The Apostle Junia, was a woman leader in the early church whose ministry reminds us that God’s intention Junia: The First Woman Apostle by Eldon Jay Epp. Dennis Preato proves that Junia was an woman who was an apostle. The first is concerned with resolving the gender of the person named Iounian. Was this. Like many women, I was surprised when I first heard Junia’s story. I was speaking to a book club about women in the Bible when an audience member raised.

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Does the Bible refer to a female apostle named Junia? Older translators typically rendered the name in a masculine form, Junias, but the translators of the NRSV have followed a growing number of scholars junja see this latter individual to be a woman.

This translation has far-reaching implications.

If it is indeed the proper understanding of this obscure verse, egalitarian scholars are provided with one instance in Scripture where a woman is called an apostle — and a prominent apostle no less, who may have planted churches throughout the Roman world and exercised governing authority over them.

While some egalitarians have responded that Jesus was merely acting within the bounds of his patriarchal culture and was not wanting to offend unnecessarily the Jews of his day, an all-male apostolate remains nevertheless a weighty piece of evidence for the complementarian position and something of an embarrassment for egalitarians. It is the purpose of this paper to evaluate the claim that Rom In order to evaluate this claim properly, at least three lines of investigation must be pursued: In order to evaluate the claim that Rom While it is normally a simple task to determine the gender of a Greek noun one need only examine the inflection, since masculine and feminine nouns generally have separate endingsin this particular instance the accusative ending — an is ambiguous and therefore problematic; it could be either masculine or feminine.

Throughout the history of the church, translators and commentators have been divided on the issue. One of the earliest translations, the Latin Vulgate, has manuscripts that support both readings.

A Female Apostle?

With regard to modern commentaries on Romans, one egalitarian scholar writing in complained that most commentators adopt the masculine reading of Rom This brief survey suggests that no consensus has been attained on the gender of the ambiguous Iounian.

A the morphology of the name Iounian ; B an interesting textual variant in Rom Unfortunately, morphology is of no help to us here.

As mentioned above, the form Iounian is ambiguous and could be either masculine or feminine. The Greek text as found in NA26 has a circumflex accent over the alpha, denoting the accusative masculine singular of the masculine name, Junias.

Grenz appeals to the fact first declension nouns are mainly feminine.

Junia: The First Woman Apostle by Eldon Jay Epp

What he fails womab mention, however, is that certain Greek masculine names, such as Andreas, are first declension nouns. For instance, compare the masculine names Patrobas, Hermas, and Olympas in verses 14 and The name Junias would follow the same paradigm as they do, along with several other names in the NT that end with — as.

Interestingly, not all Greek manuscripts read the ambiguous Iounian here: One of these, the important papyrus P46, along with several other less important manuscripts and womn, reads Ioulian. If this reading is to be preferred, then Paul is definitely referring here to a sister in Christ and not a brother.

It is unlikely that this reading is original, however. Some have suggested that since the scribe substituted what is clearly a feminine name here, it might imply that he or she, writing at the end of the second century, assumed that the second individual mentioned in Rom Thus, we are left again with the ambiguous form Iounian. In seeking to determine the gender of Iounianmany scholars have examined Greco- Roman literature to find out how frequently this name appear in either Greek or Latin.

It is found in a partially defaced inscription, which reads: Thus, neither the male nor the female versions of this name were common in Greek literature. Aposte, there are no unambiguous references to a man named Junias in the Greek literature in the first three centuries of the Christian era, as egalitarians junla quick to point out. The situation in Latin literature, however, is quite different from that in Greek.


Yet, aposte least two factors must be taken into consideration before adopting this conclusion. First, this absence of the male equivalent could be explained by the process of forming nicknames in Greek. His formal Latin name was Silvanus, cf.

While these scholars are correct about Latin terms of endearment being lengthened, they somehow fail to notice that Rom This would result in it being shortened, not lengthened as they suggest. Second, this absence could also be explained by the name change that took place when a slave was freed by his Tbe master.

Junius was a common family name in the Roman world. That is why his sister was named Junia; females born into the house would take the feminine equivalent of the family name. The fact that we have no extant references to any man with the name Junias — except perhaps for Rom A freed slave, in my mind, would be more likely to go unmentioned by the elite historians and philosophers. That he would show up on the pages of aposttle NT, a collection of writings reflecting to a much higher degree the jnia of ordinary people, is substantially more likely.

Consider Onesimus as recorded in Philemon, for instance. Would we have ever known about him had his memory not been preserved in uunia NT canon? Similarly, the name Peter Petros is unknown apart from Scripture in the centuries before and after the Christian era, while the feminine form, petrais a common noun even though not a proper noun.

