When the bias of our blinders changes the Bible

I think I’ve figured out who that little silhouette in Disqus’ not-so-neutral default avatar is.

The only person ever named "Junias."

It’s Junias.

Junias is a character in some translations of the Bible.

More specifically, he’s a character invented by translators and inserted into the Bible. He’s a made-up person with a made-up name.

Junias never existed. And Junias’ name never existed.

But despite that, you can read the non-existent name of this non-existent person right there in the Bible — provided you have the right Bible. Or, rather, provided you have the wrong one.

Here’s Junias in the English-language American Standard Version of the Bible, in Romans 16:7 17:

Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also have been in Christ before me.

And you’ll find him in the same verse in the Amplified Bible, in the Contemporary English Version, in the Darby Translation, in the Duoay-Rheims 1899 American edition, in the God’s Word translation, in the New Life Version, and in Young’s Literal Translation.

None of the scholars and translators who prepared these English editions of the Bible hesitated to include Junias in that verse despite the fact that he never existed. That even his name, apparently, never existed.

But they all inserted the non-existent Junias into that verse in Romans because they preferred that invention to what Paul actually wrote, which was Junia. That was a real name and Paul referred to her as a real person who really was a real apostle.

Here, from What Paul Meant, is Garry Wills summarizing male Christians’ desperate effort to turn Junia into a dude:

In the long list of people Paul greets at the end of his letter to the Romans, he gives special notice to the husband and wife evangelical team of Andronicus and Junia (Rom. 16:6-7), whom he calls “my kindred” (suggeneis mou). … The supreme accolade comes when he calls them “outstanding among the emissaries.”

Though there are no offices in the early gatherings, only functions, and though Paul stresses the equal dignity of all gifts of the Spirit, he does list emissaries (apostoloi) first in the “big three” charisms — emissaries, prophets, and teachers (1 Cor. 12:28). For Junia to be included not only among the emissaries but among the outstanding (episemoi) ones was a high honor, as John Chrysostom recognized in his commentary on Romans: “How great this woman’s love of wisdom (philosophia) must have been, to merit her inclusion among the apostles.” She and her husband had a liturgy devoted to them as married saints and apostles in the Byzantine church. Most early commentators and fathers of the church, including Origen and Rufinus, celebrated her extraordinary eminence.

But sometime in the Middle Ages, apparently before the ninth century, it was decided that a woman apostle was unthinkable. This offended the male monopoly of church offices and honors that had grown up by that time, so Junia had to be erased from history. It took only a little smudging to do this. Paul uses her Greek name, Iounia, in the accusative case, Iounian. A mere change in accent markings (a circumflex over the last vowel) would make it the accusative form of a hypothetical male name, Iounias. But there is one problem here. “Junias” is only a hypothetical name — it never occurs in all the ancient literature and inscriptions — whereas Iounia is a common name, occurring hundreds of times. Besides, the other teams Paul mentions in Romans 16 are male-female ones — Aquila and Prisca, Philologus and Julia, Nereus and Olympas — with the exception of a female-female one (Tryphaena and Tryphosa, probably sister Sisters). We know from Paul’s reference to Peter and the Lord’s brothers, who traveled with their wives, that male-female evangelical teams were common (1 Cor. 9:5). Only the most Soviet-style rewriting of history could declare Junia a nonperson and invent a new team, Andronicus and philologically implausible Junias.

Scot McKnight has much more to say about Junia and that “Soviet-style rewriting of history.” Junia — and the centuries-long effort to silence her — is the centerpiece of his lively, pithy, deservedly angry ebook Junia Is Not Alone.

Here’s McKnight:

There was a first-century relative of the apostle Paul named Junia; she entered into Christ before Paul did; and this Junia was an apostle. Which means (because this is what apostles did) she was in essence a Christ-experiencing, Christ-representing, church-establishing, probably miracle-working, missionizing woman who preached the gospel and taught the church.

What surprises some folks in the church today is that when Paul wrote those words about Junia the apostle in Romans 16:7, he was not snickering with a mischievous look in his eye because he had just pulled off the incredible act of calling a woman an apostle. … I would suggest that he didn’t give those words about Junia a moment’s afterthought.

