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.
Noël Keller produces a surprising, fascinating interpretation of Priscilla and Aquila as missionaries for Christ, 'advance workers' for Paul in Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome, playing a unique role among Paul's social network. The household was the primary setting for their activity, combining as it did work space, retail shop, and living quarters, interpreting this from the social world of the Eastern Roman empire. They prepared for and enabled Paul's evangelistic activity in these major urban centers of the Greek east, thus making clear that Paul was not a loner, but the center of a lively group of people who supported and enabled his missionary activity. Active long before there was an `ordained clergy' in the Christian community, Priscilla and Aquila model how ordinary Christians impact mightily the proclamation of Jesus Christ.
Edgar Krentz, Christ Seminary-Seminex Professor of New Testament, Emeritus, Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago
Dr. Keller has achieved a perfect example of that rare book which is both rigorously scholarly and completely readable. Without polemic, she illuminates Priscilla's prominence in this ministerial couple whom Paul commended as fellow workers and upon whom he depended. She leads the reader through the Priscilla and Aquila material in the New Testament, filling in the context in ways that make their ministry and house churches come alive and their relevance for contemporary church practice clear. Highly recommended reading for anyone interested in early Christianity, the history of missions, the authority and ministry of women in the church and paradigms for new forms of mutual ministry.
Bonnie B. Thurston, PhD, Author of The Spiritual Landscape of Mark (Liturgical Press)
A marvelous addition to parish reading circles and libraries. It includes detailed notes, bibliography, and indexes-a real bargain for the price!
Catholic Library World
While teaching Paul over a twenty year span I often called attention to the importance of Paul's missionary co-workers, Priscilla and Aquila, but with little follow up. Noël Keller offers a superb close reading of all New Testament references, making this couple come alive, while offering great insights into Early Christian communities. Carefully researched, with ample bibliography and evocative suggestions about how their lives challenge the church today, this book should be a vade mecum for anyone interested in Pauline Christianity.
John R. Donahue, SJ, Research Professor in Theology, Loyola University Maryland
We really enjoyed reading this book and were pleased about two things in particular. The content of the book is informative and is so in plain, understandable, and non-challenging language; and Priscilla and Aquila are shown to be warm, admirable, and true-to-life people, not implausible artificial types. Noël Keller has made them a couple with whom it would be a delight to share hospitality, a privilege to have available for guidance, and a blessing to be ceaselessly certain of their friendship and love.
Ed and Mary Flood
Married Lay Ministers
If anyone still thinks that history is boring, they should read Marie Noël Keller's book. By drawing out the historical implications of clues found in six short passages, she has reconstructed the history within which Priscilla and Aquila lived and enabled that couple to come alive. Though she reinforces her careful exegetical work with the insights of other scholars in the field, she has produced a work that even the non-scholarly will find imminently readable. By the end of the book, Pricilla and Aquila have become people you want to know and model your life after.
Dianne Bergant, Author of Scripture: History and Interpretation (Liturgical Press)