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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Junia, the apostle: Part 12

Before starting this study I assumed that the statement about Andronicus and Junia was ambiguous. Now I am not too sure. I am inclining toward accepting that it really does mean they were apostles. However, I am surprised that Wallace and Burer do not accept an ambiguous meaning.

This surprises me because they may have put forward this hypothesis without thinking through what is actually found in the Greek scriptures.
    As a working hypothesis, we would suggest the following. Since a noun in the genitive is typically used with comparative adjectives, we might expect
    such with an implied comparison too. Thus, if in Rom. 16:7 Paul meant to say that Andronicus and Junia were outstanding among the apostles, we might have expected him to use the genitive. On the other hand, if an elative force is suggested—i.e., where no comparison is even hinted at—we might expect en + the dative. It should be noted that this is merely a working hypothesis, and one that is falsifiable.
But here is an example of a comparative with en + dative. I had forgotten this one last week.
    ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐχ οὕτως ἀλλ' ὁ μείζων ἐν ὑμῖν γινέσθω ὡς ὁ νεώτερος καὶ ὁ ἡγούμενος ὡς ὁ διακονῶν

    But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. ESV Luke 22:26
Does this example falsify the hypothesis?

Update: When I first wrote this short post, I did not make it clear that this verse uses the comparative in Greek, rather than the superlative. Here it is literally,
    ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐχ οὕτως ἀλλ' ὁ μείζων ἐν ὑμῖν γινέσθω ὡς ὁ νεώτερος καὶ ὁ ἡγούμενος ὡς ὁ διακονῶν

    With you then not so, but let the greater among you become as the younger, and the one who rules as the one who serves. (my trans.)
So it is quite normal to use a comparative adjective with en + dative, and in that case, term A will be a member of the group in term B. The meaning is inclusive. So Andronicus and Junia would be outstanding among the apostles in the same way, members of the group. That is the intuitive reading.

Can anyone suggest how Wallace and Burer were viewing this matter in an alternative light, in order to come up with their hypothesis.



At Thu Nov 09, 03:26:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Am I right in suggesting, from my rather distant memory of Greek grammar, that ἤ (that is, eta with smooth breathing and acute accent) or the genitive is used, like English "than", to indicate a comparative sense (usually with a comparative form of the adjective, but not always, see Matthew 18:9), but ἐν en is used with the superlative? If so, ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις would not mean "more prominent than other apostles", as it might with the genitive, but perhaps "the most prominent of the apostles". But Wallace and Burer don't seem to recognise the distinction between these two meanings.

Some other examples for you of certainly inclusive ἐν in implied comparisons:

Εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξίν (Luke 1:42)
ποία ἐντολὴ μεγάλη ἐν τῷ νόμῳ; (Matthew 22:36)

At Thu Nov 09, 09:32:00 AM, Blogger codepoke said...

I am, admittedly, friendly to your hypothesis, but I have to say that your analysis is compelling. I have always wondered how this verse should be taken, but you really have closed the door on any translation other than, "among."

Thank you.

Now comes the comparison to other scriptures?

At Fri Nov 10, 12:10:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I am not finished yet. There are several more posts to finish with Wallace and Burer's article. I don't want to leave a stone unturned.

Apostles will have to wait.

At Sat Nov 11, 06:06:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Thanks for the update. I think I was taking Luke 22:26, as ESV does, as an example of the comparative used as a superlative. Thus, comparative with genitive or with ἤ (eta with smooth breathing and acute accent) has a comparative and exclusive meaning ("more than"), whereas comparative with ἐν (en) has a superlative and inclusive meaning ("most of"). The meaning in Luke 22:26 is certainly inclusive, but may be comparative, the greater being compared with the lesser, or superlative as KJV, ESV and TNIV take it.

Of course ἐπίσημοι in Romans 16:7 is neither comparative nor superlative, so in the absence of genitive or ἤ there is no reason to understand it as comparative and exclusive. But then I don't think anyone has actually tried to claim a comparative sense, "more notable than the apostles". However, that does seem to be the implicit alternative interpretation which is set up as a "straw man" and then falsified in some of Wallace and Gromit's, sorry ;-), Wallace and Burer's rather confused arguments.

At Sun Nov 12, 06:36:00 AM, Blogger teknomom said...

Lol, you're not the only one who's been thinking "Wallace and Gromit" all this time :-)

And I'm thoroughly enjoying this series. Comps always accuse egals of poor research or trying to re-interpret scriptures, but this clearly shows that it is the comp view which attempts to explain away something.

When the series is done, I'm hoping we can get it all in one document that can be downloaded, or put up where it can be easily linked to. It would be a great time saver when encountering the next ad hominem volley.

Thanks for the series, Suzanne!

At Sun Nov 12, 10:28:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

It needs a bit of editing. I am glad you are not bored with all this. Once I got into it, I felt I needed to do a thorough job.


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