Junia: the Apostle: Part 8
- Second, the key to determining the meaning of the term in any given passage is both the general context and the specific collocation of this word with its adjuncts. Hence, we turn to the ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις. 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. 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 τῶν ἀποστόλων.
On the other hand, if an elative force is suggested—i.e., where no comparison is even hinted at—we might expect ἐν + the dative.
I decided to test out this hyposthesis and find some examples formed with the pattern
- term A + en + term B (dative)
- καὶ σύ Βηθλέεμ γῆ Ἰούδα οὐδαμῶς ἐλαχίστη εἶ ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν Ἰούδα Matt. 2:6
'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; ESV
ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν οὐκ ἐγήγερται ἐν γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν μείζων Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ ὁ δὲ μικρότερος ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν μείζων αὐτοῦ ἐστιν Matt. 11:11
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. ESV
εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξίν Luke 1:28
blessed art thou among women KJV
οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐνδεής τις ἦν ἐν αὐτοῖς Acts 4:34
There was not a needy person among them ESV
Ἰούδαν τὸν καλούμενον Βαρσαββᾶν καὶ Σιλᾶν ἄνδρας ἡγουμένους ἐν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς Acts 15:22
Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers ESV
αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς Romans 8:29
in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. ESV
καὶ προέκοπτον ἐν τῷ Ἰουδαϊσμῷ ὑπὲρ πολλοὺς συνηλικιώτας ἐν τῷ γένει μου Gal. 1:14
And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people ESV
πρεσβυτέρους οὖν ἐν ὑμῖν παρακαλῶ 1 Peter 5:1
So I exhort the elders among you ESV
I hope these examples demonstrate clearly that en + dative can most certainly be used when term A is a member of the group in term B, and, second, en + dative can, in fact, be used with a comparative or an implied comparative.
(This study is not exhaustive since I didn't use a software search.)
There are also many counter examples and I will discuss them in a future post. Wallace is correct if he is suggesting that the genitive might be used with a comparative, but it is not 'typical', it is simply one of the possible constructions. I presume that Wallace means that a genitive case would be used if the translation were to be 'more outstanding than the other apostles.'
It happens that both en + dative and the genitive can be used with comparative adjectives. This is a both/and situation, not an either/or situation. My examples don't prove much except that it is eminently possible for Andronicus and Junia to be members of a group of apostles.
However, I hope it is clear why en tois apostolois has been understood to mean 'among the apostles' as in 'members of the apostles' for 2000 years. In the past, software searches were NOT used, people just depended on the old-fashioned habit of reading Greek.
I wish to thank Zack Hubert and Bible Gateway for enabling me to copy in verses so easily from their sites.