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Aquila and Priscilla.

Aquila and Priscilla.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Feb 25, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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AQUILA AND PRISCILLA.By E. H. PLUMPTREThe first mention of the two names withcome in contact is in .Acts xyiii. 1, 2 : "parted from Athens, and came to Corinth ; aa certain Jew named Aquila, bom in Ponticome from Italy, with his wife Priscilla (beeClaudius had commanded all Jews to depHome) ; and came unto them ; and because 1the same craft, he abode with them, and ^for by their occupatioi\ they were tentiSome facts of interest have to be noticed intion with each of these particulars.I. The name Aquila meets us about threeof a century later {circ. a.d. 130), in the tixE E41 8 BIBLICAL STUDIES.Emperor Hadrian, as belonging to another. Aquila,who translated the Old Testament Scriptures intoGreek, aiming at a more literal accuracy than thatof the Septuagint, was also a native of Pontns. Thelatter is said to have been a heathen by birth, tohave made profession of Christianity for a time, andfinally to have become a proselyte to Judaism, andreceived the rite of circimicision. The history sug-gests, at least, the probability of some connectionbetween the earlier and later bearers of the name.When St. Peter writes his letter to the Jews of theDispersion, those in Pontus stand first in order(1 Peter i. 1), and it would have been alike naturalfor the first Aquila to do the work of an evangelistin his own country, and for his name to have beenadopted by those who owed their conversion, directlyor indirectly, to his teaching. The name itself hadbeen borne by a conspicuous member of an illustriousBoman house (Aquila Pontius, one of the murderersof Julius CsBsar), and so might have come to beadopted by others.* On the other hand, it furnishesan interesting instance at an early date of a practicethat afterwards became common, that is, the adop^
tion by Jews who were settled among the heathensof the names of mximah instead of those whichgave direct evidence of Israelitish origin. WoMF,Bar (Bear), Hirsch (Stag), Adler (Eagle, the exactequivalent of Aquila), are familiar instances of this.The question whether this Aquila were a Christianat the ti^ie when St. Paul came in contact with him,has been much debated. On the one hand it has* The sn^gestion that we ought to think of Aquila as belong^ingto the Pontian gens^ instead of being of Pontus by birth, has Uttleto reoommend i^AQUILA AND PRISCILLAleen urged that, if he had been, the nar:have named him as a disciple ; on the •if he had not been, there would have 1the case of Lydia (Acts xvi. 14) and Crxviii. 8), some mention of the fact of hisand his baptism. So far the probabilitie;to be nearly balanced. But to this theadded, first, the unlikelihood of an unbelreceiying a man like St. Paul into his eiand coming to be, as such, on terms <companionship with him ; and second, tlevents that preceded the arrival of AquilaII. These are given us, partly'in St. Lialready quoted, partly in the account o:fact given by Suetonius in his life of CLformed part of the policy of that emper<by his wives and freedmen, to foster alwhat may be called classical heathenigsuppress religions that were of remoter oiterious and unintelligible. He endeavoiport the Eleusinian mysteries from AtticiHe formally prohibited the continuanceritual in GauL He also, as the histor:" expelled the Jews from Home, becausequent riots that took place among them,leadership of Chrestus" (c. xxv.). I do blong series of scholars and commentatorseventeenth century downwards,* in see]more than at first meets the eye. For thecenturies of the history of Christianity,
* This view is taken, e.g., by PitiBcns in his editioon the authority of yet earlier scholars. I do not, oto suppress the fact that there are others who thiiand maintain that the name has no more significancebeen Marcus, or Caius.420 BIBLICAL STUDIES.conversation and in written documents, the name of the founder of the new religion was perpetually speltin this way, ChristuSy and not Christm, and the fol-lowers were Chbestiani, not Christiani (Tertullian,ApoL, c. 3; Lactant.y Be vera 8ap,, iy. 7). It isperfectly incredible that any Jew would have calledhimself Christtts unless he had claimed to be theMessiah, as incredible that any one would have takena name so certain to have been identified with Mes-sianic claims as Chrestu8. The true explanationfollows almost as a thing of course. The Jewishquarter at Bome had been disturbed by frequentdisputes in which the name of the Christ had beenbandied to and fro. Some had been claiming the titleof Messiah for One whom they followed ; others hadrejected the claims which were thus urged on them.The contest broke out into open violence. It seemedto the emperor's counsellors, actuated by the sus-picion and dislike with which Roman statesmen forthe most part looked on all Oriental creeds that layoutside the horizon of their knowledge, a wise mea-sure of police to banish both parties, to get rid of apeople whom they at once feared and hated.What more natural explanation of these facts canbe given than that which is suggested by the historyof the preaching of the Gospel in other cities of theempire? At Damascus, at Antioch in Pisidia, atLystra, at Iconium, at Thessalonica, at Bercea, atCorinth itself, wherever Jesus was preached to theJews as the Christ, the result was that " some be-lieved and some believed not,'' and that the latter triedby slander, false accusation, open violence, to crushthe former. And when we remember the constantintercourse between Bome and the other cities of the

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