A Female Apostle in the New Testament?

 

Clear photographic evidence:
This should settle the question for good.

 

My weekly Thursday morning Deseret News column seems, for some reason, to have gone up quite early this time:

 

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865587537/Exploring-what-Paul-meant-by-apostle.html?pg=1

 

 

  • h_nu

    I’m glad you point this out….
    Bridget Jack Meyeres was always pretty quick to Eisegetically prove female ordination through this prooftext. It’s good to see some nuance and circumspection instead of foolish prooftexting.

    • MsJack

      Bridget Jack Jeffries (not “Meyeres”) here. I apologize for missing out on the fun that is this thread, but I had just given birth to a son on September 29th, and was only discharged with my newborn (and all the sleep-deprived delirium that goes with that) on October 1st.

      Anyways, I’d love a CFR on where I have ever “proof-texted” for women’s ordination with this verse. A thorough analysis of the passage geared towards Mormons may be found on pages 5-7 of the following PDF:

      http://ldstalk.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/jeffries_romans_16_commentary.pdf

      As for the OP, Dan doesn’t raise any arguments that have not been argued by complementarian evangelicals a thousand times over, and in my view, he has not evaluated those arguments carefully. He seems to think that there is weight to the assertion that Junia could be a masculine Greek name, which is by far the weakest argument in the complementarian arsenal on this subject. He cites Wallace and Burer’s article, but says nothing of the responses by Bauckham, Belleville and Epp (all cited in my PDF). Now I get that this was a brief article intended for a popular audience with little room to give lengthy play-by-plays of scholarly disagreement, but IMHO, egalitarian scholars have taken Wallace and Burer to the woodshed on the matter. (I seem to recall reading somewhere that even Burer admitted that he would need to go back and gather more sources to support his thesis, but I may be remembering wrong on that.)

      I’d also like to say that I’m perfectly fine with someone examining the evidence and concluding that they do not think Junia was an apostle in a sense that would be useful to women’s ordination, but I do not see “little if any solid support for the ordination of women” as a reasonable evidence-based conclusion.

      Final thought: I don’t believe that it’s accurate that Origen thought Junia was a man. I don’t recall the specifics off the top of my head, but I seem to remember Epp showing that the Origen manuscript/translation which has Junia as a man is late and near worthless.

      • kiwi57

        It’s clear from the DN article that Dan isn’t too impressed with the “Junias” interpretation.

        But tell me, MsJack: if the history of the Latter-day Saints were to be written in Koine Greek, what word would be used to denote LDS missionaries?

        Including missionary couples?

        • MsJack

          Hi kiwi57,

          It’s clear from the DN article that Dan isn’t too impressed with the “Junias” interpretation.

          Is it? My read is that he gives weight to it as a possibility while concluding that it is not likely. There’s a lot about it that he leaves out (for example, that there are no early attestations of any men named “Junias” while there are hundreds of attestations of women named “Junia”). The only qualification of his use of Origen is to say that Origen “seems to have” believed Junia was a man.

          Here’s Epp on Origen’s alleged reference to man-Junia:

          “Fortunately, in the case of the alleged reference to Junias in Rufinus’s Latin translation of Origen’s commentary on Romans, we now have the complete critical edition (except for the Greek fragments) by the late Caroline Hammond Bammel, wil Origen’s comments on Rom 16:7 appearing in the volume published in 1998. This context contained three references to Andronicus et Iunia in In ep. ad Romanos 10.21, lines 1, 10, and 25; there are no manuscript variants in these cases other than the usual Iulia (“Julia”) in two difference correctors’ hands of a single manuscript. The accusative case appeared in lines 1 and 10: Andronicum et Iuniam, while the ablative occurred in line 25: Andronico et Iunia. A fourth reference occurred in 10.39, line 45, this time in the nominative case: Andronicus et Iunia, with the latter supported by two major manuscripts, W (eight/ninth century) and R (ninth), and a member of a subgroup, E (twelfth); the variant Iulia was read by the twelfe-century manuscript c. It is in this passage where the variant Iunias (nominative) occurred in two members of the subgroup of which E is a member, namely, f and e, both twelfth-century manuscripts. Hammond Bammel’s critical text properly contains Iunia in all four instances–and on good authority, while Iunias is a variant in two out of three late manuscripts that belong to a single subgroup, grounds perhaps for asserting that this amounts to really one variant reading, not two. In any event, this alleged exception can be dismissed as carrying little if any weight, and we can be confident that Origen read Rom 16:7 as “Junia.” By the way–in view of the excursus below on Latin masculine/feminine accusatives–the occurrences of Iunia in the nominative and ablative cases (in addition to the accusative found in Rom 16:7) are helpful, because there can be no doubt that feminine forms are used by Origen in these passages.

