NOVEL PASTIMES: Greetings! We are so happy to have you answering questions for readers today. What an honor to meet and talk with one of the most-mentioned women of the early Church. But, to begin, I’m a little confused about your name. What can we call you?
PRISCILLA OF ROME: My friends call me Priscilla. Pet name, like Betty for Elizabeth.
NOVEL PASTIMES: What is your proper name, then?
PRISCILLA OF ROME: Priska. Old family name, and you can go to Rome even in your century and see the catacombs and tomb complex that my family built. Still there. Here’s a painting on one tomb. Some say it’s me.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Definitely an aristocrat with all the privileges thereof! I’ve read about you in the Bible. What an extraordinary thing! You taught one of the most learned men of your time, Apollos. And the times your name is mentioned with your husband’s in Scripture, you’re listed first in the majority of cases. Wow. That’s very unusual for the ancient world.
PRISCILLA OF ROME: Yes, those things are true.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Could you expand on that?
PRISCILLA OF ROME: No, pretty much the facts.
NOVEL PASTIMES: You are a tent maker, and you’ve worked with Paul?
PRISCILLA OF ROME: And with my husband, Aquila. All tent makers.
NOVEL PASTIMES: You, uh, seem to be a woman of few words.
PRISCILLA OF ROME: Actually, I’m a woman of many words. One good thing I’ve learned in my life is not to say them all.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Well, this may be a short interview, then.
PRISCILLA OF ROME: Suit yourself.
NOVEL PASTIMES: But I’ve read some of the things you’ve written about in the Epistle to the Hebrews! Such imagery! Such regal language! You have debated with some of the greatest minds of your time. The philosopher Philo. And apostles like Peter and Paul. And your classical education and training and vocabulary—it all shows up in your writing. Surely you can dispense some of that wisdom for us!
PRISCILLA OF ROME: Wisdom? I only know what the Holy Breath taught me.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Now, we’re getting somewhere! You’ve had conversations with the Holy Spirit?
PRISCILLA OF ROME: Well, the ones at first I wouldn’t call conversations. More like ambushes.
NOVEL PASTIMES: But it produced Scripture, right?
PRISCILLA OF ROME: You read Greek?
NOVEL PASTIMES: Not really.
PRISCILLA OF ROME: When Peter says that prophecy and revelation happen when people are “moved along” by the Holy Breath, it’s like a typhoon driving a sailboat. That’s how you get Scripture, as you call it.
NOVEL PASTIMES: But I think of the Holy Spirit as gentle, comforting.
PRISCILLA OF ROME: You do, do you? How about how He literally picked up poor Ezekiel, and later my friend Philip, and dumped them miles away? And what He did to Jesus – Mark says He drove Jesus out in to the wilderness, like a bouncer throwing somebody out of a bar.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Are you sure about that?
PRISCILLA OF ROME: Look it up. Get somebody to help you with the Greek.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Okay. Why do you call Him Holy “Breath” instead of Holy “Spirit”?
PRISCILLA OF ROME: Same word in Greek.
NOVEL PASTIMES: We’re back to few words.
PRISCILLA OF ROME: I guess Paul and I have that in common. We can write, but conversationalists — not so much.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Look, there are so many scholars that believe you, Priscilla, wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews. And that the explanation of why it’s seemed anonymous for so many years is that it was because a woman wrote it.
PRISCILLA OF ROME: I myself tried to get rid of the scrolls I wrote on. But people memorized it because they believed it was Scripture, so then they wrote it out again.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Really? Why would you do get rid of them?
PRISCILLA OF ROME: You think it is easy living in a world where people are healed all around you, but not the people most important to me? Where a Holy Spirit takes over your life and you write what He says? There’s a reason, I found out, why the Old Testament prophets called communication from God, the prophecies, “burdens.”
NOVEL PASTIMES: Are you saying you wouldn’t do it all over again?
PRISCILLA OF ROME: One thing is worth it. And that is Jesus Christ. He is everything. And He’s better than anyone, ever.
NOVEL PASTIMES: Can you expand on that?
PRISCILLA OF ROME: Yes. Here’s how the Breath and I conspired to put it:
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say,“ You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”?
NOVEL PASTIMES: Yes. Yes. Amen.
PRISCILLA OF ROME: Any other questions?
NOVEL PASTIMES: I think that pretty well covers it!
Book description: In a richly-textured, controversial and provocative literary work, award-winning author Latayne C. Scott examines: What would it have been like to be a woman, a Gentile, and someone onto whom the Holy Breath moved – to produce what became the mysterious Epistle to the Hebrews in the Bible?
Latayne C. Scott is the author of about two dozen books, most of them controversial. Her first book, The Mormon Mirage (Zondervan), is a nonfiction that has stayed in print through various revisions for almost 40 years. Her first novel, Latter-day Cipher (Moody) is a murder mystery, and her latest book, A Conspiracy of Breath (TSU Press) is stirring up discussion too. She blogs at Latayne.com, and you can find her on Facebook as Latayne C. Scott.