A Greek term (ἀνάθεμα) found in the sense of accursed or separated from the fold in Rom 9.3 or 1 Cor 16.22. Theologically, the anathema in the canons of councils generally means that the doctrine so condemned is heretical and it's contradictory defined as revealed truth (see definition, dogmatic). Such is the case for the canons of Vatican I. However, P. Fransen's study of the anathema as used in Trent has shown that not only revealed doctrine but also dogmatic facts or disciplinary laws can be covered by a condemnation under anathema of their denial. In such a case, the anathema expresses repudiation of an inadmissible doctrine or practice.
Bibliography: a. vacant, 1.1:1168–71. a. bride, Catholicisme 1:516–517. h. vorgrimler, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 1:494–495. p. fransen, "Réflexions sur l'anathegrave;me au concile de Trente," Ephemerides theologicae Lovanienses (Bruges 1924–) 29 (1953) 657–672.
[p. de letter/eds.]
The name was given by the ancients to certain classes of votive offerings, to the nets that the fisherman laid on the altar of the sea nymphs, to the mirror that Laïs consecrated to Venus, and to offerings of vessels, garments, instruments, and various other articles.
The word was also applied to the victim devoted to the infernal gods, and it is this sense that is found among Jews and Christians, referring either to the curse or its object. The man who is anathematized is denied communication with the faithful, and he is delivered to the demon if he dies without absolution. Through the centuries the church often lavished anathemas upon those considered heretics and enemies, though many such as St. John Chrysostom taught that while it was well to anathematize false doctrine, people who have strayed should be pardoned and prayed for. The use of anathemas has largely dropped out of contemporary Christianity.
Magicians and sorcerers once employed a sort of anathema to discover thieves and witches. Some limpid water was brought, and in it were boiled as many pebbles as there were persons suspected. The pebbles were then buried under the doorstep over which the thief or the sorcerer was to pass, and a plate of tin was attached to it, on which was written the words "Christ is conqueror; Christ is king; Christ is master." Every pebble must bear the name of one of the suspected persons. The stones are removed at sunrise, and the one representing the guilty person is hot and glowing. The seven penitential psalms must then be recited, with the Litanies of the Saints, and the prayers of exorcism pronounced against the thief or the sorcerer. His name must be written in a circular figure, and a triangular brass nail driven in above it with a hammer, the handle of which is of cypress wood, while the exorcist declares, "Thou are just, Lord, and just are Thy judgments." At this, the thief would betray himself by a loud cry.
If the anathema has been pronounced by a sorcerer, and one wishes merely to escape the effects of it and cause it to return to him who has cast it, one must take, on Saturday, before sunrise, the branch of a one-year-old hazel tree and recite the following prayer: "I cut thee, branch of this year, in the name of him whom I wish to wound as I wound thee." The branch is then laid on the table and other prayers said, ending with "Holy Trinity, punish him who has done this evil, and take him from among us by Thy great justice, that the sorcerer or sorceress may be anathema, and we safe." Harrison Ainsworth's famous novel, The Lancashire Witches, deals with the subject and the Pendleton locality in England.
a·nath·e·ma / əˈna[unvoicedth]əmə/ • n. 1. something or someone that one vehemently dislikes: racial hatred was anathema to her. 2. a formal curse by a pope or a council of the Church, excommunicating a person or denouncing a doctrine. ∎ poetic/lit. a strong curse.
anathema maranatha words which occur together in 1 Corinthians 16:22, and were formerly thought to represent an intensification of anathema, but according to modern criticism, they do not belong together, and Maranatha represents a distinct sentence.