Definitions

Junia

Junia

Junia, in the New Testament, man or woman early converted to Christianity.
For the village in Bangladesh, see Junia, Bangladesh.
Junia or Junias (accusative case: ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ) is mentioned in the Epistle to the as "of note among the apostles" (KJV, RSV). Some Christians and most Christian theologians take the name to be that of a woman, and some see it as proof that Saint Paul encouraged female leaders in the Church. In this interpretation, Junia would be the only recorded female apostle. Andronicus, also mentioned in Romans 16:7, might be her husband.

The female/male issue

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.

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.

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.

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 "Junia". Chrysostom wrote: "O how great is the devotion of this woman that she should be counted worthy of the appellation of apostle! 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, 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.

Apostle or not

There is debate whether the mention of Junia(s) as being "prominent among the apostles" (NRSV) means Junia(s) was one of the apostles, or only well known to the apostles. A parallel to the second interpretation is found in the Psalms of Solomon 2:6, where the Jewish captives are spoken of as "a spectacle among the gentiles". The construction is exactly the same, and the word translated as "a spectacle" is exactly the same word that in Romans 16:7 is translated as "of note" or "prominent". But the phrase in the Psalms of Solomon clearly does not mean that the Jewish captives were Gentiles. Victor Alexander's translation from Aramaic states that they were "well-known by the apostles."

Recent Updates and Contradictory Findings

In 2001, Michael Burer and Daniel B. Wallace wrote a journal article entitled "Was Junia Really An Apostle? A Re-examination of Romans 16.7", NTS 47. In it Burer and Wallace, accepting that Junia was a woman, asserted that she was well known to the Apostles rather than prominent among the Apostles. The working hypothesis is that if Paul had meant to communicate that Junia was prominent among the Apostles, then he would have used episamoi with a genitive. That is the way inclusion within a group is indicated within Greek. He used episamoi with en and the dative, which according to their hypothesis means they are excluded from the group. There are no exceptions. This is articulated above by the comment that the Jews were not among the Gentiles.

Recently, Linda Belleville, Richard Bauckham, and Eldon Epp have taken on the task of correcting some of the above 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. Epp in his book "Junia: The First Woman Apostle" covers the whole gamut pertaining to Junia.

Epp gives a tedious but thorough textual critical evaluation of the history of Junia in the Greek text and also the search for Junias (the alleged masculine form of the name, which doesn't seem to be found in New Testament times and rarely there after) in non-Biblical Greek literature. 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. Despite the Roman Aegidus, the feminine form of the name was in the Greek text of Erasmus' critical text in 1516 and in all 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.

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

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