Prisca speaks: My husband Aquila and I were tentmakers. I never dreamt how cutting, sewing, and patching leather would lead to my great work: piecing together the fledgling Christian community like a big tent. Years later, John’s prologue would describe the incarnation as God’s “pitching a tent in us.” Our recorded story began when Paul asked us for a job. He stayed with us for eighteen months in Corinth, where we had already established our business, when he was new in town. To set the record straight, Paul didn’t convert us; we were already Christian.
It caused some buzz when my name was mentioned before Aquila’s, (in four of six references), but let me explain. I didn’t muscle in to threaten his status; it was simply a natural recognition of my leadership. He was always supportive and strong, but a man of few words.
So I was the talker, better known, but we thought of ourselves as equals, a team. Notice how Paul refers to “their” house, not just Aquila’s, as he would if more closely following the custom of our day. Oh, the male was head of the household in society, but no patriarchy for us! Everyone knew I was the feisty leader.
I wasn’t spared the fear of persecution either (Rom 16:3). We risked our necks to save Paul in Ephesus, and after that, authorities seemed to know me, to sneer threateningly whenever I’d walk through town. I was so frightened, I persuaded Aquila to return to Rome. Somehow, martyrdom didn’t seem the right path for us. Our work was—forgive the pun—cut out for us.
Paul did the original visioning and dramatic speeches. Then he’d turn the new converts over to us. Wise choice. Who know better than tentmakers how to shelter newborn, vulnerable people? I’d keep them warm and dry. A tent is a flexible place, open to wind and change. Unlike more rigid structures of stone or wood, its flaps can always accommodate one more. I spent so much time sticking my neck out to rescue, I couldn’t be bothered by excluding.
This excerpt is a sneak preview from More Hidden Women of the Gospels, which will be published by Orbis Press in 2020.
Kathy will be speaking at:
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church 2601 San Ramon Valley Blvd. San Ramon, CA 94583
TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
“Prayer In Chaos, Commotion and Clutter”
All are welcome. Free events require registration. To register, go to https://GIFT2020.EventBrite.com