Saturday, June 18, 2005

Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera

There is a 1st century tombstone in Bingerbrück, Germany for a Roman centurion named Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera (Pantera being the Latin form of Pantheras; Abdes means "Servant of Isis".), who served in the 1st cohort of archers for 40 years during the beginning of the Roman Empire's Imperial Period (25 BC - 197 AD). Tiberius Julius died when he was 62 years old.

Tiberius Julius was from Sidon in Phoenicia. The Phoenician name was Zidon, pronounced by the Greeks as Sidon. The word Tsidon in Hebrew implies fishing or fishery. Other variations are Siduna and the modern name Saidon. The name is the same as the oldest son of Canaan, a son of Ham.

It is interesting to note that a Greek philosopher named Celsus (not to be confused with Aulus Cornelius Celsus, the Roman physician who wrote the medical encyclopedia De Medicina), writing a treatise against the early Christians called Alethès Lógos (the "The True Word" or "The True Discourse") around 178 AD (during the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius), claimed that the father of Jesus of Nazaraeth was in fact a Roman soldier named Pantera. Celsus, who was an eclectic Platonist and polemical anti-Christian writer, criticized Christianity as a threat to the stable communities and worldview that the "pagan" religious and social system sought to uphold.

Celsus was a friend of Lucien of Samosata, who was Syrian rhetorician and satirist.

While none of Celsus' original writings have survived intact, the following passages from Alethès Lógos were quoted by the 3rd century Christian theologian Origen in his eight-volume work Contra Celsum or Katà Kélsou (248 AD), meaning "Against Celsus", for the purpose of refuting Celsus' claims. A copy of Alethès Lógos had been found by Ambrosius and was sent to his friend Origen with a request to refute it.

"Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by working with her hands [spinning]. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthera (i. 32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god."

2 comments:

Becca said...

That's an astonishing quote. I find it very interesting but am thankful that Origen felt the need to dispute it. I am fascinated by where you find these things ... you must read a lot and very widely. Peace!

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