[quote="Petergee, post:16, topic:198104"]
The evidence may be circumstantial but it's pretty compelling. St Peter's wife is nowhere to be seen in the Gospel account of our Lord's visit to St Peter's house. Surely if she were alive she would be at the bedside of her gravely ill mother. Surely if his wife wer alive St peter's mother in law would not have leaped out of her sick bed and resumed her role as hostess of the house. In ancient Israel a widow would live with one of her adult children. The fact that this woman was living with her son-in-law, and apparently nobody else, very strongly implies that she had no surviving children.
Ancient Jewish literature does presuppose close ties with one's in-laws. Newlyweds might live initially with the husband's family; apparently Peter, away from his native Bethsaida (cf. John 1:44) is now well established to possess a house of his own. That, or Peter could have moved to Capharnaum to work in his wife's family business or if his father-in-law passed away without sons. That doesn't mean of course that only Peter's nuclear family would live with him: fathers were normally older than their wives to begin with; and, with the low life expectancy rate, they often died early in their child's adulthood. It is thus the responsibility of the children to care for their surviving parent.
Personally, I think why the act of caring for the mother-in-law was St. Peter's 'burden' is because he is the 'man of the house': with the low legal position of women and whatnot, a lot of responsibilities usually fell on the shoulders of men. And - let's say for a moment that Peter's wife was indeed still alive - the reason why the wife would not get an explicit mention in the Gospels is because the pericope's primary emphasis is on the mother-in-law and her 'serving' (diēkonei) Jesus, her service being a model of discipleship, as one interpretation of the event puts it. True to ancient Middle Eastern tendencies, (1) women would only be conspicuous if they do something exceptional or if there were no men present; otherwise they would all be obscured by the male crowd (sometimes the Gospel writers may use androcentric terms, such as the masculine noun o ochlos 'the crowd/multitude', but that does not automatically mean that there were only men present!), and (2) the little, minor details would be sacrificed for the sake of the bigger picture: the emphasis is on conveying an impression, not delivering a statement in 100% scientifically accurate, 'true to life' terms (another example of this would be Mark's mention that "the whole city had gathered at the door" where Jesus was staying; this of course does not literally mean that each and every person in Capharnaum were literally at the doorstep, but is a form of expression intended to highlight the power of Jesus).
BTW, here are the relevant quotes from Clement:
Or do they (the 'false' Gnostics) also scorn the apostles? Peter and Philip had children, and Philip gave his daughters in marriage. Even Paul did not hesitate in one letter to address his 'consort'. The only reason why he did not take her about with him was that it would have been an inconvenience for his ministry. Accordingly he says in a letter: "Have we not a right to take about with us a wife that is a sister like the other apostles?" (1 Corinthians 9:5) But the latter, in accordance with their particular ministry, devoted themselves to preaching without any distraction, and took their wives with them not as women with whom they had marriage relations, but as 'sisters', that they might be their fellow-ministers in dealing with housewives. It was through them that the Lord's teaching penetrated also the women's quarters without any scandal being aroused. We also know the directions about women deacons which are given by the noble Paul in his second letter to Timothy. Furthermore, the selfsame man cried aloud that "the kingdom of God does not consist in food and drink," not indeed in abstinence from wine and meat, "but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17) Which of them goes about like Elijah clad in a sheepskin and a leather girdle? Which of them goes about like Isaiah, naked except for a piece of sacking and without shoes? Or clothed merely in a linen loincloth like Jeremiah? Which of them will imitate John's gnostic way of life? The blessed prophets also lived in this manner and were thankful to the Creator.
They say, accordingly, that the blessed Peter, on seeing his wife led to death, rejoiced on account of her call and conveyance home, and called very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, "Remember the Lord." Such was the marriage of the blessed and their perfect disposition towards those dearest to them.
Thus also the Apostle says, "that he who marries should be as though he married not," (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:29) and deem his marriage free of inordinate affection, and inseparable from love to the Lord; to which the true husband exhorted his wife to cling on her departure out of this life to the Lord.
Was not then faith in the hope after death conspicuous in the case of those who gave thanks to God even in the very extremities of their punishments? For firm, in my opinion, was the faith they possessed, which was followed by works of faith.