Misbehaving God: The Case Of The Christ Child In Ms Laud Misc. 108 “Infancy Of Jesus Christ”
For pat he in ontyme wrou3hte; Ore lawes he al to rent.
“Infancy of jesus Christ”
When the Jews accuse the child Jesus of making clay birds on the Sabbath, they complain that he “wrought” them at the wrong time and thereby broke the law. Their grievance nicely captures what the child Jesus does make and break throughout the early Middle English poem (ca. 1300) the “Infancy of jesus Christ” (hereafter “Infancy”).1 In this lively narrative, the child Jesus wreaks havoc in an “untime,” a time outside orthodox, biblical history, a time when the omnipotent power of God is given free rein to break laws of morality and nature. In this poem, that time-off-the-record is equated with the time of childhood. “Infancy” appropriates a particular literary trope of childhood—one that inscribes a marginal, undefined space not limited by a character’s social or historical identity—to experiment narratorially with the nature of God’s power
KeywordsParental Authority Parental Guidance Literary Discourse Medieval Literature Literary Trope
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