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The Junia Evidence: I

December 14, 2011

In response to a request on this post, I provide these specific examples of episemos en plus dative meaning “among,” taken from Burer and Wallace’s own article. The phrase has a partitive or inclusive sense in these examples. “Prominent among” or “outstanding among” is a good fit in each of the following examples. These are direct citations from the article by Burer and Wallace. (Their article did not include unicode Greek so I have provided a light transliteration.)

But in Add. Esth. we read that the people are to ‘observe this as a notable day among the commemorative festivals’ (en tais heortais episemon hemeran). In this text, that which is episemon is itself among (en) similar entities. It should simply be noted that impersonal nouns are used here, making the parallel to Rom. 16:7  inexact.

It should be noted here that W & B have made the restriction themselves that episemos should be with a personal noun. As we have clearly seen, in Pss. of Solomon 2:7, it is not. (If you missed the first post, Pss. of Solomon 2:6 is also found at the bottom of this post.)  The very occurence that B & W chose as the “very close parallel” is not a parallel by their own restrictions.

Lucianus speaks of Harmonides the pipe-player craving fame for his musical abilities to the extent that he wants ‘glory before the crowds, fame among the masses’ (he doxa he para twn pollwn kai to episemon einai en plethesi). He clearly sees himself as set apart from hoi polloi! … Lucianus thus shows the same patterns that we saw earlier, viz., an exclusive notion with en plus the dative

I have to disagree with this assessment. For me, a pipe player is “among the masses.” He is definitely one of the hoi polloi! In this case, the Greek is more literally translated as “and to be prominent among the masses,” and makes an exact parallel with Rom. 16:7. It is a direct parallel in favour of inclusivists, that Junia is among the apostles.

The authors continue with another example from Lucianus,

On at least one occasion his words unmistakably have an inclusive force for en plus the dative. In his work On Salaried Posts in Great Houses, he offers advice to servants: ‘… you must raise your thirsty voice like a stranded frog, taking pains to be conspicuous among the claque and to lead the chorus’ (episemos ese en tois epainousi . . .). This is the first parallel to Rom 16:7 we have seen that could offer real comfort to inclusivists. It is unmistakable, it is personal, and it is rare. We have noticed, in fact, only one other text that clearly bears an inclusive meaning with en plus dative personal substantives.

B & W accept this as a parallel for those who see Junia as among the apostles. As we have seen, it is not rare. In fact, B & W did not find a parallel themselves for their hypothesis on Romans 16:7. I also find the tone of this article to be patronising. The only comfort I need is to read this article and realize how terribly blown off course complementarianism is.

In Jos. Bell. 2.418 we read of certain leading citizens who dispatched some representatives, ‘among whom were eminent persons, Saul, Antipas, and Costobar, all members of the royal family’ (en ois esan epishmoi Saulos te kai Antipas kai Kostobaros . . .). But even this text is not a clean parallel: the relative clause is expected to consist of en plus the dative, and the adjective is almost functioning as a technical term, without any notion of comparative force. It is at least quite different from Rom. 16:7 in several important respects.

I have difficulty understanding why this is not somewhat parallel, but you be the judge this time.

Euripides speaks of the goddess Aphrodite as ‘glorious among mortals’ (kapishmos en brotois). Aphrodite is not a mortal, but her fame is certainly found among mortals. Here is an excellent illustration that has all the constituent parts found in Rom. 16:7: a personal construction with ejn plus the dative. And the meaning is obviously an exclusive idea.

This is the only example which could possibly “offer comfort” to exclusivists. However, B & W have also made the restrictions that the examples be elative and not comparative. They write,

The lexical domain can roughly be broken down into two streams: episemos is used either in an implied comparative sense (‘prominent, outstanding [among]’) or in an elative sense (‘famous, well known [to/by]’).

In this case, Aphrodite is “prominent, outstanding among” mortals in the comparative sense as well as in the elative sense. The example of Aphrodite is ambiguous, and not conclusive.

