Centurion Secrets






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ISBN: 1602900124

Format: Paperback, 400pp

Publisher: OakTara Publishing Group LLC

Pub. Date: January 2008

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Who was the man ordered to crucify Christ?
  Lionel Alford Talks About His Book Centurion   from Lynnette Bonner's blog Writer's Journey at http://www.lynnettebonner.blogspot.com/

I was always intrigued by the statement of the centurion at the foot of the cross: “Surely this man was the son of God.” Perhaps my interest was because I served in the military and felt that my life was something like that centurion’s. In any case, I always wanted to know more about this military man and his statement. When I read Wallace’s book, Ben Hur and Douglas’s The Robe, I was left with more questions than answers. I wanted to delve deeply into the centurion’s life and know exactly who he was.

I began research into the centurion in the 1990s. Already, I knew his name. In Christian legend, it is Abenadar. He was said to be a man of mixed Roman blood. In early 1995, I wrote a short story about Abenadar. The main character was the woman who lived with him and the setting was their house following the crucifixion. Already I had begun to flesh out Abenadar. I made him a man of mixed lineage: Roman and Jew—otherwise Pilate would not have given the job of the crucifixion to him. He had to speak the languages of the people—again, otherwise Pilate wouldn’t have trusted him with the job. The woman who lived with him had to have been a woman of the streets—no other woman, other than a slave, would be able to associate with a Roman of mixed blood. He had to be competent. He had to be divided somewhat in his mind, but not his loyalties. The picture of Abenadar began to build. The picture of the woman he lived with began to come into focus. In the short story, I made both of them rougher than they ended up eventually, but that story was where the novel began.

I started writing the novel, Centurion, while I was flying in Europe in 1995. The first few chapters flowed. When you write a book about the life of a man, you need to start with his beginning, and the beginning of the centurion’s life was fundamental to his character. To be a member of a Roman Legion, he had to have a Roman father. To know the languages of the people, he needed to have a Jewish mother. Since the Romans, at the time, were attached to Herod the Great’s court in Jerusalem and there was a connection with Tiberius in Galilee, it was easy to build the character of both the centurion’s mother and father. She became a local bride to the Roman ambassador. Her home town was one of the largest in Galilee, Nazareth. From that, it wasn’t difficult to construct a possible interaction between Mary, the mother of Jesus and the mother of Abenadar.

The next step was the most difficult for me. I had to build the entire life of Abenadar. I chose to begin with his great step into the Legion. That was the real beginning of Abenadar as a military man. Years of research was poured lovingly into this portion of the book. It was a necessary and fulfilling step to build up the man who was to become the centurion at the foot of the cross. In the novel, the history about the Legions and about training, promotions, leadership, and structure is exact and exciting. At the same time, I laid the foundation for his loss of faith and his return to faith. He was, after all, a Jewish man in the Roman Legion.

Abenadar moved up the ranks to finally reach the position from which he would be called to play his greatest role in history. He wasn’t a man divided. He wasn’t incompetent. He wasn’t weak or foolish. He was one of Pilate’s favorites and yet a man of mixed lineage. I had not given up on his wife, or rather the woman who lived with him. The why of her existence was coupled with his. It had to intertwine. She had to be Jewish too, but able to live with a Roman Centurion. She had to be a woman of the streets. I chose to make her a woman who desired nothing but a home and stability. She had not lost her innocence in spite of her forced harlotry. She became a much less rough character than I first envisioned. She became the Centurion’s link to Jesus the prophet, the man he must eventually crucify.

So, in a nutshell, there is a part of the journey I made to write Centurion. It took a while and it was difficult, but when the manuscript was finished, it was whole and the men and women in it were whole. It let me understand just who was this man, Abenadar, the man who crucified Christ and who stated “This man was surely the son of God.”