          Finally, Rabanus Maurus (ca. 776-856), quoting Origen, had “Junia” also and, in a section of Origen’s commentary on Romans by Hraban of Fulda (780-856), which he took literally from Rufinus’s Origen, the name Junia is to be read, not Junias.” (Epp, 33-34)

          So yes, third-century Origen “seems to have” thought Junia was a man—if you give more weight to twelfth century variant readings of Origen than earlier manuscripts and earlier quotations of Origen by other authors.

          But tell me, MsJack: if the history of the Latter-day Saints were to be written in Koine Greek, what word would be used to denote LDS missionaries?

          Including missionary couples?

          Not sure, but certainly “apostolos” would be a possibility. I say in my own article on the subject that I think “missionaries” is a perfectly fair reading of the passage. It’s the only argument in the complementarian arsenal that isn’t alarmingly weak.

  • John P

    Very interesting article. I have often felt that while Paul refers to himself as an apostle, what the New Testament tells about him makes it look more like he was a Seventy. Another issue that comes up with the verse in question (in English at least; I don’t know if it applies in Greek) is whether “who” refers back to all three groups (1 – Andronicus and Junia, 2 – my kinsmen, and 3 – my fellow-prisoners), or to simply the last, “my fellow-prisoners”.

  • Jessica Finnigan

    There is very little biblical support for LDS male priesthood structure.

    • brotheroflogan

      Something tells me you are not being totally unbiased in what you consider support.

    • DanielPeterson

      If you reject Mormonism altogether, or in its fundamental aspects, then, yes, you’ll probably be inclined to reject Mormon practice as misguided.

      In other breaking news: Circles are round, and recent studies demonstrate that bachelors are, overwhelmingly, unmarried men.

      • Jessica Finnigan

        I don’t don’t reject Mormonism, but one interesting fact is that it is impossible for human beings to draw perfect circles. And my point is that there are other scholars who reject your assumptions on the greek grammar. Including Mark Goodacre at Duke who I think is less biased than your article, since he has no skin in the game. http://podacre.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/nt-pod-12-junia-first-woman-apostle.html

        So your grammatical analysis is not without complication.

        • DanielPeterson

          If I had been writing a scholarly article of unlimited length, I would have dealt with all of the arguments. But I had <740 words in a newspaper column, so I did as much as I could, and I expressed my judgment on the matter.

          Do some others disagree? Of course they do. I can't think of any serious issue in New Testament studies or any other field of ongoing scholarly research where there is unanimity.

          Is Mark Goodacre less biased than I am? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I don't know the man, but, if he has really transcended the human condition, I would love to meet him.

  • Jessica Finnigan

    Another point is that the PH is not a very clear cut thing, and the more I hear people in the church talk about the less I think we actually know what it is. For example how did Alma (1) get the PH what was the mechanism. Paul existed outside of the hierarchy, JS had visions, and the idea of Peter, James, and John coming down in not clearly indicated in historical texts. The evolution of the Mormon PH is not cut and dry.

    • brotheroflogan

      It is not totally clear how Alma got the priesthood, but it is also not clear why it was necessary for him to start a church and begin baptising when Mosiah was clearly already a prophet. Could it be that you can be a prophet (or apostle) without the priesthood? Seems like Joseph Smith was, at first.
      I think that a good theory is that Alma encountered temple teachings in the land of Nephi and probably asked God about it, much like Joseph Smith did with respect to the authority to baptize that he read about in the book of Mormon as he translated it. It was then that he was ordained to this power by John.
      When it comes to church history, I think that the “evolution” of the priesthood is totally cut and dried.

      • Jessica Finnigan

        How do you think it is cut and dry? I think Greg Prince’s work on the history of the PH which is amazing work of scholarship paints a picture of anything but simplicity or a view of simplicity on the evolution of the PH in the church. So can you expand on how you think it is cut and dry? Human history is never cut and dry.

