Human beings are embedded in a set of social relations. A social network is one way of conceiving that set of relations in terms of a number of persons connected to one another by varying degrees of relatedness. In the early Jesus group documents featuring Paul and coworkers, it takes little effort to envision the apostle’s collection of friends and friends of friends that is the Pauline network. The persons who constituted that network are the focus of this set of brief books. For Christians of the Western tradition, these persons are significant ancestors in faith. While each of them is worth knowing by themselves, it is largely because of their standing within that web of social relations woven about and around Paul that they are of lasting interest. Through this series we hope to come to know those persons in ways befitting their first-century Mediterranean culture.
Imagine trying to find a window into the life of an individual who lived approximately two thousand years ago in a culture vastly different from our own. Consider the added difficulty when that individual is a woman and the only written record of her consists of two biblical verses (Rom 16:1-2). In this volume Joan C. Campbell takes on the challenge and provides a surprisingly full and rich account of Phoebe of Kenchreai. With Campbell, we visit Phoebe’s hometown, we wander the city streets with her, and we meet her associates. Along the way, we gain insight into the social roles that Paul ascribes to her (sister, deacon,” and patron) and what these roles entailed in first-century Mediterranean Jesus groups. This book is important reading for anyone interested in the contribution of women to emerging Christianity and for contemporary deacons who seek to understand the biblical roots of their ministry.
Joan C. Campbell, CSM, PhD, is a member of the Congregation of Saint Martha of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and assistant professor of New Testament Studies at Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A major teaching and research interest of hers is the cultural world of first-century Mediterranean Jesus groups and how knowledge of that cultural world can illumine biblical texts that deal with women such as Phoebe. She is the author of Kinship Relations in the Gospel of John.