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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Junia, the Apostle:Part 3

From Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Reexamination of Romans 16:7

    The name ᾽Ιουνιαν can be accented in one of two ways: ᾽Ιουνίαν with an acute accent on the penult, which is feminine, or ᾽Ιουνιᾶν with a circumflex accent on the ultima, which is masculine. The majority of patristic commentators regard this as a feminine name.

    Origen seems to cite the name once as masculine and once as feminine, though the masculine is most likely a later corruption of his text. Although most commentators believe that the patristic evidence through the first twelve hundred years or so universally supports the feminine name, one patristic writer is inexplicably overlooked. Epiphanius (c. 315-403 CE), bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, mentions Junias in his Index discipulorum 125: (‘Junias, whom Paul also mentions, became bishop of Apameia of Syria’). That Junias is masculine here is evident from the masculine relative pronoun (ou-) following the name. Epiphanius’ reference is unusual in that he only indirectly alludes to Rom. 16:7, but adds additional information about Junias, perhaps preserving an independent tradition. However, Epiphanius’ testimony here ought not to be weighed too heavily, for he calls Prisca in the previous sentence a man, too!
So Wallace and Burer accept that the name is Junia, a woman, but they redraw the 'battle lines'. Instead they propose another strategy for disproving the apostleship of Junia, a grammatical one.

Please understand that I come from a non-hierarchical PB background and I will not be making a major case over the word 'apostle'. I will make a 'minor' case over the word 'apostle' instead. Just letting you know 'apostleship' is not the punchline in this series.


At Sun Oct 29, 09:36:00 PM, Blogger Alaska said...

Thanks for this series! :)

At Mon Oct 30, 09:52:00 AM, Blogger Bryan Riley said...

I really enjoyed reading through these. Coming from the background that only men could serve as pastors (and many who taught more restrictions than that), I only recently began looking critically at this issue. It has really been in the past 6 months that I have had a different view of the scripture. It was very easy to stop at the "plain language" of 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 11. But, I finally figured out that I struggled with jiving that plain language with so much of the rest of scripture, whether it was Genesis, Ephesians 4 and 5, Galatians, etc. I definitely still don't have a grip on it all, but, praise God we've got all eternity to begin to understand our heavenly Father.

At Mon Oct 30, 12:15:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I have been asked about my Plymouth Brethren background, so let me say that I do not attend a PB assembly now, but I am happy to say that it is how I was brought up.

Since that was my upbringing, I always feel uncomfortable with the idea of an ordained clergy, a church hierarchy and authority vested in an office. So, for me, 'apostolicity' will not be hierarchic. I will not propose that for Junia.

At Wed Nov 01, 04:42:00 PM, Blogger Kenny Pearce said...

Suzanne - I just got caught up on this series. I found the Chrysostome quote very interesting. For my own part, I am quite convinced that Junia was a woman, but not at all convinced that she was an apostle. The interpretation of the text seems to me to be basically that all the apostles talk about how great she is.

Someone asked about how Chrysostome's position impacts contemporary Eastern Orthodoxy and their doctrine on women in the priesthood. The answer seems to be "it doesn't." The Patriarchal Text (the official NT edition of the EOC, authorized by Constantinople) has the name accented as masculine. The text is available online from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America: Romans 16 is here.

At Wed Nov 01, 11:11:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

The interpretation of the text seems to me to be basically that all the apostles talk about how great she is.

Odd, Kenny, because en + dative was a very common way to say 'among' in the Bible. There are many examples.

'among the brothers', 'among those born of women', 'among you', and many more.

It was, in fact, the basic way to say 'among' and every translator and writer from the beginning up until Wallace and Burer, 1998, were convinced of this.

The Vamva translation uses μεταξυ, which I believe means 'among'. Why would Vamva, a Greek, translate this as 'among' if that was not the native Greek sense?

Anyway, the word επισημος does not mean 'well-known' either.

In fact, your assertion that the patriarchal text has the name accented as masculine is almost proof that the Greeks themselves consider that the text says 'among the apostles'. Why else would they bother to suggest a masculine Junias? Vamva, however, accents the name as feminine.

If you have more background or information, I would be interested in hearing it.

