Chapter 4 is the second of three cases studies on Graeco-Roman “sites of memory” for reading the “Childhood Deeds of Jesus.” The focus is on Jesus’ lethal acts of cursing in several of the stories, which are analyzed in relation to the complex relationship between children, cursing, and competition in antiquity. Examining evidence for the involvement of children in athletic and rhetorical competitions, the chapter reads Jesus’ maledictory speech in the work as a series of “agonistic” encounters. One story in particular, where a boy strikes Jesus in the shoulder and Jesus strikes the boy dead, serves as a particularly fertile context for understanding how Jesus’ language and actions are informed by philosophical and biblical assumptions about the soul's hegemony over the body and the performative power of speech acts.
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