Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Women Elders? How about a Woman Apostle!

N.T. Wright, in his Paul for Everyone - Romans: Part Two, uses a just-unearthed, ancient chest, full of fascinating objects, as a metaphor for verses one through 16 of Chapter 16 of Romans. This is the section at the end of his letter where Paul identifies "no fewer than twenty-four names of Christians in Rome, plus one other (Rufus' mother) who isn't named . . . [italics Wright's]." The metaphor is apt. And the most fascinating objects to me are the pair of names in verse 7, which verse Wright translates as follows:

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and fellow prisoners, who are well known among the apostles, and who were in the Messiah before I was.

Although Wright translates the pair as Andronicus and Junia, others translate the pair as Andronicus and Junius. The 2011 edition of the NIV translates the second name as Junia, the feminine form of the name, but the NIV, 1984 edition, the NIV edition that Jesus and the disciples used (just kidding), translates the second name as Junias, the masculine form. The NASB gives us the masculine form in the text but it footnotes the feminine. Same with the NET. But the KJV, which, of course, Jesus and the disciples did use, gives us the feminine, as does the RSV, the NRSV, and the NKJV.

Here's what Wright says about translators who don't concede the feminine form of the name:

"We note . . . the importance of women in the list. Paul names them as follow-workers, without any sense that they hold a secondary position to the men. One of them, Junia in verse 7, is an apostle: the phrase 'well known among the apostles' doesn't mean that the apostles know her and Andronicus (probably wife and husband) but that they are apostles, that is, they were among those who saw the risen Lord. She has the same status as all the other apostles, including Paul himself. Don't be put off by some translations which call her 'Junias,' as if she were a man. There is no reason for this except the anxiety of some about recognizing that women could be apostles too."

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