Why? Because Junia was not alone.

McKnight goes on to give example after example from the Bible and from history of women who were “outstanding among the apostles” and among the prophets, but whose voices are silenced and histories erased by the same male-dominated leadership that tried to replace Paul’s relative Junia with an imaginary male given an imaginary name.

McKnight’s book is bound to be deemed “controversial” — and thereby controlled and dismissed — by many male leaders in the American church. That’s how American evangelicals warn one another not to listen to someone telling uncomfortable truths — they label them “controversial.”

Remarkably, these same male leaders see nothing “controversial” about the centuries-long effort to change the words of the Bible to erase its reference to this female apostle. These men invariably are the sort of people who will tell you that the Bible is sacred, inerrant, holy, unquestionable and infallible. They will insist that they have a “high view” of scripture (higher than yours, certainly, if you dare to disagree with them). They will tell you that the Bible must be read literally and that this is how they read it.

But given a choice between the sacredness of their sacred text and having to admit the full equality of women and men, they’re perfectly willing and eager to change the text — to distort, alter, edit, twist, slice, chop and subvert it. You’d need an unabridged thesaurus to come up with all the manipulations and indignities they’d be willing to inflict on that text before they’d be willing to accept what this verse in Romans tells us about women’s leadership.

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  • pharoute

    So… Junia is an emissary of the Prophets?

    /her Pah must be strong

  • LL

    So the people who created the Bible had so much contempt for women, they rewrote it to keep from having a woman sound smart or display leadership ability? 

    Thanks, I learned something today. 

  • Anonymous

    Well, created the Bible is a bit of a stretch in this case. Not that women weren’t exclude in painfully obvious ways, such as the fact that Herbew women, except for a few daughters of prophets saddle with horrid, symbolic names, are not known by name after the reign of Solomon until Queen Esther.
    In this case though, it was later interpreters who did the damage.

  • Anonymous

    I had an OT history teacher who had too much fun with Hosea.  “So, he marries a harlot, and after Forsaken and Desolate, he has to name his third child Not-My-People.  Imagine how that must have gone over!  ‘Oh, Hosea, your new kid’s adorable!  What’s her name!’  ‘Oh, it’s Not-Mine.'”

  • Anonymous

    LOLOL … when one looks at the 1st century AT* manuscripts, one sees that it was clearly written “Commander Cisca” but it seems it was changed after the Kirk hierarchy solidified.

  • Lori

    Oh FSM, I think we’re covering these verses in Sunday School this week. 

    Feel free to start the pool now on whether I can keep a lid on it, or if I give my dad a stroke. This is not a conversation that the Church of Christ wants to have. They prefer the “women must keep silent in the church” Paul. 

  • Anonymous

    The “keep silent in church Paul” usually comes from epistles Paul didn’t really write, though alas not all of them. The personal shout-outs in the epistles though show a good number of women in leadership, some without even a male name paired with them. So even though Paul was sexist, he certainly was OK with women having leading roles in the Church.

  • Lori

     
    The “keep silent in church Paul” usually comes from epistles Paul didn’t really write  

    That’s another conversation they don’t want to have. I don’t think most people in the Church of Christ even know that there’s any question about Paul and the not-Paul’s. I’ve certainly never heard it acknowledged in a Sunday School class or a sermon (and sad to say, I’ve heard a lot more of both than I have any interest in, especially the last couple of years). 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    When is this Paul guy ever going to take some responsibility for the things that he ‘wrote’? His newsletters aren’t his, his epistles aren’t his… wow!

  • Anonymous

    A lot of commentators I’ve read have mentioned that, in private, a lot of priests and pastors have a much more liberal interpretation of the Bible than they do in public. (Going to seminary, apparently, will do that to you.) In retrospect, my (Catholic) priest growing up said a few things during Mass than makes me question how literally he took things (I can think of more than one example where he said essentially that “well, this may have not happened this way, but the point is….”)