        • brotheroflogan

          “Human history is never cut and dry.”
          But there are some things that are well supported. And I think that a rational theory of priesthood organization can easily be gleaned from the bible and from church history. I think that, except for some minor contradictions, the modern church priesthood structure is supported by a reasonable interpretation of the bible and that any evolution is merely in formalities rather than in substance.
          If you want to talk about how the Seventies were under the Stake President and now they are General Authorities, then I would just say that that is a minor change. A major change might be something like members of the Aaronic priesthood having the authority to confirm membership and give the gift of the Holy Ghost. That would go against biblical and Book of Mormon patterns. So would female ordination. (But if Pres. Monson said he’d had a revelation from God saying women were to be ordained, I would support him).
          Confession: I do not know about Black and the Priesthood. I would not say that issue is cut and dried.

  • RT

    This piece is unfortunate in several ways, first the clear aim to lessen the credibility of scriptural support for female ordination, second, the focus on only one part of the larger body of evidence for female leadership in the early Christian church, and the tendentious use of NT scholarship one does not fully understand.

    The case against reading the adjective in R 16:7 in an inclusive sense (Burer and Wallace) is much weaker than you suppose.

    See e.g. http://betterbibles.com/2007/05/29/junia-a-response-to-michael-burer/

    As you suggest, the problem here has mostly to do with applying our modern and traditional category of “apostle” to an early Christian setting, which raises the question of why you should even frame the title of the article in the way you do (“A Female Apostle in the NT?).

    • DanielPeterson

      The article is “unfortunate” because it apparently doesn’t support your view?

      At least you’re candid!

      Moreover, I’m aware that some have disagreed with Burer and Wallace. (It would be a very rare academic article indeed if it had been met with a unanimous chorus of “Yes!”, “Exactly!”, and “Couldn’t have said it better myself!”) I still think their case is pretty good, though — and it doesn’t change my view that the evidence concerning Junia constitutes, at best, weak support for the claim that she was an ordained apostle in anything remotely approaching the LDS sense.

      My columns need to be less than 740 words. (Many times shorter, in other words, than the blog entry to which you linked.) I can only do so much in that space. I can’t address all the nuances of Greek accentuation, for example, or the details of New Testament manuscript and translation history.

      • RT

        No, because it’s on the wrong side of history and is attempting to homogenize and simplify the biblical record.

        It’s not my “view” that I really care about. I care about treating women in ethical ways and removing cultural impediments to their social and spiritual progress; I care about intellectual honesty and scholarly rigor.

        And to focus your efforts in trying to neutralize a piece of biblical evidence that could lead to theological and ecclesiological reform is poor form, IMO.

        • DanielPeterson

          RT: “No, because it’s on the wrong side of history”

          Sorry. I didn’t realize that you were The Avatar of History, and that you speak for the irresistible onward march of Hegel’s World Spirit.

          And here I thought it was simply that you had an agenda that my article failed to support.

          You remind me more than a little of all those Marxist ideologues who used to insist that they represented The Future, and that resistance was, therefore, futile. I wondered then, as I wonder now, how God was stripped of his choices and power and, instead, had them assigned to History, such that whatever direction History appears to be flowing toward is morally right and unquestionable.

          RT: “and is attempting to homogenize and simplify the biblical record.”

          That’s a gross distortion of what I was doing. I was simply trying to read the passage carefully. It’s completely bogus on your part to ignore my arguments from Greek grammar and lexicography and then to grandly rebuke me for failing to get on board with History.

          RT: “It’s not my ‘view’ that I really care about.”

          Of course not. You’re simply a vehicle through whom History has chosen to speak. It’s not personal at all.

          RT: “I care about treating women in ethical ways and removing cultural impediments to their social and spiritual progress;”

          And, of course, being an enemy of Progress, I believe in treating women in unethical ways and in placing arbitrary cultural impediments between them and their social and spiritual flourishing.

          RT: “I care about intellectual honesty and scholarly rigor.”

          If you did, you would engage the actual arguments I made and to which (it being a very short column) I alluded. You wouldn’t simply pose as the spokesman for the Weltgeist.

          RT: “And to focus your efforts in trying to neutralize a piece of biblical evidence that could lead to theological and ecclesiological reform is poor form, IMO.”

          Again, it’s all about your position, and about my failure to agree with your position. It’s not about my reading of the scriptural evidence, to which you’ve offered no counterargument at all. It’s plainly not even about the evidence. It’s about your embodiment of Historical Progress.

