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The Junia Evidence: IX what the trial lawyer said

January 3, 2012

In my most recent post I thought about how Sherlock Holmes’ dictum,  “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth” is useful. And today I noticed a post which forms a relevant next comment. Because, after all, is the Bible a murder mystery? An enigma, a puzzle to be solved?

At Cognitive Discopants, the blogger asks,

What people really want is an approach to Scripture that makes the Bible seem like a puzzle book with “Jabez Prayer”-like secrets waiting to be unlocked by the newest hermeneutical Evel Knievel.

That’s the thing! Is the Bible just waiting for us to dig up new data on Junia two millenia later? Has the truth on women in the Bible been hidden for 2ooo years, just awaiting a Sherlock Holmes of the 21st century, or maybe just an Evel Knievel? Junia has tried the patience of some, and we are ready to return to the King James Version, the Vulgate, whatever would rescue us from the Swiss army knife of Bible translation. Let us read the Bible as it comes to us, and live with the contradictions we are presented with, rather than reconfiguring the Greek language to shoe horn in some favourite interpretation, like the ugly step sister cutting off her big toe.

Here is one blogger who has seen too many permutations on Junia,who feels perhaps that she has become a pereptual choose-your-own-ending drama,

The complementarians like to shift their footings when it comes to Junia. They want to find some argument on which they can stand to diminish the significance of the woman [Junia].

First, they argued she wasn’t a woman (Junia) but a man (Junias). The evidence disproved them so thoroughly even they gave in (or most of them gave in) and so they shifted to another footing to stand their argument on…

Second, they argued she wasn’t an apostle. Don’t forget this: The only reason males in the history of the church, and the motive seems to be to diminish women leaders in the church, changed the woman Junia to the man Junias was because whoever it was was an apostle. So the complementarians decided to show she wasn’t an apostle: she’s a woman alright, but only esteemed among the (male-only college of) apostles and not an apostle herself. Then that got disproven, and Eldon Epp’s long section in his book shows that this argument that Junia was only esteemed by the apostles but wasn’t an apostle herself can’t be relied on with rigor. So they shifted to another footing…

Third, they argued she was an apostle only in conjunction with her male (probably) husband. This one just didn’t work because she’s still called an “apostle” — a pair of apostles still makes her an apostle. So they shifted to another footing…

Fourth, they now are arguing that “apostle” really doesn’t mean “apostle” — it really means “missionary,” and we all know a “missionary” isn’t what an apostle is. So we don’t have to worry about women leaders, because Junia was just a missionary. To be sure, the word “apostle” undoubtedly has a narrow meaning (the twelve, Paul, etc) and it has a broader meaning (church-planting, founding, missionary). It still means “apostle” (one sent by Christ) and not only that — this term describes the highest office for the first century Christians. And Junia is in that small and highly esteemed circle.

Really, though, we are back to the major issue: she’s a woman; she’s an apostle; and she may have been a missionary kind of apostle .. but don’t forget what Paul says — she was a great apostle/missionary.

What’s next? Will “great” now be diminished too? Will this all be seen as tongue-in-cheek by the apostle?

This gets tiresome. Let the Bible say what it says. Junia was a woman; she was an apostle; she was a great apostle. Give the woman a break and give her a big clap! Saint Chrysostom surely did.

The question to ask when evaluating someone for leadership in the local church is not “Man or woman?” but “What has God gifted this person — man or woman — to do?”

Do I have a witness?


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