Priscilla and Aquila

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Priscilla and Aquila
St. Paul is staying in the house of Aquila and his wife Pris Wellcome V0039575.jpg
Depiction of Saint Paul (left) in the home of Aquila and Priscilla.
Attributes Christian Martyrdom

Priscilla ( /prɪˈsɪlə/ Greek : Πρίσκιλλα, Priskilla) and Aquila ( /ˈækwɪlə/ ; Greek : Ἀκύλας, Akylas) were a first century Christian missionary married couple[ citation needed ] described in the New Testament. Aquila is traditionally listed among the Seventy Disciples. They lived, worked, and traveled with the Apostle Paul, who described them as his "fellow workers in Christ Jesus" ( Romans 16:3 NASB ). [1]

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Christianity in the 1st century Christianity-related events during the 1st century

Christianity in the 1st century covers the formative history of Christianity, from the start of the ministry of Jesus, including his death and up to the death of the last of the Twelve Apostles. The period subsequent to Jesus's death, resurrection, and the Great Commission is, according to Christian tradition, distinguished as the Apostolic Age.

Contents

Priscilla and Aquila are described in the New Testament as providing a presence that strengthened the early Christian churches. Paul was generous in his recognition and acknowledgment of his indebtedness to them ( Rom. 16:3-4 ). Together, they are credited with instructing Apollos, a major evangelist of the first century, and "[explaining] to him the way of God more accurately" ( Acts 18:26 ).

Apollos

Apollos was a 1st-century Alexandrian Jewish Christian mentioned several times in the New Testament. A contemporary and colleague of Paul the Apostle, he played an important role in the early development of the churches of Ephesus and Corinth.

It is thought by some to be possible, in light of her apparent prominence, that Priscilla held the office of presbyter. [2] She also is thought by some to be the anonymous author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. [3]

Epistle to the Hebrews book of the Bible

The Epistle to the Hebrews, or Letter to the Hebrews, or in the Greek manuscripts, simply To the Hebrews is one of the books of the New Testament.

New Testament references

They are mentioned six times in four different books of the New Testament, always named as a couple and never individually. Of those six references, Aquila's name is mentioned first three times and Priscilla's name is mentioned first on three occasions (as shown in italics in the list below.) This may indicate their equal status.

New Testament Second division of the Christian biblical canon

The New Testament is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first being the Old Testament. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture.

  1. Acts 18:2-3 : There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.
  2. Acts 18:18 : Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea. There he shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow. Then he set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him.
  3. Acts 18:26 : When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.
  4. Romans 16:3 : Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus.
  5. 1Cor 16:19 : The churches here in the province of Asia send greetings in the Lord, as do Aquila and Priscilla and all the others who gather in their home for church meetings.
  6. 2Tim 4:19 : Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila and those living in the household of Onesiphorus.

The couple

The Christian Church, beginning with Jesus, had a radical view of the status of women. Jesus demonstrated that he valued women and men equally as being made in the image of God. Luke clearly indicates Priscilla’s "agency and her interdependent relationship with her husband. She is certainly not Aquila’s property - as was customary in Greco-Roman society - but rather his partner in ministry and marriage". [4]

Priscilla and Aquila were tentmakers as was Paul. [5] Priscilla and Aquila had been among the Jews expelled from Rome by the Roman Emperor Claudius in the year 49 as written by Suetonius. They ended up in Corinth. Paul lived with Priscilla and Aquila for approximately 18 months. Then the couple started out to accompany Paul when he proceeded to Syria, but stopped at Ephesus in the Roman province of Asia, now part of modern Turkey.

Claudius Fourth Emperor of Ancient Rome

Claudius was Roman emperor from AD 41 to 54. Born to Drusus and Antonia Minor at Lugdunum in Roman Gaul, where his father was stationed as a military legate, he was the first Roman emperor to be born outside Italy. Nonetheless, Claudius was an Italic of Sabine origins and a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Because he was afflicted with a limp and slight deafness due to sickness at a young age, his family ostracized him and excluded him from public office until his consulship, shared with his nephew Caligula in 37.

