The question of whether the name ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ in ancient Greek manuscripts of Romans 16:7 is the masculine name Junias or the feminine name Junia came up again on Facebook, and I shared some information there that I’ve been sitting on for a while. I thought I should share it here too.
But first, here’s the NIV translation of Romans 16:7.
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
1. The feminine names Junia and Julia in Romans 16:7
The following is a list of every (surviving) reference to Junia made by early and medieval Christian scholars that date before the 1200s, with the exception of the reference attributed to Epiphanius which is mentioned in the second part of this article.
These scholars all took the second name in Romans 16:7 to be either the female name Junia or, occasionally, the female name Julia.
- Origen (c. 185–254) Commentarius in epistolum ad Romanos, Book 10 (10.21 cf. 10:26) (PG 14.1280). Origen suggests Andronicus and Junia were among the seventy-two sent out by Jesus in Luke 10. He clearly speaks of Junia as both a woman and as an apostle. (More on Origen below.)
- Chrysostom (c. 344/345–407), In epistolum ad Romanos 31.2 (PG 60.669-670) Chrysostom is often quoted as referring to Junia as a woman and stating that she is “even to be worthy of the designation ‘of the apostles.’”
- Jerome (c. 345-419), Liber interpretationis hebraicorum nominun 72.15 (CCLat 72.150) (or column 895, p. 41 here); and Expositio ep. ad Romanos 16:7 (PL 30.744)
- Ambrosiaster (c. 379), Commentarius in epistolum ad Romanos (CSEL 81.480) “Julia”
- Theodoret of Cyrrhus (c. 393–c. 458), Interpretatio epistolum ad Romanos (PG 82.219-29) Theodoret makes the comment that Andronicus and Junia were “not among the pupils but among the teachers, and not among the ordinary teachers but among the apostles.”
- Ps. Primasius (died c. 567), Commentarius in epistolum ad Romanos (PL 68.505)
- John Damascene (c. 675–c. 749), In epistolum ad Romanos (PG 95.565)
- Rabanus Maurus of Fulda (776–856), In epistolum ad Romanos (PL 111.1607D-1608B) (PDF)
- Haymo of Halberstadt (fl. 840–853), In epistolum ad Romanos (PL 117.505)
- Hatto of Vercelli (885–961), In epistolum ad Romanos 16 (PL 134.282) “Julia” Hatto, who uses the name Julia, said of the couple, “We should understand that they were husband and wife: Virum et uxorem intellegere debemus.”
- Oecumenius (7th century ?) In epistolum ad Romanos 16 (PG 118.629)
- Lanfranc of Bec (c. 1005-1089), Commentarius in epistolum ad Romanos (PL 150.153-4) (PDF)
- Bruno the Carthusian (c. 1030-1101)
- Theophylact of Bulgaria (fl. 1070-1081) Commentarius in epistolum ad Romanos (PG 124.552) Theophylact makes the comment, “and such a woman is Junia: kai tauta gynaika ousan ten Iounian.”
- Peter Abelard (1079-1142) Commentarius in epistolum ad Romanos, 16.7 (CCConMed 11.330)
- Peter Lombard (c. 1069-1169) In epistolum ad Romanos (PL 191.1528)
Furthermore, the Old Latin, early Syriac, and early Coptic translations have a feminine name. And the Greek Orthodox Church which uses the Greek New Testament and Septuagint as their primary texts— they know Greek!—has always regarded Junia as a woman.
As well as providing most of the information above, Joseph Fitzmyer quotes from the tenth-century menology (calendar of saints’ days) of Emperor Basil Porphyrogenitus. For the feast of Andronicus and Junia on May 17, the menology says this of Junia: “Having with him as consort and helper in godly preaching, the admirable woman Junia, who, dead to the world and the flesh, but alive to God alone, carried out her task.”
On top of this, Bruce M. Metzger makes this statement about ancient evidence of the name “Junia.”
… (1) the female Latin name Junia occurs over 250 times in Greek and Latin inscriptions found in Rome alone, whereas the male name is unattested anywhere, and (2) when Greek manuscripts [containing Romans 16:7] began to be accented, scribes wrote the feminine Ἰουνίαν (“Junia”).”
Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (D-Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994), 475.
2. The masculine name Junias in Romans 16:7
By comparison, there are very few instances where the name ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ is rendered as a masculine name in ancient texts or commentaries of Romans 16:7. It was thought that Minuscule 33, a Greek manuscript dating from the ninth century, had the name accented as a masculine name. But this idea has been disputed and overturned. Peter Lampe, for example, writes,
I am now convinced (Paris, Bib. Nation., Grec 14, p. 100 verso, 1. 1) Minuscule 33 from the ninth century places an acute accent and writes the feminine ïουνίαν, so that, contrary to Aland’s text-critical apparatus, we have a witness for the feminine variant.
There is a bit of confusion over Origen (c. 185–254) and his mention of Junia(s) in his commentary on Romans. Origen’s commentary on Romans survives in Greek fragments and as an early Latin translation by Rufinus (345-410). The feminine name occurs in section 10.21 in Rufinus’ translation of Origen’s commentary, but on one occasion, in section 10.26 (PG 14.1289), the name is the masculine “Junias.”