    I doubt the Paul / not-Paul divide is going to be worth bringing up, but Robert Price made a point that might be mild enough to discuss: people typically don’t denounce (normal) behaviors that aren’t happening already [1]. If Paul felt the need to say that women shouldn’t speak in church, that means that there *was* an early tradition that women could speak in church — and this is supported by other passages in his letters.

    [1] “Human fetuses shouldn’t be in food,” “people shouldn’t marry dogs,” etc., are the exceptions that prove the rule. That’s pretty clearly ridiculous (and, it might be pointed out, if people assume Paul wasn’t a fool, that means that he probably wouldn’t be objecting to ridiculous behavior).

  • Heather

    As a woman, I can tell you there are plenty of women, and men, who need to be told to shut up in church. I don’t think that makes Paul any more sexist than was inherent in his culture, and I expect that he was probably a lot less. 

  • Lori

    The issue isn’t whether some people need to zip it. I don’t recall Paul, not or otherwise, telling men to be silent in church. Somebody did say that women needed to be. Regardless of who said people still have to decide if that was an artifact of his culture or a teaching for all time. The tradition in which I was raised says it was the latter, and builds a great deal of teaching around the pretending that it’s not sexist. A great deal of gender essentialism has to be taught to support telling the sisters to shut it. That’s said with love, of course. 

  • Anonymous

    I was told that “women keep silent” was more because the wives of the newly converted were asking questions about every little thing during the service, or ignoring their husbands’ worship in order to gossip (depending on which source you ask), so Paul had to remind them to keep that stuff to themselves until afterward because it was disruptive.

    Either way, it doesn’t excuse…well, anything that the verse has actually been used to justify.

  • Jenny Islander

    Someone pointed out to me that Paul (or whomever) had more than one word available to use for “head,” but in the “man is the head of the woman as Christ is the head of the Church” verse, he picked the one word that can also be used fo mean “the source of a watercourse.”  Therefore, the verse should be read, “The man [presumably educated in at least the basics] is the source of the woman [who was almost certainly not educated at all, and now that she is in this bizarre egalitarian cult based partly on reading books she is trying hard to catch up] as Christ is the source of the Church.”  This implies that something is flowing from the man to the woman, and what flows from Christ to the Church?  Teaching and grace.  So, men, provide teaching and grace for the women in your households who are facing a steep learning curve, and women, please save up your questions for a time outside church, because this is not a school.

  • Lizzy L

    Interesting.

    My Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition, published by Ignatius Press, approved by Richard Cardinal Cushing in 1965, reads: “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsman and fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.”

    My New American Bible, Revised Edition, published by World Catholic
    Press, translates Romans 16:7 as follows: “Greet Andonicus & Junia,
    my relatives and my fellow prisoners; they are prominent among the
    apostles, and they were in Christ before me.” It was approved by JP II in 1970.

    So the more recent Catholic Biblical translations have reversed course, and recognize Junia. John Chrysostom is smiling.

  • Tricksterson

    That’s surprising since the whole “women can’t become priests” argument rests on the idea that there were no female apostles.  Course if you press them they’ll say that among the original Apostles which is probably why they tried to paint Mary Magdalene as a whore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Cule/100001621659800 Michael Cule

    Being the blashemous and heretical geek that I am, I created for one of my Role-Playing Games an alternate history version of Christianity in which it was Mary Magdalene who was chosen to replace Judas among the Apostles. (It wasn’t the Apostles’ idea: they all wrote down men’s names to be drawn from the hat. When they tried the draw the third time and Peter found Mary’s name on a slip written in his own handwriting, they finally took the hint.)

    And in that universe the doctrine that women can’t be priests and bishops is called the Masculinist Heresy.

    And lo, the Slactivist has shown me the Masculinist Heresy in action in the real world. Surely the Lord moves in mysterious and downright humorous ways…

  • Anonymous

    Interesting that the KJV has Junia but the NIV has Junias. Wow.

