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Romans 16:7 – Junia: A Woman Apostle

Summary

Paul sends greetings to "Andronicus and Junia," who are "prominent among the apostles."

Analysis

In English versions of the Bible prior to the NRSV Paul's greeting in this verse was taken to be to two men. The RSV, for example, has: "Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me." The NRSV has: "Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was." There is no basis in the Greek text for the word "men" (as in the RSV). The Greek name in question is written in the earliest manuscripts as Iounian, without accent marks. If it is read as accented one way, it becomes a man's name (Junias), but if accented another way, it becomes a woman's name (Junia). Ancient inscriptions in Rome (over 250 of them) provide evidence for people being named Junia, but there is no known evidence for a male name Junias. The two persons Paul greets, Andronicus and Junia, can be considered to have been a married couple (like Prisca and Aquila, in Romans 16:3). Moreover, the syntax indicates that both were considered by Paul to be within the circle of apostles. The two were Christians, Paul says, even before he was, and that puts their becoming Christians back into the early 30s. They may have been a part of the original nucleus of the Christian community at Rome. There were apostles beyond the circle of the Twelve, such as Paul himself and others (see 1 Corinthians 15:5-7).

Romans 16:7

7Greet Andronicus and Junia,* my relatives* who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

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10 February 2011

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