Monday, February 21, 2011

Mike Heiser and Junia

Mike Heiser has written an extensive post in which he discusses the arguments for women in ministry from several different angles. But I could not get past the first one. Mike brings up the topic of Junia and seems to conclude that the matter is sufficiently dealt with in a few articles. Mike writes,

An article by Burer and Wallace argued against “among the apostles” (some of that is summarized here); a response to that article by the egalitarian scholar Linda Belleville followed.1

If you cannot obtain these articles, here’s a complemetarian analysis that interacts with Belleville.

C. Despite the text-critical evidence, Al Wolters has shown in considerable detail that the name may be male anyway.

I received the distinct impression that Mike was mentioning David Jones article as a trustworthy reference. I went to this article and it was not long before I read the following,
As mentioned above, the form Iounian is ambiguous and could be either masculine or feminine. The Greek text as found in NA26 has a circumflex accent over the alpha, denoting the accusative masculine singular of the masculine name, Junias.12 It must be acknowledged, however, that the only thing distinguishing the NA26 form from the feminine form Junia is the accent itself, which was not part of the original text but something added centuries later.
It is possible that Mike Heiser is not aware that NA26 is not accurate in its reflection of the manuscript evidence for Junia. There are NO manuscripts which contain the circumflex. None, nada, zip. This is an urban legend which crept into the NA26 for some reason or other.

I hope that Mike Heiser is interested in discussing these details.

I would add that Wallace and Burer's article contains a significant error in its "closest parallel." There has been no academic defense since this has been demonstrated. Their thesis stands undefended at this time. I would invite Mike to engage with me on this topic.

I have commented on his blog but he has comment moderation and I am not sure whether he is willing to interact with me. I hope he will.

Mike also refers to an article written by Al Wolters. Before he had published his article, I had discussed Wolters' idea with Bruce Watlke. This is what Wolters then wrote to me,

    I recently came across your comments on some of my work, and thought you might be interested in some clarifications. But first, allow me to express my appreciation for the fact that you apparently read my book on “The Song of the Valiant Woman”–and apparently liked it. It is delightful to discover that there are other people in the world who can get excited about whether an obscure Hebrew word really means “distaff” or not.

    Now for the clarifications. I’m afraid that things got a little garbled in your understanding (via Prof. Waltke) of what my article on “Junia/s” was about. My argument is basically that the attested Hebrew name yHny (I’m using capital H to designate the eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet) would have been pronounced yeHunni, and that this name would have been Hellenized as as Iounias (gen. Iouniou, acc. Iounian). It is therefore possible that Iounian in Rom 16:7 is a Greek version of that Hebrew name. I do not argue that it is the only possibility, or even the most plausible one. It is certainly true that the Latin feminine name Junia is much more common. My article on this is forthcoming in JBL.

My response to him included the following comment by way of explanation,
    I had not heard of the name yHny and Dr. Waltke did not explain that part. Considering the overwhelming popularity of the names Junia and Johanna, it seems best to me to explain Junia as an evangelist or saint as any church which uses the KJV, or the Greek orthodox church, does.

And he answered,

    I’m perfectly happy to have Junia be an apostle. In fact, I once wrote a popular piece defending that interpretation.
Although I am totally in love with the kind of philological work that Wolters engaged in and we emailed on the matter of the Pagnini Bible as well, so yes, I had so many interests in common with Al Wolters, but ultimately, I don't think that he actually demonstrated that there was any more than a remote technical possibility that Junia could have been the name of a man. I also could be a boy named Sue. I think Wolters engaged in a very interesting discussion of transliteration, just as Bauckham also did. Bauckham suggested that Junia was Johanna, and Wolters suggested that Junia was a Hebrew/Aramaic name yeHunni.

Both suggestions are highly speculative and interesting but have no relation to facts.


Richard Fellows said...

Suzanne, thanks for bringing Wolters' paper to my attention. I will engage with his work on my blog, but first I have a question. How common was the name "Junia"? Do you have the statistics? I know that Lampe counts 250 in Rome but I don't know the size of the database he was mining. Perhaps I need to make a trip to the library.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Linda Belleville provides a dozen or so examples of the name as a Greek feminine name, and mentions that it is also widely found on tombstones. There is no Masculine name in Latin or Greek which could be represented.

I don't think anyone has tried to prove that there are more than 250 occurences of Junia as a Latin name. It was a common family name for members of the Junia family and for slaves of this family.

There is no question that it was a feminine name. But there are a few attempts to suggest the possibility that it could have been a masculine name, although no examples are found. Wolters suggests that it could be a transliteration of a masculine Hebrew name, but of course, it could be a transliteration of a feminine Hebrew name as well. A masculine name would to against all expectations of the reader that this was a feminine name. I don't think that Paul could have successfully communicated a male name with this spelling. It is not simply rare, but unknown in Greek or Latin.

Richard Fellows said...

Thanks, Suzanne. I have discussed Wolters' theory on my blog here.