  • Michael Pullmann

    My Thompson Chain-Reference NIV has “Junias.” But it also has, a few verses down, “Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord … my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord …”, the mother of “great Rufus … who has been a mother to me too”, and “Julia, Nereus and his sister”. And above the Junias verse, there’s “our sister Phoebe”, “Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus”, and “Mary, who worked very hard for you”. So now I don’t know what to think.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    My Thompson Chain-Reference NIV has “Junias.” But it also has, a few verses down, “Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord … my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord …”, the mother of “great Rufus … who has been a mother to me too”, and “Julia, Nereus and his sister”. And above the Junias verse, there’s “our sister Phoebe”, “Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus”, and “Mary, who worked very hard for you”. So now I don’t know what to think.

    Patriarchy supporters have no qualms about women working hard for the church, especially as churches would probably fall apart otherwise. It’s the idea of a woman being named as an apostle that gets their tighty-whities in a twist.

  • Mary Kaye

    This is not Romans 16:17 but Romans 16:7.

    On the translation-comparison page where I found this out there are 9 Junia and 9 Junias translations.  And a couple of scholarly things explaining why she had to be a guy.  Most seem to hinge on “kinsman”.  I have no idea if that word is gendered in the original language–does anyone here?

  • John Small Berries

    This page of commentaries contains the notation that “As the word συγγενεις signifies
    relatives, whether male or female, and as Junia may probably be the name
    of a woman, the wife of Andronicus, it would be better to say relatives
    than kinsmen.”

    Some of the other commentaries contain some truly Herculean attempts to avoid concluding that Paul was writing of a woman – or, at the very least, cast doubt upon the conclusion.

    My favorite was “Junia-or, as it might be, “Junias,” a contracted form of “Junianus”; in this case, it is a man’s name.” (Though it did allow that it was “more probable” that “the person meant was no doubt either the wife or the sister of Andronicus.”)

  • Joshua

    Late to the party, but just in case you read this and want more info that Tom Vinson’s reply below:

    Greek has grammatical gender sort of like French and many other modern European languages. The word for “kinsman” has grammatical male gender, or at least the article just before it does, but that does not imply anything about the gender of the people referred to.

    My lexicon has a feminine version of the word, meaning specifically female relatives, but notes that it was not in common usage and does not mention it being used in the Bible at all. I doubt it was part of Paul’s dialect. The one word was used for both genders.

    Even if in Greek grammar the gender had to agree with the gender of the people referred to, which it doesn’t, and if there was a feminine version of the word, which there wasn’t, the male form would have been used because the set of people referred to included a male. That’s how Greek worked – the set didn’t need to be exclusively male.

    So “kinsman” or “kinsmen” is just a wrong translation as it implies something about the gender of the people referred to in English that is simply not implied in Greek. “Relatives” is more accurate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Vinson/100002426710253 Tom Vinson

    Interesting that codex Sinaiiticus has “Iuriam”, still feminine, but Aramaic (like Mariam — Maria Magdalene, the Orthodox “apostle to the apostles”).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Vinson/100002426710253 Tom Vinson

    I usually post generically, but your bit on normal people vs. women made me notice that “anonymous” avatar dude.  He frankly looks too f_ing macho for me.  Maybe he would work for Clark Kent.
    By the way, “kinsmen” is plural so in Greek there’s only one form covering both genders.

  • Anonymous

    Now I’m left wondering if maybe it really was Adam and Steve, and some later busybody swapped that around too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=687121933 Carrie Looney

    You made my evening, Vermic.

    Ever since the last post, I’m seeing that generic Disqus avatar as a butch woman. I like it better now.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Now I’m left wondering if maybe it really was Adam and Steve, and some later busybody swapped that around too.

    It’s Adam and Eve, not Abel and Eve!

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It’s not in all translations. Both of my bibles (NKJV and NAB) show the correct name.

    When I first heard about this years ago the speaker said that the American bishops insisted that the name be masculinised in copies of some version or other sold in the US, but didn’t have power to enforce the same elsewhere. Don’t have a reference for this, though, so I don’t know if it’s true.

  • http://twitter.com/WayofCats WayofCats

    This is so awesome to hear! One of the things I left my original church over was the way women were shunted aside to the scut work, and marginalized away from leadership roles.

