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Junia
Andronicus, Athanasius of Christianopoulos and Saint Junia
Venerated in Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Churches
Feast May 17, 23 Pashons (Coptic Orthodox)

Junia or Junias (accusative case: ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ) was a first century Christian highly regarded and complimented by the Apostle Paul:

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me: they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

Romans 16:7 NRSV

Paul describes Junia as a relative, a fellow prisoner with Paul, and one who had become a follower of Jesus Christ before Paul's dramatic Damascus Road conversion. The phrase, "prominent among the apostles," leads many to the conclusion that she is the only woman apostle mentioned in the New Testament. It is generally assumed that Andronicus of Pannonia (Greek: Ανδρόνικος) was her husband. Both her gender and her apostleship are subjects of considerable debate. Understandably, this verse has received and continues to draw a great deal of attention in scholarly literature.

Contents

Junia's Apostleship

The identification of Junia in Romans 16:7 has been a familiar problem in biblical interpretation. Most studies, however, are preoccupied with the gender of the name, assuming that Junia's apostolic status is not in doubt. Burer and Wallace propose that the converse is true. They agree that Junia was a woman. However, they assert that the correct rendition of the Greek text places her as well known to the Apostles rather than prominent among the Apostles. That translation would indicate that the pair were not apostles, but that they enjoyed a high reputation among the apostles.[1]

Classicist Evelyn Stagg and New Testament scholar Dr. Frank Stagg believe that Paul is competent to endorse the couple as "apostles" on the basis of his own involvement with them. His references to the couple's imprisonment with him, and to the time of their conversion relative to his own, would give him no need to defer to the opinion of others as a source of credentials. The Staggs maintain that both the context and the content of this verse require that it be read naturally as Paul's commendation of Andronicus and Junias not only as remarkable Christian workers, but as members of the larger group commonly called "apostles" such as Silas, Timothy, and others.[2].

Linda Belleville, Richard Bauckham, and Eldon Epp have taken on the task of correcting some findings pertaining to Junia. Belleville's article is in NTS and is titled "Iounian...episamoi en tois apostolois: A Re-examination of Romans 16.7 in Light of Primary Source Materials" NTS 51 (2005). Bauckham's book "Gospel Women" devotes several pages to interacting, refuting, and correcting the Burer and Wallace article.

Moving past the name and gender debate, the way Paul acknowledges the apostleship of Andronicus and Junia, coupled with "in Christ before me," indicates that the couple's apostleship did not hinge on Paul's recognition of their status. There are two main discussions regarding Paul's intentions behind his greeting to Junia and Andronicus.

  • The first proposes that Junia was a Hellenised Jew, and that she belonged to Paul's Law-free mission to the Gentiles. In that scenario Paul is seen to be reinforcing the couple's gospel by praising them.[3]
  • The other possibility is that Junia belonged to the more conservative element of the early Christian movement such as Jewish Christianity (Jews that still maintained the importance of the Jewish Law) and that Paul was petitioning them to accept him. Martin Hengel has proposed that the Roman congregation was originally founded by the Hellenists,[4] which was a group of Greek-speaking Jews that belonged to the Synagogue of the Freedman, associated with Stephen, who openly abandoned the Jewish Law. The evidence points to Junia belonging to this movement and her geographical location indicates that Junia would have been one of the earliest founders of the Roman Christian Community.[3] However, no matter whom Junia associated with, all the conjecture about her allegiances presupposes Junia to have been a woman of great prestige. Being called an Apostle would have meant that she had a post-resurrection experience of Jesus and a divine commissioning. She was most likely among the 500 that Paul mentions to have received a Christophany.[1 Cor 15:1-11] [5]

It is also of note that Junia possesses a Latin name which could have stemmed from servile origins. This could mean that she was a freed slave who adopted the name of her patron.[6] Alternatively as previously mentioned, Junia could have belonged to a family of Hellenized Jews. According to Harry Leon, it was common place during this period for Greek-speaking Jewish families to give their daughters Latin names and their sons Greek names, hence the Greek name of Andronicus.[7] Further, 75% of the 517 names found in the six Jewish catacombs of ancient Rome are Greek names.[8] Junia was also a popular name for nobility.[3]