This is the example which B & W offer as the “very close parallel,”

sented by Burer and Wallace,

In Pss. Sol. 2:6, where the Jewish captives are in view, the writer indicates that ‘they were a spectacle among the gentiles’ (ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν). This construction comes as close to Rom 16:7 as any we have yet seen.

But this is the actual  citation from Pss. of Sol. 2:6.

οἱ υἱοὶ καὶ αἱ θυγατέρες ἐν αἰχμαλωσίᾳ πονηρᾷ,
ἐν σφραγῖδι ὁ τράχηλος αὐτῶν, ἐν ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν

The sons and daughters were in harsh captivity
their neck in a seal, with a mark among the nations
Psalms of Solomon 2:6 NETS

This is not a parallel of any kind. In fact, one has to wonder whether the authors every viewed this citation in its original context. The truth is that I cannot imagine how this happened.

My favourite solution for Pss. Sol. 2:6 is that this is a translation of a lost original Hebrew writing. In this case, I would guess that “in a seal” and “in a mark” are parallel constructions, with “in a mark” meaning that the captives had a mark branded on their skin.

I have many more examples to list, but they will have to wait until tomorrow. In closing, I just want to say that I am happy to blog with the some of the smartest guys in the blogosphere. That includes the guys on the BBB as well.


Matt Colvin, with a Ph.D. in Greek has kindly entered the discussion and provides more Junia evidence. He writes,

The TLG results did cough up a few instances that refute Suzanne’s ostensible rule. Especially helpful is Ephraem Syrus Theol., Ad imitationem proverbiorum (4138: 006)

(“Ὁσίου Ἐφραίμ τοῦ Σύρου ἔργα, vol. 1”, Ed. Phrantzoles, Konstantinos G. Thessalonica: Το περιβόλι της Παναγίας, 1988, Repr. 1995. Page 187, line 6)

Θέλω πρακτικὸς εἶναι καὶ ἐπίσημος ἐν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ἢ παραβαίνειν ἐντολὰς καὶ εἶναι αὐτοῖς βδελυκτός.
“I want to be ready for action, and ἐπίσημος among the brothers, rather than to transgress the commandments and be repugnant to them.”

What is nice about this example is that the parallel construction of the sentence makes clear that there is not a comparison being made, nor any partitive construction, but that ἐν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς is parallel to αὐτοῖς in the second half, and that both indicate the subjective perceivers of the good qualities the author desires to have — precisely how Wallace and Burer think “among the apostles” should be taken in Romans 16:7.

In response, I note that “the brothers” in Greek as in many other languages, can only refer to one’s own brothers. The personal pronoun is not usually used in Greek for those things which belong to one’s own person unless there is some doubt. This really ought to be translated as “my brothers” or even “my people” so it is partitive – he wants to stand out among his own brothers, and not to some other race or group of people. ” There was no group of people at the time who, in distinction to everyone else, called themselves “the brothers.” That is why he want to be ready for action, so he can be prominent among his own band of brothers.

I find this example strengthens the case that Junia was among the apostles, rather than refuting it. Many thanks to Matt Colvin for undertaking this additional research.

39 Comments leave one →
  1. mattcolvin permalink
    December 14, 2011 1:40 pm

    Yes, they’re his brothers, alright. But is “εἶναι αὐτοῖς βδελυκτός” (“repugnant to them”) also partitive? Surely not. And if not, then neither is “ἐπίσημος ἐν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς”, for the clauses are parallel.

    So much, then, for this passage helping your case.

  2. mattcolvin permalink
    December 14, 2011 1:41 pm

    It is as though you were to claim that “He is a stench to his own family” implies that “to be a stench to” is a partitive expression.

  3. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 14, 2011 1:51 pm


    He is a member of the group of his own brothers. It doesn’t really matter. Junia was prominent to the apostles, they saw that she was prominent, but she was also a member of the apostles. How can you say otherwise?

  4. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 14, 2011 1:52 pm

    I appeal to your common sense. Is the person speaking one of the brothers?