And, of course, I know that the orthodox church does not have women priests, nor is it likely too. But I have never heard any suggestion from any Greek source that the text could be translated 'to the apostles' instead of 'among the apostles'.

At Thu Nov 02, 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Kenny Pearce said...

It is clear that the literal translation is among. I regard this as indisputable. My claim is that the statement "so-and-so is outstanding among the apostles" needn't imply "so-and-so is one of the apostles." episemos originally meant "having a mark on it" and from this derived the meaning "notable, remarkable" (LSJ). The question here is one of how the prepositional phrase "among the apostles" is related to the rest of the sentence. Smythe (sects. 1639-1665) discusses three distinct uses of prepositions in Greek and notes in sect. 1645 that "It is often impossible to decide whether the preposition belongs to the verb or the noun" but notes that "when important words separate the prep.-adv. from the noun, the prep.-adv. is more properly regarded as belonging to the verb." Thus the preposition is to be seen as modifying either eisin or episemos. Because eisin is in this case the predicative "is" and not the existential "is," this doesn't seem to me to necessarily imply that they "are among the apostles," but seems that it could rather be taken as saying that the predication is taking place among the apostles, i.e. "who are considered among the apostles to be outstanding." This would make sense whether the preposition modifies eisin or episemos, and Smyth suggests that it is unlikely that it modifies oitines.

I grant that this is not the most natural reading of the text, but the way I see it we have three choices, if we wish to assume that Paul is consistent with himself and the author of all the NT books which bear his name:
(1) We can read this passing remark in a list of greetings in a slightly unnatural way, assuming that the original audience had the background knowledge necessary to make it unambiguous. (If the Andronicus and Junia were not apostles and the original readers knew this, then I suggest that they would probably read it the way I have described.)
(2) We can read in the otherwise unattested masculine name Junias, instead of the common feminine name Junia.
(3) We can read a number of passages in Paul's actual teaching (e.g. Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Timothy 2:12) in unnatural ways in order to read this remark in the straightforward way.

Now you (Suzanne) do not, I think, believe the readings involved in (3) to be unnatural to the texts, so that from where you are sitting this will doubtless appear to be the best option. However, I do see these readings as being unnatural, so that I think (1) is the best option, especially since I think that this reading is only slightly strange. In other words, it is my assertion that my position is justifiable within the context of my total view of Scripture, as yours is within yours, so that our disagreement is outside the scope of this particular discussion.

If, however, you think the reading I am proposing is utterly indefensible rather than merely somewhat unnatural, then there is need for further discussion of this particular verse in this context.

For the record, I don't think that the opinions of the scholars who put together the Patrarchal text in 1904 are particularly relevant here, except as a measure of the opinion of leading EOC scholars in 1904. I brought it up because someone asked. The fact that they were native speakers of modern Greek doesn't seem to me to make them more authoritative than other scholars, any more than speaking Italian makes one a more authoritative source on classical Latin.

At Thu Nov 02, 05:12:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


I misunderstood you before. Thanks for clearing that up. I hope to show that it is much more likely that the reading is 'among' meaning 'one of'.

However, you rightly show that either we read authentein as something we don't know because it is a hapax legomenon, or epistemoi en tois apostolois - or both.

Kenny, let's continue looking at the Greek grammar for few more posts before worrying about the doctrine.

Anyway it is great to have you back with us, especially since my own son has just left to spend the next 5 years in Europe. Going by your picture, you two could be twins!

At Thu Nov 02, 10:42:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I decided to jump into the concept of apostleship after all. Not from a doctrinal standpoint but rather from an historical and cultural perspective. Back to grammar later.

At Sat Nov 04, 09:02:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I think the nature of what it means for Junia to have been an apostle is actually crucial. After all, it just has no bearing on complementarianism and egalitarianism if it turns out that someone greeted at the ends of Paul's letters was a missionary, which is what the word translated "apostle" means. It's true that some of these missionaries were treated in a way that places them as the ones who passed down the teachings of Christ in a particularly authoritative way, but we have lists of those men. They were the 12, and Paul tells us that he was added to their ranks as someone joining the party late, which indicates that he didn't think it would be a continuing process of adding people in such a way. Junia isn't in any of those lists, so it strikes me as fairly reasonable to take her being called an apostle as equivalent to recognizing that she had been sent to share her faith in other locations with unbelievers. It then becomes completely irrelevant to complementarianism and egalitarianism.

