In Rom. 16:7 (NKJV), Paul says, “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” Although the NKJV above has translated the Greek Junian as “Junia,” which is a female name, many today vehemently argue that the name should be “Junias” which is male.
In fact, I recently received an excoriating email in which I was accused of “misleading” people by telling them that “Junia” is the correct reading of this passage and that she was a female apostle. In my response, I sought to be gracious, but shared some of the following information showing why “Junia” is the correct reading, and why she should be given her due recognition by the modern church.
No. 1: The Manuscript Evidence
In this passage, Paul wrote the Greek name Junian, ending with an “n,” because the name is in the accusative sense, in other words, on the receiving end of Paul’s greeting. Because of that ending, the name could be either male (Junias) or female (Junia), depending on how it is accented. Accents, however, were not introduced until the seventh century and so we are left, some think, with a textual conundrum.
The conundrum, however, evaporates in the light of textual and historical evidence. For example, Dr. Bruce Metzger, one of the world’s leading New Testament textual scholars, points out that in and around Rome over 250 Greek and Latin inscriptions have been found with the feminine name “Junia.” The male name, “Junias,” on the other hand, is unattested.
This is significant since Paul’s letter is addressed to the believers who are in Rome; for while the female name “Junia” is common there, the male name, “Junias,” is unknown. “Junias,” therefore, is a hypothetical name invented, it would seem, by those who cannot accept the possibility of a female apostle in the New Testament.
Metzgar also points out that when accents were put in use, the scribes, without exception, made the name feminine. This means that even though the earliest manuscripts of Paul’s letter to the Romans had no accents and so were ambiguous on this point, when accents were added, every extant witness construed the name as feminine. This is why Dr. N. Clayton Croy says, “There is not a single ancient Greek manuscript that accents the name as ‘Junias.’ In effect, then, the interpretation of the name as that of a man is completely lacking in explicit textual support.”