How did Centurion finally get published? The job of finding a publisher was as difficult as the work of writing itself. Centurion was my sixth completed novel and the eighth I started. That means I had the experience of writing eight novels before I started looking for a publisher for Centurion. I started with Christian press and eventually sent it to a Christian reading service that supplied suggestions to Christian publishers. I received two offers to publish from that one input. Unfortunately, my email was toasted and I don’t have the records from back then, but Oaktara (Capstone at the time) made me a great offer and took my other novels into consideration. I never expected an inspirational press to want to publish any of my novels but Centurion. The novel was published by Oaktara in January 2008 after about a year from contract. Four of my other novels were published by Oaktara after that.


L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.



Before I write a book, I spend one to two years of intense historical study prior to putting ink to paper.  I spent even longer on Centurion.  I started writing the novel in 1989 while flying in Europe and especially in Turkey.  The Middle East and Italy were inspirations to me in putting together a work about Roman Legionnaires, Galilee, and Judea around 0 to 35 AD.    

The Question:  

I always ask a question when I write.  The question I asked myself in Centurion is what would the Roman Legionnaire be like who crucified Christ?  What would he think and what would his life be like.  Who was he?

The Characters:  

The idea came from a short story I put together one Easter.  I imagined the response of the woman of the streets who lived with the Centurion who crucified Christ.  I saw her as a person like the women who initially trusted in the Christ, like Mary Magdalene.  At first the Centurion Abenadar was not a sympathetic character, but in building his life, he was an honorable man who was driven by events and his responsibility to do what needed to be done.  Each of the characters grew from the reality of their times and place in the society of 30 AD. 

We see Abenadar change from a recruit through the training of the legion into a legionnaire, and with battles and training to become a Centurion assigned to Pilate in Judea. 

We see Ruth, the woman he rescues from the street both vulnerable and yet powerful.  A strength behind the compassion of the Centurion.


Finally, though a novel, Centurion is good history.  For the reader, through the eyes of Abenadar, the world of 30 AD in Judea comes alive.  

This is my original concept for the cover.
This is a variant of my cover concept.
From my writing notes:
I did not list all my notes or my references.  I may add these later--if there is any interest.
Knowing what I know now about publishing books, I would have liked to have these diagrams included in Centurion - maybe for the second printing...
An entire Legion during the time of Centurion


pilus prior
 pilus posterior
 Other Cohorts 2-10
hastatus posterior
  hastatus prior
princeps posterior
 princeps prior
Here's a blowup so you can see the organization with labels
This side shows the auxiliary equitata and ducurion

Here is a map with Aramaic place names

Same map with Anglicized place names (Latin and Greek in the Novel)




Naomi - Mother

      Born in Natzeret

      Kept by a Roman official - discarded when he returned to Rome

      Abenadar Iustus – Father to Abenadar

      Friend of Mary’s

      Tried to comfort

      Interact with Elizabeth

      Mary saves her?

      Promised by Roman husband, her child could be accepted as a Roman citizen





      Librarius - Hastatus Posterior Century (6th), X Cohort, III Gallica

      TesserariusPilus Prior Century (1st), X Cohort, III Gallica

      TesserariusHastatus Century (3rd), I Cohort, III Gallica

      Signifer – <Nico> argues shouldn’t waste his sword arm

      Optio Primus Pilus Century (1st), I Cohort, III Gallica

      Principalis - <likely not necessary>


      Centurion of the

            Decimus Hastatus Posterior, tenth Cohort, VI Ferrata Legion

            Primus Hastatus, first cohort, VI Ferrata Legion


            9 gold p

            3 silver p

            3 t

            2 a

            1 cc

            1 ca

            1 cca


First Legion - III Gallica

      I Cohort (primus) – Red color

      primes ordines

      Primus Pilus – Iulius Valens

            Private guard - Burthus

      Cornicularius – Fonteius

      Quaestorium quartermaster – Piso

      Forum salesman – Varro

            Kepra – brothel slave and seamstress

            Chay boy

      Praefectus Castrorum – Nico, Optio for 1/1, Eagle – aquila bearer

      Praefectus Legionis – Aemilius Regulus, Centurion for 1/3

            Poplas – Optio 1/3

      X Cohort (decimus) - Blue color

      Hastatus Posterior Century (6th) – Lion Century

            Capilolinus – Centurion

Tero - optio

Stechus - signifer

Tiras (change from Rufus) – tesserarius


Lupus – only survivor, scout for Lions


      Pilus Prior Century (1st) – Sun Century (Mithras)