  5. mattcolvin permalink
    December 14, 2011 1:58 pm

    In the Ephraem passage the dative with “en” happens to be a group of which the speaker is part, but his membership in that group is emphatically not what the “episemos en + dative” construction expresses — any more than “a stench to” expresses membership in the family in my example above.

    So no, the application of common sense shows that Ephaem does not help your case, but rather, refutes it.

  6. mattcolvin permalink
    December 14, 2011 1:59 pm

    And if you grant that “Junia was prominent to the apostles”, then you have given away the whole store, for there is no other evidence to make her a member of the group.

  7. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 14, 2011 2:01 pm

    If you say that the speaker was among his own brothers you have given away the whole store.

  8. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 14, 2011 2:05 pm


    You cannot prove that en plus the dative means anything other than “among.” I do have many more examples, as you note this is listed as part I. You imply that it refers to words of perception, but in Greek episemos is an adjective and not a verb or a word of perception.

    I will continue this evening. I have many more lists of evidence. I won’t get to your Hebrew stuff until later. I don’t know its relevance. But I can tell you that Junia has been considered an apostle by the Greek Orthodox continuously for 2000 years. I respect their scholarship on the Greek lg.

  9. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 14, 2011 2:26 pm

    PS Perhaps the problem is that ἐν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς and αὐτοῖς βδελυκτός are not parallel constructions. The former usually means “among” and the latter “to.”

  10. mattcolvin permalink
    December 14, 2011 3:15 pm

    No, that is not “the problem”. Rather, it is exactly what makes the passage such an elegant proof against your view: it is because the two phrases are being directly contrasted (thus “parallel”) while *differing* grammatically that enables us to explicate the sense of the first by appeal to the second: the logic and rhetorical design of the sentence requires that the two phrases form a direct contrast. On my reading, they do. On your (partitive) reading, they do not.

    If Ephraem had written “βδελυκτὸς ἐν αὐτοῖς”, you would no doubt claim that that construction was partitive. But because he wrote αὐτοῖς βδελυκτός, he has made clear that ἐπίσημος ἐν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς also is not partitive.

  11. mattcolvin permalink
    December 14, 2011 3:16 pm

    And no, I did not claim that episemos refers to words of perception.

  12. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 14, 2011 3:28 pm

    This will have to rest until I find the passage in B & W that shows that the dative normally is found with words of perception and en plus dative usually means partitive. In any case, the speaker is still among the brothers, agreed? There is nothing that says that this has to be parallel. At best, this is ambiguous, but I don’t find it ambiguous to me – a brother is a brother.

    But more to follow later this evening or tomorrow.

  13. December 14, 2011 5:09 pm

    Here are a couple of examples from Corpus Aristotelicum, from Aristotle’s “Problems” (943b) and from his “Politics” (1310a):

    Διὰ τί ἀπὸ μὲν τῆς θαλάττης οὐκ ἀποπνεῖ ἕωθεν ψυχρόν,
    ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ποταμῶν;
    ἢ ὅτι ἡ μὲν θάλαττά ἐστιν ἐν ἀναπεπταμένοις τόποις,
    οἱ δὲ ποταμοὶ ἐν στενοῖς;

    χρὴ δὲ καὶ ὑπολαμβάνειν καὶ ὑποκρίνεσθαι τοὐναντίον,
    ἐπισημαινομένους ἐν τοῖς ὅρκοις
    ὅτι “οὐκ ἀδικήσω τὸν δῆμον”.

    In both examples, ἐν cannot be translated as anything like “to” but has the sense of “included in” or “included across” or “included among.” I’d be happy to give a translation of the sentences as their contexts would require, but I just only have a moment now to give the examples, lest they’re useful in any way.

  14. mattcolvin permalink
    December 14, 2011 6:55 pm

    You continue to argue as if you were debating with W&B. But I don’t carry any water for them. I don’t like their article, precisely because it twists the Greek of Pss. Sol. 2:6 in an attempt to set up a rule of usage to prove a theologically motivated reading — ironically the very same thing you are doing here.

