Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Any Bags to Check, Ma'am?

We finished our study of The Acts of the Apostles on Friday.  Someone in our group asked whether the wives of the disciples, whose travels are described in Acts (Paul, Luke, Peter, etc), went along on the missionary trips.   The Bible doesn’t say much about wives going along, or how many suitcases the wives brought.  I conjecture that wives did go on the missionary trips.  Because really, how else did the disciple dudes manage to get where they intended to go?  The wives had to be along to ask for directions.

And maybe the wives came along to provide food during the travels.  Not that the disciples couldn’t fend for themselves, but maybe with the wives along the disciple dudes wouldn’t be tempted by the questionable hot dog stand on the corner.  When I was a girl our family travelled to Mexico.  My mother brought a suitcase containing peanut butter, jelly, and crackers.  That was my favorite piece of luggage.  We sat at the base of the pyramids at Teotihuacan and had lunch from that suitcase.  It was the most memorable pbj I ever ate, and a safe meal for us.

There is at least one case of a husband-and-wife missionary team. In Acts 18:1-3, Paul meets Aquila and his wife Priscilla.  Paul stays with them in Corinth, and in Acts 18:18 they all move on to Syria.  (In verse 19 Paul gets a haircut, but “Hairstyles of the Bible” is a discussion for a different day.  We could ask, though, if Paul’s wife begged him to get it trimmed before the next trip.)

Peter was married.  We know this because the Bible talks about his mother-in-law in Matthew 8:14.  Should we also ask if the disciple dudes had to put up with their mothers-in-law while traveling? That is beyond the scope of this study, and is a rather scary idea anyway.

In 1 Corinthians 9:5 Paul refers to wives of other apostles coming along on their travels.  Paul is talking about criticisms against him, and complains, “Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas?”  So there it is: the other apostles have been bringing their wives along.  But then in verse 15, Paul says, “But I have not used any of these rights.”

Maybe women/wives aren’t readily mentioned in the Bible because in that era women were not considered full legal persons.  Just a guess.  In the Bible men get top billing most of the time, which makes us all the more eager to know what it was like for women back then.

Other circumstantial evidence is found in Acts 23:23.  The commander of the Roman troops in Jerusalem has ordered his centurions to take his prisoner Paul to Caesarea.  Apparently this trip to transport one prisoner required “two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen.”  Granted, Paul’s life was being threatened by forty guys who had agreed not to eat or drink until they killed Paul.  But does it take that many soldiers to protect one guy against hungry marauders?  Rather, the large number of soldiers and horses were required to carry the women’s luggage.   Including, perhaps, the peanut-butter-and-jelly suitcase.  And a map.

1 comment:

Mariah Reed said...

u r a true investigator! I love this; i love your evidence and your interpretation . . . your thought process! You are a true gem! Please send this as an email to our bible study buddies . . . they will love it!