Poor Junias

From: Peter Phillips (p.m.phillips@cliff.shef.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Jun 26 1997 - 10:50:42 EDT

I am sorry to have put Junias on the rack over this whole Stealth Bible and sexist language issue. She doesn't deserve to go down in history as someone we fought over!

I am convinced she is a she.

I hear the comments that she can't be because Paul doesn't allow female authority figures in the church
[pace Apphia (Phm 2), Prisca (passim), Eudoia and Syntyche (Phil 4:2-3), Mary (Rom 16:6), Phoebe (Rom 16:1), Tryphaena and Tryphosa (Rom 16:12)];

I hear all the arguments that Junias may be a male name though it never existed, it might be;

I hear all the arguments about textual emendations
[although I would have thought that the maxim that one should accept the more difficult text suggests that the scribes were just trying to get out of a hole because they realised that Junias was a female apostle and this caused them problems - no change there over 2000 years!]

However, at the end of the day I wonder whether we are getting the cart before the horse. We cannot say "This cannot say that because of this". If this says that then our presuppositions are the things that have to change. The Bible text has the last word not our theology.

I'm trying to write a chapter of my thesis at present on Valentinian exegesis of John's Prologue - Herakleon et al. all read John in light of their mythic system. When they couldn't accept what he says, they would habitually turn it round to mean something else - Jesus could not have meant this literally, he meant this instead. As orthodox Christians, as I suppose we all are, we don't accept Valentinian readings because they presuppose acceptance of the Valentinian mythic system.

We need to be careful that we don't impose our own hermeneutical keys upon the text and end up having to approach the text in a Valentinian manner - "I know it says that but it actually means this".

May Junias rest in peace - whatever she did in life, I pray she ran the race with her eyes fixed on her Lord.

Pete Phillips
Cliff College, England

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