[See Moderator note at end of post.]
Matěj Cepl had a question and comment on the SHARE page.
Do you have anything to say about Junia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junia)? That’s partially havoc (with nice feminist twist even) caused by Vulgata, isn’t it?
And of course, there are many many examples where translators were led by their theology and not by the text (“he/she shall bruise thy head, …”)
Peter Kirk referred to the archives and said that “a lot of blood has already been spilled over Junia.” A vivid hyperbolic metaphor.
I hope I am not going to spill any more blood, but the last comment does introduce an interesting problem. It is not as simple as it looks. Any translation necessarily presupposes that the translators have done careful exegesis of the text. But a text was written in a certain context which is often not retrievable or well understood by the translators. I think all translators want to say that they are being led by the text, but in reality they are all being led by two things: The text plus their own presuppositions, that is the background knowledge they bring to the text. This means that any translation whether form-based or meaning-based is influenced by both the text and the background knowledge of the translators in terms of language, linguistics, culture and theology. (This is called “cognitive environment” in some theories of communication). Translators will be tempted to say that in my translation I have only been led by the text and I am representing the text without bias, theological or otherwise. It is only everybody else who are being unduly influenced by their theology, if their theology is different from mine.
You asked about the Wikipedia article. It is not too bad, but it is unclear in several areas as well as biased. It correctly says that we cannot decide on the basis of the Greek text alone whether the nominal form of the name is Junia or Junias. The reason is that both would become JUNIAN in the accusative form used in the text. And that corresponds to the Latin accusative JUNIAM, which does not solve the question. The use of an accent would disambiguate the two, but accents were not used in NT manuscripts until around the 9th century (if Wikipedia is correct here, I don’t remember.) Almost all Greek manuscripts since then have used the accent indicating masculine form. The Wikipedia article says that Erasmus’ text had the feminine accent. I don’t have access to this Greek text, but I can see that the Tyndale and the Geneva Bible have Junia, following Erasmus. The revised Greek text by Stephanus in 1550 has the masculine form as has Scrivener (1894), Tischendorf and Westcott-Hort.
The scholarly mood has changed in the last decades – as scholarly moods always do, keeping up with changes in society – and the change can be seen in the adjustment made in the standard NT Greek dictionary (emphasis mine).
BAGD has “Junias (not found elsewh., prob. short form of the common Junianus; cf. Bl-D. §125, 2; Rob. 172) a Jewish convert to Christianity, who was imprisoned w. Paul Ro 16:7; s. on Androvnikos—The possibility, fr. a purely lexical point of view, that this is a woman’s name Junia (Mlt.-H. 155; ancient commentators took Andr. and Junia as a married couple. S. Iouliva,) deserves consideration.”
The newer BDAG has “Ἰουνιᾶς, ᾶ, ὁ Junias (not found elsewh., could be a short form of the common Junianus; s. B-D-F §125, 2; Rob. 172) according to the rdg. of the N. text a Judean Christian, who was imprisoned w. Paul or shared a similar experience Ro 16:7; s. on Ἀνδρόνικος. But the accented form Ἰουνιᾶν has no support as such in the ms. tradition; for critique of B-D-R §125, 2, 6 in connection w. the N. rdg. s. UPlisch, NTS 42, ’96, 477f, n. 2. For the strong probability that a woman named Junia is meant s. prec. entry.”
It is misleading to say that the accented form Ἰουνιᾶν has no support as such (?) in the ms. tradition, since the early mss did not have accents and the majority of those who do have accents, in fact do have the form. (Another move towards p/c is to change from Jewish to Judean, but that is a different topic.)
So, are we talking about a woman or a man? I would say: We don’t know. I would put a footnote to that effect into a translation. My personal, subjective opinion is that there is a 60-40% chance that it refers to a woman, and in that case a husband and wife, like the husband-and-wife team of Akvila and Prisca, but I am not going to fight with those who prefer a higher or lower probablity.
Of course, the other question is whether both were also termed apostles, or whether they were esteemed workers for the Lord, who were well-known to the apostles and had their commendation. Again, from the text alone, the answer is: We don’t know. My personal and subjective opinion is that they were not, but that is based on what else we know about apostles in the NT and the culture of the day.
A third question, which I really think must be kept as an entirely different question is: Can a woman function in the ministry of an apostle today? I happen to come from a church that has had apostles, prophets, ect. for almost a hundred years. I have never heard of a husband-wife-team where both were apostles, and it would be extremely rare if it ever were to happen. However, I am prepared to accept that a woman today can function as an apostle the way I understand this ministry.
[Moderator note: a few comments on this post have attributed motives to others. Please do not suggest motives for certain interpretations or translations–see posting guidelines #2. In comments below words suggesting motives of others have been deleted while retaining the rest of each comment. Our discussions will proceed more objectively if we refrain from suggesting motives of others and if we refrain from ad hominem arguments. Just the facts, please! If enough comments do not follow the posting guidelines, they will be closed for a particular post.]
[Later from Moderator: comments on this post are now closed. It takes too much time and emotional energy for BBB bloggers to have to moderate comments so heavily. The posting guidelines are designed to make this a safe place for everyone to post their comments, including when we disagree with each other. But sometimes moderation is required because we are human. Alas, your fallible Moderator keeps fighting some of his old battles, as well. Oh, help us, Lord, because of ourselves!]