Daily Archives: August 9, 2009

More “On the Strong Woman”

I finished translating and putting up Chapter 3, which is much more a chapter about Christ than about plain old husbands and wives. Not as copiously illustrated, alas, as my brain is dead this week. But an interesting read, I think.

I’m busily moving ahead with translating Chapter 4, in which St. Albert seems pretty sure that Good Married People are a class of saints, just like Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, and Widows. See? You want to read this!

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The Name “Easter” in the Bible

As we all know, pretty much all non-Germanic-language Christian countries call Easter a name derived from “Pasch”, Passover.

We don’t, and the Germans don’t. The Venerable Bede helpfully told us that there was a German/Norse goddess of fertility and spring called Eostre (Saxon/English) or Ostara (German). People have speculated that her name is cognate with words like “East” and “estrus”.

But… why did the early missionaries go all Eostra-friendly? Hmmmmm. Reckless Speculation Follows.

We all know about the Book of Esther, and the story of the brave lady who saved her people, daring to face death. Her Hebrew name was Hadassah, but her Persian name was Esther, meaning “star”.

My speculation is that the early missionaries in fact saw the name Eostre and any celebration of her at Passover time as a Providential reference from afar to Esther, a direction from God which they dared not ignore. As Esther saved her people, so Jesus saved us all. And as Esther figuratively faced death to bring back life for her people, so Jesus literally went down to Hell and brought back the Patriarchs and saved everybody. Moreover, Esther fasted three days to bring God’s redemption.

My understanding is that Purim is usually in February/March, a month before Passover. The early Christian missionaries of England were probably not celebrating Purim, though! :) There is a feast of Ss. Esther and Mordecai in some old saints’ calendars, on May 25th. (Passover would pretty much split the difference!)

So they probably wouldn’t see any problem celebrating the feast of the Passover and the Resurrection as a feast of Queen Esther, also, and possibly using that to wean the Saxons and Germans off their fertility goddess.

(Btw, her Hebrew name Hadassah in Latin is “Edissa”, which would sound like a reasonable Germanic/Saxon female name like Edela or Aeditha. This proves nothing, of course.)

It would be interesting to see if anybody did any sort of linking of Esther with paschal or Passion imagery in the relevant language areas, in sermons or poems or the like. I know Esther has long been used as a type of the Church or Mary.

Aelfric’s homilies on Esther [in which the name is spelled Ester and Hester], Judith, and the Maccabees do survive, and you can read them online. Like a lot of old sermons and homilies, this one is a straight-up translation and retelling of the Book of Esther.

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Home Improvement, If Tim Allen Were a Scholastic

In reference to Ecclesiastes 10:18 — “By slothfulness a building shall be brought down, and through weakness of hands, a house shall leak.” — this comes up in Chapter 4, Section 2 of “On the Strong Woman”:

“….the dripping of libidinous temptation through the roof of charity, and into the house of conversion.”

You can really tell how much these guys would have loved visual aids and Power Point animations. Honestly, it is such a shame nobody does little videos of this stuff.

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