          • RT

            Feeling cantankerous this morning, are we?

          • DanielPeterson

            Just mightily unimpressed with somebody who comes in to pontificate on behalf of The Forward March of History while simultaneously brushing off my lexical and grammatical arguments and insinuating that I lack intellectual honesty, scholarly rigor, and concern for the ethical treatment of women.

            You expected me to receive such an assault with guilty pleas and a hearty bear hug?

          • RT

            What “lexical and grammatical arguments”? Don’t be silly. You hardly provided much of anything in that manner. If you would go to the link that I provided, there is plenty of discussion of the lexical and grammatical arguments. I don’t feel a need to regurgitate them here.

          • DanielPeterson

            A general-interest column of <740 words can hardly go into detail. (Rather unlike your link, which was several times as long and aimed at a more scholarly audience.)

            Nevertheless, I provided a précis of a technical academic discussion of a crucial Greek phrase, reflected on the polyvalent meaning of "apostolos" in ancient Greek, alluded to the ambiguities surrounding the name "Junia"/"Junias," summarized the Eastern Christian traditions attached to both Junia and Andronicus, cited both Origen of Alexandria and Epaphroditus of Salamis on "Junias," and so on and so forth.

            Sorry I failed to meet your high standards for packing things into a few words. You're plainly superior to me; I don't dispute that.

          • RT

            Dan, please, no need to be so churlish. I don’t think I’m superior to you; I’m not even a NT scholar myself.

            I think there are a some worthwhile aspects to the piece, including your discussion of the meaning of “apostle” in the context of early Christianity. And you are right that there is certainly some ambiguity surrounding the interpretation of Junia as a female apostle. It is question that deserves careful exploration and discussion.

            However, from my vantage point, this is not what you were doing at all.

            You seem to have set out to intentionally neutralize a possible scriptural support for female ordination in the midst of a highly fraught ideological controversy that is currently taking place in the church and only days away from the planned attendance of members of the OW movement to the general priesthood conference. I think this is exceedingly poor form because, irrespective of whether Junia should be interpreted as an early Christian apostle or not, there are women in the contemporary LDS church who feel marginalized, less valued, and disenfranchised. Some are in a state of spiritual distress over the entrenched inequality that exists in the church. So for you to try to cast doubt on the interpretation of Junia as a female apostle at this precise moment, when at least some women are seeking ordination as a response to their own life experiences and personal inspiration and as an answer to the gender inequality they have faced in the church, seems to me to be extremely insensitive. It reflects a lack of sympathy and an unwillingness to “mourn with those who mourn” and “comfort those who stand in need of comfort,” even members who you may disagree with doctrinally. If the question of Junia is somewhat ambiguous and deserving of careful exploration, this is not the time to be engaging in a brief one-sided discussion in order to show that there is “no clear scriptural precedent” for female ordination. The women of OW (who are largely active and faithful members) deserve better than that, far better.

            And to make matters even worse, the discussion of Junia is so tendentious in privileging evidence and scholarly discussion that casts doubt on her female identity and her status as an apostle, that it is not really that hard to see an agenda at play here that has very little to do with dispassionate scholarly inquiry. Yes, your column is short and limits the kind of detail that would be appropriate for the topic. But that it is short is exactly my point, since in those few 740 words you were able to fit in and select all those points that support your general argument of “ambiguity” surrounding Junia!

            In actuality, your portrayal of the scholarship on Junia is quite misleading. Most mainstream NT scholars feel fairly confident that Junia was a woman and that the relevant passage should be translated “well known among the apostles.”

            If you would like I could point you to many other sources.

          • Ray Agostini

            “However, from my vantage point, this is not what you were doing at all.”

            Mind reading?

            “You seem to have set out to intentionally neutralize a possible scriptural support for female ordination in the midst of a highly fraught ideological controversy that is currently taking place in the church and only days away from the planned attendance of members of the
            OW movement to the general priesthood conference. I think this is exceedingly poor form because, irrespective of whether Junia should be interpreted as an early Christian apostle or not, there are women in the
            contemporary LDS church who feel marginalized, less valued, and disenfranchised. Some are in a state of spiritual distress over the entrenched inequality that exists in the church. So for you to try to cast doubt on the interpretation of Junia as a female apostle at this
            precise moment, when at least some women are seeking ordination as a response to their own life experiences and personal inspiration and as an answer to the gender inequality they have faced in the church, seems
            to me to be extremely insensitive. It reflects a lack of sympathy and an unwillingness to “mourn with those who mourn” and “comfort those who stand in need of comfort,” even members who you may disagree with
            doctrinally. If the question of Junia is somewhat ambiguous and deserving of careful exploration, this is not the time to be engaging in a brief one-sided discussion in order to show that there is “no clear
            scriptural precedent” for female ordination. The women of OW (who are largely active and faithful members) deserve better than that, far better.”

