Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Resurrection of Junia (Part II)

In my last post on Romans 16:7 and the disputed name (Junia/Junias), I mentioned David Jones, a prominent scholar and member of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, who argues that "iounian" is really "Junias," although it could be a woman. I just read a little while ago his 16-page article titled "A Female Apostle?: A Lexical-Syntactical Analysis of Romans 16:7," and I highly recommend that those who read widely on this subject take a hard long look at it (

Jones is careful to do his research. However, there are problems (as one could imagine). In his section titled "Evidence from Greek Literature," he correctly notes that the names "Junia" and "Junias" are rarities in Greek literature-- but the evidence works against him. David Jones writes at the end of part I of his article, "Perhaps I could sum it up this way: if I were serving on the NIV revision committee, my recommendation to the committee would be to translate the name Junias, but to acknowledge with a footnote the possibility that the name could refer to a woman named Junia" (6). Jones makes it clear what side he's on-- he believes the name should be translated in the masculine. But what evidence does he give for this? in his section on Greek Literature, he notes that both Junia and Junias are rarities in Greek literature; but what he doesn't see in his own research is that, while both names are rarities in Greek, the only evidence he presents is for "Junia." First, he mentions the reference in Romans 16:7 (which he assumes is debatable); then, he mentions "Junia, who was both the wife of Cassius and the sister of Brutus (one of the men who murdered Julius Caesar(3); last but not least, he finds a partially-erased inscription which reads, "[ ] ia Torquata." Whatever the name was, the fact that it had an "ia" ending reveals to us that this was a woman's name. No man's name in the first century, nor today, will end in an "ia." If someone claims this to be true, call a man "Maria" whose name is "Mario," and I'll be glad to talk to "Mario" and ask him how it feels...

Therefore, while "Neither the male nor the female versions of this name were common in Greek literature" (3) surely, Junia appears in these evidences...and where is the case for "Junias"? There isn't a case, because the name didn't exist.

Jones gives himself away again on his section called "Evidence from Latin Literature": "In Latin writings Junia appears as a fairly common woman's name while Junias, the man's name, is virtually nonexistent. There is a masculine equivalent to Junia in Latin, but it is Junius, which then translated into Greek is 'Iounios,' not 'Iounias'" (3). Junias is nowhere to be found not only in Greek literature, but Latin as well. According to Eldon Jay Epp in his book (I recommended in my first post on the Resurrection of Junia), the name Junia is mentioned at least 250 times in historical literature, while "Junias" is nonexistent. How does Jones attempt to account for this apparent "imaginary" name? "This absence of the male equivalent (to Junia) could be explained by the process of forming nicknames in Greek" (3). Did you read that? Notice that it "could be explained." Yes, surely, it is possible that it could; but where's the evidence? Show me in all of Greek and Latin literature where the name is mentioned. It isn't. Looking for the name "Junias" in the historical research is like looking for the name "Shaquilla." "Shaquilla" is a contemporary name and chances are, it won't be found in any ancient literature.

In section E, "The Evidence from the Early Church Fathers," Jones notes John Chrysostom's belief that the person "Iounian" was Junia, and that she was quite a woman to be named an apostle. But then note Jones's sarcasm: "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. Acts 13:2-3; 14:14)" (5).
I find it fascinating that Jones uses these scriptures as his justification. If one looks at the context of Acts 13, one will discover that first, "prophets and teachers" are mentioned (13:1), and, secondly, the Holy Spirit is the one who commissions Paul and Barnabas: "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them" (13:2). The Holy Spirit is the one who called Paul and Barnabas and told the church that He called them to this work in verse 2. Paul and Barnabas, in this context, are not "commissioned by the church" as Jones states; they are called of God. This calling by the Holy Spirit, then, is that of the office of Apostle, not a simple representative or one sent to do a task by a church. After all, it would be Paul who would later state in Romans 11:13, "Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry..."(English Standard Version). Paul then, considered being an "apostle" as more than a simple church task-- it was a ministry, a constant, continuous spiritual work that he dedicated himself to. It was not a task given by a church, but by the Lord. If Junia was given the work of Acts 13 and 14, then Junia truly had authority as an apostle. What apostle in Scripture, known as such, lacked authority in the churches? There is no such distinction between an "authoritative" and a "non-authoritative" apostle. This wording indicates Jones's inherent bias against women in authority. I smell a "1 Timothy 2" rat here...hmmm...

In his last section of evidence from the church fathers, Jones uses one example of a "Junias" mentioned: "Epiphanius (AD 315-403), bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, writing perhaps just prior to Chrysostom's comments on Rom. 16:7, includes a reference to Iounian in his Index of Disciples: 'Junias, of whom Paul makes mention, became bishop of Apameia of Syria'" (5). It seems that Jones has found such an example of "Junias"-- but the problem still remains: why is it that Jones provides a fourth and fifth-century example when he knows as a renown scholar that Paul writes his letter in the first century AD? Epiphanius then, had an interpretation that was the only one altogether. This does not shatter his attack on Brooten. He looks bad for not finding an example from the first century. He digs his hole much deeper here, after not having any evidence for "Junias" from Greek and Latin literature.

As if Jones's evidence against "Junia" is not poor enough, he then tries to attack her apostleship. In his section on "The Context of Romans 16," Jones writes:
"Andronicus and Iounian are buried amidst a virtual potpourri of greetings that Paul extends to members of the Roman church. It seems odd that Paul would not refer to two apostles until well into his greetings; one would think that they would be more prominent among the individuals mentioned. The fact that he mentions Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila, and others first suggests that Andronicus and Iounian were not as prominent in his mind" (9). This becomes Jones's first reason against Junia as an Apostle. His problem, however, lies in "One would think..." Placing this as a justification against Junia is no justification at all. Jones has failed here to provide examples of such writing in Paul's letters. He fails to study significant persons in all of Paul's greetings and show us a consistent pattern of where Paul mentions the "most authoritative" persons first. He fails to even research this, but instead, appeals to what "one would think." This is not scholarship-- just an intellectually lazy reason to bump Junia from her rightful place.

