Anointing

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To anoint is to grease with perfumed oil, animal fat, or melted butter, a process employed ritually by many religions and races. People and things are anointed to symbolize the introduction of a sacramental or divine influence, a holy emanation, spirit or power. It can also be seen as a magical mode of ridding persons and things of dangerous influences and diseases, especially of the demons (Persian drug, Greek κηρες, Armenian dev) which are believed to be or cause those diseases.

Unction is another term for anointing. The oil may be called chrism.

The word is known in English since c.1303, deriving from Old French enoint "smeared on," pp. of enoindre "smear on," itself from Latin inunguere, from in- "on" + unguere "to smear." Originally it only referred to grease or oil smeared on for medicinal purposes; its use in the Coverdale Bible in reference to Christ (cf. The Lord's Anointed, see chrism) has spiritualized the sense of it.

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[edit] Antecedents

The Australian natives believed that the virtues of one killed could be transferred to survivors if the latter rubbed themselves with his caul-fat. So the Arabs of East Africa anoint themselves with lion's fat in order to gain courage and inspire the animals with awe of themselves. Such rites are often associated with the actual eating of the victim whose virtues are coveted. Human fat is a powerful charm all over the world; for, as R. Smith points out, after the blood the fat was peculiarly the vehicle and seat of life. This is why fat of a victim was smeared on a sacred stone, not only in acts of homage paid to it, but in the actual consecration thereof. In such cases the influence of the god, communicated to the victim, passed with the unguent into the stone. But the divinity could, by anointing, be transferred into men as well; and from immemorial antiquity, among the Jews as among other races, kings were anointed or greased, doubtless with the fat of the victims which, like the blood, was too holy to be eaten by the common votaries.

Butter made from the milk of the cow, the most sacred of animals, is used for anointing in the Hindu religion. A newly-built house is smeared with it; so are demoniacs, care being taken to smear the latter downwards from head to foot. Anointments are also part of certain Hindu Monarchies' intronisation ritual, when blood can also be used.

[edit] Biblical tradition

Among the Hebrews, the act of anointing was significant in consecration to a holy or sacred use: hence the anointing of the high priest (Exodus 29:29; Leviticus 4:3) and of the sacred vessels (Exodus 30:26).

[edit] Medicinal and funerals

Oil was used also for medicinal purposes. It was applied to the sick, and also to wounds (Psalms 109:18; Isaiah 1:6; Gospel of Mark 6:13; James 5:14).

The expression, "anoint the shield" (Isaiah 21:5), refers to the custom of rubbing oil on the leather of the shield so as to make it supple and fit for use in war.

The bodies of the dead were sometimes anointed (Mark 14:8; Luke 23:56).

[edit] Hospitality

Anointing was also an act of hospitality, as Jesus was anointed in the house of the Pharisee (Luke 7:38, 46). It was the custom of the Jews in like manner to anoint themselves with oil, as a means of refreshing or invigorating their bodies (Deuteronomy 28:40; Ruth 3:3; 2 Samuel 14:2; Psalms 104:15, etc.). Hellenes had similar customs. This custom is continued among the Arabs to the present day.

[edit] The Messiah

The promised Deliverer is twice called the "Anointed" or Moshiach (Psalms 2:2; Daniel 9:25, 26), because he was anointed with the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 61:1) which, in the text, is an expression of nobility and greatness. According to the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth is this anointed One, the Moshiach of the Tanakh (John 1:41; Acts 9:22; 17:2, 3; 18:5, 28), and the Gospels state that he was physically anointed by an anonymous figure who traditionally is interpreted as Mary Magdalene. The word Christ which now looks like a surname is actually a title derived from the Greek Christos roughly meaning 'anointed' (creamy or greased would be more cognate as translations).

According to the Jewish Bible, whenever someone received the anointing, the Spirit of God came upon this person, to qualify him or her for a God-given task. However, it was not always required to be physically anointed in order to receive the Spirit of God.