            So it would be more acceptable to you if Dan had made a case that Junia was a female apostle, even contrary to the ambiguous evidence? There’s a difference between scholarship and having an agenda. It seems to me that you have an agenda. Dan has made it very clear that should Church leaders ever support female ordination, he’d be right behind them.

            “And to make matters even worse, the discussion of Junia is so tendentious in privileging evidence and scholarly discussion that casts doubt on her female identity and her status as an apostle, that it is not really that hard to see an agenda at play here that has very little to do with dispassionate scholarly inquiry.”

            I don’t see any “agenda” in Dan’s post. He’s simply making a case against the “orthodoxy” that unquestioningly accepts Junia as a female apostle.

            That’s what good scholars do. They probe and question “accepted orthodoxies”. Did you note the question mark in the title of Dan’s post? He could have been a lot more dogmatic, but he left the question open, while giving his point of view.

            Incidentally, like Mark Twain, I’m an almost obsequious admirer of Joan of Arc, and I feel that she is, by light years, the best historical argument for women holding the priesthood. But she was never ordained, never held any “Church priesthood”, and indeed it was her own Church which sold her out to the English, ending in her burning at the stake for heresy.

            To me, it’s totally irrelevant whether or not she held the priesthood. I consider her a prophetess in her own right, and a martyr for truth. Mark Twain went as far as to say, Jesus Christ excepted, no better person ever lived on this earth. The “ordination” of Joan, would not have altered any historical fact in regard to her greatness.

          • RT

            That’s great you have admiration for Joan of Arc. I’m in total agreement that women or men can do amazing things regardless of their ecclesiastical privileges or authority. But I don’t see how that is really relevant to the topic of conversation.

            What bothered me about the post was Dan’s apparent intent to puncture the idea of there being scriptural support for female ordination, all the while pretending as though he were neutral on the question, and the misleading nature of his scholarly treatment of the issue of Junia’s status as a female apostle.

            “So it would be more acceptable to you if Dan had made a case that Junia was a female apostle, even contrary to the ambiguous evidence?”

            That’s just my point, and your comment perfectly illustrates the negative result of innocent readers relying upon Dan for their knowledge of scholarly views about Junia, that the evidence is not near as ambiguous as he makes it out to be (for polemical purposes). There are a whole variety of contextual factors that make the reading of Junia as an apostle more appropriate, and if he had done his homework he would have known that.

          • Ray Agostini

            Forgive me for quoting Wiki, but it does have many informative summarised entries:

            “Epiphanius (315 – 403 AD), in Index of Disciples says, “Junias, of whom Paul makes mention, became Bishop of Apameia of Syria.” In Greek, the phrase “of whom” is a masculine relative pronoun (hou) and shows that
            Epiphanius considered Junias to be a man. And in a Latin quotation from Origen (died AD 252), in the earliest extant commentary on Romans, says that Paul refers to “Andronicus and Junias and Herodian, all of whom he
            calls relatives and fellow captives” (Origen’s Commentary on Romans, preserved in a Latin translation by Rufinus, ca. 345-ca. 410 AD, in J.P.Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 14, col. 1289). The name Junias here is a Latin masculine singular nominative, implying that Origen, who was one
            of the ancient world’s most proficient scholars, thought Junias was a man.”

            The context of “apostle” also has to be considered:

            “The apostle Paul also refers to some of his associates as “co-workers” or “fellow workers”. The same people he calls “apostles” are also referred to as his “coworkers”—suggesting an intent to provide some interchangeability between the terms apostles and co-workers.”

            But thinking in modern terms, “Apostle” is immediately associated with a male priesthood.

            It was not necessarily so in the early Church. “Apostle” can also be defined as ” one sent on a mission”.

            But by all means – carry on with your “female ordination” agenda, specifically directed at the Church.

