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Roman tombstone of Abdes Pantera

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman tombstone of Abdes Pantera
Roman tombstone of Abdes Pantera | Photo: Marcin Szala / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Roman tombstone of Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera, a soldier of Semitic origin, who was an archer and ensign in the 1st Sagittariorum cohort.

The object was discovered in the mid-19th century in western Germany in a former Roman burial ground. Currently, the artefact is in the Römerhalle in Bad Kreuznach.

The inscription says

Tib(erius) Iul(ius) Abdes Pantera/Sidonia ann(orum) LXII / stipen(diorum) XXXX miles ex{s} / coh(orte) I sagittariorum / h(ic) s(itus) e(st)


Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera from Sidon, aged 62 years served 40 years, former standard bearer(?) of the first cohort of archers lies here

The names – Tiberius Julius – indicate that man received them during the reign of Emperor Tiberius (14-37 CE) after serving in the Roman army for 25 years, for what he received citizenship.

Father of Jesus?

A very interesting source record has survived to our times, suggesting that the father of the famous Jesus of Nazareth was a soldier named Pantera. We draw this information from the work of the Christian philosopher Origen (turn of 2nd – 3rd century CE) Contra Celsum, in which he contained the words and views of his opponent, Celsus (2nd century CE).

When she [Mary] was pregnant she was turned out of doors by the carpenter to whom she had been betrothed, as having been guilty of adultery, and that she bore a child to a certain soldier named Panthera.

Origen, Contra Celsum, 1:28

In the mid-twentieth century, Marcello Craveri in his book “La vita di Gesù” suggested that the mentioned Pantera may be a soldier whose tombstone was found in Germany. This would be indicated not only by the last name but also by the dating and connections with the territories of Syria. Naturally, there are discussions about this between researchers.

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