Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Junia - An Outstanding Woman Apostle

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Acts 2:16-18

New International Version (NIV)
16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
I have been looking forward to letter J because I discovered this hidden woman apostle several years ago. This discovery helped turn on the lights for me to be able to see why the heck God bothered to give me a bunch of gifts that the church pretty much told me had no value because of my unfortunate gender. Maybe some of you have believed the same lie or helped perpetuate. Really its time to stop, there is kingdom work that needs to be done, and guys - you can't do it with half a body.

"Church tradition from the Old Latin and Vulgate versions and the early Greek and Latin fathers onwards affirms and lauds a female apostle. Yet modern scholarship has not been comfortable with the attribution, as the masculine circumflex of the Erwin Nestle and United Bible Societies' Greek editions from 1927 to 2001 and the masculine Juniasin translations from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s show. More recently, the New English Translation (NET) and the English Standard Version (ESV) concede a feminine but change the attribution from the time-honored ‘of note among’ to ‘well-known to the apostles’. However, an examination of primary usage in the computer databases of Hellenistic Greek literary works, papyri, inscriptions, and artifacts confirms the feminine [Iota][omicron]υνια and shows επισημ[omicron]ι εν plus the plural dative bears without exception the inclusive sense ‘notable among’". LINDA BELLEVILLE (2005). [Iota][omicron]υνιαν … επισημ[omicron]ι εν τ[omicron]ι[final small sigma] απ[omicron]στ[omicron]λ[omicron]ι[final small sigma]: A Re-examination of Romans 16.7 in Light of Primary Source Materials. New Testament Studies, 51, pp 231-249. doi:10.1017/S0028688505000135. LINDA BELLEVILLE a1
a1 North Park Theological Seminary, 3225 West Foster Ave, Chicago, IL 60625, USA

Up until the 3rd century women had a place in the church. Many churches met in the homes of women. Jesus spoke openly with women and even allowed them to sit at his feet when he taught. He had no problem with women. By the 3rd century the church had become very public in its ministry and became very forward in the restrictions placed upon women. Great effort was taken to mask and hide the roles of women like Junia. There are plenty of records of women who used their own money to support the poor and widows, to build hospitals and monasteries and even the finance the ministry of Jesus, Paul and others.  Some became widows at a young age because of the custom of the time for older men to marry young women.  Upon the death of their husbands they found they were pretty wealthy but chose to live simply and use their resources for the work of the Kingdom. Some chose not to re-marry but chose a life of devotion to Christ.  I've included a lot of quotes in this post from people who have studied this topic in far greater depth.

Romans 16:7
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

"The letters of Paul - dated to the middle of the first century CE - and his casual greetings to acquaintances offer fascinating and solid information about many Jewish and Gentile women who were prominent in the movement. His letters provide vivid clues about the kind of activities in which women engaged more generally. He greets Prisca, Junia, Julia, and Nereus' sister, who worked and traveled as missionaries in pairs with their husbands or brothers (Romans 16:3, 7, 15). He tells us that Prisca and her husband risked their lives to save his. He praises Junia as a prominent apostle, who had been imprisoned for her labor. Mary and Persis are commended for their hard work (Romans 16:6, 12). Euodia and Syntyche are called his fellow-workers in the gospel (Philippians 4:2-3). Here is clear evidence of women apostles active in the earliest work of spreading the Christian message."...

"This erasure has taken many forms. Collections of prophetic oracles were destroyed. Texts were changed. For example, at least one woman's place in history was obscured by turning her into a man! In Romans 16:7, the apostle Paul sends greetings to a woman named Junia. He says of her and her male partner Andronicus that they are "my kin and my fellow prisoners, prominent among the apostles and they were in Christ before me." Concluding that women could not be apostles, textual editors and translators transformed Junia into Junias, a man." by Karen L. KingKaren L. King is Professor of New Testament Studies and the History of Ancient Christianity at Harvard University in the Divinity School.

"Because so many of our source materials were written by men, preserved by men, interpreted and reported on by men, women have been sifted out at every level. Few remain in the narratives, and many are genuinely lost to the written record. We know, because we have clues, that women were influencing, participating in, and being uniquely and specifically affected by certain events and situations. But we do not have enough material, most of the time, to write a rich account, to do them justice, to draw conclusions we can support."
PATRICAI GUNDRY Patricia Gundry, a free-lance writer from Grand Rapids, Mich., is the author of Neither Slave Nor Free: Helping Women Answer the Call to Church Leadership (Harper & Row, 1987).