    The question isn’t whether there are partitive instances. I have always recognized that there are — indeed, I pointed it out in my post.

    The question is whether Romans 16:7 MUST be read in an inclusive/partitive way. My view is that it could be, if Junia were an apostle, but that if she is not, then it is still perfectly good Greek for saying that she is well known or noteworthy *in those circles*. And there is no shortage of precedent for this construal, since “en + dative” is the most usual Greek way of expressing location.

    Remember, my position is not, “Romans 16:7 must be read this way because I have discovered rules of Greek idiom and usage that compel my reading.” My claim is simply that you have not proven that your reading is necessary, and since the verse is amenable to other translations, it is a very slender reed on which to base an egalitarian doctrine of church office. There are plenty of reasons to doubt whether Junia held the same office as the Twelve, Matthias, and Paul — not least the fact that Jesus didn’t choose any other women as apostles, though He had many among his disciples. The burden of proof is on the egalitarian exegetes to explain how the early church came up with male-only officers if there were females originally. The historic practice of the church — including the Eastern Orthodox church whose reading of Romans 16:7 you prefer — is male-only clergy.

    Finally, when I responded to you on Alastair’s blog (at his request), I did so in ignorance of the fact that you have been on a several year’s crusade about this issue, this article, and this verse. I’m interested in this issue only insofar as it can be a signpost to more interesting and fundamental approaches to clarifying Scripture, such as the Jewish background of ordination and the apostolate. I’m not interested in a protracted TLG trench war with you. You’ve said you have lots more examples. Well, sure you do. I’ve said all along that “en+dative” can be partitive. (I’m not Wallace or Burer.) You don’t need to prove it to me with examples; I have all of Greek literature on a CD-ROM, and can find them for myself. But your handling of the examples I have given you does not make me expect a meeting of the minds with you.

  15. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 14, 2011 8:17 pm


    I feel that you need to provide an example in which the person may not be a member of the group, or may not be more prominent than the group. So far, I haven’t seen that as a possibility. I honestly don’t know if I am missing it. Truly.

    I write about this stuff because I am truly interested in the Greek first. Its not a trench war for me, any more than when Kurk writes on and on about Greek. We do this stuff because we enjoy the language. It was my sheer pleasure in the language that caught me up when I read the B & W ‘s Junia paper.

    Then I realised that most modern Bibles do not derive their translation from current scholarship.

    1) The status of the scholarship now is that the grammar of Romans 16:7 lends itself naturally to “among.”

    2) For 2000 years, in Greek language writings and in the 1800’s Vamva revision of the Greek Bible, Junia was considered one of the apostles. In that translation she is metaxu the apostles. I respect the Greek tradition.

    3) The vulgate and KJV had among. All Bibles that listed Junia as masculine had “among.” The variant “well-known to” appeared in the last few years. I can’t find a precedent for it.

    Here is how a few popular Bibles pan out.

    Junias, RSV, NIV, Luther, NASB
    Well known to NET, ESV, HCSB, CEV
    Junia among KJV NIV 2011

    My concern is that the enormous preponderance of evidence and the tradition up until Luther is that Junia was among the apostles. There is very weak basis for saying that the name is masculine or that she was only “well-known to” the apostles.

    My interest as an exegete is truly to work from the Greek and the immediate context. In the context Phoebe was a diakonos and a prostatis, Chloe had a group under her, Nympha had a church in her house, the elect lady was addressed in a letter, women presided as patrons over synagogues and collegia. Wealthy women had enormous influence.There was always room for exceptional women. Lydia was a merchant and the head of a household.

    I would like to ask you if you see a way forward as to what to look at next. I like looking at the Greek examples because I think many people are convinced by B & W article still. But you suggest something also.

  16. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 14, 2011 8:21 pm

    I do want to add that I am not trying to prove egalitarianism from this verse. What I am trying to do is reveal the fact that exegetes are fallible, all of us, and that it is wrong to allow an exegete to control the way women interact in church.

