Editorial: Junia Is A Woman, And I Am A Complementarian -- By: Denny Burk

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 17:1 (Spring 2012)
Article: Editorial: Junia Is A Woman, And I Am A Complementarian
Author: Denny Burk

Junia Is A Woman,
And I Am A Complementarian

Denny Burk

Editor, Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood
Associate Professor of Biblical Studies
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

Scot McKnight is one of my favorite egalitarians. We are quite different in our theological perspectives, but he is an all around engaging personality. He is a fantastic New Testament scholar and a prolific writer. His interests are wide-ranging, and he is gifted both at producing serious scholarship and at reaching more popular audiences with his work. In my view, he’s a triple threat: serious scholar, popular blogger, and charismatic speaker. He has a gift for communicating serious ideas to wide audiences.

His new little e-book Junia Is Not Alone (Patheos Press, 2011) is no exception. In this little pamphlet, McKnight argues at the popular level in favor of an egalitarian reading of Scripture (though he prefers to call his view “mutuality”). Taking Junia as his point of departure (Rom 16:7), he argues that women have been routinely overlooked in the life and ministry of the Christian church. Thus, Junia is not alone in being slighted by a patriarchal vision of gender roles in the church and the home.

Though he makes mention of a litany of female Bible characters, McKnight gives most of his attention to explaining how and why Junia’s legacy has been suppressed. On this point, his argument is not new. He makes the case that—notwithstanding those who have manipulated the Greek accents to transform her into a man (“Junias”)—the name Iounias should be understood as feminine (“Junia”). Thus, Junia is a woman who Paul names as an apostle, and as such she was a “Christ-experiencing, Christ-representing, church-establishing, probably miracle-working, missionizing woman who preached the gospel and taught the church.”

McKnight says that he bases his view of Junia’s gender almost entirely on Eldon Epp’s book Junia: The First Woman Apostle, and McKnight agrees with Epp’s conclusions that:

(1) Junia was a woman.

(2) There is no evidence that any man had the name “Junias.”

(3) Junia is not, as some have argued, a

contracted name of Junianus.

(4) “Among the apostles” means Junia herself was an apostle and not simply that the apostles thought she was a good egg.

According to McKnight, a female apostle would have been totally uncontroversial in the egalitarian communities with whom Paul corresponded. I...

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