The defixiones (curse tablets) at the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore in Roman Corinth are an underexplored source for ritual life in the city, including the practices of early Christ-followers. Against scholars who are uncomfortable with a Paul who curses, I argue that 1 Corinthians incontrovertibly contains curse formulae. It demonstrates philological parallels between the cursing of a man in 1 Cor 5:1-5 and a double defixio against a woman from Roman Corinth. More importantly, this article shows that ritual curses should be understood as legal formulations that call upon gods and other beings to effect justice. Curses can be attempts at ethical intervention. Contemporary theorizations of race, justice, law, and the definition of the human provide a framework to make sense of legal mechanisms developed outside of dominant forms of “justice.”

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