Re: Junia EN TOIS APOSTOLOIS (and Andronicus too)

From: Michael Holmes (
Date: Thu Jun 26 1997 - 10:46:07 EDT

Regarding the gender of Junia:

Richard Cervin ("A Note Regarding the Name 'Junia(s)' in Romans 16:7," New
Test. Studies 40 [1994] 464-470) concludes: "A proper examination of the
linguistic evidence regarding the name _Iunia_ shows that the name is
feminine, not masculine. The masculine form of the name is _Iunius_ in Latin
and IOUNIOS in Greek (accusative forms: _Iunium_ and IOUNION respectively).
There is thus no ambiguity in the morphology of the masculine and feminine
forms of this name in either language. The theory that the name is
_Iunias_, and may be a shortened form of the masculine name _Iunianus_, is
groundless because there is so far no empirical evidence to support such a
theory." (p. 470).

What Cervin reports regarding the linguistic evidence agrees with the
inscriptional evidence, in which the usage of the name is for women, not men.

As for whether Andronicus and Junia were apostles, this is not the first
time the matter has been debated. In the 19th c., the debate was not over a
female apostle but whether there were more than 12 "apostles." In his
commentary on Galatians, J. B. Lightfoot made the following observation, the
more valuable since in antedates the current debate about a female apostle:

 "Except to escape the difficulty involved in such an extension of the
apostolate [i.e., beyond the number 12], I do not think the words OITINES
EISIN EPISHMOI EN TOIS APOSTOLOIS would have been rendered 'who are highly
esteemed by the Apostles.' The Greek fathers took the more natural
interpretation" [i.e., 'among the apostles'] (Lightfoot, _Galatians_, 96).

The issue in his day [an argument about the meaning of the term
"apostle"--was it restricted to just the twelve, or did it apply to a larger
group] was different than our argument [is the woman Junia an apostle or
not], but his observation--"except to escape"--seems very much to the point.

Mike Holmes
Bethel College

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