Junias Junia Julia Romans 16.7

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.

The feminine names Junia and Julia in Romans 16:7

The following is a list of early and medieval Christian scholars who took the second name in Romans 16:7 to be the female name Junia or, occasionally, the female name Julia.[1] (I hope to fill in this list with more information at a later date.)

  • Origen (c. 185–254) Commentarius in epistolum ad Romanos, Book 10 (10.21 cf. 10:26) (PG 14.1280). (More on Origen below.)
  • Chrysostom (c. 344/345–407), In epistolum ad Romanos 31.2 (PG 60.699-670)
  • Jerome (c. 345-419), Liber interpretationis hebraicorum nominun 72.15 (CCLat 72.150) 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)
  • 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: “Virum et uxorem intellegere debemus” (PL 134.282) “Julia”
  • 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)
  • Peter Abelard (1079-1142)
  • Peter Lombard (c. 1069-1169)

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.

On top of this, Bruce M. Metzger notes,

… (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.

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. In his 1993 commentary on Romans, Joseph Fitzmyer notes there is one ninth-century minuscule manuscript that includes accents that make the name masculine.

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, 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. (Rabanus Maurus quotes from section 10.21 of Rufinus’ translation and likewise has the feminine name Junia (1608B).)

And finally, the Index Discipulorum, a list of apostles attributed to Epiphanius and dated to the 4th century, though it may be late as the 9th century, has the male names Junias and Priscas instead of the correct female names Junia and Prisca.

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 be both “worthy men.” Working from Latin texts that contained both names, Junia and Julia (Latin: Juniam and Juliam), Giles went with Juliam and assumed Andronicus’s partner was a man with a name equivalent to Julias. (See Aegidii Columnae Romani in epistulam Pauli ad Romanos commentaria, 97.)

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 English translation of the Bible to make Junia a man named Junias.[2]

Conclusion

On this topic, 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.


Footnotes

[1] 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.

[2] See John Thorley, “Junia, a Woman Apostle”, in Novum Testamentum, Vol. 38 (January 1996), 18-29, 18.

Image

A second-century funerary relief of a Roman couple carved from marble. (Wikimedia)


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