More on Junia the Apostle

Suzanne McCarthy has now responded to the latest objections to her work on Junia (Romans 16:7), a distinguished apostle and a woman. He whole series has been excellent, and I recommend it highly. You can go there for links to the various stages of this debate, including postings by her various critics.

The more I look at this issue the more I am convinced that were some people not determined that there simply must not be a female apostle, the linguistic aspects of the passage would not arouse significant debate. After reviewing what Suzanne has written, looking at the passage and my own reference sources, and then reading several of the articles on the other side, the strongest argument I see against Junia being an apostle is the fact that people don’t want her to be.

I hate to say this, because even when I disagree with him, I regard Dan Wallace as one of the most careful scholars of the Greek New Testament around. I generally appreciate his summaries of his opponents’ views, which are normally accurate and fair. I have found that I can argue against him using his own citations of the facts in opposition to his own position. But in this case I think he has allowed theology to trump exegesis.

Why is this one woman’s leadership in the church so hard to accept? We have the example of folks like Deborah, who clearly took a high position of leadership amongst God’s people. But in that case there isn’t any way to get around it. It’s clear as day, and not even the most determined person can create an argument that Deborah was either not a woman or not in leadership. But with Junia both of those approaches have been attempted. Either she isn’t really a woman, or she isn’t really an apostle. Both attempts have failed.

Perhaps now we can get down to the more important point that God today calls women into ministry in a variety of ways, and this call is just a small fulfillment of that scriptural goal that “in Christ there is . . . neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28). This true celebration of all of God’s gifts no matter where they are bestowed by the Holy Spirit is long overdue in the church. Let’s seek it with all our hearts!

PS: Through a comment on Suzanne’s post, I discovered Jay Davis’s blog which is new, but looks promising. He’s a Salvation Army officer. I’d particularly commend his recent two posts on women in ministry, so creatively titled Women and Women Part Two. The latter post discusses women in the Salvation Army.

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  1. They can’t get round Deborah being in leadership, so they have to invent some idea about her leadership being exceptional in some way. But there is simply nothing in the text to say that. She is introduced as a “judge” in exactly the same way as the male judges are. And the idea that she was only a judge because Barak and other men had refused the job is complete fiction.

    If a woman gets to lead the USA next year, it won’t be because another Barak has refused the job. If Hillary wins, it will be because in a (hopefully) fair contest she was judged to be the best person for the job. The same was true of Deborah.

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