            Personally, I would welcome female ordination, but it is not for me to decide this. Who runs the Church? The General Authorities, or people like you? There may be very valid reasons why they don’t see this as appropriate, and as far as I’m aware, the vast majority of LDS women feel quite satisfied with the status quo. People you and others might call “sheeple”, or “blind followers”.

            But keep going with your “rescue mission” to have women ordained in harmony with your heroic vision of “equality”, in spite of the fact that the majority of LDS women disagree with you, and feel quite happy with the way things are. But you and other critics don’t look at that, do you? You think that the *minority* view should prevail, and give no credence whatsoever, nor time, to hear the views of *most* LDS women.

          • DanielPeterson

            RT: “What bothered me about the post was Dan’s apparent intent to puncture the idea of there being scriptural support for female ordination, all the while pretending as though he were neutral on the question,”

            There is absolutely no contradiction between being open to the idea of women’s ordination and believing that there’s no scriptural precedent for it.

            Yet, on the basis of nothing beyond my being on The Wrong Side of History, you accuse me of disingenuousness.

            RT: “and the misleading nature of his scholarly treatment of the issue of Junia’s status as a female apostle.”

            Again, the hint of dishonesty.

            There is nothing “misleading” about what I wrote. You simply disagree with my conclusions. Which, apparently, makes you feel justified in questioning my integrity.

            RT: “That’s just my point, and your comment perfectly illustrates the negative result of innocent readers relying upon Dan for their knowledge of scholarly views about Junia,”

            Poor “innocent readers” victimized by a misleading column written by a dishonest columnist. Who, if he doesn’t appreciate being so described, proves himself a churl.

            RT: “that the evidence is not near as ambiguous as he makes it out to be (for polemical purposes).”

            In my churlish and dishonest judgment, the evidence is precisely that ambiguous.

            RT: “There are a whole variety of contextual factors that make the reading of Junia as an apostle more appropriate, and if he had done his homework he would have known that.”

            I did my homework. My sin is, simply, that you’re infuriated at my conclusion.

          • DanielPeterson

            I agree with you, RT, that there was no need for you to be so churlish. I have no idea why you came on so boorishly from the get-go. But there you have it: You did.

            RT: “I’m not even a NT scholar myself.”

            I never thought otherwise. You come across, rather, as a rather smugly dogmatic and none too pleasant ideologue.

            RT: “And you are right that there is certainly some ambiguity surrounding the interpretation of Junia as a female apostle.”

            Of course I’m right on that. Hence the conclusion reported in my column.

            RT: “It is question that deserves careful exploration and discussion. However, from my vantage point, this is not what you were doing at all.”

            In a <740-word newspaper opinion column, there's not a whole lot of room for careful scholarly exploration and discussion. So I expressed my opinion and provided some of the reasons for my holding it.

            RT: "You seem to have set out to intentionally neutralize a possible scriptural support for female ordination in the midst of a highly fraught ideological controversy that is currently taking place in the church and only days away from the planned attendance of members of the OW movement to the general priesthood conference."

            Indeed I did.

            In my judgment, the passage provides little or no solid support for the ordination of women. The issue is in the news, so I weighed in on an aspect of it.

            RT: "I think this is exceedingly poor form because, irrespective of whether Junia should be interpreted as an early Christian apostle or not, there are women in the contemporary LDS church who feel marginalized, less valued, and disenfranchised. Some are in a state of spiritual distress over the entrenched inequality that exists in the church."

            Accordingly, it seems, in your view, views opposed to the ordination of women should be silenced and any questioning of arguments used to support such ordination should be suppressed.

            RT: "So for you to try to cast doubt on the interpretation of Junia as a female apostle at this precise moment, when at least some women are seeking ordination as a response to their own life experiences and personal inspiration and as an answer to the gender inequality they have faced in the church, seems to me to be extremely insensitive."

            Your position appears to be that opinions on topics should remain unexpressed for so long as those topics are being publicly discussed — at least, that is, if those opinions are opposed to yours.

            RT: "It reflects a lack of sympathy and an unwillingness to "mourn with those who mourn" and "comfort those who stand in need of comfort," even members who you may disagree with doctrinally."

            Do you really never grow tired of your complacent assumption of moral superiority?

            You keep accusing me of lack of sympathy, dishonesty, and unwillingness to comfort the afflicted. All because you're on The Right Side of History while (a) I'm not and yet (b) I nonetheless dared to write a newspaper column.

