Junia in the Patrologiae
I can’t track down all the references mentioned in different articles and books about Junia, but I am getting close. I feel the need to see for myself every bit of evidence and evaluate it with my own eyes. One of the reasons is that people have a tendency to create evidence. As humans, we have the faculty of imagining and coming to believe in something as real, when it is not, when it was simply suggested to us. This happens as often in biblical interpretation as in any other area of life. Have you ever said, “I know I put my glasses down right here!” But no, they’re sitting by the bathroom sink. The brain completes messages, and fills in blanks with logical options which we come to accept as reality. But the brain supplies information which we are programmed to accept as logical or likely. And then our belief in the reality of this information is rock solid. I have experienced this myself. This is one reason why we should not accept biblical interpretation as absolute truth. We have to accept it as ideas filtered through the wishful thinking of the human authors.
In this image we can see a reference to Junias, and not Junia. This is from the Patrologiae, volume 14 page 1289, published in 1862. According to Epp, it prints the text of a 12th century manuscript of a Latin translation of Origen’s commentary on Romans, written originally in Greek. However, other manuscripts and earlier citation from Origen’s commentary indicate that originally Junia was feminine. I haven’t seen this yet but it is in Caroline Hammond Bammel’s critical text of Origen’s commentary on Romans, translated by Rufinus.
There is also a reference to Junias in the works of Aegidius, a 13th century bishop. In Greek, there is one mention of Junia, in the accusative where the gender is ambiguous, but there is a masculine pronoun. I haven’t seen either of these. But, as far as I know, there are no other occurrences of the name Junias. All three of these references are to the person mentioned in Romans. They do not provide evidence that there was another individual who had the name Junias. They are not evidence that the name Junias existed outside of the epistle to Romans.
However, in this article, we read,
On the one hand, no instances of Junias as a man’s name have surfaced to date in Greek literature, while at least three instances of Junia as a woman’s name have appeared in Greek. Further, Junia was a common enough Latin name and, since this was Paul’s letter to the Romans, one might expect to see a few Latin names on the list. But even the data on this score can be deceptive, for the man’s name Junianas was frequent enough in Latin and Greek writings (and, from my cursory examination of Latin materials, the nickname Iunias also occurred as a masculine name on occasion2)
The note reads,
This tentative conclusion is contradicted by older studies that are presently inaccessible to me. Nevertheless, the database I am using is the CD from the Packard Humanities Institute, certainly more comprehensive than anything examined previously.
To date, as far as I am aware, nobody has published any other occurence of any Junias – other than the apostle – of a Junias for whom the name actually was a nickname for Junianus or the fictive Junianas. What does “on occasion” mean? Or “cursory?” I can only conclude that Wallace had seen one occurence of Junias, this one in the Patrologiae, and that he honestly believes that somewhere in his perusal of the Latin materials on his Packard CD there are other occurences. However, with the information we have at present we have to believe these other occurences do not exist. (Okay, as I write this, I am wondering if Wallace is thinking of the name Junius! Perhaps he has mixed Junius with Junias, just as he has confused Junianus with Junianas.) In any case, nobody has cited any other Junias in all of Latin or Greek materials – so far. So we must assume that Wallace has not seen them either.
My interest in this is not so much about Junia as an apostle, or whether she was female, but about how our mind plays tricks on us, all of us. This is the nature of human knowledge, and all our knowledge about God is human knowledge, it is not divine.
Here is another example. Yesterday a commenter emailed me a link to the webpage where I found this article on bible.org. The author writes,
Dad must take the lead. But what is involved in properly managing a family? For one thing it means taking the lead in providing physical necessities, such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Paul used masculine pronouns in referring to these kinds of things when he said, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8, NIV).
The thing is that I don’t disagree entirely with the sentiment expressed here. But, there are no masculine pronouns in the Greek! This man has a Th. D. from Dallas seminary. He probable can read Greek. The fact is that our minds are open to suggestion. We believe things that we are predisposed to believe, and if information is missing, our brains can create that information and fill in gaps in our actual perception.
Perhaps it is because of the frailty of the human mind that so often software searches are touted as more accurate and more reliable than previous studies. But the human brain interprets these software searches. Introducing the word “CD” “database” or “software” into an article does not impress me. I am really not sure how we can avoid this kind of thing. First, don’t live by a biblical interpretation that doesn’t sit right in the gut. And ask to view the evidence – just out of curiosity. You still don’t want to follow a biblical interpretation that doesn’t feel right to the conscience.