            Pilus Prior - Turnus Rufus

            Fadus – Legionnaire

      auxiliary equitata

            decurion 2xturmae 30 each – explain why there are not two decurions

            Valerian – decurion cavalry leader

            Lucius – principales


Second Legion - VI Ferrata

      Legatus Legionis – Iulius Valens     

      I Cohort (primus) – ? color

      primes ordines

      Primus Pilus – Cecilius Bassus

      Rubrius – camp surgeon – old man



      X Cohort (decimus) - ? color

      Decimus Hastatus Posterior Century (6th) – ? Century

            Optio - Gaius Flaccus - Professional executioner for Pilate

Eurycles - Signifer

Tiras – Tesserarius

            Antonius – Librarius

      Primus Hastatus Century (3rd) - ? Century

            Optio – Carus




      Ranks lower than Centurion

            torques - necklace

            armillae - armband

            phalerae - discs

            corona civica


            vitis – vine-staff – baton of office

            corona aurea – golden crown

            corona vallaris – first over ramparts

            corona muralis – first over wall

            corona civicae aurea – oak leaves saving a fellow citizen

            corona obsidionalis (or graminea) – wreath of grass, deliverer of a besieged army

      Ranks above Centurion (Primus pilus+)         

            hasta pura – silver spearshaft

            vexillum – small standard mounted on silver


      tessera – watchword, plaque marked by the t. for the guards        

            Issue and smithy – Quaestorium

            Store and market – Forum

            Armor - lorica hamata and the belt

            Short sword - gladius

            Sandals - caligae

            basket, bucket, axe, leather strap, sickle, and chain.

            large rectangular shield - scutum

            iron spit, a bronze cooking pot, and a bronze cup, a leather pack, two blue tunics, a belt, a silver chain


Basic training

                        Marching in quick and in time.  Military pace 20 miles in 5 hours

                                    Full pace 24 miles in 5 hours


                        Physical training


                                    Jumping long and high

                                    Carrying heavy packs


                        Weapon training

                                    Wickerwork shields wtx2

                                    Wooden staves wtx2

                                    Practice at the stakes morning and afternoon (stake 6 ft high recruits make themselves)

                                    Armatura practice with real weapons against adversaries

                                                Barley ration instead of wheat if failed

                                                Praefectus Legionis tested and judged

                                                Wooden sword wtx1 with a leather button

                                    Pilum training

                                                Pila wtx2

                                                Hurled at the stakes

                                                Pila  wooden haft of 3 cubits with a barbed iron head and shank also 3 cubits.  2 rivets fasten the iron to the wood.  One rivet is wood the other is iron.  The iron is tempered so the iron bends after impact and can’t be removed from the shield.

                                                Pila praepilata for practice with leather buttons on the tips and reinforced.

                                    Bow and sling training

                                    Stone training 1 lb

                                    Vaulting on horseback using a wooden horse and buildup to arms

                                    Field-service training of the muli Marinani

                                                100 lb with arms armor and 17 days of rations

                                                Camp construction

                                                            Wall 3’ and ditch ahead

                                                            Deeper ditch 12’ wide 9’ deep wall 4’

                                                            Stakes on the top of the wall

                                                Battle training

                                                            Single line

                                                            Double line

                                                            The square

                                                            The wedge

                                                            The circle


                                                            March out of cam 10 miles and back over all kinds of ground and practicing all the basic trainings


