Thursday, May 26, 2016

Interpreting women out of the New Testament?

There are a handful of spots in the New Testament where interpreters have debated whether or not a woman is being referred to.  Perhaps the most well-known example is 2 John, which opens like this: “The elder to the elect lady and her children . . .” (1).  The author addresses this “lady” again in verse 5, and closes with a greeting from “the children of your elect sister” (13).  Interpreters debate whether we encounter here a female personification of Christian communities, or whether the text is talking about an individual female leader.  This discussion goes back to the early church. 

Check out:
Anderson, Paul.  “Second John and Women.”

Another interesting example is the identity of Junia, who is mentioned in the closing greetings of Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was” (16:7; NRSV).  In some Bible translations you’ll find “Junias” instead of “Junia.”  This reflects debate over whether this figure is female (“Junia”) or male (“Junias”).  The evidence supports understanding this as a reference to a woman named “Junia.”  But, the gender identity of Junia continues to be a hot topic in some circles, specifically within those church traditions where the ordination of women is still an open question. Naturally, the idea that Paul mentions a woman apostle has some relevance for the discussion . . .

Check out:
Brooten, Bernadette J.  “‘Junia . . . Outstanding among the Apostles’ (Romans 16:7).”  Pages 141-144 in 
Women Priests: A Catholic Commentary on the Vatican Declaration.  Edited by Arlene Swinder and Leonard Swindler.  New York: Paulist Press, 1977.  Readable online!

Epp, Eldon Jay.  Junia: the first woman apostle. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005.

Fàbrega, Valentin.  “War Junia(s), der hervorragende Apostel (Röm 16,7), eine Frau?” Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 27/28 (1984/85): 47-64.

Wolters, Al.  “IOUNIAN (Romans 16:7) and the Hebrew name Yeḥunī.” Journal of Biblical Literature 2 (2008): 397-408.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

1 Enoch Reading Guide (15:1-16:4)

I've posted another Ethiopic reading guide, this time for 1 Enoch 15:1-16:4, a particularly interesting portion of the Book of the Watchers.  Enoch and other Second Temple Jewish texts are of course worthy subjects of study in their own right, but this particular text might be especially relevant for understanding some bits of the New Testament, for example offering a possible answer to the question "who in the world are those demons and why do they keep trying to possess human bodies?" or providing some background for Luke's version of Jesus' response to the Sadducees (Luke 20:34-36).

You can download the reading guide here.

Or if you're not too interested in Ge'ez and want to take a peek at an English translation, you can go here.