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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Clarification from Wolters on Junia

I wrote a while ago that Al Wolters,
    is now proposing to demonstrate that Junia is a transliteration of Jechoniah, and therefore, male. All Al needs to do to support this theory is prove that Junia was not that popular a name and that Jechoniah was. Something like that.
Al Wolters recently emailed to clarify my rather vague description of his thesis.
    I recently came across your comments on some of my work, and thought you might be interested in some clarifications. But first, allow me to express my appreciation for the fact that you apparently read my book on "The Song of the Valiant Woman"--and apparently liked it. It is delightful to discover that there are other people in the world who can get excited about whether an obscure Hebrew word really means "distaff" or not.
    Now for the clarifications. I'm afraid that things got a little garbled in your understanding (via Prof. Waltke) of what my article on "Junia/s" was about. My argument is basically that the attested Hebrew name yHny (I'm using capital H to designate the eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet) would have been pronounced yeHunni, and that this name would have been Hellenized as as Iounias (gen. Iouniou, acc. Iounian). It is therefore possible that Iounian in Rom 16:7 is a Greek version of that Hebrew name. I do not argue that it is the only possibility, or even the most plausible one. It is certainly true that the Latin feminine name Junia is much more common. My article on this is forthcoming in JBL.
My response to him included the following comment by way of explanation,
    I had not heard of the name yHny and Dr. Waltke did not explain that part. Considering the overwhelming popularity of the names Junia and Johanna, it seems best to me to explain Junia as an evangelist or saint as any church which uses the KJV, or the Greek orthodox church, does.
And he answered,
    I'm perfectly happy to have Junia be an apostle. In fact, I once wrote a popular piece defending that interpretation.
This is one of the really nice things about blogging - someone can come along and correct you long before you publish anything on paper. I'm glad he took time to write.

However, there was the other part of our email exchange, in which I asked him about authentein. I included his comments on this in a previous post. But Wolters made a further comment on "usurp authority,"
    By the way, I have a private theory that the KJV "usurp authority" in 1 Tim 2:12 is not meant in a pejorative sense. In the 17th century "usurp" was used like Latin "usurpare" (used in a number of Latin versions of this verse at the time), and could just mean "use" in a neutral sense.
This seems to me to be an ingenious solution - usurp really meant "use" and authentein, which has no connection to "authority" in any etymological sense, now means to "have authority" in the sense of having "rightful authority". Usurpare could mean either "use" or to "seize" something - true enough. But what did the translators of the KJB think it meant?

The chief translator of the King James Bible used the word "usurper" elsewhere in the sense of someone who specifically does not have "rightful" authority or power.

Lancelot Andrewes in Ninety Six Sermons, page 67, Aug. 5, 1610,
    An usurper may be deposed: so they all agree. And is it not in the power of Rome, to make an usurper when it will? If he have no right, he is an usurper: if he be lawfully deposed, his right is gone: if he but favour heretics; nay, though he favour them not, the Pope may depose him, Non hoc tempore, sed cum judicabit expedire: and that done, he hath no right, then is he an usurper, and ye may touch him, or do with him what ye will.
I suggest then that in the King James Bible, "to usurp authority" means to take authority without having the right to do so, to wield power unrightfully. Definitely women should not do this.

The truth is that certain writers are spending an awful lot of time trying to prove that women must be kept within certain restrictions, if not silent, then without authority; if not in subjection, at least in submission. Too bad - time that could be better spent contemplating the distaff.

I just want to add that I didn't have to spend much time researching this rather obscure matter of "usurp" in Lancelot Andrewes. I had read his sermon on the Conspiracy of the Gowries a couple of times and remembered rather clearly his use of the term "usurpers".


At Sat Sep 22, 11:49:00 AM, Blogger Tim Bulkeley said...

Is it possible that "usurper" meant only one wrongfully taking authority, but "usurp" included also right use of authority? I noticed in the quote that always the noun was being used...

At Sat Sep 22, 12:37:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


I don't have access to the OED entry but apparently there is more on this. I think Wayne might have the OED, but his wife is quite sick right now. I might ask him later about this if people are interested.

He would appreciate prayers for Elena.

At Sat Sep 22, 01:59:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Tim, it may be possible, but is it likely? If you want to propose what looks like a very unlikely hypothesis, perhaps it is for you to find evidence for it, such as examples of "usurp" in 16th-17th century English which clearly do not imply wrongful use of authority. You might like to start with Shakespeare here. But from my rather quick glances at these 20 search results I don't think your quest will be very successful.


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