Junia, the Apostle: Part 9
I hope that in my previous post I gave reasonable examples as to why those who read Greek would automatically understand that en tois apostolois means 'among the apostles', as in 'one of them'. I am not yet prepared to discuss the meaning of apostle.
My focus is on the fact that Wallace, who has written a Greek grammar, supports a translation that is not intuitive to readers of Greek. It wasn't intuitive for the church fathers and it is not intuitive now. That Andronicus and Junia were among the apostles is simply and by far the most obvious translation for Romans 16:7.
However, I admit that Wallace and Burer are able to supply at least one example of another option for writing 'prominent among' in Greek. In this post I will provide some of their examples from biblical and patristic Greek along with their preliminary conclusions.
- Ελεαζαρος δέ τις ἀνὴρ ἐπίσημος τῶν ἀπὸ τῆς χώρας ἱερέων, 3 Macc. 6:1
Eleazar, a man prominent among the priests of the country.
- When a comparative notion is seen, that to which ἐπίσημος is compared is frequently, if not usually, put in the genitive case.
I have decided to exclude the next few examples, not considered highly relevant by W & B in any case, the second one, because episemon is a noun and not an adjective; and the third one, because the construction ek + genitive is used. Neither of these examples provide a grammatical parallel. The fourth example supports the reading of 'prominent among' but the parallel has been considered 'inexact' by Wallace and Burer because it is impersonal, that is, it refers to things not to people. So they toss it out.
The fifth example is more interesting and is supplied by W & B as a close parallel to Romans 16:7.
- οἱ υἱοὶ καὶ αἱ θυγατέρες ἐν αἰχμαλωσίᾳ πονηρᾷ, ἐν σφραγῖδι ὁ τράχηλος αὐτῶν, ἐν ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν
The sons and daughters were in harsh activity
their neck in a seal, with a mark among the nations
Psalm of Solomon 6:2 NETS
However, in 2 out of 5 of their examples, the adjective episemos is, in fact the noun episemon, so it cannot have a substantival adjunct of any kind. That does not bother Wallace and Burer. In fact, they sum up this example by saying,
- The parallels include (a) people as the referent of the adjective episemos, (b) followed by en plus the dative plural, (c) the dative plural referring to people as well.
One of the reasons for this error is that they only quote a part of this verse ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, leaving out the preposition. It is hard to tell if they ever read the context. I read in the footnotes that they had someone else do the research, and "isolate the relevant constructions" and then they drew conclusions.
They were also working from a very inexact English translation of this verse. So, in fact, it turns out that they weren't working from a Greek text at all but from the English translation. Read their article to see what happened.
As a conclusion to this section, they write,
- To sum up the evidence of biblical and patristic Greek: Although the inclusive view is aided in some impersonal constructions that involve en plus the dative, every instance of personal inclusiveness used a genitive rather than en. On the other hand, every instance of en plus personal nouns supported the exclusive view, with Pss. Sol. 2:6 providing a very close parallel to Rom. 16:7.
Okay, this is going to be hard to believe, but, I just checked and the example from Psalm of Solomon actually made it into the notes for the NET Bible. I wouldn't even make much of an fuss about a woman being an apostle, (not my interest) but I sure feel twitchy about Bible translators who can't differentiate between a noun and an adjective.
And above all, the false dichotomy of elative and comparative senses for episemos is in the NET Bible notes as well. So the translators can't use a lexicon properly either. Shades of the Colorado Springs Guidelines. I had honestly expected more of the NET Bible.
I would like to acknowledge the Online Critical Pseudepigrapha for quotes used in this post.