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In four of the six New Testament references to them, Prisca is named before her husband Aquila, which is highly unusual. Since women were rarely named at all in ancient texts let alone named before their husbands, the only possible explanation is that Prisca was thought to be the more important of the two. Since she is identified as a tentmaker who worked manu­ally side by side with her husband (Acts 18:3), she does not meet secular criteria for prominence hav­ing neither greater social status nor independent wealth. The only remaining explanation is that she was considered more important because of her work in the Church. To quote Jerome Murphy O’Connor: “The public acknowledgement of Prisca’s promi­nent role in the church, implicit in the reversal of the secular form of naming the husband before his wife underlines how radically egalitarian the Pauline communities were.”

Essay and prayer by Christine Schenk, CSJ