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Junia in the Patrologiae

July 9, 2012

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 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.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2012 4:45 pm

    The citation to the mistake about 1 Timothy 5:8 is very interesting to me because the hyper-macho preacher Mark Driscoll has publicly said the same thing, even going so far as to imply (if I remember correctly) that he was looking at the Greek text when he made that claim. At the time I was at a church that was increasingly fond of Driscoll (my wife and I eventually left as that became worse) and I remember some heated arguments that started when I pointed out that Driscoll was wrong there. However, I have wondered where Driscoll got this idea. Did this author you cite here borrow from Driscoll, did Driscoll borrow from him, or is this just floating around in those circles? It’s such a ridiculously bad mistake that it seems most likely to have originated once and been transmitted through people who did not check it, although parsimony is not history when it comes to evolutionary trees.

  2. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    July 9, 2012 5:28 pm

    Hi Eric,

    I think that two different things are going on. First, the notion that Junias is a nickname for Junianus had a single source and the idea got passed down and elaborated to the extent that it took on a reality in people’s minds that it doesn’t have.

    For 1 Tim. 5:8, I honestly believe that this is a multiple source error. I believe that there is a teaching out there that:

    1)English generic masculine pronouns reflect Greek grammatically masculine pronouns,
    2)this is God intention because the male sex represents the female.
    3)When salvation is refered to the generic masculine includes women under the umbrella of male representation
    4) when it comes to matters of authority and responsibility only the male is refered to because only the male can take on authority and responsibility fully – the female has only diminished authority and responsibility

    1 Tim. 5:8 fails in that the English generic masculine does NOT reflect a Greek masculine pronoun, because the verbs do not have pronouns in this passage. However, the notion that the English generic masculine reflects a masculine in the original language in the context of responsibility and authority is so overwhelming that theologians do not check the Greek to see if this is true.

    I have noted in the past that Driscoll, Russ Moore, and others have made the same error.

    This is why it is so ridiculous that CBMW cannot see the advantages of having gender accurate Bibles – Bibles that do not insert the word “man” and the masculine pronoun at random whenever they feel like, when it is not in the Greek.

  3. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    July 9, 2012 5:30 pm

    I am not surprised that Driscoll makes this error, but what are we to make of it when men who can read Greek very well make this error? Why should any of these men have any influence over women at all when they cannot exegete the Bible accurately.

  4. July 9, 2012 6:28 pm

    Eric’s comment got me to googling, and here is the Driscoll himself “quoting” Timothy 5:8:

    Just so you’ll know: Driscoll says that the Bible claims that stay at home fathers are worse than unbelievers.

    This is part of Driscoll’s “Peasant Princess” sermon series which is ostensibly an exegesis of the Song of Solomon. The above clip is milder than the the full version; in the latter Driscoll makes some unusual statements claiming that women are Biblically commanded to perform certain non-procreative sex acts. Because his statements and language are patently pornographic, I won’t quote the offending material here. If you want to read a summary of Driscoll’s views , you can find one at The Baptist Press. The most offensive paragraphs begin thus:

    * “During the sermon, which was entitled….”

    * “Driscoll went on to tell an anecdote….”

    * “In response to the idea that….”

    * “In a Q&A that accompanies….”

  5. July 9, 2012 6:40 pm

    My interest in this is … 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.

    This statement of yours just fascinates me. So does this statement by Anatol Rapoport (as quoted in Rhetoric: Discovery and Change, by Richard E. Young, Alton L. Becker, and Kenneth L. Pike, p. 239):

    Once when teaching elementary physics, I was impressed with the resistance of mature intelligent students to some fundamental facts and concepts. For example, when a man falling in a parachute has reached constant velocity, the forces action on him add up to zero. Beginners almost invariably resist this conclusion. “If there is not resultant force action on a falling body,” they ask, “why does it fall?” Proof by appeal to the fundamental equation of motion is of little avail. They “believe” the equation, but they believe their preconceptions.