                                    Bronze helmet

                                    ? Grieves

                                    2 pila

                                    military boots - caligae

                                    rectangular shield - scutum

                                    ? round shield – clipeus

                                    basket, bucket, axe, leather strap, sickle, chain

                                    hard tack rations – buccellatum

                                    corn ration – frumentum

                                    regular rations – cibaria




                                    Bronze cooking pot

                                    Drinking vessel



Gaius Flaccus – Optio to Abenadar in Yerushalayim 10/6

      Professional executioner for Pilate


Cerus – Optio to Abenadar in 2/3


Yotam – owns an inn in the marketplace in Jerusalem

      Wife – Sela

      Daughter –

      Brother  - Ya’akov – rents house to Abenadar and Ruth – it is across from his house

            Wife – Shoshanah (Susanna)


Robbers crucified with Christ





Yochanan the Immerser – John the Baptist

Yotam - Jotham

Ya’akov - Jacob

Miryam – Mary

Elisheva - Elizabeth

The Galil – Galilee

Yeshua - Jesus

David - David

Natzeret - Nazareth

Yosef - Joseph

Gavri’el - Gabriel

Adonai - Lord

Hordos - Herod

Yerushalayim - Jerusalem

Y’hudah - Judea

Kanah - Cana



Sukkot - the Feast of Tabernacles

Pesach - Passover

Tzippori – Sepphoris

Avraham – Abraham

Yarden – Jordan

Shomron – Samaria

Joppa – Yafo

Efrayim  - Ephraim

talmid (talmidim (p), talmidah (f)) - disciple

Tzadok (Tz’dukim) – Sadducee

Shabbat (Shabbatot) – Sabbath

Parush (P’rushim) – Pharisee

cohen (cohanim) – priest

L’vi - Levite

Gey-Hinnom – hell (valley around the west and south of J.)

Shiloach - Siloam

Chizkiyahu - Hezekiah

Y’hoshafat - Jehoshaphat

Beit-Anyah – Bethany

Yericho – Jericho

chethubah – marriage contract



Ctesiphon – Parthian city of C07

Scythopolis – Capital

Fortress of Antonia



Use the names from the Jewish New T. to cover the story.  Use the Jewish names when in the Hebrew context and the Anglicized names when in the Latin and Greek context.




      As (asses)

      Obol  (obols) 2 obols = 5 asses (old rate of 10 asses = 1 d.)

Legionnaire per day 2 obols annual rate of 120 denarii (=3.5 asses)

            Centurion per day 4 obols

            Cavalryman per day 1 drachma

      Denarius (denarii) 4 obols = 1 denarius, 16 asses = 1 denarius

Legionnaire 225 d. annually paid stipendia of 75 d. (1a.) at beginning of Jan, May, and Sept.

            Principales 1.5 times (HQ and signifer, optio, and tesserarius)

            Senior Principales 2.0 times

      Quadrigatus (ii) 15 asses = 1 Quadrigatus

      Aurie (gold) 25 d. = 1 a.


      Jewish coins

            Kodrant(es) - copper

            Lepton – widow’s mite


Roman Legion:


Gallatia:  III Gallica

Judaea:  VI Ferrata, X Fretensis




10 Cohorts

each cohort 6 Centuries

each Century 80-100 men (80 more commonly)

Legatus Legionis – head of the legion

Senior tribune – second in command

Praefectus castrorum – camp perfect in charge when the Legatus or Senior Tribune is away

Six military tribunes

Primus pilus – Centurion head of first century of first cohort

Princeps – next in line head of HQ staff and training


primus pilus

hastatus posterior

Pimus Cohort

 princeps posterior

1st cohort (primes ordines (Centurions))(5): primus pilus, princeps, hastatus, princeps posterior, hastatus posterior

Cohorts: 10 decimus (added to the name of the Century to delineate it)

Other cohorts 2-10 (6):  pilus prior, pilus posterior, princeps prior, princeps posterior, hastatus prior, hastatus posterior

Praefectus Legionis – head of training and judge of training

Centurion – officer

Optio – each centurion had nominated one (optio ad spem ordinis – optio promoted to centurion but awaiting a vacancy)

