Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera

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Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera

Also Known As: "Panthera"
Place of Burial: Germany
Managed by: Sharon Doubell
Last Updated:

About Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera

Panthera or Pantera. He is said in some sources to have been the father of Jesus of Nazareth

Early Jewish sources make Jesus the son of Panthera, a Roman soldier. "Rabbi Shiemon ben Azzai has said: I found in Jerusalem a book of genealogies; therein was written that Such-an-one [a common Jewish euphemism for Jesus] is the bastard son of an adultress." (Mishnah). If true, this must have been before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, so preserves a very early tradition.

The story was also reported the Greek philosopher Celsus (c. 178): "[Celsus] accuses [Jesus] of having 'invented his birth from a virgin,' and upbraids him with being 'born in a certain Jewish village, of a poor woman of the country, who gained her subsistence by spinning, and who was turned out of doors by her husband, a carpenter by trade, because she was convicted of adultery; that after being driven away by her husband, and wandering about for a time, she disgracefully gave birth to Jesus, an illegitimate child, who having hired himself out as a servant in Egypt on account of his poverty, and having there acquired some miraculous powers, on which the Egyptians greatly pride themselves, returned to his own county, highly elated on account of them, and by means of these proclaimed himself a god.'" (Origen Adamantius (c. 185-254), Contra Celsus, 1.28). "But let us return to where the Jew is introduced, speaking of the mother of Jesus, and saying that 'when she 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, 1.32; see also 1.69). Some Christian apologists note that Panthera could have been a satirical pun on the Greek word parthenos (virgin).

One of the heresies St. Epiphanius of Salamis (315-403) attempted to refute was the charge that "Jesus was the son of a certain Julius whose surname was Panthera."

A tombstone found in Bingerbrück, Germany in 1859 bears the name Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera, a Roman soldier from Sidon who served in the Cohors I Sagittariorum. Craveri has suggested that this Panthera was Jesus' father (Craveri). The full inscription reads, "Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera from Sidon, aged 62 years served 40 years, former standard bearer (?) of the first cohort of archers lies here." (CIL 13:7514). Pantera, which is this man's given name, was a common Syrian name, meaning panther.

Later Jewish tradition is confused about the details: "But is it not (the case that) Ben Stada brought magic marks from Egypt in the scratches on his flesh?" They said to him, "He was a madman and you cannot base laws on (the actions of) madmen." Was he then the son of Stada? Surely he was the son of Pandira? Rabbai Hisda [a third-century Babylonian] said, "The husband was Stada, the paramour was Pandira." (But was not) the husband Pappos ben Yehuda? His mother was Stada. (But was not) his mother Miriam (Mary) the hairdresser? (Yes, but she was nicknamed Stada) -- Pumbeditha, "s'tat da [this one has turned away from, was unfaithful to] her husband." (Tosefta, Shabbat 11.15, quoted by Smith, 47). This passage shows confusion with another Jesus, Jesus ben Stada, a sorcerer who was condemned by a rabbinic court in Lydda, and stoned (Tosefta, Sanhedrin 10:11, cited by Smith, 47). Note that the passage calls Jesus' mother a hairdresser, an occupation assigned in Christian tradition to St. Mary Magdalene. The word means braider. Another translation often given is spinner.