  17. mattcolvin permalink
    December 14, 2011 9:08 pm

    Certainly, it means “among the apostles.” But it does not follow that Junia was one, any more than Sweeney is a nightingale. In W&B’s example from Euripides, Aphrodite is not a mortal, but is episeme among mortals. Your claim that the passage is comparative would make the passage damn the goddess with faint praise, like saying “you’re prettier than all dogs.“

  18. mattcolvin permalink
    December 14, 2011 9:17 pm

    The way forward is for both sides to stop grasping at lexical straws and torturing the scanty evidence, and instead learn about the Jewish models and institutions that underlay the church’s system of offices. Suggested reading:

    _The Apostolic Ministry_, Ed. Bp. Kirk.
    R. Beckwith, _Elders in Every City_,.
    J. T. Burtchaell, _From Synagogue to Church_
    “The Laying on of Hands” in Collected Works of David Daube, vol. 2.

    You should be aware that Claudia Setzer’s claim about female synagogue rulers is not widely accepted, and rests on a tendentious reading of the inscriptional evidence, which also uses “archisynagogos” as an honorific title for children.

  19. December 14, 2011 11:01 pm


    From the amount that you have written on this subject, the anger that you have expressed against W&B, against those who support the ESV and challenge the NIV2011 and TNIV, your description of your strength of feelings in relation to the men in your years in complementarian circles, your earlier stereotyping of male scholarship, your insistence on there being a conspiracy and a cover up (your words), etc., it is virtually impossible to believe your claim that your interest in this matter is merely on account of your love of Greek.

    Matt’s examples also seem to make clear that the claim that Junia must be an apostle is far from watertight, and that it can be a matter of honest scholarly debate. Are you prepared to withdraw your initial assertion that this is a cover up and conspiracy?

    Also, I would second Matt’s request that we instead focus upon closer examination of the biblical and Jewish evidence that can help us to understand the logic of the Church’s offices.

    You bring forward the examples of Phoebe, Chloe, Nympha, the elect lady, and Lydia. No one denies for a moment that women can have a prominent role in the life of the Church. In fact, I have strongly argued for it. I am strongly in favour of deaconesses, female churchwardens, vestrywomen, hosts of churches, patrons, etc., etc. In fact, I am on record saying that these are good things and that we need more women in such positions. The claim that the elect lady was a particular individual is debatable, at best. ‘Those of Chloe’ were almost certainly members of her household. I don’t see why any of us are supposed to have an issue with Lydia being a merchant and having her own household. What bearing any of this has is unclear.

    None of these cases come remotely near to proving the claim that women can either be ordained, or ordain others for that matter. They do not prove that any of these women exercised authority over men. Whenever women are charged with teaching or a leading position related in any clear way to the worship and life of the Church or the cult of Israel, it is in relation to other women. They do not prove that, even were certain women to be ordained, this would be anything more than exceptions proving the clear biblical rule of male leadership in the Church (what do you have to say about the fact that Israel and the Church were places where men had a God-given monopoly on the chief positions of representation?).

  20. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 15, 2011 12:24 am


    First, if I give you a phrase that says, “My older sister is outstanding in our family, and we recognize this” that does not make the expression “outstanding in our family” mean anything less than that she is a part of our family, and is more prominent than the rest of us. Adding “and we recognize this”, changes nothing.

    Regarding Aphrodite, it is the best that I have seen, and perhaps if fits your criteria, but as it meets the comparative test, it does not meet B & W’s standards. This means that there still lacks published defense for Junia, not among the apostles. If you publish, then you will make a contribution to that. Perhaps you will be inspired.


    I studied Greek from the age of 14 to 21, every day, without ever thinking about these issues. I brought Greek to my theology, not the other way around. This was my pleasure.

    Matt is clear that the B & W article is sloppy. I did not use these words. Please don’t put this on me!

