Better Bibles Blog has moved. Read our last post, below, and then
click here if you are not redirected to our new location within 60 seconds.
Please Bookmark our new location and update blogrolls.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Junia, the Apostle: Part 9

Wallace and Burer comment that the inclusive view, the view that Junia was among the apostles, has not been supported by argument so much as by consensus.

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.
Here is an example which clearly proves that there is another way to say 'prominent among'. However, this one example only causes Wallace and Burer to tentatively state,

    When a comparative notion is seen, that to which ἐπίσημος is compared is frequently, if not usually, put in the genitive case.
So, the conclusion from this one example is highly qualified. There are, in fact, two ways to say 'prominent among.'

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
Wallace and Burer make a great deal out of the fact that they are only comparing "apples with apples", by saying that the 'substantival adjunct' should be personal. What they mean is that the adjective episemos should qualify a noun that refers to a person and not a thing. This is important to W & B.

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.
Obviously, in this example a) there is no adjective episemos, only the noun episemon, b) en is followed by the dative, and c) the dative plural refers to nations, not people. They have 1 out of 3 right.

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.
This paragraph is actually based on the evidence which I just presented. Why they have used the word 'every' when they mention one example, is beyond my comprehension. And the close parallel works for only one out of three criteria.

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.

    4 Comments:

    At Tue Nov 07, 01:44:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

    Well said, Suzanne.

    It is clear, indeed explicit in their words "As a working hypothesis" coming before "We now turn to the actual data", that Wallace and Burer presupposed the conclusion which fitted their pre-existing belief that a woman could not have been called an apostle. Yes, they do say that "this is merely a working hypothesis, and one that is falsifiable". But were they really prepared to allow it to be falsified? It seems to me that there is ample evidence to falsify their hypothesis, but that Wallace and Burer have chosen to present this evidence in a way which hides the falsification. I hope that Suzanne will be able to demonstrate this; she may want to refer to another paper which does a good job of this.

     
    At Tue Nov 07, 07:47:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

    Thanks Peter,

    There is still a lot to cover. I will have to take a break and publish an index and bibliography. That will be my next post.

     
    At Tue Nov 07, 09:39:00 AM, Blogger codepoke said...

    This is so educational. Thank you!

     
    At Sun May 27, 04:04:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

    The sons and daughters were in harsh activity
    their neck in a seal, with a mark among the nations


    This should read "in harsh captivity".

     

    Post a Comment

    Links to this post:

    Create a Link

    Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

    << Home