  • friendly reader

    The NRSV* (my preferred choice, though generally in the NOAB** form) goes with Junia, with a footnote that later texts changed this to Junias.

    *New Revised Standard Version: updates language and tweeks the translation of the RSV. Has the advantage of being translated by an interdenominational panel on the NT and an inter-religious panel on the HB, plus many footnotes noting textual differences.
    **New Oxford Annotated Bible: half of every page is footnotes on translation, parallel passages, and historical context. Sometimes argues that the NRSV picked the wrong text to use. Fun for religious studies nerds!

  • http://from1angle.wordpress.com emilyperson

    I’ve got the Catholic Youth Bible they gave us all in Catechism class, and a NIV that’s missing a few pages but I picked up for free. I’ll have to see if I can pick up one of those. They sound interesting.

  • Anonymous

    I used the New Oxford Annotated in my classes. They weren’t actually religious classes, but the professor was part of the Religious Studies department, so that’s the version he wanted to use. Such a pain to carry around all day, but the notes are really helpful. 

    The Gideon’s were on campus one day handing out their little Bibles. When they offered me one, I was like, uh, I’m good for now! 

  • Anonymous

    Well, my 1989 edition Revised English/Oxford Annotated Bible has the correct spelling. Not that I’m terribly surprised — the REB seems to have been translated and written in such a manner as to minimize the taint of political and misogynist influence(s) better than most other versions.

  • Anonymous

    Stuff like this is so upsetting to the “BIBLE IS LITERAL!” crowd for the very simple reason that it serves as a visceral example of how it’s *not*. If her name could get edited into a him, why not others? Who’s to say, for instance, that certain verses didn’t get pulled out? Or that at one point in history there wasn’t something like the Conservative Bible Project, whereby they excise all the stuff that’s socially uncomfortable to them?

    I’ll remember this next time I find myself arguing with someone who’s convinced the Bible is the “literal” truth. It should make for an… interesting discussing. Especially when you start hitting them with their own favorite books (I make a habit of using Exodus and Leviticus to support abortion, finally being able to use Paul to support gender equality would be awesome).

  • Anonymous

    If her name could get edited into a him, why not others? Who’s to say, for instance, that certain verses didn’t get pulled out?

    Wow, that’s ignorant. You know there is an entire field of biblical scholarship, right? Like the two books Fred cites in this very post, building on the work of more ancient manuscripts and secondary references than any other text of comparable antiquity. We know an awful lot about who thought which verses were dubious, who excised what, etc. starting in the 2nd century. Let me check my “Lost Books of the Bible” set on the shelf here. Yep, still convinced of the inerrancy of scripture.

    Now, many scholars believe the books that would later become the Bible were substantially altered or even written as part of the creation of the early church, not assembled from eyewitness accounts. That’s nothing like the Conservative Bible Project, though; it’s more like the dueling political biographies that appear every election season.

  • Anonymous

    I believe Enigma’s point was that literalists would have a hard time with this idea.  You know, the kinds of people who believe that every word of the Bible has always meant and implied exactly what the KJV of it means and implies, and that there could never possibly have been a change in the wording of the Bible because, to them, that’s what “infallibility” means.

  • Anonymous

    I believe Enigma’s point was that literalists would have a hard time with this idea.  You know, the kinds of people who believe that every word of the Bible has always meant and implied exactly what the KJV of it means and implies, and that there could never possibly have been a change in the wording of the Bible because, to them, that’s what “infallibility” means.

  • The Elephant’s Child

     No need to be rude; a lot of people aren’t aware that there’s a whole history of the Bible itself. Unfortunate, but articles like this one are starting to correct that. 

    And it’s not just that the Gospels aren’t eyewitnesses accounts, there’s a fair bit of doubt that the early church was anything like what we have today, the current one being mostly based on Paul.

  • Kat-attack

    I’m interested to know which passages in Exodus and Leviticus you use to support abortion. As someone who’s pro-choice, it would be helpful to know.

