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The meaning of Anathema in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

a-nath'-e-ma (anathema): This word occurs only once in the King James Version, namely, in the phrase "Let him be anathema. Maranatha" (I Corinthians 16:22); elsewhere the King James Version renders anathema by "accursed" (Romans 9:3; I 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 I 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


See more on the meaning of Anathema in the Bible:
Anathema {Easton's Bible Dictionary}
Anathema {Hitchcock's Bible Name}

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