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Anathema - (Easton's Bible Dictionary)

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 (Num. 18:14; Lev. 27:28, 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 (Lev. 27:21, 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 (Num. 21:2, 3; Josh. 6:17); and hence generally it meant a thing accursed. In Deut. 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, 14, 21). "To call Jesus accursed" [anathema] (1 Cor. 12:3) is to pronounce him execrated or accursed. If any one preached another gospel, the apostle says, "let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8, 9); i.e., let his conduct in so doing be accounted accursed.

In Rom. 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 Cor. 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."

Anathema - (Webster's 1828 Dictionary)

ANATH'EMA, n. [Gr. to place behind, backward or at a distance, to separate.]

1. Excommunication with curses. Hence, a curse or denunciation by ecclesiastical authority, accompanying excommunication. This species of excommunication was practiced in the ancient churches, against notorious offenders; all churches were warned not to receive them; all magistrates and private persons were admonished not to harbor or maintain them, and priests were enjoined not to converse with them, or attend their funeral.

There are two kinds of anathemas, judiciary and abjuratory. The former is pronounced by a council, pope or bishop; the latter is the act of a convert who anathematizes the heresy which he abjures.

2. In heathen mythology, an offering, or present made to some deity and hung up in a temple. Whenever a person quitted his employment, he set apart, or dedicated his tools to his patron-deity. Persons who had escaped danger remarkably, or been otherwise very fortunate, testified their gratitude by some offering to their deity.

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