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The Roman Cuirass Breastplate Statue and Paul's use of Armour Language in Romans 13:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:8

Janssen, David (2014) The Roman Cuirass Breastplate Statue and Paul's use of Armour Language in Romans 13:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Colloquium, 46 (1). pp. 55-86. ISSN 0588-3237

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The Roman cuirass statue is one of a number of important honorific statue types in the ancient Greco-Roman world. The statues depict a military general or emperor in full ceremonial military costume and are representative of the way in which military victory was celebrated in civic life during the Roman era. The various symbolic pictorial displays presented on the breastplates provide a striking visual representation of the mythology of victory in the imperial context. “The result is a form of narrative similar to that found on Roman numismatic reverse types, which employs a combination of allegorical symbols, geographic personifications, and visual references to relay a message of imperial victory to the observer.” The imagery reflects the wider sphere of civic discourse in the Roman Empire, pictorially representing its values and ideology, especially in reference to the emperor. In the following paper I will discuss the role of the cuirass statues in the civic spaces of the Roman Empire, giving consideration to how their programmatic language might be understood by those to whom they were displayed. In particular portrait statues like the cuirass played an important role in establishing and maintaining client patron relationships as a mechanism of social control. I will then consider some of the possible relationships between the meaning carried by the cuirass statues as a sign system which uses the propaganda of imperial victory and divine sovereignty in contrast to Paul’s use of armour language in Romans 13:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:8.3 In light of establishing the role of cuirassed statues this paper will argue that the use of armour language by Paul uses vivid speech to create images in the minds of his listeners consistent with their lived experience of the Roman Empire and redirects them to consider the death of Jesus as a counter-sign of victory and triumph.

Item Type: Published Articles
Repository Version: Published Version
Keywords: Apostle Paul, 1 Thessalonians, Romans, Roman Imperial Cult, Ancient Cuirass Statues, Visual Exegesis
Fields of Research: 21 History and Archaeology > 2101 Archaeology > 210105 Archaeology of Europe, the Mediterranean and the Levant
21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210306 Classical Greek and Roman History
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subjects: B - Biblical Studies, general
B - New Testament
College/Association with University of Divinity: SABC: Salvation Army Booth College
Depositing User: Mr David Janssen
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2016 23:39
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2021 01:17
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/1867

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