  • Guest-again

    Blame Luther –
    (At least don’t blame him for my less than perfectly strict translation, nor for what is likely to be poor formatting of the original text)

    It has been proven that Junias (accusative) could only be a woman, and that all of our Bible translations are incorrect. The arguments:

    A Greek male name Junias (nominative) is unknown from the classic to modern period. The female name Junia (nominative) is well documented, and was apparently a common/frequent name.

    All writers (commentators) of the old church treated IOYNIAN as a female name, such as John Chrysostom (3rd/4th century): ‘How great the wisdom this woman must have had, that she was found worthy of the title apostle.

    First in the 13th century were the apostles Andronicus and Junias described as ‘praiseworthy men.’

    With Luther’s translation, the ‘sex conversion’ was perfect. A woman – Junia – as apostle? – unthinkable.’ (Original text below)

    Interestingly, the German speaking author says that the English speaking world is considerably better in this area – which is actually unsurprising, since it seems like the King James Bible got this right – but then, the KJV is a masterwork from the middle of the broad period that brought us Shakespeare and Milton.

    ‘Es wurde nachgewiesen, dass dieser Junias (Akkusativ) nur eine Frau sein konnte und dass alle unsere Bibelübersetzungen falsch übersetzen. Die Argumente:

    Ein griechischer Männername Junias (Nominativ) ist für die Antike bis heute nirgendwo nachzuweisen. Der Frauenname Junia (Nominativ) ist gut belegt und war offensichtlich ein häufiger Name. Alle Schriftinterpreten der alten Kirche
    deuten IOYNIAN als Frauennamen z.B. Johannes Chrysostomos (3./4. Jh.):
    »Wie groß muss doch die Weisheit dieser Frau gewesen sein, dass sie für
    den Titel Apostel würdig gefunden wurde.« Erst im 13. Jh. werden die beiden Apostel Andronikus und Junias als »ehrenwerte Männer« bezeichnet.

    Mit der Bibelübersetzung Luthers wurde die »Geschlechtsumwandlung« perfekt. Eine Frau – Junia – als Apostel: undenkbar!’
    http://www.relilex.de/artikel.php?id=68805

  • Anonymous

    It’s comforting to see my preferred translation (ESV) has “Junia” here, with a footnote for “Junias.” In any case, even the Junias versions have references to the many other female leaders of the early church.

  • P J Evans

    Add the New English Bible to the list of translations with ‘Junias’.
    The New RSV has ‘Junia’, though.

  • Veylon

    I’ve got a NIV translation that has Junias, but a side note makes clear that this Junias is female. It also describes her and Andronicus as relatives, not kinsmen.

  • Anonymous

    with the exception of a female-female one (Tryphaena and Tryphosa, probably sister Sisters)

    My understanding is that there’s no actual justification for that ‘probably sisters’ bit, other than the assumption that they couldn’t possibly be a same-sex couple, because … you know, because

  • Jenny Islander

    I think the assumption is based on the names being almost but not exactly identical.  This may be reading modern practices into an ancient text or not.

  • ajay

     Similar names, maybe?

  • John Mark Ockerbloom

    The Vulgate (the standard Latin Bible of the Catholic Church) has “Iuniam” (feminine accusative).  The original 16th century Rheims translation has “Julia” (with “Junia” given as an alternate reading in a side-note– female either way in any case.)  The later “Douay-Rheims” Bibles more commonly seen today were actually revised significantly, particularly by Bishop Challoner in the 18th century.  And as has already been noted above, the King James Version, the long-used Bible of the Church of England and many other Protestant denominations, uses “Junia” as well.

    So, at least based on the examples above, the change appears to be mainly in translations made in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, well after the Middle Ages or the Bibles that shaped the early modern church.  Or are there earlier examples that masculinized the name?

     

  • vsm

    See Guest-again’s post above. English and Latin translations may have kept her female longer, but Luther’s German translation apparently used Junias, as did all Finnish translations until 1992, overseen by the Lutheran church. Interestingly, the 1703 Swedish translation, again ordered by the Lutheran church (the oldest Swedish translation available on the Internet) speaks of Junia, while the next “official” translation, published in 1917, speaks of Junias.