On to Jones's next reason for a "non-authoritative apostleship": "Andronicus and Iounian do not receive the extravagant praise that these others do, like Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila. Why would two prominent apostles be given less praise?" (9) What does an "extravagant praise" have to do with their authority? Phoebe, Prisca, and Aquila are all mentioned in the way Paul does because they have done specific things for Paul: Phoebe has supported Paul, and Prisca and Aquila worked with him as tentmakers (Acts 18:1-3). He had a lot more to say because he spent more time with them and Phoebe than he did his kinsmen. Notice that Paul greets other kinsman, such as "Herodion" (Rom. 16:11), about whom he had nothing to mention. However, he mentions Rufus, and Rufus's mother, whom he says, "has been a mother to me as well" (16:13b).
Now, on to what Paul actually says about Andronicus and Junia: "my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners...they are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me" (16:7). First, they are his kinsmen, his relatives; secondly, they are his "fellow prisoners"; third, they stand out from the apostles; and fourth, they were in Christ before he was. With all he notes about Andronicus and Junia, how can it be mistaken that Paul doesn't offer any "extravagant praise" for him? Once again, Jones is grasping at straws, attempting to find any and every little thing to keep from acknowledging Junia's apostleship.

Notice his third reason against Junia's office: "If we are to understand the gender of Iounian to be feminine, the fact that she is mentioned second to Andronicus suggests that she may have been less prominent than he was" (9). But look at what he places in parentheses: "(cp. the order in v.3, where Prisca is mentioned first)." If Jones wants to play the "order game," where order equals importance and ability, then Priscilla was more gifted than her husband-- and Paul doesn't have a problem admitting that to the church at Rome. Mentioning Junia second may very well mean that Junia had a "less prominent" role than Andronicus; but how does being "less prominent" replace the fact that Junia was still "prominent"? About Andronicus and Junia, Paul says that they are "outstanding among the apostles." They are noteworthy, they are of special mention to Paul. How is that degrading because she may or may have not been "less prominent" than Andronicus? As I've stated in a few posts, gender-biased scholars will focus on the little small things such as "less authority" because they don't wanna admit that Junia had authority. She was an apostle, and all the apostles had authority in the early church. They were all church leaders-- although some had more authority and greater tasks than others. But what does this have to do with Junia not being an "authoritative apostle"?

Next, he tries to use 3 Maccabees 6 (an apocryphal text) to show that the Greek phrase "en tois apostolois" really means "to the apostles": "whatever Paul means in Romans 16:7, he does not intend to say that Andronicus and Iounian are the most prominent of the apostles, or else he could have used the genitive case (as in 3 Maccabees 6:1) to heighten the comparison" (10). Now, Paul "could have used" the genitive! It seems as if, to save his own presupposition, Jones must now deny the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that drove Paul to write the way he did. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God..." For Jones to question how Paul wrote something shows that he is willing to deny the Holy Spirit's inspiration to write Scripture just to save his gender bias against Junia. The moment Paul acknowledges a woman, now Paul must have been a little beside himself!
Well, to prove Jones wrong, I found a passage, Matthew 20:26, where Jesus is discussing rank in the apostolic order. Interestingly enough, the Greek phrase says, "hos ean thele in humin megas," which translates to (in the English Standard Version), "whoever would be great among you." The phrase "en humin" here translates to "among you." Notice here that Jesus uses the adjective "great," followed by "among you." He first points out something that is above the rest of the apostles. Now look at Romans 16:7-- the phrase there in the Greek is "hoitines eisin episemoi en tois apostolois." The first word, "hoitines," is very similar to Jesus' word "whoever" in Matthew 20:26; the second word, "are," is the plural verb for Andronicus and Junia, just as Jesus used the verb "estai" (will be). Next, Paul uses a qualifier for these two persons, "episemoi," which means "outstanding" or "noteworthy." Jesus uses the word "megalas," which means "great," a qualifier for his statement.

Now, Paul uses the phrase "en tois apostolois." This is where the translation gets interesting. In Matthew 20:26, the phrase translates to "among you (all)." The "great" would stand above the rest. But this is where some scholars stop...and instead of translating the phrase as "among the apostles," they translate it as "well-known to the apostles" (such as translators of the English Standard Version and others). The problem with this is that there is a qualifier for these two persons: they are not just apostles, but of special emphasis for Paul. That, alone, makes them two who stand out from the rest of the group. But then, notice that Paul says about them, "they were in Christ before me" (Romans 16:7b). He is writing this greeting to them because he knows of their work in the faith and how they labored in his presence. If Paul were writing to greet other apostles, he surely would have mentioned them in his letter, as he mentions "Gaius" (v.23), "Timothy" (v.21), "Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater" (v. 21), as well as "Erastus" (v.23). None of these men are called "apostles." Paul does not mention another apostle in the letter, only Andronicus and Junia. While Paul is not mentioning himself as being of the group here, he is making it clear that there were a group of apostles at the church at Rome, and that, of them, these two are unique from the group. The ESV seems to not disagree with "among you" of Matthew 20:26; but when it gets to this verse, they seem to have a gender bias that keeps them from rendering this in the traditional manner.

There is so much more to write on this subject, and I will write soon. Next time, I will attack Wayne Grudem's translation of "tois apostolois" of Romans 16:7 as "church messengers."

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