Fitzmyer discusses the discrepancy in Rufinus’ translation and suggests the masculine name was not in Origin’s original Greek commentary on Romans. Most scholars, including Daniel Wallace and Douglas Moo, acknowledge that the masculine name is an error. In the early 900s, Rabanus Maurus quoted from Origen’s commentary and he only gave the feminine name “Junia” (PL 111.1607D-1608B) (PDF). More recent critical Latin translations of Origen’s commentary only have the feminine name. (Bridget Jack Jeffries takes a closer look at Origen’s mentions of Junia here.)
Finally, the Index Discipulorum, a list of apostles attributed to Epiphanius and dated to the 4th century—though it may be pseudonymous and date from the 9th century—has the masculine names Junias and Priscas instead of the correct female names Junia and Prisca. Epiphanius is the earliest source to have the masculine name, but his masculinisation of Prisca’s name casts doubt on the credibility and validity of this evidence.
It was Giles (also known as Aegidius) of Rome (1247-1316) who seems to have been the first person who unambiguously understood Andronicus and his ministry partner to both be “worthy men.” Working from Latin texts that contained both names, Junia and Julia (Latin accusative: Juniam and Juliam), Giles went with Juliam and assumed Andronicus’s partner was a man with the name Julias. (See Aegidii Columnae Romani in epistolam Pauli ad Romanos commentaria, Lectio 52, 97, here.)
A few hundred years later, Martin Luther translated ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ as the masculine name (with the masculine article) den Juniam in his 1552 German translation of the New Testament. A masculine reading slowly gained traction and was adopted by other translators including the English translators of the Revised Version in 1881. This was the first major Protestant English Bible to make Junia a man named Junias.
Michael Bird has observed,
There is a tsunami of textual and patristic evidence for ‘Junia’ that proves overwhelming. Despite some naughty scribes, biased translators, lazy lexicographers and dogmatic commentators, the text speaks about a woman named ‘Junia.’ Jewett goes so far as to call the masculine ‘Junias’ a ‘figment of chauvinistic imagination.’
Bird, Romans (The Story of God Bible Commentary) (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016)
And James D.G. Dunn has stated,
[The female name Junia] was taken for granted by the patristic commentators, and indeed up to the Middle Ages. The assumption that it must be male is a striking indictment of male presumption regarding the character and structure of earliest Christianity… We may firmly conclude, however, that one of the foundation apostles of Christianity was a woman and wife.
Dunn, Romans 9-16 (Word Biblical Commentary, Vol 38B) (Dallas, TX: Word, 1988), 894.
 Many of the names above are taken from Joseph A. Fitzmyer’s Romans: A New Translation and Commentary (The Anchor Bible; New York: Doubleday, 1993), with additional information taken from, Eldon Jay Epp’s chapter, “Text-Critical, Exegetical and Socio-Cultural Factors Affecting the Junia/Junia Variation in Romans 16:7”, in New Testament Textual Criticism and Exegesis: Festschrift J. Delobel, A. Denaux (ed.) (Leuven: Leuven University Press/Peeters, 2002), 227-291.
(I have checked the texts with the highlighted PG links myself.)
 Bridget Jack Jeffries offers an English translation of the three passages where Origen refers to Andronicus and Junia in his Commentary on Romans, here. Bridget’s translation is based on Caroline P. Hammond Bammel’s critical edition of the Latin text.
 Gerald Bray, ed., Romans (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Vol. 6; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1998), 372.
 Peter Lampe, Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries: From Paul to Valentinus, trans. Michael Steinhauser (London: Continuum, 2003),166, fn 39. In the same footnote, Lampe goes on to say that the masculine name “Junias” is “an embarrassing solution fabricated by men.” (Google Books)
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Here is a link to Esther Ng’s paper where she attempts to discredit the idea that Junia was a woman and that (s)he was among the apostles: https://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/63/63-3/JETS_63.3_517-33_Ng.pdf
Kevin deYoung has a paragraph about Junia in his 2021 book, Men and Women in the Church, where he states, “It is likely that Junia (iounian in Greek) is a man, not a woman” and he cites Ng’s paper. In an endnote, deYoung says that “Ng argues persuasively that Junia was most likely a man …” Nevertheless, deYoung refers to Junia with the feminine pronoun “she” twice, and not with a masculine pronoun, which gives the impression that he believes she was most likely a woman.
In response to Kevin deYoung’s other points about Junia and her ministry:
~ Being a Christian minister, including functioning as an apostle, is about serving others; it’s not about having authority over them. I’m wary of the idea of some Christians who make ministry about authority over other capable brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not what Jesus taught.
~ I’d say it’s pretty clear that Andronicus and Junia were not apostles like the Twelve, but this has little to do with whether Paul used the word apostolos in a technical or non-technical manner.
I discuss these points and others, including whether Andronicus and Junia were well-known among, or to, the apostles, in other articles, here.
A second-century funerary relief of a Roman couple carved from marble. (Wikimedia)
Junia: The Jewish Woman Imprisoned with Paul
Is Junia well-known “to” the apostles?
Junia in Romans 16:7
All my articles on Junia are here.
Junia, Nympha, Euodia, Stephana(s): Men or Women?
Paul’s Female Coworkers
A List of the 29 People in Romans 16:1-16