    Anyway, since Bible translating didn’t really become a big thing until the Reformation, using translations is not necessarily a good way to date Junia’s treatment by Christian writers. Again, looking at Guest-again’s post, it appears Junias first appeared in the 13th century.

  • Anonymous

    “Iuniam” (feminine accusative)

    I think it’s a bit more complicated than that…

    Most Latin “1st declension” words ending in -a are grammatically feminine and most such names are female, e.g. “Iunia”; but there are exceptions, such as Publicola, Caracalla, Caligula, who are definitely blokes, but form their accusative in -am just the same. In Greek, the equivalent noun form distinguished grammatically masculine words and male names by adding an “s” in the nominative case, but the related inflections were the same for both genders/sexes; and when Greek words were borrowed into Latin, they followed the Latin form, except that they commonly retained the nominative in -as.

    tl;dr: “Iuniam” isn’t forced to be feminine just because it looks like “mensa”. I’m pretty sure Paul’s friend was a woman, but that’s not why.

  • Anonymous

    A Greek name ’Ιουνία (Iunia) looks quite unlikely at first, in the sense that Greek names were generally meaningful, and that doesn’t mean anything in Greek. On the other hand, it does look a lot like the feminine form of the Roman Gens Junia (the noble tribe of which Brutus, for example, was a member). It was quite common for people to adopt the name of their patrons – the former owners of freed slaves, or just benefactors in general – in antiquity, so the odds are that somebody in Junia’s family background had owed one to a member of Gens Junia and had therefore taken their name.

    But the masculine form of that name wouldn’t be ’Ιουνίας (Iunias), it would be ’Ιουνίος (Iunios), the Greek equivalent of Latin Iunius/Junius. You can’t get to Junias by any plausible route. ’Ιουνία, on the other hand, would be absolutely standard transliteration of the feminine form. She’s a woman – a woman whose grandpa was done a big favour by some Roman called Junius.

  • Dan Audy

    Right now I’m reading ‘Misquoting Jesus’ which is a really great laymans introduction to textual analysis of the Bible.  It hasn’t covered Junia yet but I’m hoping it will show up later.

  • donna

    My revised standard version, revised 1952, says Junias

  • The Elephant’s Child

    I’m not comfortable with the two books cited, Junia Is Not Alone by Scot McKnight and What Paul Meant by Garry Wills.  This is because both state, with no doubt, that Junia was an apostle.

    Instead, in all but a few cases I’ve come across – and there are many – Junia is not an apostle but rather she and Andronicus were known to the other apostles; were regarded by them as worthy of their affection and confidence; were distinguished in Jerusalem among the early Christians; honored with the friendship of the other apostles; etc.  This includes the phrase being translated as “Among the apostles”

    Which is *not* an argument against the rest, and all translation I’ve done has it being Junia. It’s that there are better, perhaps less impassioned, works. (I’ll always go for carefully reasoned over impassioned: the passion may be totally valid but careful reasoning is far more convincing.)

  • Karchibald

    OK I have an honest question.
    Reading this purely in it’s English translation, it COULD be read that Junia is highly regarded among the apostles, but not necessarily one herself, to my eyes.  Let me put it this way:  Greet Barack Obama who is of note among the Unions.  Not to say that he is a MEMBER of the Unions, merely that he of high regard among the Unions.

    I’m honestly not casting my lot one way or another here, but could it possibly be read this way in the original, or just in my careless reading of the English?

  • Lunch Meat

    It’s possible to translate it that way, as far as I know. Greek prepositions are notoriously flexible. It still denotes a woman who had enough respect, regard and authority with the apostles that translators had to pretend she didn’t exist.

  • Monica Swanson

    The footnote in my KJV claims that a better translation would be “well known to the apostles” and that “Andronicus and Junia (a woman) were not apostles, but were well known among them.” Of course, other footnotes claim that Turbo-Jesus will defeat Satan in an epic battle and rule the Earth for a thousand years.


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