[edit] Priests and kings

In the Hebrew Bible, the High Priest and the king are each sometimes called "the anointed" (Leviticus 4:3, 5, 16; 6:20; Psalms 132:10). Prophets were also anointed (1 Kings 19:16; 1 Chronicles 16:22; Psalms 105:15). Anointing a king was equivalent to crowning him; in fact, in Israel a crown was not required (1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 2:4, etc.). Thus David was anointed as king by the prophet Samuel:
Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.—1 Samuel 16:13.
The French Kings adopted the fleur-de-lis as a baptismal symbol of purity on the conversion of the Frankish King Clovis I to the Christian religion in 493. To further enhance its mystique, a legend eventually sprang up that a vial of oil (cfr. infra the crowning ampulla) descended from Heaven to anoint and sanctify Clovis as King. The thus "anointed" Kings of France later maintained that their authority was directly from God, without the mediation of either the Emperor or the Pope. Legends claim that even the lily itself appeared at the baptismal ceremony as a gift of blessing in an apparition of the blessed Virgin Mary.

[edit] Christian monarchy

In Christian Europe, the Merovingian monarchy was the first[citation needed] to anoint the king in a coronation ceremony that was designed to epitomize the Catholic Church's conferring a religious sanction of the monarch's divine right to rule. A number of Merovingian, Carolingian and Ottonian kings and emperors have avoided coronation and anointing.

English monarchs in common with the French included anointing in the coronation rituals (sacre in French). The Sovereign of the United Kingdom is the last anointed monarch. For the coronation of King Charles I in 1626 the holy oil was made of a concoction of orange, jasmine, distilled roses, distilled cinnamon, oil of ben, extract of bensoint, ambergris, musk and civet.

However this does not symbolize any subordination to the religious authority, hence it is not usually performed in Catholic monarchies by the pope but usually reserved for the (arch)bishop of a major see (sometimes the site of the whole coronation) in the nation, as is sometime the very act of crowning. Hence its utensils can be part of the regalia, such as in the French kingdom an ampulla for the oil and a spoon to apply it with; in the Norwegian kingdom, an anointing horn (a form fitting the Biblical as well as the Viking tradition) is the traditional vessel.

[edit] Christian sacramental usage

[edit] Early Christian usage

In early Christian times, sick people were anointed for healing to take place:

James 5:
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

[edit] Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox usage

In Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox usage, anointing is part of the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Consecrated oil is also used in confirmation, or, as it is sometimes called (especially in Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic churches), chrismation, from the Greek word chrisma (χρίσμα), meaning the medium and act of anointing. Eastern Churches perform the sacrament of chrismation immediately after the sacrament of baptism during the same ceremony. Orthodox Christians may re-request chrismation at will, but usually this is done during Holy Week.

Among Eastern Orthodox Churches the only one having the privilege to prepare Myron (Μύρον, Holy Oil) for anointment is the Church of Constantinople. The Myron is made out of olive oil and a secret recipe of aromatics (myra) that are infused therein, and is under the care of the Archontes Myrepsoi, lay officials of the Patriarchate. The Oil is consecrated once a year on Holy Wednesday and distributed to Orthodox Churches throughout the world.

[edit] Pentecostal churches

As in the early Christian church, anointing with oil is used in Pentecostal churches for healing the sick and also for consecration or ordination of pastors and elders.

The word "anointing" is also frequently used by Pentecostal Christians to refer to the power of God or the Spirit of God residing in a Christian: a usage that occurs from time to time in the Bible (e.g. in 1 John 2:20). A particularly popular expression is "the anointing that breaks the yoke", which is derived from Isaiah 10:27:

And it shall come to pass on that day, that his burden shall be removed from upon your shoulder, and his yoke from upon your neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of oil.

The NIV translates this passage as, "the yoke will be broken because you have grown so fat." The context of this passage refers to the yoke of Sennacherib, and how his oppressive nature is overturned by that of Hezekiah who was said to be as mild as oil.


[edit] See also

[edit] Sources and references

ka:მირონცხება sv:Smörjelse

Anointing

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