Suetonius Roman historian

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius, was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order who wrote during the early Imperial era of the Roman Empire.

Corinth Place in Greece

Corinth is an ancient city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, which is located in south-central Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality of Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It is the capital of Corinthia.

In 1 Corinthians 16:19 , Paul passes on the greetings of Priscilla and Aquila to their friends in Corinth, indicating that the couple were in his company. Paul founded the church in Corinth. [1 Cor. 4:15] His including them in his greetings implies that Priscilla and Aquila were also involved in the founding of that church. Since 1 Corinthians discusses a crisis deriving from a conflict between the followers of Apollos and the followers of Cephas (possibly the apostle Peter), it can be inferred that Apollos accompanied Priscilla and Aquila when they returned to Corinth. This happened before 54, when Claudius died and the expulsion of the Jews from Rome was lifted.

In Romans 16:3-4 , thought to have been written in 56 or 57, [6] Paul sends his greetings to Priscilla and Aquila and proclaims that both of them "risked their necks" to save Paul's life.

Tradition reports that Aquila and Priscilla were martyred together. [7] [8]

Priscilla

Priscilla was a woman of Jewish heritage and one of the earliest known Christian converts who lived in Rome. Her name is a Roman diminutive for Prisca which was her formal name. She is often thought to have been the first example of a female preacher or teacher in early church history. Coupled with her husband, she was a celebrated missionary, and a friend and co-worker of Paul. [9]

While the view is not widely held among scholars, some scholars have suggested that Priscilla was the author of the Book of Hebrews. Although acclaimed for its artistry, originality, and literary excellence, it is the only book in the New Testament with author anonymity. [3] Hoppin and others suggest that Priscilla was the author, but that her name was omitted either to suppress its female authorship, or to protect the letter itself from suppression. [3] [10]

She is the only Priscilla named in the New Testament. The fact that she is always mentioned with her husband, Aquila, disambiguates her from different women revered as saints in Catholicism, such as (1)  Priscilla of the Roman Glabrio family, the wife of Quintus Cornelius Pudens, who according to some traditions hosted St. Peter circa AD 42, and (2) a third-century virgin martyr named Priscilla and also called Prisca. [11]

Aquila

Aquila, husband of Priscilla, was originally from Pontus [12] and also was a Jewish Christian. According to church tradition, Aquila did not dwell long in Rome: the Apostle Paul is said to have made him a bishop in Asia Minor. The Apostolic Constitutions identify Aquila, along with Nicetas, as the first bishops of Asia Minor (7.46).

Significance

This couple were among the earliest known Christian missionaries in the first century. In Acts 18:24-28 , Luke reports the couple explaining Jesus' baptism to Apollos, an important Jewish-Christian evangelist in Ephesus. Paul indicates Apollos is an apostle, [13] :pp.230–231 an "eloquent speaker" who had a "thorough knowledge of the Scriptures". He had been "instructed in the way of the Lord" which he taught with great "enthusiasm". He began to preach boldly in the synagogue. However, he knew only the baptism of John the Baptist—not the baptism taught by Jesus. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him "more accurately". [v.26]

Amongst churches today, this passage is often held in perceived tension with 1 Timothy 2:12-14, in which the author, Paul [14] , writes, "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor." Opponents of female pastorship cite his reference to Adam and Eve to be indicating that the issue is a matter of universal gender propriety. On the other hand, Catherine and Richard Kroeger have written:

The fact is that women did indeed teach men, that women served as leaders, and that in doing so they enjoyed God’s blessing and won the praise of other believers. Priscilla instructed the learned Apollos, Lois and Eunice taught Timothy, and Phoebe is named as an overseer and a deacon in the church at Cenchrea. Furthermore, believers are enjoined to teach and to learn from one another, without reference to gender. [15]

Advocates of female pastorship perceive this as an imperative that was a reflection of cultural and legal restrictions of the day. They cite 1 Cor 11:11-12 , where Paul writes "Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God" and his affirmation of Priscilla's instruction of the prominent evangelist Apollos as evidence that Paul was acceding to the law and customs of his day.

