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Anathema and commination[edit]

I just searched for a Wikipedia article on "commination", hoping for enlightenment on both the meanings of the word and, more specifically, the strange and interesting Church of England service in the Prayer Book. I was surprised that my search redirected to "Anathema". Aren't they slightly different, in that anathema is, at least in the Catholic and Orthodox sense, the most extreme form of ex-communcation, whereas commination seem to be "just" a curse or call for punishment? If the Re-direct is maintained, there should be at least some mention somewhere in this article of commination, otherwise the Redirect is no help at all. If they are indeed different, I am quite happy to start an (ill-informed) article on commination. has the following definitions:

  • a threat of punishment or vengeance.
  • a denunciation.
  • (in the Church of England) a penitential office read on Ash Wednesday in which God's anger and judgments are proclaimed against sinners.

--Northtowner (talk) 21:55, 29 July 2018 (UTC)

@Northtowner: I just did the very same thing you did when finding this page, arriving here from the BCP. An article on the topic would be a good addition if you are still interested in starting one. The OED by the way has the following: "2. Liturg. A recital of Divine threatenings against sinners; in the Anglican Liturgy, forming part of an office appointed to be read after the Litany on Ash-Wednesday and at other times. Also applied to the whole office." Beorhtwulf (talk) 16:57, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
@Beorhtwulf: Thanks, Beorhtwulf, that's helpful. I'll see if I can start some rudimentary article on Commination, but it might take while before I get time. --Northtowner (talk) 20:49, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

similar words?[edit]

I'm no lexicographer, but it seems to me that the following sentence does not contribute positively to this article: eventually the word came to be seen as meaning 'banished' and to be considered beyond the judgment and help of the community. Unfortunately within the English language one does not find such a term.
Whether or not it is a useful synonym for anathema, the term pariah carries the appropriate connotations of banishment and disapprobation.
I would also question whether the current usage of anathema in UK English is predominantly to convey the idea of cursedness. It is far more commonly used to denote strong antipathy.


Greek anathema needs to be discussed. then it can be applied as the LXX translation of Hebrew. Actual usage is important. Wetman 18:40, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Removed POV text[edit]

I removed this:

Non-Catholics and Non-Christians can reasonably say the Roman Catholic doctrine of anathema looks like Brainwashing. It can mean, "Either you believe and teach what we want you to or we declare you accursed and excommunicate you and just may shun you."

because it is unencyclopedic. I get the point, but the phrasing "can reasonably" is speculative and agumentative. We shouldn't speculate, articles should provide accounts of what scholars/researchers or others have said. Nor should we comment on what is reasonable or unreasonable, which violates our NPOV policy. Has there been debate among Catholics or Christians about this attitude? Why would non-Christians even care? I don't deny there is an issue here that we ought to address, but we have to do it in an NPOV and encyclopedic way Slrubenstein

I reinstated the passage with the first phrase removed. I hope that deals with your objection.Barbara Shack 19:22, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Well, "looks like" and "can mean" still strike me as very unencyclopedic, and POV. If there is an important theologian or social critic, or sociologist of religion or historian who has actually studied Catholocism or Christianity, who has identified it with brainwashing, by allmeans quote him/her -- otherwise this just looks like your own opinion. That isn't what wikipedia is for. Slrubenstein

I removed the following reinstated paragraph for the same reason as Slrubenstein:

The Roman Catholic doctrine of anathema looks like Brainwashing. It can mean, "Either you believe and teach what we want you to or we declare you accursed and excommunicate you and just may shun you."

Not only is this paragraph extremely POV, but it's also poorly written. Kent Wang 18:06, 24 Mar 2004 (UTC)


Wow. First, the bit about "brainwashing" should never have been there. That's pure POV and entirely unacceptable. Second, the article is quite limited at this point, discussing etymology and ancient derivation more than usage and the evolution of doctrine. I'll come back later and discuss how anathema and excommunication differ from one another. Further, there is the infamous formulaic anathema offered up in the 12th century by a particular bishop, and then there is the functional difference in the pronunciation of anathema vs. excommunication (requiring several priests with candles, as opposed to a simple bull). Things that are pronounced anathema are nearly reprobate, whereas excommunication can be lifted. Geogre 04:33, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)

It's probably worth mentioning that the Catholic Church abolished the status of anathema in Vatican II. I don't know the specific details, but that's what my Catholic Bible says.

