Saturday, May 23, 2015

Why Does the Armenian Church Refer to Easter as 'Zadeeg'? «Զատիկ»

Although we commonly use the word Easter in the Armenian Church, why do we officially refer to the ‘Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ’ as Zadeeg «Զատիկ»?

Originally, the word zadeeg «զատիկ» meant ‘sacrifice’, referring to the Passover sacrifice, where an animal was set aside as an offering to the Lord. This meaning is derived from the verb zadel «զատել» which means to put aside, separate, or set apart. Today, the word Zadeeg «Զատիկ» is simply translated as ‘Passover’, so if one were to read the Armenian translation of the Bible, any time word Passover is used, it would read Zadeeg «Զատիկ», but the idea of setting something aside or apart remains.
  1. Setting aside a sacrificial Passover lamb was part of the larger event that ultimately delivered the Israelites from death and separated and freed them from Egyptian bondage and slavery as they passed through the desert on their way to the Promised Land. That event inspired the Jews to annaully celebrate their deliverance and separation from the Egyptians through a feast; a Passover meal (Exodus 12:3,11).
  2. The event of Passover in the Old Testament is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Passover Lamb (John 1:29). Thus, for Christians, the implication behind Zadeeg is that those baptized into the Church are freed from the slavery of sin and death; set apart as the New Israel (Galatians 3:27-28, 6:16). Jesus offered Himself on the cross for our deliverance; not just sacrificing His life, but giving it so that we can share in it through Communion; through His Body and Blood.
  3. Lastly, when Christians began to celebrate Easter/Zadeeg, it was purposefully separated from the Jewish celebration of the Old Testament Passover. Again, although Zadeeg translates as Passover, it was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 5:7-8), whom the Jews reject(ed) as the Messiah. And “as we are united to Jesus Christ, our life becomes an unending deliverance or ‘passover’ from evil“ (Orthodox Study Bible).
“Christ, the spotless Lamb of God is offered in sacrifice of praise”
~ Holy Badarak of the Armenian Orthodox Church

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