Prisca, also known as Priscilla, was one of the earliest evangelists of Jesus Christ.
Initial Appearances in the New Testament
According to Acts 18:2-3, Aquila and Prisca were tentmakers, as Paul of Tarsus is said to have been. They had been among the Christians expelled from of Rome by the Emperor Claudius in the year 49 C.E. Prisca and Aquila ended up in Corinth (Greece). Paul lived with Prisca and Aquila for approximately 18 months. Then the couple started out to accompany Paul when he next went to Syria, but stopped at Ephesus (in modern Turkey).
Actions as an Evangelist
In Acts 18:24-28, a powerful evangelist in Ephesus named Apollos is mentioned, who "taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately." (Priscilla is a diminutive nickname for Prisca.) In other words, Prisca, assisted by her husband, is the earliest known teacher of Christian theology after Paul (and possibly Jesus of Nazareth -- scholarly opinion is divided as to whether his pronouncements were seen by him as the establishment of a new theology or new ideas within Judaism).
In 1 Corinthians 16:9, Paul passes on the greetings of Prisca and Aquila to their friends in Corinth, implying that the couple were in his company. Paul founded the church in Corinth around 51 C.E.; this makes it clear that Prisca and Aquila were two other of the church's founders. 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, a Jew from Alexandria, accompanied Prisca and Aquila when they returned to Corinth. This presumably happened before 54 C.E., when Claudius died and the expulsion was lifted.
In Romans 16:3, written in 56 or 57 C.E., Paul sends his greetings to Prisca and Aquila and notes that both of them "risked their necks" to save Paul's life. It appears that the couple had returned home.
Prisca as a sign of the feminine role in the early Church
The Bible always lists Prisca before her husband Aquila. Most scholars take this as a strong indication that Prisca was more important in the early decades of the Jesus Movement than was her husband, Aquila. The affection and respect with which Paul speaks of Prisca and her husband causes some scholars to believe that the genuine Paul of Tarsus did not share the misogyny displayed by the authors of the pastoral letters (Timothy and Titus), which have traditionally been attributed to Paul.
Last updated: 08-02-2005 00:26:33