Προστάτις (prostatis) is a Greek feminine singular noun that occurs once in the New Testament, towards the end of Paul’s epistle to the Romans:
“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the προστάτις of many people, including me.” (Romans 16:1-2, NIV 2010; Greek inserted)
The noun derives from the verb προΐστημι (proïstēmi) meaning “to preside over,” so in its most literal sense, a προστάτις is a woman set over others. In Koine usage and in Romans 16:2, a προστάτις was a female patron or benefactor. However, a number of English translations have obscured the force of this word, translating it as “helper” (NIV 1984, ASV, NASB, NKJV, RSV, NLT) or “succourer” (KJV). Some of these translators may have sincerely been in error, but others were probably acting out of a bias against influential women in the church.
In recent years, a few translations have sought to remedy this problem, correctly translating προστάτις as “benefactor” or “patron” (NIV 2010, ESV, TNIV, NRSV, HCSB), but most translations persist in describing Phoebe as a mere “helper.”
I selected Προστάτις as the name of this blog because I believe it embodies many of the things that I want this blog to be about. I aim to explore issues relating to church history, biblical studies, theology, and gender studies. I hope that the title is seen as aspirational rather than arrogant. Apart from being the head of a household of four (myself, my brother, and my two children), I certainly don’t preside over anything, and I’m too poor to be a serious financial sponsor of anyone or anything. My hope is that I can use this blog to be a patron of spiritual truth.
The photo in the header is a stained glass window depicting Saint Brigid of Ireland (AD 453-524). The window is found at Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in Macon, Georgia, and the picture was taken in 2003 by an unknown photographer.
Brigid is the patron saint of infants, scholars, and travelers, among other things. An interesting seventh-century legend holds that when Bishop Mel was consecrating her as a nun, he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to ordain her as a bishop. Saint MacCaille objected to seeing a woman ordained as bishop, but Bishop Mel insisted it was the will of God. Darrell Pursiful notes, “Whatever may be made of this story as factual history, it at least suggests a tradition that, should the Holy Spirit decide to make a woman a bishop, human beings should not interfere.” 
I am not a member of a Christian tradition that venerates Saint Brigid. Yet, because of the legend of her ordination to the bishopric, because of my love for women in Christian history, and because my own first name is a variation on “Brigid,” I decided Saint Brigid would be an appropriate icon for the header.
Προστάτις is owned and maintained by Bridget Jack Jeffries, a human resources associate living in Palatine, Illinois. I hold a BA in classics from Brigham Young University with a minor in Hebrew and I am currently finishing an MA in American church history through Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I am a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church and the mother of two, and my interviews have appeared in The Washington Post and Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.
Προστάτις was created in November of 2010.
You can e-mail me here:
I also run a blog dedicated to Mormon-Evangelical interfaith dialogue and discussion: ClobberBlog