Chronology

One item of importance about the appearance is that they provide a chronological synchronism for the chronology of Paul's life. According to Acts 18:2f , before Paul meets them in Corinth, they were part of a group of Jews whom the Emperor Claudius ordered expelled from Rome; if this edict of the Emperor can be dated, then we would be able to infer when Paul arrived in Corinth.

The evidence of other ancient sources points to two possible periods during the reign of Claudius: either during his first regnal year (AD 41; so Dio Cassius, Roman History 60.6.6), or during his ninth regnal year (49; so Orosius, Historia 7.6.15f). [16] As a result, the experts are divided over when this expulsion took place: some, like Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, argue for the earlier year, [17] while others, like Joseph Fitzmyer, argue for the later year. [18]

Veneration

Priscilla and Aquila are regarded as saints in most Christian churches that canonize saints. The Orthodox Church commemorates them together on February 13, [19] [20] while other Orthodox Churches commemorate Aquila alone as an apostle on July 14. [21] In the Catholic Church, the Roman Martyrology lists their feast as July 8. [12]

The Lutheran Church commemorates them on the same day along with Apollos.

See also

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References

  1. Keller, Marie Noël. Priscilla and Aquila: Paul's Coworkers in Christ Jesus. Liturgical Press, 2010. ISBN   978-0-8146-5284-8.
  2. Torrance, Thomas F. "The Ministry of Women: An Argument for the Ordination of Women". Forward Ministry. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  3. 1 2 3 Hoppin, Ruth. Priscilla's Letter: Finding the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Lost Coast Press, 2000. ISBN   1-882897-50-1
  4. Doster, Anna Lynn and Sarah White. "Comparing the Status of Women in the Early Christian Church with Their Contemporaries in Greco-Roman Culture at Large". The Dartmouth Apologia (2010). , Archived June 2013 on Archive.org
  5. Acts 18:1-3 ; Acts 20:33-35 ; Philippians 4:14-16 .
  6. Bruce, F. F. (1983). The Epistle of Paul to the Romans: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.
  7. STS. AQUILA AND PRISCILLA, Catholic News Agency (CNA)
  8. Apostle Aquila of the Seventy, Orthodox Church in America
  9. Bilezikian, Gilbert. Beyond Sex Roles. Baker, 1989. ISBN   0-8010-0885-9. pp.200-201
  10. Adolph von Harnack, "Probabilia uber die Addresse und den Verfasser des Habraerbriefes", Zeitschrift fur die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der aelteren Kirche (E. Preuschen, Berlin: Forschungen und Fortschritte, 1900), 1:16–41. English translation available in Lee Anna Starr, The Bible Status of Woman. Zarephath, N.J.: Pillar of Fire, 1955, 392–415
  11. SaintPriscilla.org 27 Apr 2013
  12. 1 2 Maas, Anthony. "Aquila and Priscilla", The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907, accessed 23 December 2013
  13. https://www.academia.edu/4072844/Priscilla_and_Aquila_Teach_an_Apostle
  14. I Timothy 1:1
  15. Kroeger, Richard and Catherine Kroeger. I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence (Baker, 1992)
  16. Suetonius mentions this expulsion of the Jews from Rome (Claudius 25.4), although he does not provide a definite date for this act; Tacitus mentions no such expulsion in his Annals although it is complete for the year AD 49.
  17. Paul: A critical life (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), pp. 8-15
  18. The Acts of the Apostles (New York: Doubleday, 1998), pp. 619f
  19. St. Priscilla, with her husband, Aquila, at Ephesus
  20. "Name Days", In Touch 17.2, Feb. 2009.
  21. Apostle Aquila on Orthodox Wiki.