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Anathema

ANATHEMA

a-nath'-e-ma (anathema):

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.

Thomas Lewis


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'ANATHEMA'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.