XXa-nath-e-ma (anathema): This word occurs only once in the King James Version, namely, in the phrase "Let him be anathema. Maranatha" (1 Cor 16:22); elsewhere the King James Version renders anathema by "accursed" (Rom 9:3; 1 Cor 12:3; Gal 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 Rom 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 Cor 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