Peter Arzt-Grabner on the Interpretation of ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ in Rom 16.7 (Paulus Handbuch Series)

Paulus Handbuch (ed. Friedrich W. Horn; Mohr Siebeck, 2013; see here and PDF).

My second post in the Paulus Handbuch Series is taken from Peter Arzt-Grabner’s discussion of the text of the Corpus Paulinum. This valuable section includes a discussion of Greek as the Language of the Pauline Letters (1.1), Papyri (1.2), Parchment Manuscripts (1.3), Translations (1.4), Commentaries of the Church Fathers (1.5), and Textual Critical Questions and Examples (1.6).

In his final section Prof. Arzt-Grabner discusses a) the original end of Romans, b) the originality of 1 Cor 14.14-35, and c) the interpretation of the Accusative ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ in Rom 16.7. Today’s key quotation will be taken from this last interpretive crux.

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the (selective) grammatical commentary directly follows the German text.

English Translation and German Original

English Translation (wmc): In the meantime it has been recognized to the greatest possible extent that in Rom 16.7 the Greek accusative ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ must be interpreted with reference to a woman by the name of Junia (and not with reference to the man Junias as postulated since the time of Martin Luther). Greek manuscripts that already have/exhibit the placement of accents contradict the conjecture/hypothesis that the male name Junias, which is not attested in all of antiquity, could be an abbreviation for the well-attested Junianus. The Junia-interpretation is confirmed by Latin, Sahidic, and Syrian manuscripts, which clearly contain a feminine form, thus intending a woman by the name of Junia (Arzt 1993; Epp 2005). The Boharic translation speaks of a woman named Julia, a variant that is found, for example, also in P46.

Paulus Handbuch (p. 11; see PDF): Dass in Röm 16,7 der griechische Akkusativ ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ auf eine Frau namens Junia (und nicht auf den seit Martin Luther postulierten Mann Junias) zu deuten ist, ist mittlerweile weitestgehend anerkannt. Griechische Handschriften, die bereits Akzentsetzung aufweisen, widersprechen der Vermutung, der in der gesamten Antike nicht bezeugte männliche Name Junias könnte eine Abkürzung für den gut bezeugten Junianus sein. Die Junia-Deutung wird durch lateinische, sahidische und syrische Handschriften bestätigt, die eindeutig eine weibliche Form enthalten, also eine Frau namens Junia meinen (Arzt 1993; Epp 2005). Die bohairische Übersetzung spricht von einer Frau namens Julia, eine Variante, die z.B. auch in P46 begegnet.

Selective grammatical analysis

Since it is awkward to begin with “That…” in English, I have reversed the order of the first German sentence. Because the beginning of the sentence is a subordinate clause (Dass…), the verb moves to the end of the sentence and ist zu deuten becomes zu deuten ist. I usually translate the construction “ist zu + infinitive” as “must be x-ed” or “has to be x-ed”, though the wooden translation “is to be x-ed” is better in some cases. seit is problematic in English: “from” or “from x on” is often best, but it sometimes seems preferable to go with “since” or “since the time of”, despite the problems with this solution. Though it is awkward, I decided to adopt “to the greatest extent possible” for weitestgehend in order convey that a very strong claim is being made. It is unclear to me whether aufweisen would be best translated as “have” or whether a more precise word such as “exhibit” would be better. The force of Vermutung is probably somewhat critical, so that “conjecture” might best capture the intended sense, but it could be more neutral (hypothesis).

Substantive Commentary

What I like about this quotation from Arzt-Grabner is that it highlights well one of the strongest arguments in support of the Junia-interpretation of ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ in Rom 16:7, namely the testimony of the ancient manuscripts in languages other than Greek that clearly understand Paul to be speaking of a woman rather than a man in this text.

While there are admittedly further debated points concerning the translation and interpretation of this verse, it also seems most likely to me that Paul refers to Junia as an apostle in this text and that Junia was, in turn, an influential person in early Christianity.

Readers of this post may be interested in the Junia Project, which is named after Junia from Rom 16:7.

Facebook Page: To receive notifications of future blog posts, please subscribe to this blog and/or like my facebook page here.