Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Resurrection of Junia

In case you're seeing one of my posts for the first time, let me make it clear that my job is to find out what the Bible says about men and women in the church. While I will often combat complementarians on this site, and may even sound harsh at times (although I don't like to), I am also not a feminist. I don't believe that women and only women should have leadership in our churches. A good 'ole boys network nor a good 'ole girls network will do.

Instead, God has designed two genders, male and female, and has given them both dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26). So the church should be composed of men and women in leadership who love God and exercise their gifts to His glory.

Last time, I discussed Deborah's role as a prophetess and how women serving as prophets (one of the highest gifts according to Ephesians 4) aids the defense for women in ministry. Today, I'm gonna spend time on women as apostles-- and to aid this discussion, we have the question regarding Junia in Romans 16:7-- is the name "Junia" or "Junias?"

Romans 16:7 reads: "Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me."

Wayne Grudem tackles this topic in his book, "Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth" ( In response to feminist assertions that Junia's apostleship opens the door for women, Grudem responds (Answer 7.2a): "The name that is spelled "iounian" in the Greek text of Romans 16:7 could be either a man's name or a woman's name simply according to the spelling...just as in English there are some names (such as Chris or Pat) that could be either a man's name or a woman's name, so in Greek, this name could be either masculine or feminine, and we cannot tell from the spelling alone" (224).

For those who desire a good response to Grudem (or any other complementarian), read Eldon Jay Epp's book entitled "Junia-- the first woman apostle." This book, written in 2005, shows how the issue of "junia/junias" became an issue when it wasn't one for a long period of time: "...for the first seven centuries of the church's life Greek manuscripts did not employ accents (in the name), but when accents did become common practice in the manuscript tradition...they uniformly identify the name as feminine...there is no Greek manuscript extant that umambiguously identifies Andronicus's partner as a male...that consistent pattern coheres with the evidence offered by early Christian writers for the first thousand years of the church's life and well into the second thousand years. Theologians as diverse as Origen, Ambrosiaster, John Chrysostom, Jerome, Theodoret, John Damascene, Peter Abelard, and Peter Lombard, assume that the partner of Andronicus is a woman by the name of Junia...only with the thirteenth century Aegidius of Rome, and especially with Martin Luther's translation, did the view arise that Junia was in fact a male, Junias. Finally, and not of least importance, the female name Junia is a widely attested Roman name, but there exists no evidence for the use of the masculine forms 'Junias' or 'Junianus'" (foreword, x-xi).

There are those who seek to attack "Junia" because they believe that a woman could never be an apostle. Epp discusses the editor's comment regarding Romans 16:7 in Bruce Metzger's "Textual Commentary to UBS" (1994): "Some members, considering it unlikely that a woman would be among those styled 'apostles,' understood the name to be masculine ("iounian"- Junias), thought to be a shortened form of 'Junianus'...others, however, were impressed by the facts that (1) the female Latin name Junia occurs more than 250 times in Greek and Latin inscriptions found in Rome alone, whereas the male name Junias is unattested anywhere, and (2) when Greek manuscripts began to be accented, scribes wrote the feminine 'Iounian ('Junia')" (Epp, 54). The historical research that gives credence to Junia's name is all there-- but yet and still, there are biased scholars who deny the truth even when it's staring them in the face. Evidently, research isn't an objective activity anymore.

At the end of Grudem's analysis, he concludes that the name of the mysterious apostle beside Andronicus is Junia (EFBT, 226) from the earliest citations by church fathers. However, other forces out there, such as David Jones (from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) have attempted to argue for "Junias." The problems with this interpretation have already been given: there is no research present for the name itself. When there is no research, and scholars "forge" research anyway, what do we have? A made-up, fictional character like Peter Pan to believe in. And I don't know about you, but I'm too mature for fairy tales...

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