Junia's relationship with Andronicus is somewhat ambiguous. While it is generally accepted that they were husband and wife, they could have been siblings or simply a team of evangelists. What is important is that Junia is referred to in her own right, not as an attachment to someone else. This means that she earned her title and position on her own merit, rather then accepting it as a natural derivation from her husband's status.[3]

A popular work exploring Junia has been published by journalist Rena Pederson. This book has been reviewed in the Toronto Star.[9][10]

Paul's enthusiastic acclamation of Junia prompted Chrysostom, prominent Church father, to marvel at her apparent devotion such that "...she would be even counted worthy of the appellation of apostle.”[11] Some scholars see Romans 16:7 as proof that Paul the Apostle, accepted author of thirteen epistles in the New Testament, encouraged female leaders in the Church.[11]

The opposing interpretation of this verse disavows either Junia's apostleship, her female gender, or both.[12] Complementarians believe that the Bible limits or prohibits women's leadership roles in the church, and requires male leadership/female submission in marriage.

Junia's gender

That she was a women is seldom contested today among Christian theologians.[11] Considering the cultural climate of a time when women were treated as minor children with no legal or property right, US journalist Rena Pederson thinks it understandable that Junia's role was ignored or even hidden for centuries since medieval scholars changed her name to Junias to make it masculine. She opines that the growing acknowledgment of Junia's female apostleship will establish an important precedent for women preaching and teaching. "And since Paul often has been viewed as someone who wanted to keep women quiet, his praise for Junia seems to show that he was much more broadminded in practice," Pederson adds.

Stephen Finlan notes that Junia is recognized as “the only female apostle named in the NT.”[13] He writes that Junia is clearly a female name that was changed to the male "Junias" in the Latin translations of the New Testament. In Paul's identification of her as a relative, as being "in Christ" before him and "prominent among the apostles," Finlan finds it significant that Paul greeted her as an "apostle" in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way as if there is nothing unusual in a female apostle. In the Corinthian and Roman letters, Paul addressed a number of women as "leaders," but Junia is the only female apostle named in the New Testament.[13]

The problem of translating the name arises because, when the New Testament was composed, Greek was normally written without accents, although these already had been invented. If written with an acute accent on the penultimate syllable (Ἰουνίαν), the name is "Junia" (a woman's name); if with a circumflex accent on the final syllable (Ἰουνιᾶν), it is "Junias" (a man's). No conclusion can be drawn from the masculine gender of the associated words in the same verse, since they apply also to the male Andronicus. Accordingly, even if Junia(s) is a woman, the rules of Greek grammar put those words in the masculine form. The overwhelming choice of the male form, (Ἰουνιᾶν), when in the 9th century accents were added in manuscripts, may have been influenced by the grammatical gender of these words, but it has also been attributed to a supposed bias on the part of scribes against the idea of a female apostle.[14]

Epp in his book "Junia: The First Woman Apostle" gives a textual critical evaluation of the history of Junia in the Greek text and also the search in non-Biblical Greek literature for "Junias"─the alleged masculine form of the name which has not been found in writings from New Testament times and only rarely thereafter.[15] He points out that the earliest copies of the Greek texts for Romans 16:7 are majuscules (capital letters). There are no accent marks in them. The importance of this is that the gender of the name depends on the accentuation. Hence, the earliest texts are inconclusive and we are very dependent on Patristic interpretation for the gender of Junia. When the minuscules (using lower case Greek letters) appeared, Junia was accented with a character which indicates the feminine form of the name. The feminine form of the name appeared in Erasmus' critical Greek text in 1516 and continuously thereafter in all other critical Greek texts, with the exception of Alford's 1858 edition, until 1928 when Nestle inexplicably (read: he didn't explain it in the apparatus) went to the masculine form. This remained the case until the 1998, when the edition just as inexplicably went back the other way and the masculine is dropped as even an alternative (not in the apparatus). Hence, the textual weight is for the feminine name Junia, which most scholars accept.[15]

