Junia, the Apostle: Part 2
This is from Lampe in the Anchor Bible Dictionary
- JUNIAS (PERSON) [Gk Iounia]. The only woman who is called an “apostle” in the NT (Rom 16:7). She was born a Jew, and is closely associated to Andronicus. Her name was the Lat name of the gens Junia. Women were often called by the name of their gens without cognomen (similar examples are Mary [Rom 16:6] and Julia [Rom 16:15]). Two groups carried the name of the gens Junia: the noble members of the famous gens, and the freed(wo)men of the gens with their descendants. The second group outnumbered the first.
The chances therefore are that the Christian Junia was a freed slave of the gens. Either way, she probably had Roman citizenship: slave masters with famous gens names like “Junius/ia” possessed Roman citizenship and in most cases passed it on to their slaves on the occasion of their emancipation; the freed slaves bequeathed the gens name and the citizenship to their freeborn children.
Without exception, the Church Fathers in late antiquity identified Andronicus’ partner in Rom 16:7 as a woman, as did minuscule 33 in the 9th century which records iounia with an acute accent. Only later medieval copyists of Rom 16:7 could not imagine a woman being an apostle and wrote the masculine name “Junias.” This latter name did not exist in antiquity; its explanation as a Greek abbreviation of the Latin name “Junianus” is unlikely.
- John Chrysostom was not alone in the ancient church in taking the name to be feminine. The earliest commentator on Romans 16:7, Origen of Alexandria (e. 185-253/54), took the name to be feminine (Junta or Julia, which is a textual variant), as did Jerome (340/50-419/20), Hatto of Vercelli (924-961), Theophylact (c.1050-c.1108), and Peter Abelard (1079-1142). In fact, to the best of my knowledge, no commentator on the text until Aegidius of Rome (1245-1316) took the name to be masculine.
I was able to read Wallace and Burer's article "Was Junia really an Apostle" on the internet some time ago. Unfortunately I cannot find it now. If anyone has a copy and can confirm or correct anything reference I make to their article that would be much appreciated. My understanding is that these authors made a considerable effort to prove that the Greek translates into English as 'known to the apostles' for the simple reason that modern scholarship has reached a consenus that Junia was indeed a woman.