Sunday, February 08, 2009

Wolters on Junia

(Updated) I know it is still the last few moments of Septuagint Day and I am going to post on that soon. But more immediate things appear.

Al Wolters article on Junia which I blogged about earlier on the Better Bibles Blog, has appeared and was linked to by Mike. He writes,
    It’s a model of careful scholarship, and argues quite forcefully that Iounian is a retroversion of a Hebrew or Aramaic MALE name.
But, in fact, Wolters conclusions are here,
    Finally, although the Hebrew name yëhunnï is attested only for men, both it and the assumed longer form yëhunnïyàh(û) could in principle be women's names as well, since Hebrew sentence names are used indiscriminately for both genders.68 However, the case is different for Greek names like Νικίας. To the best of my knowledge, they are used exclusively of men, in both secular and biblical Greek.69 If the ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ of Rom 16:7 belongs to this declensional type, then it is almost certainly a mans name.

    This conclusion still leaves open the question whether it is more likely that the IOTNIAN of Rom 16:7 reflects a Hebrew masculine name or a Latin feminine one. The answer to that question depends largely on how one assesses the likelihood that Paul would have considered a woman to be "prominent among the apostles" (see Metzger, Textual Commentary, 475). To some, probability will still favor the quasi consensus of recent scholarship that IOTNIAN in Rom 16:7 refers to a woman. To others, the epigraphic and philological evidence for the existence of a Hebrew name Yëhunnï/Ίουνιας will tip the scales in favor of a male apostle. In my own opinion, a plausible (but not a decisive) case can be made for either position.
What this does is simply demonstrate that anyone can interpret this passage according to what they already believe. Its a nice piece of writing otherwise.

There are a few things that Wolters does not explain. In fact, he writes,
    It is likely that this widespread interpretation of the name at least partially accounts for the fact that all accented manuscripts of Rom 16:7 have the reading Ίουνίαν (with acute accent)It would be a mistake to conclude from this that the scribes of these manuscripts all interpreted IOTNIAN as a feminine name
However, since the accents were added much later and by that time all the Greek commentators had already decided that she was a woman, this is hardly relevant. Chrysostom had written of her as a woman and there is no mention of Junias as a man until the 13th century. David Jones on the CBMW site writes,

    Many patristic exegetes understood the second person mentioned in Rom 16:7 to be the wife of Andronicus, such as: Ambrosiaster (c. 339-97); Jerome (c. 342-420); John Chrysostom (c. 347- 407); Jerome; Theodoret of Cyrrhus (c.393-458); Ps.-Primasius (c. 6th cent.); John Damascene (c. 675-749); Haymo (d. 1244); Hatto (?); Oecumenius (c. 6th cent.); Lanfranc of Bec (c.1005-89); Bruno the Carthusian (c.1032-1101); Theophylact (c. 11th cent.); Peter Abelard (1079-1142); and Peter Lombard (c. 1100-1160).39.
In this case, one must assume that manuscript copiers all believed that Junia was a woman.

Another thing to note is that the variant Julia also existed in P46, so this manuscript copier also thought she was a woman. Once again there is no secondary evidence preceding the 13th century that Junia would be male. Therefore, I fail to see the relevancy of discussing the accents.

It is, on the other hand, interesting that there is a remote possibility that this could be the transliteration of a male Hebrew name. That appears to me to be technically possible although there is no contemporary evidence for a masculine Junias. It is an interesting article and I always enjoy Al Wolters' writing, but I do not feel that his argument is forceful.

I would comment on Mike's blog but I can't remember my wordpress password, so I will have to let it pass.


Suzanne McCarthy said...

If the ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ of Rom 16:7 belongs to this declensional type, then it is almost certainly a mans name.

Wolters means here that if it is a Hebrew name and if it belongs to a certain declensional type then it is almost certainly a man's name. This, of course, we will never know.

Ruud Vermeij said...

If Junia is a Hebrew or Aramaic male name, then is it not also likely that Andronicus is a Hebrew or Aramaic male name, because they are mentioned together?
(I have no liguistic knowledge at all, but Andronicus sounds very Greek to me.)

Mike Aubrey said...

I left a link to your post on Mike's blog.

Don said...

FWIIW, Richard Bauckham thinks Junia in Paul's Romans might be Joanna in Luke via a similar process. That is Joanna is the Hellenized form of a Hebrew female name and Junia is the Latinized form.