History of Aquila and the Travelling Bible project

The Aquila dream originated after a very long and cold winter’s night on 31 August 2007 in Stellenbosch, based on a moving Bible study. It was about the lives and work of Aquila and his wife, Priscilla, who, embarking on extended journeys, in all likelihood raised money for Christian Jews in need. Aquila was a prosperous Christian who traveled extensively with Paul to spread the Word of God.

The project was initially a desire to express gratitude by providing 1 000 blankets to needy persons who were exposed to the cold and the elements. It however soon became clear that even the cheapest blankets were much more expensive than the most affordable Bible. It was thus decided to rather buy and distribute 1 000 Bibles. The idea arose of a traveling Bible that would travel from one believer to the next. After almost four years, and after sufficient funds had been generated to buy 1 000 Bibles, the project is well underway.

In this manner, a foundation was established from where the travels could be launched and the work by Aquila could be resumed.

Aquila (Latin for “eagle”) is a Jewish Christian who, along with his wife, Priscilla, and other Jews, was banished from Rome by Emperor Claudius around 49 AD. They fled to Corinth where Paul stayed with them and worked with Aquila as tentmakers (Acts 18:1-3).

Aquila and Priscilla were affluent and traveled extensively, visiting among others large cities such as Rome, Corinth and Ephesus (Acts 18:1-26; Rom. 16:3; 2 Tim 4:19). Their travels included a journey with Paul to Ephesus where they taught Apollos the truths of the Christian faith (Acts 18:26).

An important aspect of Paul’s work in Macedonia and Achaia (Greece) was to obtain financial support from Christians in the heathendom (non-Jews) for the poor among the Jewish believers in Jerusalem (Rom. 15:26). It is possible that Aquila and Priscilla helped Paul with this task. Paul calls them his “fellow workers in Christ Jesus” who risked their lives for him and then adds “to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well” (Rom. 16:3-4).

They apparently had a significant impact on “all the churches” with their lives and on their extensive journeys. Wherever they were, they still hosted the local church in their house (Rom. 16:15; 1 Cor. 16:19).

The first Aquila project started in Stellenbosch, Western Cape province, South Africa with the 1983 Afrikaans translation. Similar projects with other Bible translations may follow.