Tesserarius – officer of the watch

Librarius – clerk

Cerarius – recorder or scribe


Cornicularius – senior nco in charge of the librarius (clerk) immunis – next rank before Centurion (possible promotion: librarius, tesserarius, signifer <moved by me was o,s to s,o>, optio, principales <likely not a necessary step>, centurion)

      Primi ordines – head centurion in cohort I 1/1

            Hastatus princeps – 3 grades 1/2-4 

            Princeps posterior 1/5

            Hastatus posterior 1/6

Principalis (Principales) - NCOs

Signifer – standard bearer – kept savings of men – carried the signum <signum – spear-like with phalerae (round disks) symbol on top, symbol on bottom>

Optio – NCO under the centurion

      Tesserarius – NCO orderly sergeant

      HQ - officium

            Beneficiarii – later officiales

                  Princes praetorii – centurion head


                  Praefectus Castrorum – trainer of the recruits and Legionnaires

                  Tribunus laticlavius

                  Legatus Legionis

                  Cornicularii – 2 or 3, 1 in normal legions

                  x Commentarienses – lawyers (uncommon)

                  x Speculatores - scouts

                  Beneficiarii – plain up to 60

                  Adiutores – assistants

                  Stratores – equerries

                  x Quaestionaris (Quaestionarii) - torturers

                  x Frumentarii – police duties

                  x Agrimensores – surveyor

                  x Metatores – camp surveyor

                  x Haruspices – priest

                  Medici ordinarii – medical doctors

                  Cornicen – horn-blower





            Aquilifer – Eagle bearer (aquila) – below centurion, usually veterans near end of service

            Imaginiferi – imagines (imago) bearers – the portraits of the deified and reigning emperors

            Forum – market in camp

            Quaestorium – supply depot in camp




      Augustus emperor

      Birth of Abenadar 6 BC (Naomi – 27)

      Birth of Yeshua 5 BC

      Herod Antipas ruled the Galil 4 BC (to 39 AD)

      Archelaus ruled Judea until 6 AD (son of HtG, end of Jewish rule)

      Coponius procurator of Judea from 6 AD to x AD

      Marcus Ambivius procurator of Judea from x AD to y AD

      Annius Rufus procurator of Judea from y AD to 15 AD

      Abenadar joins legion 12 AD (+17 years) (Naomi – 44)

      13 AD Abenadar becomes a L.

      14 AD death of Augustus

      14 AD Tiberius, Emperor of Rome

      Valerius Gratus 15 AD to 26 AD

      15 AD Abenadar is promoted to Tesserarius (Naomi – 47)

      16 AD Training battle (21 years) (Naomi – 48) – visits Naomi on the return

      Skips Signifer because of sword skill becomes an aid to Nico while T.

      21 AD Optio 1st Cohort aid to Primus

      Pontius Pilate 26 AD (+31 years) (to 36AD)

      27 AD Abenadar promoted to Centurion (action in Pilate’s thing) moves to new Legion

      Ruth 30 AD

      Death and resurrection of Yeshua 33 AD (+39 years) (+37 years C.)

            Time early morning       0500 brought to Pilate (or sunrise)

                                                0?00 sent to Herod

                                                0800 trial

                                                0900* crucified

                                                1200* darkness

                                                1500* death


Imagined place-line:


      Sepphoris (Tzippori)

            Gallica III

                  1st and 10th


            Centurion of Luke 7:1-10 and Matthew 8

            2nd and 3rd

      Caesarea Philippi

            4th and 5th


            6th and 7th


            8th and 9th


      Jerusalem (Y.)