            RT: "If the question of Junia is somewhat ambiguous and deserving of careful exploration, this is not the time to be engaging in a brief one-sided discussion in order to show that there is "no clear scriptural precedent" for female ordination."

            It seems to me, on the contrary, that the time for expressing opinions is precisely when the relevant topic is under discussion. Of course, I realize that, in your magisterial judgment, I hold The Wrong Opinion, so that principle presumably doesn't apply to me.

            RT: "The women of OW (who are largely active and faithful members) deserve better than that, far better."

            You seem to think that they deserve silence from those who might tend to question their demands or their claims.

            RT: "And to make matters even worse, the discussion of Junia is so tendentious in privileging evidence and scholarly discussion that casts doubt on her female identity and her status as an apostle, that it is not really that hard to see an agenda at play here that has very little to do with dispassionate scholarly inquiry."

            An opinion column isn't about "dispassionate scholarly inquiry." (It's rather amusing to read such praise of "dispassionate inquiry" from somebody who believes himself to be on The Right Side of History — whatever that might be.) The scholarly inquiry, presumably, has already occurred. An opinion column is about expressing one's opinion.

            RT: "Yes, your column is short and limits the kind of detail that would be appropriate for the topic. But that it is short is exactly my point, since in those few 740 words you were able to fit in and select all those points that support your general argument of "ambiguity" surrounding Junia!"

            Yup. I expressed my opinion. It's what I set out to do, and I did it. And, plainly, that has irritated you.

            RT: "In actuality, your portrayal of the scholarship on Junia is quite misleading. Most mainstream NT scholars feel fairly confident that Junia was a woman and that the relevant passage should be translated "well known among the apostles.""

            Of COURSE it should be translated "well known among the apostles," or something like that. The English preserves the ambiguity of the Greek, which can roughly mean either "one of the apostles, and well known," or "well known to the apostles."

            And I scarcely misled anybody with regard to your claim that "Most mainstream NT scholars feel fairly confident that Junia was a woman." After all, my column says, in part, that "Most scholars today . . . believe that Romans 16:7 does indeed refer to a woman named Junia."

            RT: "If you would like I could point you to many other sources."

            My failure to agree with you isn't the result of ignorance on my part. Feel free to stop condescending.

          • brotheroflogan

            Really, RT? How about some introspection?

          • RT

            If you’ll notice brotherflogan, I tried to keep to a brief engagement with the OP and what I saw in it as socially/ethically unfortunate and problematic in terms of its scholarship. Whereas Dan, as he is wont to do, immediately moves to the very personal and polemical, calling me “The Avatar of History” and associating me with marxist ideologues. It’s ridiculous.

          • brotheroflogan

            No, given your rhetoric, it is not ridiculous. You have not adequately considered how offensive your tactics are. You have found, like many have in the past, that certain accusations manipulate people into giving up on their arguments because they are afraid of being thought of as on the wrong side of history. If you believe that it is unethical for the church to not ordain women, then it would have been more intellectually honest of you to say, “Dan, here’s why I think it is unethical to not ordain women (reason 1… reason 2)” This is respectful, straightforward scholarly debate. Instead, you said,

            “It’s not my “view” that I really care about. I care about treating women in ethical ways and removing cultural impediments to their social and spiritual progress; I care about intellectual honesty and scholarly rigor.”
            This is an indirect way of calling Dan unethical, sexist, dishonest and lazy. And yet you say that HE is the one who made it personal.

          • DanielPeterson

            It was ridiculous for you to try to beat me over the head with the concept of a “right side of history,” as if that airy nothing had any actual meaning.

      • RT

        “I still think their case is pretty good, though”

        …which only goes to show that you are not a NT scholar.

        “at best, weak support for the claim that she was an ordained apostle in anything remotely approaching the LDS sense.”

        …which probably says a lot more about the fallacy of applying that sense to early Christian history.

        • DanielPeterson

          I read Greek, and I read NT scholarship. And you insult.

          Our two approaches differ, so it’s unsurprising that our conclusions do, as well.

          • RT

            I’m not trying to insult. I’m simply trying to call attention to what I regard as a problematic interpretation of the available evidence. Most people who read the column will have no way of knowing that Burer and Wallace’s reading has not been well received in the scholarly community and has been strongly critiqued on several occasions.

