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Anathema

Anathema [B] [H] [S]

anything laid up or suspended; hence anything laid up in a temple or set apart as sacred. In this sense the form of the word is anath(ee)ma , once in plural used in the Greek New Testament, in Luke 21:5 , where it is rendered "gifts." In the LXX. the form anathema is generally used as the rendering of the Hebrew word herem , derived from a verb which means (1) to consecrate or devote; and (2) to exterminate. Any object so devoted to the Lord could not be redeemed ( Numbers 18:14 ; Leviticus 27:28 Leviticus 27:29 ); and hence the idea of exterminating connected with the word. The Hebrew verb (haram) is frequently used of the extermination of idolatrous nations. It had a wide range of application. The anathema_ or _herem was a person or thing irrevocably devoted to God ( Leviticus 27:21 Leviticus 27:28 ); and "none devoted shall be ransomed. He shall surely be put to death" ( 27:29 ). The word therefore carried the idea of devoted to destruction ( Numbers 21:2 Numbers 21:3 ; Joshua 6:17 ); and hence generally it meant a thing accursed. In Deuteronomy 7:26 an idol is called a herem = anathema , a thing accursed.

In the New Testament this word always implies execration. In some cases an individual denounces an anathema on himself unless certain conditions are fulfilled ( Acts 23:12 Acts 23:14 Acts 23:21 ). "To call Jesus accursed" [anathema] ( 1 Corinthians 12:3 ) is to pronounce him execrated or accursed. If any one preached another gospel, the apostle says, "let him be accursed" ( Galatians 1:8 Galatians 1:9 ); i.e., let his conduct in so doing be accounted accursed.

In Romans 9:3 , the expression "accursed" (anathema) from Christ, i.e., excluded from fellowship or alliance with Christ, has occasioned much difficulty. The apostle here does not speak of his wish as a possible thing. It is simply a vehement expression of feeling, showing how strong was his desire for the salvation of his people.

The anathema in 1 Corinthians 16:22 denotes simply that they who love not the Lord are rightly objects of loathing and execration to all holy beings; they are guilty of a crime that merits the severest condemnation; they are exposed to the just sentence of "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord."

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Anathema". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .