear Bible
IV Inspired Version
KJV King James Version
LB Living Bible
LBP Lamsa Bible
MCT McCord's New Testament Translation
MNT Moffatt New Translation
MRB Modern Reader's Bible
MSNT The Modern Speech New Testament
NAB New American Bible
NAS New American Standard Version
NBV New Berkeley Version
NCV New Century Version
NEB New English Bible
NET New Evangelical Translation
NIV New International Version
NJB New Jerusalem Bible
NKJ New King James Version
NLV New Life Version
NNT Noli New Testament
NRS New Revised Standard Version
NSNT Norlie's Simplified New Testament
NWT New World Translation
PRS Phillips Revised Student Edition
REB Revised English Bible
RSV Revised Standard Version
SARV Standard American Edition, Revised Version
SGAT An American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed)
SNB Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible
SSBE The Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition
TDB The Dartmouth Bible
TEV Today's English Version
TM The Message
WAS Worrell New Testament
WET Wuest Expanded Translation
WMF The Word Made Fresh
WNT Williams New Testament
YLR Young's Literal Translation, Revised Edition


Acts 12: 3

(Then were the days of unleavened bread.)

A. days of bread baked without yeast:
WET.
This is an incorrect translation. The proper concept is that the bread does not contain leaven. Yeast is only one leavening agent that can be used in making breads.

B. Days of Matzah:
CJB.
This version uses Hebrew terms throughout. Matzah is the name of the bread to be used. Unless the English-speaking reader knows the Hebrew word, this term can be confusing.

C. days of the Azymes:
DRB.
Technically, this is correct. However, anyone who does not recognize the Greek will not understand what it means. The word azyme means unleavened bread. It comes from the Greek word azymos, meaning unleavened. Since the feast is Jewish, not Greek, the use of the Greek word could create a misunderstanding of the Jewish traditions. The term is a transliteration from the Greek rather than a translation.

D. days of the unfermented cakes:
NWT.
This is an incorrect translation. The explanation in point A applies here. Also, it is not cakes, but a form of bread that is used. Unfermented does not necessarily mean unleavened.

E. days of the unleavened bread:
YLR.
This is a correct translation. In English, a noun that names a person, place or thing is called a common noun, e.g., day. It is written in lower case letters. A noun which names a specific person, place, or thing is a proper noun, e.g., Labor Day. It is written with the initial letter of each word in upper case. Thus, in the case of a special day, more importance is placed upon it by writing it as a proper noun.

F. Days of Unleavened Bread:
NKJ.
See point E.

G. days of Unleavened Bread:
AB, GW, MSNT, NAS, NET, NJB, RSV.
See point E.

H. days of unleavened bread:
CLNT, CTNT, DHB, EBR, HBRV, IB, IV, KJV, LBP, MCT, MNT, MRB, PRS, SARV, SNB, SSBE, TDB, WAS.
See point E.

I. Feast of Thin Bread:
CEV.
This is an incorrect translation. Although matzah is a thin bread, any bread can be sliced to be considered thin and still be leavened bread.

J. Feast of Unleavened Bread:
CNT, NBV, NCV, NIV.
This is a correct translation. A feast is involved. Although the word days is correct, the word feast is more specific.

K. feast of Unleavened Bread:
NAB, WNT.
See points E and J.

L. festival of the Unleavened Bread:
NNT.
This is a correct translation. The word festival can be applied to the feast, but feast is more specific. See also point E.

M. Festival of Unleavened Bread:
NSNT, TEV.
See points E and L.

N. festival of Unleavened Bread:
NEB, NRS, REB, SGAT.
See points E and L.

O. Passover Celebration:
LB.
This is a correct translation. The Passover is the day prior to the actual beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasts for one week.

P. Passover days of bread without yeast:
AAT.
This is a partially correct translation. See points A and N.

Q. Passover Week:
TM.
This is a technically correct translation. See point O.

R. special religious gathering:
NLV.
This version has a limited vocabulary and is directed to people for which English is a second language. In accomplishing this purpose, the concept of the particular feast is lost through generalization.

S. time of unfermented bread:
HBME.
This is an incorrect translation. Without leaven, not unfermented, is the correct concept.