I am pretty convinced that women of have been some what erased out of Christian history or made to look weak and sinful. Keep in mind that history is written by the victor. The church has been largely dominated by men, and women have been effectively silenced. I'm sure there are men who would take issue with me teaching through my blog writing even today. I am not trying to raise women to a higher place then men. I am simply convinced that the church began to fade in in strength when women were silenced in the 3rd century. Up until that time you hear of the Spiritual gifts in action. As the church became more public it began to try and be acceptable to the public and little by little the evidence of Spiritual gifts and the ministry of women became undermined.  My intention is to show you some of the evidence that Women did play a vital role in the early church and should be allowed in our day to use their gifts and callings to the benefit of the church and the betterment of the world.

"The involvement of women continued in the first few decades of the church, attested by both biblical and extra-biblical sources. A number of women served as leaders of the house churches that sprang up in the cities of the Roman Empire—the list includes Priscilla, Chloe, Lydia, Apphia, Nympha, the mother of John Mark, and possibly the “elect lady” of John’s second epistle.In the 2nd century, Clement of Alexandria wrote that the apostles were accompanied on their missionary journeys by women who were not marriage partners, but colleagues, “that they might be their fellowministers in dealing with housewives. It was through them that the Lord’s teaching penetrated also the women’s quarters without any scandal being aroused. We also know the directions about women deacons which are given by the noble Paul in his letter to Timothy.”

"Was that perhaps the role of Junia? She was mentioned by Paul in Romans 16 as “of note among the apostles.” Some have debated the meaning of this verse, but early tradition holds that Junia was a woman and was considered an apostle. John Chrysostom wrote: “Indeed, to be an apostle at all is a great thing; but to be even amongst those of note; just consider what a great encomium that is … Oh, how great is the devotion of this woman, that she should even be counted worthy of the appellation of apostle.” Until the Middle Ages, the identity of Junia as a female apostle was unquestioned. Later translators attempted to change the gender by changing the name to the masculine Junias. But such a name is unknown in antiquity; and there is absolutely no literary, epigraphical or papyrological evidence for it." CATHERINE KROEGER Dr. Catherine Kroeger is chaplain and lecturer in the department of religion at Hamilton College in New Hartford, N.Y. Her doctorate is in classical studies and Greek, with a specialization in women in ancient religion, especially women and the ecclesiology of the Apostle Paul

"The walls of the Roman catacombs bear pictures showing women in authoritative stances, with their hands raised in the posture of a bishop. The Ecclesiastical Canons of the Apostles specifically forbade women to stand in prayer (24:1–8). But here we see them standing in prayer, exercising a ministry of intercession and benediction, and dominating the scene. To this day, their steadfast faith and ministry still bless us."  CATHERINE KROEGER Dr. Catherine Kroeger is chaplain and lecturer in the department of religion at Hamilton College in New Hartford, N.Y. Her doctorate is in classical studies and Greek, with a specialization in women in ancient religion, especially women and the ecclesiology of the Apostle Paul

There were men like Jerome who dedicated his books to the women who helped in those projects. He was criticized by some for having done so and this is his response to them. “These people do not know that while Barak trembled, Deborah saved Israel; that Esther delivered from supreme peril the children of God … Is it not to women that our Lord appeared after His resurrection? Yes, and the men could then blush for not having sought what women had found.” ~ Jerome

"From the middle of the 3rd century on, the controversies over women’s ministries in the church orders teach us much about women’s leadership. Women were evangelizing, baptizing, teaching, interpreting Scripture, doing visitation, functioning as leaders of groups within the church and speaking out in the assembly. The Statutes of the Apostles show that women also shared in the eucharistic ministry.The church orders from the middle of the 3rd century and following also make clear that these ministries on the part of women generated conflict—conflict that resulted from a sense that such activity was inappropriate for women when measured by the standards of Greco-Roman society". KAREN TORJESEN Dr. Karen J. Torjesen is an assistant professor of early Christianity and women's studies at Claremont Gradual
School in Claremont, Calif. She has written a book on Origen's writings, plus numerous other articles for magazines and journals.

"The world Jesus entered largely discriminated against women. He rejected the false criteria upon which the double standard was built. He measured men and women by the same standards, the inner qualities of character and not by such accidents of birth as ethnic or sexual differences. He affirmed women by His manner, example, and teaching.