Two Greek manuscripts have "Julia" (clearly a woman's name) instead of "Junia(s)" in this verse. One is papyrus P46 of about the year 200. The other is the thirteenth-century minuscule manuscript catalogued as "6". "Julia" is also the reading in some Latin manuscripts, in one tradition of Coptic manuscripts and in Ethiopic manuscripts. Three Greek uncial manuscripts have the inverse substitution, ("Junia(s)" in place of "Julia") in verse 16:15. This raises the question whether the proximity of the two names, "Junia(s)" and "Julia", on the same page is the reason why, in both cases, a few scribes replaced one name with the other. There are also tentative connections between Junia and Joanna (Luke 8:3), suggesting that Junia could be the Latin form of the Hebrew Joanna. Thus, it is feasible that Junia is ‘Joanna.’[16]

Only one record of the male name "Junias" has been discovered in extra-biblical Greek literature, which names him as the bishop of Apameia of Syria. Three clear occurrences of "Junia" have been found. While earlier searches for "Junias" in Latin also yielded no evidence, it is reported that "Junias" has been found as a Latin nickname or diminutive for the name "Junianas", which was not uncommon both in Greek and Latin.[14] While this is a possibilty, historical studies on the name "Junia" as a contracted form of "Junianas" has shown there are over 250 citations of the name Junia in antiquity all of which have been found to refer to women, with not one single case proven to be the abbreviated form of Junianus to Junia.[17] Meanwhile the name Junia is attested multiple times on inscriptions, tombstones and records; most notably, General Brutus’ half sister, Junia.[18]

Among the early Church Fathers, the United Bible Societies The Greek New Testament only cites Jerome as having read the name "Julia" in verse 16:7 and Chrysostom as having understood the name as the feminine "Junia". Chrysostom wrote: "O how great is the devotion of this woman that she should be counted worthy of the appellation of apostle!"[19] Although among the Fathers, "an almost universal sense that this was a woman’s name surfaces—at least through the twelfth century, ... this must be couched tentatively because although at least seventeen fathers discuss the issue (see Fitzmyer’s commentary on Romans for the data), the majority of these are Latin fathers,"[14] and "Junia", but not "Junias", was a common enough name in Latin. It has even been claimed that the first known mention of Junia as a male is by Aegidus of Rome (1245-1316), though this ignores the evidence of the Greek manuscripts about how the name was actually interpreted at least from the ninth century onward.

The Coptic Synaxarium reading for the twenty-third of Bashans identifies Junia the Apostle as being a man of the tribe of Judah.[20]

Orthodox traditional views

Orthodox traditions say Junia and Andronicus of Pannonia traveled extensively and preached the Gospel to pagans, many of whom were converted to Christianity. Many of the pagan temples were closed, and in their place Christian churches were built. Junia and Andronicus are believed to have suffered martyrdom for Christ.[21]

