This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 8 -- Feast of Saints Aquila and Priscilla

     I recently re-read Live from Golgotha: The Gospel According to Gore Vidal, a work of great imagination, abundant irreverence, and unparalleled cynicism.  Vidal is never without an axe or two in need of grinding, but in this book, he spans the chasm from first century messianic religion to twentieth century corporate globalism.  Manipulative and self-serving media come in for a mega-dose of criticism.  And unfortunately, Saints Aquila and Priscilla are snared in Vidal's net and dragged through the mud.

     In Acts 18, we learn that Aquila was a tent-maker who moved from Rome (or at least Italy) to Corinth when Claudius ordered the expulsion of all Jews.  They hosted Saint Paul, also a tent-maker, when he stayed in Corinth for a year and a half.  They also traveled with him a little.  In 2 Timothy, Paul urges his protege to give Aquila and Priscilla his greetings, while he sends their greetings back home in his first epistle to the Corinthians.  And in his letter to the Romans, he also sends the greetings to Aquila and Priscilla, of whom he says, "They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them."  [Romans 16:4]   Apparently Claudius had eaten some of Agrippina's famous mushroom stew by then and her brat Nero was on the throne, making it safe (?!) for Aquila, Priscilla, and hundreds of other Jews (both Christian and non-Christian) to return to the City.  

     I may have been amused when Vidal turned Jesus into a cunning, corporate time-traveler, Paul into an over-sexed carnival song-and-dance preacher, and Timothy into an easy-going gigilo, but somehow picking on Aquila and Priscilla seems wrong.  For a less irrevent (but still comic) neo-Gospel, Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff is fun, and maybe even makes a point or two, despite the author's protests to the contrary.  For a neo-Gospel without humor, Norman Mailer's The Gospel According to the Son is all right, though he stayed pretty close to shore.  Since Mailer and Moore confine themselves to the timeframe of the Four Gospels, Aquila and Priscilla are not part of their novels, which is probably for the best. Their importance to Paul makes them attractive characters, and the scant information about them invites poetic license. In the hands of some other writers, they might be a pious, hard-working, perhaps childless couple, or perhaps an adventurous, avant-garde couple -- a Classical-era Nick and Nora hooked on Gospels instead of gin.  Vidal, though, takes them too far.  Saints like these invite us to speculate, perhaps even to create some identity to impose on them.  For now, to me, they are the William Powell and Myrna Loy of the Eastern Mediterranean.  

No comments:

Post a Comment