Human beings are embedded in a set of social relations. A social network is one way of conceiving that set of relations in terms of a number of persons connected to one another by varying degrees of relatedness. In the early Jesus group documents featuring Paul and coworkers, it takes little effort to envision the apostle's collection of friends and friends of friends that is the Pauline network. The persons who constituted that network are the focus of this set of books. For Christians of the Western tradition, these persons are significant ancestors in faith. While each of them is worth knowing by themselves, it is largely because of their standing within that web of social relations woven about and around Paul that they are of lasting interest. Through this series we hope to come to know those persons in ways befitting their first-century Mediterranean culture.
In her exploration of the texts about Priscilla and Aquila, Marie Noël Keller asks, "What does God want us to learn from their story?" The biblical writings show that they worked, lived, and traveled with Paul. As his trusted coworkers, Priscilla and Aquila provided a presence that strengthened the early Jesus groups. Their mutuality in ministry and their leadership as laypeople can inspire members of church communities today to work together as teachers and preachers of the gospel.
Marie Noël Keller, RSM, a member of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, is the executive director of the Institute on Sacred Scripture at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania. She is a staff member of Core Ministries (a Spiritual Life Resource of the Mid Atlantic Community) and coordinator of Mercy Association. Since completing a ThD in New Testament and Christian Origins at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, she regularly conducts adult teaching seminars and trips abroad and gives talks and retreats on biblical topics to adult groups all over the United States.