    Enough for tonight! I have just had a delightful talk with my brother on the influence of Arabic translations of Ptolemy on Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo. You underestimate me if you don’t think I love language for its own sake.

  21. December 15, 2011 5:42 am


    I don’t question your love for language for its own sake for an instant. What I am questioning is your claim that your interest in the B&W paper is all just about love for language.

  22. mattcolvin permalink
    December 15, 2011 5:47 am

    There is no chance, none, that “Aphrodite episeme en brotois” is comparative. It is not inclusive, for she is not a mortal, and it is not comparative, for she is not being compared to mortals. To compare her to mortals would be contrary to Euripides’ rhetorical context of praise. She is episeme compared to other, more minor divinities, not mortals. The prepositional phrase specifies the circle or audience of her fame. It is a plain vanilla locative construction.

    You are procrusteanizing the texts in order to claim a universal rule of usage that isn’t true in Greek. That is exactly what Wallace and Burer tried to do. You didn’t like it when they did it, and your complementarian brothers and sisters will cry “foul” when you do it.

    Again, my position: “en + dative” is locative: it tells you where, or among whom. Context, not a rule, then determines whether it is comparative, partitive, or elative. Attempts to set up a universal rule apart from context betray a theological animus driving the exegesis.

    To say “Junia is an apostle, so the construction is partitive and comparative in Romans 16:7” is question-begging.

  23. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 15, 2011 10:14 am


    You are the one suggesting that I have claimed a universal rule. You are putting words in my mouth. I do find that this citation about Aphrodite falls outside all the others. In all the others, the person is a member of the group. In this one case, she isn’t. But since she is greater than the group, it is not a close parallel. But I do see your point that it doesn’t fit some universal rule. But I haven’t made that claim. However, this citation is not from Hellenistic Greek, so it is distanced somewhat from the other evidence.

    I do claim that the great preponderance of evidence from Hellenistic Greek is on the side of the unbroken tradition of 2000 years, that Junia was among the apostles. and as we can see from the Vamva version and from the tradition of the Greek orthodox church, she was considered a member of the larger apostolic group.

    Unike suggestions made by commenters, I have never made egalitarian claims from this. I only protest that Bibles ought to translate according to the preponderance of scholarly evidence. This is what i am asking.

    We must continue to discuss the published exegesis of this verse. I want to look at how to find unclouded exegesis for readers to trust.

    Once again, I claim only that by far the largest part of the evidence and unbroken church traadition, supports Junia among the apostles. To exclude her is an event of the 21st century, and must be rigourously defended.

    My claim is that unbroken church tradition included Junia, not a recent feminist agenda. But a recent political agenda against egalitarianism has brought about a change in the understanding of this phrase. And this shift is translation is not sufficiently supported by published scholarship.

  24. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 15, 2011 10:30 am


    I spent hours going through the TAM epigraphy, and I haven’t even brought up any of those examples yet. It was a lot of fun. Somebody, a complementarian friend actually sent me Linda Belleville’s article, and said he had doubts about Burer’s article. But I don’t think he would have sent it if he didn’t think that I would do this work for the enjoyment of it. There are many other egalitarian women blogging and they don’t do this kind of detailed analysis. I can’t argue the larger issues most of the time. It is just a huge tragedy for me. I can’t bear it. But I love to spend time on the details, and i have done detailed work on other non-controversial things but they just don’t attract attention. Do you by any chance want to hear about the Pagninus Bible, or the Sefer Yetsirah? I always get the impression these things bore people.

  25. December 15, 2011 10:31 am


    Even if, taken in abstraction from all other concerns, your preferred reading of Romans 16:7 is by far the most likely one on the basis of Greek grammar, the scholarly evidence that must be taken into account when treating a particular passage extends far beyond Greek grammar alone, but must take into account the wider textual, theological, and historical context. If, as you have granted, there is not some universal rule here, and there are texts that suggest that, on a purely grammatical basis, the reading of the ESV is quite possible, albeit very unlikely, surely you must grant that, if weighty contextual and biblical evidence exists against Junia being an apostle, the ESV translation could be a perfectly legitimate rendering based on assessment of all of the evidence. As such, grammar alone is not sufficient to settle the case here (despite its needing to be a necessary and weighty part of any conclusion). Do you accept this?