            I think you are fully capable of producing interesting and reliable scholarship on some things, Dan. This just isn’t it–for more than one reason.

          • DanielPeterson

            I think you exaggerate when you say that their article has not been well received. There are those who disagree, but there are always those who disagree. I can scarcely think of any significant passage in the New Testament about which there is no dispute. But, of course, there are some interpretations that are in line with the forward march of progress and there are some that are not. And, for reasons that are not clear to me, we are evidently morally obliged to be in line with the forward march of history. We just need someone to authoritatively interpret that forward march for us, and fortunately you have volunteered for the role.

          • RT

            “There are those who disagree, but there are always those who disagree.”

            That’s quite an argument, Dan. Thanks for the enlightenment.

            “there are some interpretations that are in line with the forward march of progress and there are some that are not.”

            That’s right. The bulk of contemporary NT scholarship accepts the reading “among the apostles” because they want to remake scripture in their own modern image.

            “And, for reasons that are not clear to me, we are evidently morally obliged to be in line with the forward march of history.”

            I don’t see any inevitable forward march of history; you’re attributing things to me that I don’t believe. But when it comes to the issue of women and society’s treatment and perception of such and your acting as thought there has not been a significant amount of progress made over the last two hundred years (that emphatically separates modern civilization from previous eras) and that more still needs to be done in institutions of various sorts, including religion, then I don’t really know what to say. This is the kind of religious posturing that is really off-putting to younger generations, and it’s really a tragedy, IMO.

          • DanielPeterson

            RT: “The bulk of contemporary NT scholarship accepts the reading ‘among the apostles’ because they want to remake scripture in their own modern image.”

            The bulk of contemporary NT scholarship accepts the reading “among the apostles” for the same reason that I accept it: That’s what the Greek says.

            RT: “I don’t see any inevitable forward march of history.”

            Then, as I suspected, your reference to “the wrong side of history” was actually empty blather, devoid of meaning.

            RT: “But when it comes to the issue of women and society’s treatment and perception of such and your acting as thought there has not been a significant amount of progress made over the last two hundred years (that emphatically separates modern civilization from previous eras) and that more still needs to be done in institutions of various sorts, including religion, then I don’t really know what to say.”

            What on earth are you talking about? I once acted the part of a villain in a stage melodrama at the American embassy in Cairo, but I can’t think of ever having “acted as though there has not been a significant amount of progress made over the last two hundred years” with respect to women.

            RT: “This is the kind of religious posturing that is really off-putting to younger generations, and it’s really a tragedy, IMO.”

            I can understand claiming that my column, in the end, doesn’t analyze the Greek of Romans 16 correctly. But when you essentially jettison the question of what the passage actually says and, instead, revert to your Wrong Side of History silliness, when you try to pose as the spokesman for Youth and for The Inherent but Offended Virtue of the Rising Generation, you lose my interest.

  • http://kgbudge.com kgbudge

    We can dicker forever over whether an ambiguous passage in the New Testament supports ordination of women.

    Or we can look to the living spirit of revelation to find out from God Himself. If the Brethren have it revealed to them that women should be ordained to priesthood office, than that’s what we should do. If it is revealed to them that we should not, then we shouldn’t.

    Some folks seem to think there is a third option, which is to deny the authority of the priesthood while demanding ordination to it. The thought of which makes my brain hurt.

    • SamSmith2233

      The main point of the article was not whether Mormon women should currently be ordained in the same way men are, which, in the Mormon sphere, would require a revelation to the Brethren. Rather, it was principally about whether Junia(us) was male or female and in what sense she/he was an apostle. Related issues to be sure but not exactly the same issues. A conclusion that Junia(us) was a women or even that she was in some sense an apostle, does not compel the conclusion that currently Mormon women need be ordain as are men.

      That is not to say that we need not but in fact should study what women of the New Testament and patristic period did. Such creates a context which helps inform who Junia(us) might have been and what the nature of her calling was.

      That’s no dicker, its a demand for study that any sacred text makes on its believers.

  • JohnH2

    Junia though isn’t the only female which is cast in priesthood (or at least priesthood like) roles in the New and Old Testament and most of the rest are unambiguously female and unambiguously acting in what we consider a priesthood role, including as bishop.

    • DanielPeterson

      Phoebe (of Romans 16:1) is probably the best example after Junia. And her example isn’t particularly strong.


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