Where are the voices of the Acts 2 Women?

Where are the voices of the Acts 2 Women?

Ah, the Pentecost promises:  Young men and old men would dream dreams and see visions.

And sure enough, Peter views a sheet and hears the words that will revolutionize race relations in the fledgling church. Paul is accosted by Jesus on a roadway and talks with Him about just how much conversation will cost Paul in the future. He sees a Macedonian and reroutes his travel plans. He later is caught up into the third heaven and though the message is unspeakable, the account of it is not.

Later, old man John finds himself catapulted through a celestial door to see beasts and angels and bowls and candlesticks; and the same lips that eat a little scroll later speak of even more incredible wonders.

And we know about these things because we have Peter’s, and Paul’s, and John’s words recorded in accounts and epistles. In the case of Paul and Peter, they told the same story more than once.

But the Pentecost promises weren’t just for men.

“Your sons and daughters will prophesy,” Peter told the crowd. Women too would be Spirit-vessels and prophesy, he repeated.

And so we expect those promises to women to be fulfilled, too. And we might look for them through the rest of the post-Pentecost New Testament.

Perhaps we shouldn’t count the single statement of Sapphira, lying about her contribution: “That is the price.” We do have the words of Lydia inviting Luke and his companions to dinner, but they seem hardly inspired or prophetic. Nor does the statement of Rhoda—“Peter is standing at the gate!” (And even that statement was explained away by the men who heard it.)

Lastly, we have the words of the poor slave girl possessed by a demon who told this one truth: “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.”

And to round it all out, we have…. drumroll…great women but no words: the seamstress Dorcas; the account of the quarrel of Euodia and Syntyche; the lesson taught by Priscilla to Apollos; the four prophetesses, virgin daughters of Philip; the authoritative (but unquoted) Junia; the outcome (Timothy) but not the words of Eunice and Lois; the obedience of Damaris; the status of deaconess Phoebe; the mysterious “elect lady” of 2 John; the “silent wives” Drusilla and Berenice; the hospitable mother of John Mark, Mary; hard-working Tryphena and Tryphosa;

and a Jezebel floozy prophetess in the book of Revelation. And just the job descriptions of these women, but none of their words.

Where are the words of the Acts 2 women?

Perhaps the words of a great woman prophetess have been hiding in plain sight for two millennia, according to scholars such as Adolph von Harnack and Ruth Hoppin. The mysterious epistle to the Hebrews, they say, was written by Priscilla, wife of Aquila, co-worker with Paul. The Holy Spirit, or Breath, that was part of the Pentecost promise found home and fulfillment in her words.

True, just because we haven’t known the words of the Acts 2 women doesn’t mean they never spoke them. We’d give God the benefit of the doubt on that.

But we serve a God of fulfillment and symmetry. He promised the same gifts to men and to women.

And perhaps the woman who began the book of Hebrews by talking of the “many ways” and “many times” of the prophets of old, joined that number as a prophet herself, fulfilling the Acts 2 promises with those words.

That’s the possibility I explore in A Conspiracy of Breath.

See related post, How the Holy Spirit Might Treat a Lady

See related post, On Trances and Ecstasies: Thanks for Nothing, Bernini

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