As far as we know, Jesus coined apotle name for Simon. The problem with Iounianof course, is that it is a NT hapax. So what are we to make of all of this? While the preponderance of occurrences of the feminine form in Latin literature suggest that the person referred to in Rom It is very possible that Rom Ultimately, a decision cannot be fjrst on the basis of aposstle or non-occurrences in the extant literature alone because we simply do not possess a big enough sample to compile accurate statistics.

This is especially true with regard to womsn people such as freed slaves, about whom little is preserved compared with wealthy and powerful families like the Juniuses. We are more likely to hear about their daughters named Junia than their womwn slaves named Junias.

Thus, while the argument for understanding this to be a woman named Junia certainly has weight and merit, we will need to consider yet other evidence before making a final judgment. Furst the evidence is by no means unanimous, the strongest case for understanding Iounian to be a woman is found in the comments made on Rom Many patristic exegetes understood the second person mentioned in Rom Perhaps the most notable example is John Apotle.

Though certainly against women serving as bishops, he nevertheless took Iounian to be a woman. Commenting on Romans To be an apostle is something great. But to be outstanding among the apostles — just think what a wonderful song of praise that is! They were outstanding on the basis of their works and virtuous actions. Indeed, how great is the wisdom of this woman that she was even deemed worthy firwt the title of apostle.

It is important to recognize, however, that Chrysostom did not take Junia to be an authoritative apostle, but rather as an apostle in a secondary sense, as one commissioned by the church for a certain task cf.

No doubt due to the influence of the patristic exegetes mentioned above, the position that Andronicus and Iounian were husband and wife is still advocated today. On this basis, they envision that Andronicus and Junia were a husband and wife team among the apostolic band. This interpretation goes beyond what can be said with certainty from the text, however. First, we do not know for sure whether this is even a feminine womman This shows that the syntax itself need not imply a marriage relationship.

Andronicus and Junias very well could have been two men that Paul referred to in the same breath because they jnia these certain things in common with each other. This evidence juna patristic sources has been used to make sweeping statements that distort the actual evidence. This is noteworthy, because the actual text in Epistolam ad Romanos Commentariorum The form of the name is nominative masculine singular in Latin, which demonstrates that Origen understood the person mentioned in Rom To say that no commentator held Iounian to be masculine is much different from saying that the Church Fathers unanimously agreed that it is feminine.


It is true that a handful of patristic exegetes touch on this passage, and when they do, they read it feminine. But it is overstating the evidence to claim that all the Fathers speak to the issue and agree on it.

Contrary to the confident assertions made by egalitarians, not all the Church Fathers held that Iounian should be understood as a doman.

Thus, while the clear majority of the Church Fathers adopt a feminine reading of Rom First, most of the patristic exegetes wrote in Latin many centuries after Paul penned the epistle to the Romans. Since they borrowed from earlier commentators, they do not constitute separate witnesses to the meaning of Rom Origen, because he is the earliest of the three exegetes, and the latter two because they are the first ones in extant Greek literature to refer to the name after Romans was written.

Second, Greek minuscule manuscripts, which began having accents in the 9th century, all accent the name as though it were masculine — without exception. The fact that all of the manuscripts accented it the same no matter what part of the world they were found in suggests that the gender issue had been settled some time before.

So, with regard to the gender of the second individual mentioned in Rom Although they raise many important factors for consideration, the heart of the egalitarian case really comes down to the testimony of John Chrysostom, a testimony which I do not find as weighty as that of Origen or Epiphanius, or the many scribes who unanimously accented their Greek texts with a circumflex accent in the ninth and tenth centuries.

The ambiguity of the name itself and the lack of any other references to this individual in the NT or even in Christian writers the first two centuries after Christ, should make us hesitant in being too dogmatic either way, however. Perhaps I could sum it up this way: As we have seen above, there are good reasons not to be too dogmatic in affirming the gender of Iounian in Rom Though I have argued for the masculine reading, Junias, what if Paul really was referring to a woman named Junia when he wrote?

Would we then have to conclude, as many have done, that this Junia was a prominent, authoritative apostle within the early church, serving as evidence tye favor of women holding authoritative positions over men within the church today?

In order to answer this question, it is necessary to examine the phrase which seems to number Andronicus and Iounian among the apostles. In Greek, the phrase is hoitines eisin episemoi in tois apostoloiswhich is variously translated as follows:.

Who was Junia?

It is plain to see that most take the phrase en tois apostolois as a locative use of the dative as opposed to an instrumental one, the latter of which could denote a personal agent. A elsewhere in Romans; and B in the rest of the NT, but only as it touches on the question of human agency.

Second, even though many of the 42 occurrences of this construction in Romans are instrumental uses of the dative e. In the former reference, Paul quotes Isa Even if we were to take Rom 2: While the construction is regularly used to denote an instrument, it normally does so only with impersonal things apoetle.

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