Friday, October 24, 2008

Junia in Romans 16:7 - Proof that we should ordain women?

Hardly. And there is a great review in Touchstone magazine of a recent book on the subject of Junia, who, according to St Paul, was "well known among the apostles" (Rom 16:7).

I remember when the subject of women's ordination was first debated in the Synod of the Lutheran Church of Australia in 2000, one pastor got up and spoke endlessly trying to prove that "Junias" in Romans was really "Junia" and therefore women should be ordained.

Well, the problem is NOT, as many have often assumed, whether Junia was a woman or not. The universal evidence and agreement, including that of all Catholic tradition, is that she was. The question is what is meant by "outstanding among the apostles", and what consequences (if any) follow upon that fact.

John Hunwicke, in "Junia among the Apostles" spells it all out. It is unlikely that Paul was implying that Junia WAS an apostle, and even if the term could have been applied to her, there is even less logic in the argument that this provides theological support for the ordination of women.

Have a read.

P.S. HT to Dr William Tighe for sending me the original article.


At Friday, October 24, 2008 10:19:00 pm , Anonymous Victoria said...

Well, the problem is NOT, as many have often assumed, whether Junia was a woman or not. The universal evidence and agreement, including that of all Catholic tradition, is that she was.

Is that so? I understood that the jury was still out on this one.

In the Greek Orthodox Church Junias is regarded as a man.

At Friday, October 24, 2008 11:20:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Really? Not according to this review.

At Saturday, October 25, 2008 10:59:00 am , Blogger Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Victoria is incorrect. In the Greek Orthodox Church (where I'm at home), Junia is a woman (May 17), and considered one of the seventy apostles, though, of course, not one of the Twelve. So, part of the deal is what "apostle" connotes to different people. In the NT, as in the Greek Church, it's more like "missionary." But The Twelve are The Twelve Apostles par excellence.

At Saturday, October 25, 2008 2:21:00 pm , Anonymous Victoria said...

I was researching this a couple of years ago and rang a Greek Orthodox priest with the question male or female. He looked at his church calendar and told me that the feast was Agios (male) Junias not Agia (female) Junia. Is there more than one Greek Orthodox liturgical calendar?

My research also said that the matter of the gender of Junias is an open question because of the difficulty of deciphering the name as written.

At Sunday, October 26, 2008 12:11:00 pm , Blogger Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

There's no official calendar text per se, but the Archdiocese link is authoritative. The listing is likewise traditional. Perhaps the priest's calendar was affected by the controversy. It is grammatically feminine in the Greek text, as accented, though the accentuation is later, and wouldn't have been present in the original.

There is no historically attested "Junias" name for a male. The male name would be Junius, a well-attested Roman family name, the feminine of which would be Junia. There is no way around that.

It's in the usage of "apostle" that the greatest difference lies, where the imposition of a later anachronistic reservation of "apostle" as a title for those of the Twelve and Paul is muddying the waters. In the NT texts, "apostle" is not restricted in that manner. Traditionally, Junia was among the Seventy Apostles sent out by the Lord in Luke 10, of which there is no agreed list, but many individual women saints are often said to have been among these seventy, from the third century onward, with no problem noted in the Greek sources. The anachronistic awkwardness that inspires the suggestion of a male Junias is a recent phenomenon, of the last century or so, and to be regretted.


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