“Wife of Aquila”

By Lindsay Kite

Lindsay Kite has a Ph.D. in Communication and is co-director of the nonprofit Beauty Redefined with her twin sister, Lexie, in Salt Lake City. She is passionate about teaching people to recognize and resist harmful messages about women’s bodies and worth through the development of body image resilience.

I opened the Bible Dictionary to look up inspirational topics. I saw “Priscilla” and was excited to click on her description because I remembered her as an early church prophetess-type who Paul loved. However, as you can see in the screenshots and my message below, I was sorely disappointed. You know how when you screenshot anything in the library, it automatically asks you if you’d like to submit the screenshot as feedback? I clicked yes and sent the following:

Hi Gospel Library Team,

I want to draw your attention to the disparity in these two Bible Dictionary entries for Priscilla and Aquila, attached. I was shocked to see the three-word entry for Priscilla (“wife of Aquila”), and even more shocked to then see Aquila’s thorough and descriptive entry detailing his/their history. Priscilla and Aquila are only mentioned *together* in scripture. They were a highly respected duo as prominent leaders and teachers in the early church. They were *not* a prominent leader/teacher and his wife. The only difference between what we know about Aquila and Priscilla is their genders, so I’m sure anyone can see how confusing it is that their Bible Dictionary descriptions are so different.

As you know, there is already a severe lack of representation of women in every type of scripture, so it is disheartening and confusing to see a named, powerful woman be minimized to “wife of __” in our index.

I believe the solution would be to duplicate Aquila’s description for Priscilla with minor changes. Or, you could update Priscilla’s entry as suggested, and then change Aquila’s entry to simply say “husband of Priscilla.” That only seems fair after all these years.

Thank you for your consideration of this needed change!

Lindsay Kite, PhD

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9 Responses

  1. Carmen Cutler says:

    Thank you thank you for writing thoughtful feedback! You’ve articulated this so well.

    • Lindsay says:

      Thank you, Carmen! I appreciate that. I’m sure many pages could be written about how this particular error is the perfect case study for revealing sexism.

  2. John says:

    I did a quick Google search, Bible dictionary, what I got back over and over was, wife of aquila

  3. Spunky says:

    I needed some inspiration today and found it in this. Thank you so much – I pray they will take notice and make a positive change.

    • Lindsay says:

      I am so happy this brought inspiration! I’m praying for change right along with you. And I truly think the church would get its best PR in years if they simply update Aquila’s entry as I suggested!

  4. Heather says:

    The best. That’s what you are. And you handled it beautifully. No bitterness or snark, simply the truth.

    • Lindsay says:

      Thank you so much, Heather! I had to actively reel in the snark, but I knew the basic facts would probably have a more positive impact than all the other sarcastic things I’d love to say.

  5. Andrew R. says:

    Whilst I understand the reason for this post, and the concerns raised, I also see the “sense” in the way it is done.

    There is nothing in the Aquila listing that isn’t attributed to Priscilla also. The only issue is really that it isn’t duplicated in a listing for Priscilla. Whilst this could easily be done online, and in the app, it is not so easy in the printed version – space, ink, etc.

    Given that the online and app BD are a replication of our printed BD it’s not likely to change. I am sure that if there were something different to write about Priscilla it would be found in her own section.

    Perhaps her section should be “see Aquila”.

    And, yes, it could have all been written under Priscilla, and Aquila’s listing be “see Priscilla”. However, that is not societies convention. How would your decide which listings were under the male, and which the female? And why waste space and ink?

    I think the listing for Aquila does a great job of showing that it was both of them, not him with her in tow.

    • Spunky says:

      “space and ink”- for heaven’s sake! Go digital! And give her all that was attributed to him. We are the church of Christ. We are NOT society. It’s time to stop bowing to male-centred society.

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