The term holocaust has undergone a similar transformation to that of anathema. It's interesting that both terms described a sacrifice of a sort, and now have taken on a negative connotation. (talk) 16:09, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

Anathema in popular culture[edit]

I want to delete this whole section, but want to see what people think first, to avoid an edit war. This is really nothing more than a trivia section, which is against Wikipedia policy, and it includes a lot of instances where the word anathema happens to have been used in some context or other, often without any real relevance to the actual subject of the article. We don't need it, and it trivializes what is otherwise a serious subject. Let's get rid of it. Richard75 (talk) 20:27, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

I have cut most of the examples out, and left three main ones. Richard75 (talk) 01:12, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Anathema vis-a-vis religion and science today[edit]

In the modern political climate in the U.S., the word anathema seems to to be the best word to describe how many fundamentalist Christians feel about science, and many other people feel about fundamental Christianity. But I don't have any references as such, although they could probably be found. Does anyone have an opinion on this?

Richard75 makes a good point about trivialization. But I would argue for a re-working of the section rather than a wholesale deletion. Wildspell (talk) 06:07, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Incorrect interpretation[edit]

"The offenses which preclude Anathema such as to preach another gospel (Galatians 1:8-9) or to not love the Lord (1 Corinthians 16:22) and prescribed against those that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government (2 Peter 2:10), are forgivable as with all offenses and sins except unbelief in the Lord Jesus Christ which may be called blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:31),"

Peter did not say Anathema to the ones mentioned in 2 Peter 2:10, did he? If he didn't, why would those people preclude Anathema? Second, unbelief in the Lord Jesus Christ is not Anathema. People can not believe in Jesus for much of their lifetime, and then can later believe in Him. Though it is not as if they cannot come to believe in Him as if it were the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.

Just as a side comment, as I have sometimes not seen done in other articles, there needs to be separation (not that I'm saying there is not separation here) between Roman Catholic and plainly Christian belief. I have heard people use the word Christian and then say some Roman Catholic or Angelican belief - but they need to specify between Roman Catholic Christian, and other denominations, versus other denominations possibly falling under the category of plain Christian, or other specifications.

I won't edit it, but I'll wait for someone else to.

The difference between ΑΝΆΘΕΜΑ (Ανάθεμα) and ΑΝΆΘΗΜΑ (Ανάθημα)[edit]

This is a short study (in Greek) , which discusses the difference between these two words, which are so similar in Greek and essentially the same in English. They are however pronounced as Anathema and Anatheema, respectabily.

Although I have not verified the validity of the article (I only have the real world experience of the differences),it would appear that the version mentioned in the article, refers to an offering made, but one with a negative sense. One that has to be destroyed and not used for anything else (in that case, something terrible would happen). On the other hand, the anatheema , is an offering that may remain in the temple, or even used, should need be (e.g. to fund the temple's needs).

I should also point out that the greek descriptions of museum exhibits, describe the various offerings as "anatheemata" (plural) and not "anathemata" (plural.

Orestis G (talk) 18:07, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

And further thoughts needed for Etymology...[edit]

It's only been 8 years since Orestis G added his comments, but I think his explanation makes a lot more sense than the current 1st paragraph under Etymology.

  • To that end, I wish someone with suitable expertise could incorporate Orestis G's observations into the article, or cordially refute them here, thus improving the article, and/or decluttering this Talk page.

On a related point of the authentic & ancient Greek. My exposure to the Greek language is limited to my calculus & engineering coursework; however, even I can see that ἀνάθεμα does not transliterate to anatithenai, as alleged by the 1st sentence of the Etymology section.

  • Here, too, I wish someone with suitable expertise could create an explanatory bridge from ἀνάθεμα to anatithenai or otherwise improve the current explanation.

I invite & encourage anyone with the expertise to improve the Etymology section. When this has been done, I invite them to kindly delete this section of mine. I don't think any dialog is really necessary on the points I'm raising here, and I'd rather see this talk page get less, rather than more, cluttered.

