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Friday, March 11, 2011

A Strange Reason to Change the Bible...

Junia/s (the female “apostle”) + Bible alterations?

We all know there were some dishonest scribes entrusted with the Bible but this bout of sexism-fuelled dishonesty is quite astonishing and embarrassing to the Church.


Junia/s is mentioned in Romans 16:7 by Paul and described as an apostle [1]. Many of us in 2011 would not bat an eye lid at this verse BUT it appears some of the scribes of the Bible considered it an appalling anomaly and even (dishonestly) changed it to a male name whilst others simply regarded it as a male name without reason:

Most strikingly, there is Junia, a female ‘apostle’, so described alongside another ‘apostle’ with a male name – this was considered such an appalling anomaly by many later readers of Romans that Junia’s name was frequently changed to a male form in the recopying of manuscripts, or simply regarded without any justification as a man’s name [2]

Patriarchal societies, I understand, but dishonesty…

Yes, I understand, these copyists/scribes were indeed from male dominated societies so I can contextualise their concern BUT to dishonestly change the Bible to suit your world view is quite staggering – even more staggering with a touch of embarrassment when it’s sexism which leads you to the tampering of “scripture”.

Von Tischendorf’s discovery of Codex Sinaiticus highlighted an unauthorised addition (forgery) to the Bible (12 verses added to Mark!) so we know scribes were willing to add hefty chunks (also refer to John 7:53-8:11) in order to suit their agendas – be they sexism, story telling, theological point making, or other agendas.

Muslims to help Christians find the forgeries?

I suspect there are still a number of unrecognised forgeries/alterations lingering in the Gospel manuscript tradition - a tradition from which scholars are compelled to reconstruct the New Testament as there is no Urtext.

To the Arabs and Jews in the Middle East, please check your attics, basements, valleys, caves, etc for manuscripts. Christian scholars would be appreciative – you could sell fragments off at $2.80 per square centimetre as Mohammed Edh-Dhib was doing for the Dead Sea Scrolls (OT specific) [3]

A light hearted post with a deadly serious subtext!

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[1] 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. [ Romans 16:7, NIV]. The Bible commentaries (Smith’s, Easton’s, Nave’s) seem to have very little information on Junia.

[2] A History of Christianity, Diarmaid MacCulloch, Penguin Group, 2009, p 117

[3] In 1947, Muhammed Edh-Dhib (a Bedouin) discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran. This is a revolutionary discovery with regards to the study of OT textual criticism.

“The going rate for fragments was apparently $2.80 per square centimetre” - The Story of the Scrolls, Geza Vermes, Penguin Books, 2010, p47

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