The Manner of Jesus
Jesus included women where Jewish piety largely excluded them. Women were excluded from
participation in synagogue worship, restricted to a spectator role, and forbidden to enter the Temple
beyond the Court of the Women. A woman was not to touch the Scriptures, lest she defile them. A man
was not to talk much with a woman, even his wife. Talk with a woman in public was yet more restrictive. Jesus brushed aside all such discrimination. He astonished His disciples by talking openly with “a woman”at Jacob’s well (John 4:27). His dearest friends included Mary, Martha and Mary Magdalene. There were many women who ministered to (or with) Him, following Him from Galilee to Golgotha (Mark 15:41).Having already affirmed Martha by accepting her invitation to dinner, He affirmed Mary’s choice of sitting at His feet to hear Him teach (Luke 10:39). He did not question her right or competence to hear His word, He commended her for choosing “the good part,” declaring that “it will not be taken away from her” (v. 42). Many have sought to take from women like Mary precisely what Jesus affirmed as rightfully theirs." EVELYN STAGG AND FRANK STAGG The Staggs are the authors of Women in the World of Jesus (Westminster Press, 1979). Dr. Frank Stagg is professor emeritus of New Testament interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.

I could continue to post many more quotes from various scholars. Lord open our blind eyes, we have essentially taken half your body and said to women "sure your are joint heirs in Gods kingdom, now go work in the nursery. I will probably not convince everyone who reads this post, that women do indeed stand in Christ as equals with men in the body of Christ. I have struggled with my own gifts and callings and I do my best to wear them with humility. I have no great importance or power really. I serve at a very small inner city church who ministers primarily to the poor and homeless. Thankfully I  have a pastor that does not have a problem with women in leadership. As such I have served at various points on the board and even as board chairman. I currently serve as an administrative assistant to the pastor and am involved in the ministry of prayer and quite often share my writings during our services.  If nothing else I hope this post has challenged you to dig deeper not just in your bible but into the history of the church.

I happen to enjoy studying, researching and writing and feel my ability to do such things has come from God.  I believe that when I stand before the Lord I will have to give an account for what I did with the gifts and talents that He gave me. I have had to wrestle with why God would give me such gifts if the "church" did not have a place for women leaders and thinkers to use their gifts. I have spent years and year in youth and children's ministry. It took my current pastor to point out to me that maybe children and youth ministry were not my real calling but simply the only place I was even allowed to use my gifts. After much digging and study I realized that Jesus and even God the Father never did have a problem with women.  As a result of years of feeling like I needed to apologize for being a thinking woman in the church, I have come to a place where I refuse to hide or down play the gifts and talents that I have been given.  I see plenty of evidence that Jesus did not have a problem with women in the work of the kingdom, even if through out history some of his male followers have.  It is time for the Juania's of our day to rise up, you have a brain use it, you have a voice speak up. Its as if we have been trying to do the work of the kingdom but have tied off one arm and one leg of the body. Its no wonder we struggle to accomplish the great commission. I think the crafty, deceiving enemy has sold us a big lie and has done an amazing job of using one half of God's kingdom to cancel out the other half. 

In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,

    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.

Want more: I just finished reading a book by Scot McKnight. Its a very fast read but gives more insight in to how, when and why Junia and others have been silenced and essentially erased or replaced with the name of a man who never even existed.

After pretty much having this post written I bought this book and read it instead of painting a picture of Junia. It was nice to find that it pretty much said what I have written in this post. My apologies on the lack of my art. Its late I need to call it a night.

I pray for my sisters who have been silenced, erased and de-valued by the "church" for far to long. I choose to forgive those who refuse to allow women their rightful place in the kingdom as joint heirs. I pray that blind eyes will be opened and hearts that are wounded from this long abuse and discrimination would be healed. I pray that women of courage and holy zeal would rise up in this generation. I pray the whole church would arise and that we would be allowed to use the gifts and callings that the Holy Spirit decided to give each of us for the benefit of the kingdom and for God's glory. 

Here's another that I did not read yet but looks like it would be good.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Margot, I'm back. This post really gives me the shivers. Did not know this about Junia (and yes, my bible says Junias). As a young wife/mother I was so on fire for the Lord, but somehow lost my courage along the way. I keep thinking of 'Screwtape Letters' by C.S. Lewis and the method the enemy uses to silence Christians (and our gifts). Much to think about here!!! Thanks for the book links. Have bookmarked these to read.


God's Original and Final Intent part 5

This is my final paper for The International Healing Rooms School of Transformation in Spokane Washington. Its is very long paper so I ...