See also

Endnotes

  1. ^ Burer, Michael, and Daniel B. Wallace. "Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Re-Examination of Rom 16.7," New Testament Studies 47 [2001]: 76-91
  2. ^ Stagg, Evelyn and Frank Stagg. Woman in the World of Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978. ISBN 0-664-24195-6
  3. ^ a b c d Hammer, T. "Wealthy Widows and Female Apostles: The Economic and Social Status of Women in Early Roman Christianity," in G.D. Dunn, D. Luckensmeyer & L. Cross (ed.), Prayer and Spirituality in the Early Church: Poverty and Riches, 5 (Strathfield: Paulist Press, 2009), 65-74.
  4. ^ Hengel, M., Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity. tr. J. Bowden. London: SCM Press, 1979. ISBN 978-1592441907. pp107-108.
  5. ^ Gillman, F. Women Who Knew Paul. Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 1992. ISBN 9780814656747, p.68.
  6. ^ Lampe, Peter. "The Roman Christians of Romans 16", in K.P. Donfried (ed.), The Romans Debate, rev. ed. Hendrickson Publishers, 1995. ISBN 978-1565636712. p.226
  7. ^ Leon, Harry J. The Jews of Ancient Rome. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995[1960] p.94.
  8. ^ Leon, Harry J. "Names of the Jews of Ancient Rome." Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 59, (1928), pp. 205-224. Web: 7 Jan 2009 Names of the Jews of Ancient Rome
  9. ^ The Lost Apostle: Searching for the Truth About Junia, Rena Pederson, Jossey-Bass, September 11, 2006, ISBN 0787984434
  10. ^ Women and the Bible: Becoming Junia - again. Was there a female apostle whose name was changed to reflect views of patriarchal church?, Michael McAteer, Toronto Star (http://thestar.com), Aug 09, 2007.
  11. ^ a b c Nicole, Roger. "The Inerrancy of Scripture." Priscilla Papers, Vol. 20, No. 2, Spring 2006.
  12. ^ A study on Junia by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
  13. ^ a b Finlan, Stephen. The Apostle Paul and The Pauline Tradition. Liturgical Press, 2008. ISBN 9780814652718, p. 134
  14. ^ a b c Wallace, Daniel B. Junia Among the Apostles: The Double Identification Problem in Romans 16:7. Web: 7 Jan 2010 Junia Among the Apostles
  15. ^ a b Epp, Eldon J. Junia: The First Woman Apostle. Fortress Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0800637712
  16. ^ R. Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women of the Gospels (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), 109-202; B. Witherington III, ‘Joanna: Apostle of the Lord – or Jailbait,’ BR 21, (2005), 2: 12-47
  17. ^ J. D. Crossan & J. Reed, In Search of Paul, How Jesus’ Apostle Opposed Rome’s Empire with God’s Kingdom (New York: HarperCollins, 2004), 115
  18. ^ Belleville, L., ‘Women Leaders in the Bible,’ in Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy, ed. R. Pierce & R. Merill Groothuis (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 110-126.
  19. ^ Chrysostom, Homily on Romans 16, in Philip Schaff, ed, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, vol. II. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1956, p. 555. as quoted on [1]
  20. ^ http://www.copticcentre.com/synaxarium.pdf
  21. ^ "St. Junia, martyred along with the Seventy." Orthodox Church in America. Web: 7 Jan 2009. Junia, martyred along with the Seventy

Other references

  • Giesler, Michael E. Junia (The Fictional Life and Death of an Early Christian.) Scepter Publishers, 2002. ISBN 978-1594170782
  • Pederson, Rena. The Lost Apostle: Searching for the Truth about Junia. Wiley Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0470184622
  • Riss, Kathryn J. "The Apostle Junia." Women in Church History: Women's Ministries in the Early Church. Web: 7 Jan 2010. The Apostle Junia
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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

We meet Junia in Rom 16:7: "Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me."

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 the wisdom of this woman must have been that she was even deemed worthy of the title of apostle. - John Chrysostom

We can assume that the apostles Junia and Andronicus had great authority in the early Christian community. They were probably missionaries and church founders. Their apostleship had begun with a vision of the resurrected Christ and the charge to become apostles of Christ. Their conversion goes back to the time of Stephen so they had links to the earliest church in Jerusalem. True apostles were the ones - some 500 and the original 12 - who saw Jesus in his 'forty days' of ascension.

It is probably safe to assume that Junia had some association with Christ prior to his resurrection. She is believed to have been a Palestinian Christian. Junia and Andronicus may have been among the seventy-two Galilean missonaries mentioned in Lk 10:1ff. One could also speculate that Junia and her husband were among those persecuted in Jerusalem by Paul before his conversion to Christianity. It is, therefore, also possible that their involvement in his life was an aspect of his conversion. Paul states that they had been imprisoned together although there are no specific details. Paul was imprisoned many times for his preaching. They were certainly in Rome when Paul wrote the Letter to the Romans which was delivered by Phoebe.

Most modern debate on Junia centres around whether questions of gender, and whether Junia and Andronicus were truly apostles or just well liked by them. Until the 13th Century religious scholars generally referred to Junia as a woman and viewed her as a well respected apostle.


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