T. [omitted]
ANT, WMF.
This is taking away from the Scriptures unless the passage were added in the first place.


Acts 12: 4

And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

A. Easter:
IV, KJV, TDB, WMF.
This is an incorrect translation. The day to be celebrated as Easter was set by church officials meeting at the Council of Nice in A.d. 325. It was considered a most unworthy thing that the church should follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this most holy solemnity since the Jews had stained their hands with a nefarious crime [the death of Christ]. The practice of the Jews [Passover] should be rejected and the rite of Easter should be perpetuated to all future ages. It was recommended that the church have nothing in common with the Jews. Actually, the celebration, with its superficial Christian emphasis, has its origin in paganism. Replacement theology is in evidence with the Easter celebration.
      This is the only reference to Easter in the KJV. Passover is mentioned four times in Matthew, five times in Mark, six times in Luke, and ten times in John. A copyist may be at fault for Easter being used in Acts because it was not celebrated in the primitive church. There was a transitional period. However, pagan holidays did exist at the time.
      The TDB is an abbreviated form of the KJV. For some reason, the translators missed this inconsistency.
      The IV is an inspired correction of the KJV. In view of the claims for this version, there is no logical reason why this error was not corrected because the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were commanded by God to be kept.
      The WMF is actually an introduction to the Bible for people having no interest in the Bible. The translator seems to have been more interested in setting a time for people who are not informed than in giving a fact which they would not understand.

B. feast:
CEV.
This is not specific enough to be correct. There are several feasts that are celebrated.

C. pasch:
DRB.
Technically, this is correct. It means the Feast of the Passover. It comes from the Hebrew word Pesakh, which is the Passover.

D. Passover:
AAT, AB, ANT, CLNT, CNT, CTNT, GW, HBME, HBRV, IB, LB, MCT, MRB, MSNT, NAB, NAS, NBV, NEB, NET, NIV, NJB, NKJ, NNT, NRS, NSNT, PRS, REB, RSV, SARV, SGAT, SNB, SSBE, TEV, TM, WNT.
This is the correct English word for Pesakh, the Hebrew word for Passover.

E. passover:
DHB, EBR, LBP, MNT, NWT, WAS, WET, YLR.
See point E in verse 3 and point D in verse 4.

F. Passover Feast:
NCV.
This is a correct translation.

G. Pesach:
CJB.
This is the correct Hebrew word. See point B in verse 3.

H. special religious gathering:
NLV.
See point R in verse 3.


Footnotes

The Authentic New Testament:
The festival of Unleavened Bread was then in progress.

New Century Version:
Feast: a special meal and celebration for a certain purpose.
Feast of Unleavened Bread, or "Passover:" reminded the Israelites how God brought them out of Egyptian slavery, Exodus 12:1-30; Numbers 28:16-25; Deuteronomy 16:1-8.
Passover Feast: an important holy day for the Jews in the spring of each year. They ate a special meal on this day to remind them that God had freed them from being slaves in Egypt.

Worrell New Testament:
Days of unleavened bread: during the feast of the passover (Exodus 12:12-17). All the fuss that has been made about Easter has no scripture warrant.


Commentary

 

While there may appear to be a criticism of the translation of some versions, it is recognized there are difficulties that the translators have faced and that they have tried to transfer the intended message of the original writers in a manner that can be easily understood by the readers of today.

The proper terms are Unleavened Bread and Passover. Some translators, in an effort to use words that explain the term, have done so in a way that has changed the meaning. Except for involving the word Easter in English or another language, there is not likely the intent of replacement theology. It is more likely a case of ignorance of the Jewish laws.

Luke, a non-Jew, is accepted as the writer of The Acts. Thus, he would not have understood as well as a Jew would have. However, in the gospel bearing his name, this error does not occur. The Revised Version and the Standard American Edition, revisions of the King James Version, have corrected this error.

Passover is the day commemorating the passing over of the angel of death in Egypt. The Feast of Unleavened Bread makes up the next seven days. It commemorates the time that the Israelites were commanded to eat unleavened bread as they prepared to leave Egypt.

The translators of the versions which are indicated as being incorrect appear to know something of the Jewish feasts, but lack an understanding of them. Using these versions for the passages lends the possibility of incorrect teaching or diminishing the true meaning. Such can lead to replacement theology. Readers need to refer back to the last four books of the Pentateuch, especially Leviticus 23, to learn the origin and meaning of these terms.

There is a tendency on the part of Christians to devaluate the importance of the Old Testament. Yet, the New Testament is tied to it. This study indicates one instance in proving this point.