The Modern Roots of “Pagan” Easter

In the late nineteenth century, a Cambridge scholar sat at his desk and wove a brilliant story about comparative religious practices. “ALL over Europe,” he argued, “the peasants have been accustomed from time immemorial to kindle bonfires on certain days of the year, and to dance round or leap over them. Customs of this kind [Read More…]

The Christian History of “Pagan” Easter

I bought Easter candy for my students. It was a mistake. Although the students made a valiant effort to eat as much as possible, they left a few Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs (a particular weakness of mine) in the candy basket. Needless to say, they didn’t last long. Reese’s eggs are just one of many [Read More…]


In this coming Easter season, I will be thinking of coal fires, anthrax, and anthracite. The coal fires, especially, are critical to our understanding of the New Testament accounts of the Resurrection. Like all good fires, they shed light – specifically, on how the Gospel of John was composed and edited. Let me explain those [Read More…]


Felices Pascuas, Joyeuses Pâques, Buona Pasqua, Glad Påsk… Around the world, Christians use very similar words to wish each other a happy Easter, and with a couple of glaring exceptions, they call the feast by a variant of pascha, Passover. Even Tagalog uses pasko. The odd-tongues-out are of course English itself, and its close ally [Read More…]