  26. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 15, 2011 10:45 am

    I believe that the translation “well-known to” is hghly unlikely, does not have enough evidence, since there is none in Hellenistic Greek to support it, and that the Greeks themselves have never entertained this as a grammatical possibility. I claim that present published papers do not provide adequate support for the translations found in the ESV, NET, HCSB and CEV. These translations cannot claim that they have scholarship on their side.

    I will provide some more Hellenistic evidence in a further post. I can only bring evidence to light for the grammatical construction and for the history of interpretation. I come from a Brethren background and lack the desire to argue about ordination and what all that means.

  27. December 15, 2011 10:51 am


    You are still focusing narrowly on the grammatical evidence. You haven’t answered my question: if something is highly unlikely but still possible on purely grammatical grounds, isn’t it perfectly possible that other broader areas of evidence that have bearing on the question may shift the weight of evidence in favour of that grammatically unlikely reading?

  28. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 15, 2011 12:48 pm

    I don’t really think that it is possible, but I can see how other people might think that. I stop short of universal rules.

    I simply feel that this kind of translation decision should not appear in a Bible translation which claims to be both literal and scholarly unless it is prefaced by the statement that if there is even the tiniest possibility that a verse can be interpreted in a way to reduce the status of women, that will be done; If that preface is provided, then so be it, it is an honest translation.

  29. December 15, 2011 1:53 pm

    this citation is not from Hellenistic Greek, so it is distanced somewhat from the other evidence

    This is an important observation. But literary critic George Steiner does note, more than once, that “St. Paul cites Euripides.” Paul writing the Romans is writing to well-read Greek readers, and he himself is well read. I believe his biggest literary influence is the LXX (as is the case for the Greek writers and Jesus-translating translators of the gospels). So I think both the Pss. of Sol. 2:6 and Hippolytus 91 need to be looked at. The question is whether B&W really read them so well, so as to be as dogmatic as they are in their conclusion about what Paul must have meant.

    οἱ υἱοὶ καὶ αἱ θυγατέρες
    ἐν αἰχμαλωσίᾳ πονηρᾷ,
    ἐν σφραγῖδι ὁ τράχηλος αὐτῶν,
    ἐν ἐπισήμῳ
    ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν

    σεμνή γε μέντοι κἀπίσημος
    ἐν βροτοῖς

    I’m surprised, a little, that B&W didn’t consider Hippolytus 1-2 also:

    Πολλὴ μὲν ἐν βροτοῖσι κοὐκ ἀνώνυμος
    θεὰ κέκλημαι Κύπρις οὐρανοῦ τ᾽ ἔσω:

    The problem B&W create for themselves is trying to read ἐν (en plus dative) as either meaning an inclusion of one of the same kind among or meaning an exclusion from by some different kind apart. Like Aristotle did, they want to set up a binary, exclude the middle, and force their conclusion. Nonetheless, for better or for worse, the Greek language here allows another meaning, at least.

    Psalms of Solomon 2:6 has a enough context to make clear that the sons and daughters are not goyim, not gentiles. And yet they are marked as among them as they are among an exile that is wicked.

    Euripides is having his characters and even Aphrodite herself include her among not only revered and famous among the mortals (and she’s not one of course) but also mighty and of high renown among the mortals and also in heaven (where she mostly lives, of course).

    My point is that the exile that the sons and daughters find themselves in marks them as gentiles — this is a larger possible meaning, if a metaphorical meaning. Likewise, Aphrodite is among those who praise Aphrodite — she’s one of them, among them as one of them, and yet she’s not a mortal, of course. B&W want to stress how excluded she is from mortals, but Euripides starts his play off doing just the opposite. They have Aphrodite among the mortals, as praisers, as mortal-like praisers.

