Monday, October 10, 2005

Junia -- the First Woman Apostle

This press release from Fortress Press:

“For those Christians whose concern about women in leadership roles is tied to the question whether women actually served as leaders during the church’s earliest generation, this book is an eye-opener.”

Beverly Roberts Gaventa, from the foreword

Epp Sheds Light on Women’s Leadership Through Text of Romans

MINNEAPOLIS (October 10, 2005)— The name "Junia" appears in Romans 16:7, and Paul identifies her (along with Andronicus) as "prominent among the apostles." In his new book, Junia—The First Woman Apostle, Eldon Jay Epp investigates the mysterious disappearance of Junia from the traditions of the church.

Because later theologians and scribes could not believe (or wanted to suppress) that Paul had numbered a woman among the earliest churches' apostles, Junia's name was changed in Romans to a masculine form.

Despite the fact that the earliest churches met in homes and that other women were clearly leaders in the churches (e.g., Prisca and Lydia), calling Junia an apostle seemed too much for the tradition. Epp tracks how this happened in New Testament manuscripts, scribal traditions, and translations of the Bible. In this thoroughgoing study, Epp restores Junia to her rightful place.

“Completely persuasive and definitive, Junia rectifies the slighting of women by many exegetes. A real contribution.”

Walter Wink, Auburn Theological Seminary, New York

“Not only is Epp’s fundamental thesis about textual criticism and exegesis meticulously documented and persuasively argued; his examination of the particular case of Romans 16:7 pulls together, sorts out, nails down, and illuminates the issues, assorted evidence, and often confusing arguments that have come to the fore in the last few decades. Thanks to this excellent book, I can affirm with renewed confidence both Junia’s distinguished place among the apostles and her freedom to speak in the church!”

Victor Paul Furnish, Southern Methodist University, Dallas

“If anyone could say the ‘last word’ on a matter of New Testament interpretation, Epp certainly has, Junia covers all bases, including the history of interpretation, lexicography, grammatical analysis, and text criticism.”

Edgar Krentz, Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago

Eldon Jay Epp is Harkenss Professor of Biblical Literature emeritus and Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences emeritus at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio), recently Visiting Professor of New Testament at Harvard Divinity School (2002-2003 and 2004-2005), and President of the Society of Biblical Literature (2003).

Junia—The First Woman Apostle

By Eldon Jay Epp

ISBN: 0-8006-3771-2
Format: Paper, 128 pp

Price: $16.00
Publisher: Fortress Press

To order Junia—The First Woman Apostle please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at For review copies, or to discuss interviews with the author or speaking engagements contact Bob Todd at 612-330-3234 or e-mail


Anonymous said...

I wonder how you would know that she was the "first" female apostle?

Andrew Criddle said...

IF a/ Paul regarded himself as the last person to be commissioned as an apostle through encounter with the risen Christ (as is IMO probable) and IF b/ he regarded Junia and Andronicus as true apostles and not merely persons highly regarded by the Apostles, then it is surprising that he would have felt the need to say explicitly, as he did, that c/ Junia and Andronicus became Christians before he (Paul) did.

From a/ and b/, c/ follows of necessity and it is pointless to add it; hence I doubt if Paul held both a/ and b/; since I'm reasonably clear he held a/ it is IMO unlikely he held b/.

(Or at least unlikely that Paul held Junia and Andronicus to be apostles in the sense in which he held Peter and himself to be apostles.)

Andrew Criddle

Anonymous said...

Ephesians 4:12 for the perfecting of the saints in the work of the ministry, unto the edifying of the body of the Christ
13 until we all come forth in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the coming of age of the Christ:

Apostle means "sent one" so anyone commisioned by God to go on a mission is an apostle.

People mistakenly place on pedestals the men who were the first. they were sent just as many others are. and are apostles just as many others are.

the verse in Ephesians says these 5 offices are given to the saints until they come into unity. the apostle never went away. niether did the prophet. You just don't know any....

existentialist said...

In the Orthodox tradition we have Saint Nina Enlightener of Georgia and Saint Mary Magdalene who are called Equal to the Apostles as well.

Anonymous said...

Daniel Wallace and Michael H. Burer in their article in New Testament Studies 47 (2001):76-91, which was reprinted in the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womenhood 6/2 (Fall 2001) 4-11, present a very thorough study of the expression "outstanding" or "well-known" in all the ancient Greek literature. They find several dozen parallel passages using this expression "well known among" (episemos en).They come to the conclusion that "episemos en" followed by dative personal nouns (like "the apostles") means "well known by". That is the syntax of this Romans passage. If the intent were to say "well-known among", then "episemos" followed by a genitive personal noun would have been used, according to the overwhelming evidence. (Among all the many relevant texts of this syntax, they only found one text to the contrary.) One interesting example is when Euripides writes that Aphrodite, who was unmistakably immortal, was "well-known among mortals," using this same Romans 16:7 expression. Just as no one should claim that Aphrodite was mortal, so no one should say that Junias and Andronicus were apostles. They were actually "well-known to the Apostles".

Anonymous said...

Replying to Dave Hagelberg's comment: ch. 11 of Epp's book addresses that issue, and in pp. 72-78 he thoroughly critiques and dismantles the evidence and argument put forth by Daniel Wallace and Michael H. Burer. Rather than citing Burer and Wallace against Epp, it would be more helpful to respond to Epp's critique of their work.