A battlefield, it seems, unfolds before our eyes in the first nine verses of Paul’s Galatian letter, with clearly drawn lines of demarcation between the camps, portending a fierce fight to the death against dissidents and enemies who have invaded Paul’s missionary domain like a band of marauding assailants. And Paul strikes back. The curse formula of an Anathma that he hurls at the never-named adversaries is more than just words. It “does” something: it functions as a weapon no less efficient than the deadly spears, arrows, and snake-pots that we see in action on the Pergamene Frieze. In Paul’s world, a curse effectively engages the power to destroy someone and expel them from the community. As preachers of an other gospel (heteron euangelion, 1:6), Paul’s opponents are doomed at least to excommunication, if not extinction.
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