At Sat Nov 04, 10:12:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

It then becomes completely irrelevant to complementarianism and egalitarianism.


My point really is, Jeremy, why do complementarians have to have their own Bible version sprinkled with dubious translations from the Greek. What is wrong with the old fachioned 'of note among the apostles'. The ESV is misleading to say the least.

AND, you know, it gets my goat, that these men, who write these peculiar articles about Greek grammar, would not let a women teach Greek in a seminary. That is truly bizarre. If you are going to deny women access, you should at least be as competent as a woman at Greek. Otherwise it gives the impression that you simply don't want to know the truth.

At Sat Nov 04, 03:31:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Jeremy, where does Paul say that he was added to the ranks of the Twelve, that he was somehow a more authoritative apostle than Barnabas, Andronicus and Junia who are also named as apostles?

At Sun Nov 05, 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Suzanne, complementarians don't have their own Bible version. As I've said many times, your treatment of the ESV as if it's the complementarian Bible version is extremely unfair. Your protests to the contrary have done no more than convince me that a few people may have wanted a translation like the ESV for complementarian reasons while also wanting a translation like the ESV for many other reasons. It does not show that these are the only reasons behind these people's support for the ESV, and it doesn't show that the people behind the ESV as a whole group intended it to be what it is for merely these reasons.

I've never read a complementarian defense of women not teaching in seminaries. I know of several complementarian women who themselves teach in seminaries, in fact. I'm sure there are complementarians who frown on this, but the primary complementarian works (including the big fat one put out the CBMW and edited by Piper and Grudem, which does engage in the indefensible application of complementarian gender roles to the secular marketplace) don't seem to me to make this an issue at all. It's the authoritative teaching of the word of God by local congregations that complementarians focus on, in my experience. Even those who have hesitations about a woman teaching Old Testament, New Testament, or theology are not going to have trouble with a woman teaching Greek, homiletics, missions, or church history. There are some officially complementarian seminaries that do exactly that, and there are others who have women even teaching biblical studies and theology classes.

Peter, I was thinking of his statement of his being a latecomer to the 12 where he treats himself as being abnormally born in I Cor 15:8-9. He speaks of himself as "last of all" in exactly the context when he refers to himself as the least of all the apostles. He's not least because he's last but because he persecuted the church, but the fact that he is an apostle seems to me to be tied here to his being the last to witness a resurrection appearance of Christ. It seems to me as if Paul is treating himself as one of the 12 though not one of the 12 here, and I don't think he would have said the same of Timothy, Silas, or other traveling missionaries who are small-a apostles. It's true that this is not an absolute argument, but I think this is the most reasonable explanation of what he was saying.

At Mon Nov 06, 02:35:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Jeremy claimed that "complementarians don't have their own Bible version". Well then, what is ESV? The project was started by a group including several militant complementarians (read, militant oppressors of women - you agree that some of what they write is "indefensible"), with one of its major aims from the start being to put into practice a set of "guidelines" which were put together with scant regard for actual scholarship in an attempt to ensure that Bible translations teach complementarianism. Find me egalitarians, or even people neutral on this issue, who promote ESV, and I will retract, but until then I will maintain that ESV is a Bible which belongs to complementarians.

I might also say the same about HCSB which has also been translated according to the same unscholarly guidelines. But at least it has been translated without such a clear complementarian agenda, and translated well.

As for 1 Corinthians 15, you need to start reading at verse 5. There you find that Jesus appeared first to "the Twelve" (verse 5), and then only later to "all the apostles" (verse 7), and later still to Paul. The best understanding of this is that all the more than 500 witnesses to the risen Christ were at that time considered apostles. And of course that included a number of women, so giving a good reason for Junia being called an apostle. But it does seem that others who were not witnesses to the risen Christ were also called apostles; if not, we have a problem with Ephesians 4:11. Of course this is incompatible with the idea that all apostles were authoritative teachers, or for that matter church planters. The only safe thing to say is that there is no complete consistency here.


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