Glossary of Terms

Prisca or Priscilla and Aquila

Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer


See also mention of Aquila and Prisca/Priscilla in each of the following:


Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or

Prisca, Priscilla, a prominent woman in the early Christian church, always mentioned in connection with Aquila, her husband. Paul calls her Prisca (a common Latin name), but Acts prefers Priscilla. Prisca’s husband was a leatherworker and normally would not be expected to travel extensively with his wife and to purchase property, as is suggested in the NT references (Acts 18:2-28; cf. Rom. 16:3; 1 Cor. 16:19). The fact that Prisca is mentioned before Aquila (unusual for the ancients) both by Paul and by the writer of Acts may indicate that Prisca had a higher social status (perhaps through inherited wealth) than her husband and that this was the source of their means. Driven from Rome by Claudius’ edict (a.d. 49/50) that expelled Jews from that city, they moved to Corinth, where they came into contact with Paul; then, leaving Corinth with Paul, they settled in Ephesus. Paul greets them in Rom. 16:3 and 1 Cor. 16:19 (cf. also 2 Tim. 4:19).

Aquila, according to Acts 18:2-3, a Jewish Christian from Pontus in Asia Minor who, like Paul, was a tentmaker (or leatherworker) by trade. Along with his wife Prisca (in Paul’s Letters) or Priscilla (in Acts), he was expelled from Rome by the edict of the emperor Claudius, probably in a.d. 49/50. Being of the same faith and occupation, Paul lodged with Aquila and Priscilla during his stay in Corinth, and they became among the most trusted of his co-workers. As owners of property and giving evidence of an ability to travel widely, Aquila and Priscilla apparently had considerable financial means. For the writer of Acts, they are models of the ideal Christian: friendly, hospitable, and generous with their wealth. According to Acts (18:18-19), Aquila and Priscilla left Corinth with Paul, accompanied him to Ephesus, apparently established a house-church there (see 1 Cor. 16:19), and later instructed Apollos when he came to Ephesus (Acts 18:24-26). If Romans 16 is an integral part of Paul’s Roman Letter (which is doubted by some), they apparently returned to Rome after the revocation of Claudius’ edict in a.d. 54; otherwise, they likely remained in Ephesus (Rom. 16:3-5a).


Topical index of terms
Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer
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