Takeaway: There was a woman in Roman 16:7 that Paul says was one of the apostles. Many Christians do not know this.
Junia is Not Alone is short. Frankly, it would be better as a long free article than a short paid kindle book. I read it in about 20 minutes or so. I do not believe it is listed as a Kindle Short, but it should be.
I want to be fair to Scot McKnight, many people do not know the history of Junia and that is the point of this short little booklet. Junia is mentioned as an apostle in Rom 16:7. For much of Christian history she has been referred to as a man, and even with good Christian language scholars it is only recently that the best greek manuscripts have admitted that Junia is a woman.
The passage in the ESV is “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.” So the ESV makes it seem that they are well known to the apostles.
A better translation is the 1984 NIV, “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” That makes is clear that Junias is one of the apostles. Except that Junias is a masculine name. And that is not what the Greek actually says.
So an even better translation is the CEB, “Say hello to Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners. They are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.” It maintains the feminine name (although because it is not a traditional English name most people would not really know this. But it is a female name. And it affirms that she a relative of Paul, in prison with him, a prominent apostle and was a Christian before Paul. McKnight also notes that is is like that Pheobe the one that delivered Paul’s letter to the Romans was likely the one that first read it to the Roman congregation. (Conjecture, but likely conjecture.)
I must have been the odd one out because as long as I was aware of this passage I have known Junia was a woman. McKnight complains that women are rarely preached about, but in my church (that des not ordain women) preached last year leading up to Christmas on the women mentioned in Jesus’ lineage. I have frequently heard good sermons and good teaching about the role of women in church. The church where I am currently a member is the first church I have ever been a member that did not ordain women. So I probably am out of the majority on this point.
I am unashamedly for female ordination (this is the only major area I disagree with my church). But this short article, as good as it is at introducing Junia, does little to really address the concerns with women as pastors and teachers. Tim Challies has had a couple days on his blog about why women should not even read scripture in church. (He is being consistent in saying that women should be silent in church and should not teach men, so they should not read scripture in public.) So clearly more needs to be done, but this book only scratches the surface.
Go ahead and read this. But what is more important is to look at the scripture and see how sexism has altered our understanding of the role of women in Church. The best book I think is How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals (my review). The important contribution of How I Changed My Mind, is that it both tells real stories by prominent Evangelical Christians about how they were convinced that their previous understanding of the role of women in church leadership is wrong (a pretty big admission) but many of them detail how they came to understand that with clear scriptural backing.
Women in leadership is not an issue of culture. It is an issue of biblical interpretation. I believe that the bible calls me to affirm women in leadership. This short booklet is useful, but it does not address that aspect of the role of women in the church. So go ahead and read it. But then keep going and really explore what solid Christian scholars say about the biblical basis for women in Leadership.
If you have a kindle and would like to borrow it leave a comment below. First come first serve.