    So B&W want to use this one example from the LXX and the one from Euripides to conclude somehow unequivocally: “Thus Junia, along with Andronicus, is recognized by Paul as well known to the apostles, not as an outstanding member of the apostolic band.” Well, Paul could object.

    And so might we.

    ἀσπάσασθε Ἀνδρόνικον καὶ Ἰουνίαν
    τοὺς συγγενεῖς μου
    καὶ συναιχμαλώτους μου,
    οἵτινές εἰσιν ἐπίσημοι
    ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις,
    οἳ καὶ πρὸ ἐμοῦ γέγοναν
    ἐν Χριστῷ.

    Androicus and Junia are regarded by the Apostle paul to be,
    his fellow kinsmen,
    his fellow prisoners.

    They’re also marked
    as included in the apostles

    And this might mean that they aren’t really Apostles even if the Apostles so mark them. But it also means that the Apostles include these two among themselves. So here’s a woman equal with the Apostle paul in birth, equal with him in persecution, and equally regarded in an inclusive way among the Apostles. Then there’s this addition: They were, before Paul, included in Christ, among whatever being in Christ is.

    The emphasis by Euripides’ characters, by the LXX translator, and by Paul to the Romans regarding Junia is consistently on inclusion. The two assertions by B&W — (1) “the meaning is obviously an exclusive idea” and “(2) not as an outstanding member of the apostolic band” — are just Aristotelian, just exclusionary and dogmatic statements.

  30. December 15, 2011 2:19 pm

    this citation is not from Hellenistic Greek, so it is distanced somewhat from the other evidence

    This is an important observation also because the LXX Psalms and the drama of Euripides are both poetic. Paul did play with words, even in his letter to his Greek readers in Rome. Paul was well read (and cites Euripides, according to Steiner, and many times cites the LXX). And yet I think the influence of Aristotle on Paul is rather profound. Paul is the only NT writer to use the word, λογικη, which Aristotle probably coined and which guided his science, his epistemology, and this logic guided his conclusions about females. Paul used the word λογικη when writing to his readers in Rome. So it’s probable that Paul paid attention to Aristotle and his writings. At any rate, here’s an interesting example of Aristotle including males and females together in a text where he was so eager to identify their very specific differences in detail (Generation of Animals, 728b):

    τοῖς ἄρρεσι γίγνεται τὸ περίττωμα τοῦτο
    καὶ τοῖς θήλεσι τὰ καταμήνια
    ἐπισημαίνει ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ ἡλικίᾳ,

    Notice, he’s saying that male sperm (which was what Aristotle understood as what generated life) is — to his chagrin — found mixed with female catamenia, both discharges marked by this at the same time. Here’s an inclusion that Aristotle’s science — he admits — has not be able to avoid. (I can’t say that Aristotle’s science is correct at this point, but he thinks it is, no doubt.) As I read Paul and Aristotle one beside the other, the former is much more liberal, much more of an egalitarian (see his comments about Junia with respect to himself, or comments about Phoebe and Prisca for that matter) and much more open to language and to logic that is not exclusive. Nonetheless, both writers fail to use completely unambiguous language. Interesting studies of this are Sara J. Newman’s “Aristotle’s Definition of Rhetoric in the Rhetoric“; Charis Hart’s “Apostle Paul is NOT a Male Chauvinist!”; and Carolyn Osiek’s “The Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33): a problematic wedding,”


  1. The Junia Evidence: II « BLT
  2. Matt Colvin on Junia and Apostleship | Alastair's Adversaria
  3. The Junia Evidence: III « BLT
  4. The Junia Evidence: IV « BLT
  5. The Junia Evidence: V « BLT
  6. The Junia Evidence: VI and the reliability of software « BLT
  7. The Junia Evidence: VII and Syriac as commentary « BLT
  8. The Junia Evidence: VIII what Sherlock Holmes had to say « BLT
  9. The Junia Evidence: IX what the trial lawyer said « BLT

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