Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Advent Calendar Day 23: Roman Soldier

Over the next month, I'll be offering thoughts on the Nativity set model, a large papercraft crèche that you can find and download here:

Advent Calendar Day 23: Roman Soldier

There are plenty of traditional nativity characters whose inclusion is meant to foreshadow something in either Jesus’s adult life, including having a burial shroud as his swaddling and an encounter with the thieves with whom he’ll later be crucified.  To my knowledge, though, there isn’t a traditional Roman soldier character (though they do often turn up in more sprawling nativity sets with other Bethlehem denizens and are a staple of church walk-through-Bethlehem setups).

The soldier here isn’t, like you see in the walk-throughs, a fancy Roman in the lorica segmentata armor of popular imagination.  He’s a rural reserve, stuck in Bethlehem, a deputy constable in a podunk hamlet.  So his armor is the minimum a provincial soldier might be issued while still being identifiable as a Roman soldier.

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