See Curse, Accursed
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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."
separated; set apart
which literally means a thing suspended, is the equivalent of the Hebrew word signifying a thing or person voted. Any object so devoted to Jehovah was irredeemable. If an inanimate object, it was to be given to the priests, ( Numbers 18:14 ) if a living creature or even a man, it was to be slain. ( Leviticus 27:28 Leviticus 27:29 ) The word anathema frequently occurs in St. Pauls writings, and is generally translated accused. An examination of the passages in which it occurs shows that it had acquired a more general sense as expressive either of strong feeling, ( Romans 9:3 ) or of dislike and condemnation. ( 1 Corinthians 12:3 ; 16:22 ; Galatians 1:9 )
This word occurs only once in the King James Version, namely, in the phrase "Let him be anathema. Maranatha" (1 Corinthians 16:22); elsewhere the King James Version renders anathema by "accursed" (Romans 9:3; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Galatians 1:8,9), once by "curse" (Acts 23:12). Both words--anathema and anathema--were originally dialectical variations and had the same connotation, namely, offering to the gods. The non-Attic form--anathema--was adopted in the Septuagint as a rendering of the Hebrew cherem (see ACCURSED), and gradually came to have the significance of the Hebrew word--"anything devoted to destruction." Whereas in the Greek Fathers anathema--as cherem in rabbinic Hebrew-- came to denote excommunication from society, in the New Testament the word has its full force. In common speech it evidently became a strong expression of execration, and the term connoted more than physical destruction; it invariably implied moral worthlessness. In Romans 9:3 Paul does not simply mean that, for the sake of his fellow-countrymen, he is prepared to face death, but to endure the moral degradation of an outcast from the kingdom of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:3 the expression, "Jesus is anathema"--with its suggestion of moral unfitness--reaches the lowest depths of depreciation, as the expression, "Jesus is Lord," reaches the summit of appreciation.
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