Michael Burer Enters the Junia Debate to Support the Article He Wrote with Dan Wallace

Michael Burer Enters the Junia Debate to Support the Article He Wrote with Dan Wallace December 19, 2006
In the comments section of some of the Wayne Grudem interview posts, an article by Wallace and Burer on Junia the apostle came under fire. Dr. Burer has now emailed me and asked me to publish this response, which he has written and which Dan Wallace has seen and approved.

Specific posts where this issue is discussed on this blog are:

Further information is available in the original paper (M. H. Burer and D. B. Wallace, “Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Re-examination of Romans 16:7“, NTS 47 (2001): 76-91. The NET Bible footnotes (as they very frequently do) have a helpful brief description of this controversy over Junia, and there is an online article by Dan Wallace on this issue.

The point at stake is essentially whether it is appropriate to translate Romans 16:7 as the ESV does: “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles”, or as the NIV does: “. . . they are outstanding among the apostles”.

This verse is used as a critical argument by some egalitarians because they believe that if Junia was a woman, and if she was an apostle (incidentally, this word may just mean messengers here) then that verse may be used to counteract some of the other verses which speak to male leadership.

Now this is, of course, an argument fraught with difficulty, even if it is allowed to stand up, since we should not use one verse of the Bible to neutralise another. Nonetheless, it is helpful for us to understand why many scholars do not even believe this verse says what the NIV translated it as. So please bear with Dr. Burer as he explains the technical details of the evidence which lies behind the kind of translation the ESV provides.

Additional Notes on Psalms of Solomon 2:6

Michael Burer

Because of the recent discussion surrounding our citation of Ps. Sol. 2:6, I would like to make a quick response. At issue here is whether ἐπισήμῳ should be taken as an adjective or as a noun. In our initial analysis in the NTS article, we took it to be an adjective and thus fitting our hypothesis that ἐπίσημος plus (ἐν plus) dative personal adjunct should be best understood as meaning “well known to . . .” as opposed to “distinguished among . . .” What I wish to offer here is a quick defense of our interpretation of this occurrence of the word as an adjective, not a noun. The text of Ps. Sol. 2:6 reads as follows (I have given an alternate translation for the disputed line):

οἱ υἱοὶ καὶ αἱ θυγατέρες ἐν αἰχμαλωσίᾳ πονηρᾷ ἐν σφραγῖδι ὁ τράχηλος αὐτῶν
ἐν ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν

the sons and the daughters in painful captivity, their neck in a seal,
in (a place) visible/notable/prominent/infamous among the gentiles
or: with a mark among the gentiles

There are two ways to understand ἐπισήμῳ in Ps.Sol. 2:6. It can either be the neuter dative form of the noun, ἐπίσημον, meaning “(distinguishing) mark” or the like, or the masculine dative form of the adjective, ἐπίσημος. At first blush the former seems to be correct based on the fact that the word ἐπισήμῳ is preceded by the preposition ἐν, which would imply a noun form following it. There is nothing in the verse which discounts this as a possibility; at issue is whether this is the only possibility.

Comparison of this construction with other uses of ἐν plus a form of ἐπίσημος leads to the conclusion that the noun form is not used here. Take, for example, the only other occurrence of ἐπίσημος in this text, Ps. Sol. 17:30:

καὶ ἕξει λαοὺς ἐθνῶν δουλεύειν αὐτῷ ὑπὸ τὸν ζυγὸν αὐτοῦ
καὶ τὸν κύριον δοξάσει ἐν ἐπισήμῳ πάσης τῆς γῆς
καὶ καθαριεῖ Ιερουσαλημ ἐν ἁγιασμῷ ὡς καὶ τὸ ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς

And he will have gentile nations serve him under his yoke
and he will glorify the Lord in (a place) visible from the whole earth
and he will cleanse Jerusalem to be as holy as she was from the beginning (literally, he will cleanse Jerusalem with sanctification as even [at] the beginning)

If the logic of arguing for ἐπισήμῳ as a noun in 2:6 is valid based on the fact that it is preceded by ἐν, then the same would need to be true here, but that would lead to a reading that is almost nonsensical: “he will glorify the Lord with a mark of all the earth.” A much more logical way to take this construction is as a reference to a place with the noun τόπος elided [Ed. – that is, left out, but assumed in the expression]: “he will glorify the Lord in a prominent [place] of the earth,” that is, Jerusalem. This is the way the standard translations render Ps. Sol. 17.30: See R. B. Wright, “in (a place) prominent (above) the whole earth” (Charlesworth, p. 667); G. Buchanan Gray, “in a place to be seen (of) all the earth” (R. H. Charles, II, p. 650); L. Brenton, “a place visible from the whole earth.” This use is also confirmed by our examination of the papyri. Let me cite that section from our original article here:

P.Oxy. 1408 speaks of “the most important [places] of the nomes” (τοῖς ἐπισημοτάτοις τῶν νομῶν). [Ed. – A “nome” was a province in Egypt.] In this text that which is ἐπίσημος is a part of the nome; the genitive is used to indicate this. On two other occasions this same idiom occurs, each time with a genitive modifier: τοῖς ἐπισημοτάτοις τόποις τ[ῶ]ν κωμ[

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