November 27, 2021

Heresy is a doctrine considered to be deviant from a religious movement belonging to the same tradition. The term, outside the religious sphere, is used figuratively to indicate a philosophical, political, scientific or even artistic opinion or doctrine that disagrees with those generally accepted as authoritative.

Etymology, origin and development of the term

"Heresy" comes from the Greek αἵρεσις, haìresis derived in turn from the verb αἱρέω (hairèō, "to grasp", "to take" but also "to choose" or "to elect"). In this context he also indicated schools such as that of the Pythagoreans or that of the Stoics. In the Christian context, the term "Heresy", absent in the canonical Gospels, appears in the Acts of the Apostles (5:17, originally therefore a heretic, was the one who chose, the one who was able to evaluate more options before, cf. Acts , 24: 5, 24:14, 26: 5, 28:22) to indicate various schools (or sects) such as those of the Sadducees, Christians and Pharisees. In both ancient Greek and Hellenized Hebrew this term did not originally possess any derogatory characteristics. With the Letters of the New Testament this neutrality of the term is lost: in 1 Corinthians 11:19, Galatians 5:20, 2 Peter 2: 1, haìresis begins to take on derogatory connotations and to indicate "separation", "division" and the respective sentence. According to Heinrich Schlier, the negative development of hairesis proceeds with the analogous development of the term ekklesia: haìresis and ekklesia become two opposites.According to Alain Le Boulluec, Justin (100-162) was the first apologist to systematically use the term "heresy" for fighting the Christian currents considered deviant. In the Jewish context a similar process is highlighted: again in the first century AD (in correspondence with the emergence of Orthodox rabbinic Judaism) the Hebrew term min (מִין, pl. מִינִים, minim; equivalent of the Greek haìresis) takes on derogatory connotations and is used to indicate both Christians and Gnostics. The term from a neutral meaning later takes on a negative value and goes on to indicate a doctrine or an affirmation contrary to the dogmas and principles of a particular religion, often the object of "condemnation" or excommunication by its representatives. In the case of the Catholic Church, for example, special synods are envisaged to establish what deviations from orthodoxy are and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (heir to the Congregation of the Sacred Roman and Universal Inquisition) to identify those who are considered "guilty of heresy "(or heretics). Outside the religious sphere, the term is used figuratively to indicate a philosophical, political, scientific or even artistic opinion or doctrine that disagrees with those generally accepted as authoritative. A heretic is therefore someone who strongly proclaims his own definitive choice: "heresy" can therefore be equivalent to a choice both of creed and of belonging between opposing religious factions. Another possible interpretation, linked to the meaning of "choice", recalls the fact that the heretic is the one who "chooses", that is, accepts, only a part of the "orthodox" doctrine, remaining in disagreement on other parts. In the informal register, however, the term is used to indicate a seriously erroneous opinion or in any case discordant with the most accredited thesis regarding a certain topic. Originally the term, used by Hellenistic writers, indicated a religious faction or sect, without negative connotations. Already in the New Testament the term assumes a negative meaning and in this sense it was used by church fathers and ecclesiastical writers. For example, the term was widely used by Irenaeus in his treatise Contra haeresis (Against heresies) to oppose his opponents in the Church. He described his positions as or

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