            Ferrata VI

                  1st and 10th


            Centurion of the Italian Cohort Acts 8

            2nd and 3rd


            4th and 5th


            6th and 7th


      Ptolemais in Syria





      Y’hudah (Judea) H. t. G. s. Archelaus until 6AD.  Then ruled by Roman procurator (Pontius Pilate from 26-36 AD)


            Marcus Ambivius

            Annius Rufus

            Valerius Gratus (11 years)


      The Galil H.t. G. s. Herod Antipas from 4 BC-39 AD. – wanted to see a miracle by Christ

      Iturea and Trachonitis H. t. G. s. Herod Philip from 4 AD to 34 AD

      Abilene ruled by Lysanias

Tiberius, Emperor of Rome from d. of Agustus (14 AD) until 37 AD

Herod the Great (73-4 BC) Idumeans (Edomites) m. Mariamne a Hasmonean, 15 children


Herod Antipas (also Herod Tetrarch), s. of H. t. Great, ruled the Galil and Perea 4 BC- 39 AD, “tetrarchos” regional governor, m. Herodias (m. to her Uncle Herod Phillip left P. to become mistress to H. A.) d. Salome’

      Sepphoris (built wall around) security of all of the Galil

      Betharamphtha (built wall around) renamed Julias after the Emperor’s wife

      Tiberias (built over tombs) on the lake of Gennesareth, warm baths in the villiage of Emmaus

Herod Philip

      Cesarea (Paneas), city at the fountains of Jordan – Agones (games) every fifth year after completion of the city

      Bethsaida (Julias after Ceasar’s d.) on the lake of Gennesareth


Gessius Florus procurator



Sepphoris – 2 cohorts 1 and 10

Jerusalem – Legion

      Abenadar – 10/6

      Fabius – 2/3

      Valarius – 1/2   




      Aelius Gallus

      Aemilius Regulus – 1/3 Centurion Praefectus Legionis for the III Gallica

      Aesopus – servent


      Lucius – cavalry officer for III Gallacia—auxiliary unit

      Abenadar Primus – Father to Abenadar

      Antiochus Philometer

      Antonius Primus


      Burthus – legionare guard of pp in c3

      Caesennius Petus



      *10/6 Callistus

      10/6 Capito (Capilolinus) – a centurion – Abenadar’s first leader


      2/3 Carus Bathyllus – Abenadar’s optio


      Cassius Longinus

      Cecilius Bassus – Primus Pilus, VI Feranta



      Celer – a tribune



      Cornelius Faustus


      Demoteless – Tesserarius to Abenadar, Optio to Gauis


      *10/6 Euodus - legionarrie




      2/3 Fabius – centurion – problem causer of c17

      10/1 Fadus – trainee in C09



      *10/6 Portius - legionarrie




      Furius – centurion

      Fonteius – Cornicularius of GIII

      Gallus – centurion

      Rubrius – camp surgeon – old man

      Longinus – tribune



      10/6 Lupus - legionarrie

      * 1/1 Nico – battering ram – legionarrie trainer


      6/9 – Pallas – trainee with Abenadar should be 5/10

      Paulinus – tribune


      Petronius Publis

      Piso – Quartermaster, III Gallica




      Poplas – Optio III/1/3


      Quintillus Varus


      6/10 Rufus - tesserarius






      Silo – captain

      Silva Flavius

      Sosius – captain

      6/10 Stechus - signifer



      Turnus Rufus - Pilus Prior X Cohort III Galacia



      * 6/9 Thermus – trainee with Abenadar <should be 5/10>

      Tiberius Alexander


      Tiras – t. for Lion Century


      Titus – dead Legionarre and Abenadar’s namesake

      Valerian – decurion cavalry leader

      2/2 Valerius Regulus - centurion






  Novels by this Author
       The Second Mission (Available now)
       Centurion   (Available now published by OakTara)
       Aegypt            (Available now published by OakTara)


The Dragon and the Fox


                     (Available now published by OakTara)



The End of Honor     The Fox’s Honor     A Season of Honor 




  L.D. Alford is the author of 41 technical papers published in international journals on flight test, military policy, flight safety, space, and cyberwar.  Technical Writing
  L.D. Alford has been a professional aviator for over 30 years.  Aviation Writing

L.D. Alford Aviation Writing Technical Writing Unpublished Novels Writing Links Engineer


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