77th Trombone (talk) 18:06, 3 January 2017 (UTC)

I have replaced the English approximations in the section heading with the correct Greek alphabet spelling of the words in question, for greater clarity. (talk) 14:29, 19 January 2018 (UTC)

The problems mentioned here have been cleared up before now. Athmharbh (talk) 07:39, 20 January 2018 (UTC)

Popular Culture Section[edit]

As usual, the popular culture section on this page was a collection of random things that had mentioned anathema. No attempt to treat what the broader use of the term or idea was in larger culture or anything of the sort--just a list. If people want to write about how anathema is portrayed in wider culture that's one thing--just listing a bunch of random references is quite another. TallNapoleon (talk) 23:42, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

It's trivia. It doesn't enhance the article. Keep it out, I say. Nandesuka (talk) 01:25, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Needs rewrite[edit]

Parts of this article read like a personal review. Phrases such as "It must be said" (by whom?) or "It is valuable to note" are inappropriate. Additionally, portions of this article read like preaching a particular point of view. These assertions should be stated in an encyclopedic style, referencing the linguistic use of anathema in the OT & NT. Theological implications, with an explanation of the advocacy for various positions should be cleary outlined, perhaps in a separate section. Abelian (talk) 23:05, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

The above comment is very valid. The section in question is written very much in the spirit of a personal musing on the subject, sometimes expresses opinions, and makes frequent use of weasel words. Apart from the particular words quoted above, there are such remarks as "it is interesting that" and "were said to have" (were said by whom)? I have removed the examples mentioned above, but the section in question is still in need of a major rewrite to bring it into line with Wikipedia principles. I do not feel my knowledge on the subject is enough for me to do it justice, but if anyone with more knowledge could do it, that would be good. JamesBWatson (talk) 13:08, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

Usage of "Anathema"?[edit]

It seems to me this entry needs a brief "usage" commentary, since the word is commonly used WITHOUT the article "an"; we say "xxx was anathema", NOT " xxx was AN anathema". Possibly this is done to avoid two "an" sounds in a row, but it does seem contrary to normal English usage. Most other words beginning with "an" still use the article, e.g. "... taking AN antibiotic". I'm not a grammarian or linguist and don't feel qualified to address this, but I would hope someone knowledgeable would look at it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:55, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

Roman Catholic Church[edit]

(1) This section is tagged for disputed neutrality and factual accuracy. Although the present tag was placed by Rockfang, it replaced a tag referencing a template which has now been deleted. The original tag was placed by User:Dans tes rêves on 3rd January 2009, but Dans tes rêves does not give any grounds for disputing the section. Is there anyone who can say what the dispute is? If not then it is difficult to see any justification for keeping the tag.

(2) More seriously, the section bears such a close resemblance to parts of an article from the Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Robert Appleton Company) (See also that it looks to me like a copyright violation. Unless someone can show that copyright permission exists I shall delete it. JamesBWatson (talk) 22:23, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

I don't know about the dispute or the contents but the 1917 catholic encyclopedia is P.D. This may or may not be plagiarism but it isn't a copyright violation. jbolden1517Talk 22:59, 3 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes, of course. I had not checked the date: clearly I should have done so. JamesBWatson (talk) 19:45, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

Inconsistency with other entries[edit]

  • Talk:Liturgical_colours states "I suggest removing mention of purple from the Roman Catholic section of this article. The documents all mention violet, which is technically a different color. (In Latin, purpureus is not violaceus.)" and the corresponding article follows that usage. (talk) 05:30, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

Lists of dictionary definitions in lead - when less is more?[edit]

The lead currently contains two numbered lists, based on two dictionary entries. I believe this is really confusing to readers, such as myself, who are looking for an encyclopedic entry rather than selected sets of dictionary definitions. Wikipedia is not a dictionary policy seems to me to be applicable here. For now, I'm moving the two lists here:

One source presents the meanings in two classes:

1. something or someone that one vehemently dislikes;
2. a formal curse by a pope or a council of the Church, excommunicating a person or denouncing a doctrine.[1]

Another arranges them in four groups:

1. A formal ecclesiastical ban, curse, or excommunication;
2. A vehement denunciation; a curse;
3. One that is cursed or damned;
4. One that is greatly reviled, loathed, or shunned.[2]
References (talk) 09:39, 11 June 2014 (UTC)