“In 1530, the English bible translator William Tyndale translated the first five books of the Septuagint [the Torah or Pentateuch], the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible…into English. Up until that time, neither the Hebrew Bible in its original Hebrew nor its Greek version, the Septuagint, had been translated into English [the ‘King James’ version wasn’t done until more than a century later]. The Hebrew Bible used the word Pesach to describe the lamb that was sacrificed on the 14th day of the first Hebrew month while the Septuagint used the Greek word “Pascha”. However, Tyndale didn’t want to use the Septuagint’s Greek word “Pascha” as the name for the lamb that was sacrificed on the 14th day of the first Hebrew month. Since the word Pascha was the equivalent of the word Pesach, and since Pesach was linguistically related to another Hebrew…Pasach…[e.g. Sh’mot/Ex. 12:27; both Pesach and Pasach have the same root-consonants but different vowels], and since Pasach meant either to “skip over (or on)” or to “pass over (or on)”, Tyndale connected the meaning of Pasach to the meaning of Pesach and Pascha, and so instead of using the word Pascha, he instead chose the English word Passover to describe the lamb sacrificed on the 14th day of the first Hebrew month. However, he used the name Passover only for the 22 times this lamb was mentioned in the Torah or Pentateuch because the name Passover was correct for the context of the time frame of events in which those 22 references were mentioned.” [1]

     Tyndale’s English translation was, in fact, preceded by John Wycliffe’s, which had been completed in the 14th century (150 years or more before Tyndale’s). [2] “While a number of partial and complete translations had been made from the 7th century onward, particularly during the 14th century, Tyndale’s was the first English translation to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, and the first to take advantage of the new medium of print, which allowed for its wide distribution.” [3] For their trouble, Wycliffe’s body was exhumed and burned, and Tyndale was strangled at the stake, then burned. We might not fully understand the reasons for the controversy around trans-lating the Bible into English, or the danger in doing it at all back then. Jewish tradition allows  translation for educational purposes, while maintaining only the Masoretic Hebrew text as authoritative (“Every translation is a comment-ary.”)  So, Tyndale gets the credit for coining the English word “Passover.”   

     Outside of English-speaking Jewry, I’m not sure that the holiday is ever called anything but “Pesach,” “Hag ha-Matzot” (“The Holiday of Unleavened Bread”), “Z’man Kheiruteinu” (“The Time of Our Freedom”), or other familiar Hebrew designations. Anyone want to do the research? [4]

      Hag Sameach

[1] http://www.angelfire.com/pa2/passover/faq/origin-meaning-of-the-name-passover.html
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wycliffe
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Tyndale
[4] “Looking at the Chumash, Pesach isn’t the name of Passover until some time between then [i.e. the Exodus itself] and the compiling of the mishnah. In the Chumash, Chag haPesach is the term for the 14th of Nissan (e.g. Bamidbar 27:16), or perhaps only the afternoon of the 14th. The  7-day holiday is exclusively known as Chag haMatzos.” (re: R. Micha Berger of aishdas.org, conveyed to me via email 4/22/11).