    And these lyrics by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel:

    I am just a poor boy
    Though my story’s seldom told
    I have squandered my resistance
    For a pocketful of mumbles
    Such are promises
    All lies and jest
    Still a man hears what he wants to hear
    And disregards the rest

    And this bit from a letter written by Jacques Derrida, to a friend in Japan:

    Dear Professor Izutsu,
    At our very last meeting I promised you some schematic and preliminary reflections on the word “deconstruction.” What we discussed were prolegomena to a possible translation this word into Japanese, one which would at least try to avoid, if possible, a negative determination of its significations or connotations…. And it is already clear that even in French, things change from one context to another. More so in the German, English, and especially American contexts, where the same word is already attached to different connotations, inflections, and emotional or affective values….

    (The Derrida letter, read by the Japanese reader, was composed in French originally and comes now to us in translation into English by David Wood and Andrew E. Benjamin. What if we don’t like or agree with what they say about “English, and especially American contexts”? Tricky stuff when it’s so very different from what we want it to be.)

  6. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    July 9, 2012 7:46 pm


    I think Bob Cargill is the head of the Mark Driscoll information service so I will try to resist reading the details.

    What is really fascinating however, is that many conservative theologians/leaders, like Robert George for example, draw the line between procreative and non-procreative sex. At a certain age, of course, women are no longer going to engage in procreative sex. It all seems so silly. But Driscoll has another standard, which seems to relate more to his own preferences for a little extra. All fine and dandy, but we don’t need to know about it.

  7. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    July 9, 2012 7:52 pm


    Thanks for those quotes! This is a well established phenomenon but it is not usually applied to exegesis. It is odd to see it in action. But Ann Nyland mentions how convinced people are that there are three wise men in the Bible when the number is not mentioned.

  8. July 9, 2012 9:01 pm


    I like the suggestion that people simply take the English pronouns as indicative of the Greek and replicate the 1 Timothy 5:8 error. I do wonder if to some extent both factors could be in play – it’s easy to re-create this error and if the idea was floated by someone else, even if you can’t remember the specifics, it makes you less likely to check the Greek.

    As far as Driscoll goes, I’m simply not surprised by any of this. (Being a refugee from an Acts29 church I’ve seen a lot of weird Driscoll stuff, including the stuff that goes up on his site for 8 hours and then gets pulled when everyone reacts.) Driscoll certainly borrows from others but he seems to be on a road towards declaring himself the Pope and Superman of his own independent thing and I don’t think a lot of people borrow from him so I suspect his own personal errors in translation and interpretation may stay within the Acts29 stream (of which he is no longer head, perhaps preventing even that transmission).

  9. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    July 9, 2012 11:34 pm

    I want to explain my concern. Mark Driscoll is one thing but the author of the citation on 1 Tim. 5:8 is Richard L. Strauss, (died 1993) – B.A. Wheaton College, 1954; Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary, 1958; Th.D. Dallas Seminary, 1962; Served on U.S. Board of Directors of SIM International and member of the Board of Regents and Board of Incorporate Members at Dallas Theological Seminary.

  10. July 10, 2012 9:54 am

    Both are concerning, Strauss because he should know much better and Driscoll because he has a wide audience.

  11. May 9, 2018 11:54 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. I’m doing some of my own research on Junia right now. I just finished Epp’s book. I realized that the book is somewhat of a revision of a response to a JETS article published by Dr. Daniel B. Wallace and Dr. Michael Burer (both NT profs at DTS). Dr. Burer has since (2015) responded to Epp’ book – as well as Bauckham and Belleville’s critiques – with overwhelming evidence that the phrase επισημοι εν τοις αποστολοις should be interpreted elatively and exclusively (“well known to the apostles”). As you’ve stated, most scholars agree today (e.g., NA28 and the new Tyndale House GNT) that the correct name is “Junia” (feminine); however, the matter of her appstleship is still uncertain. Dr. Burer’s article is available here:

    Chysostom’s homilies on Romans 16 still serve as the best argument for Junia’s apostleship. But Dr. Burer’s syntactical research is staggering contra apostleship. So, what is one to do? Trust the Golden Tongued Preacher of the Early Church or trust the technical examination of a modern scholar?


  1. July 2012 Biblical Studies Carnival « Reading Acts

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