By Nancy Vyhmeister
The Name: Junia
The name of this woman, Junia, appears only once in the New Testament, in a list of friends and co-workers in Rome, to whom Paul sent greetings in Romans 16. Through the years, questions have been raised about her identity, especially her gender since original Greek manuscripts did not distinguish between the similar masculine and feminine forms of the name. This essay will review some of the evidence found in ancient manuscripts and writings of the early Church fathers.
The Name in Antiquity
Junia was a commonly used female Roman name, meaning “youthful.” It derived from the goddess Juno and appears more than 250 times in Rome alone in records of the first century. The name also appears in inscriptions in Ephesus, Didyma, Lydia, Troas and Bythinia. Were the name masculine, it should have been Junias in Greek or Junius in Latin. The masculine name Junius is well attested. According to Linda Belleville, there is, however, no attestation for the spelling Junias in any “inscription, letterhead, piece of writing, epitaph or literary work of the New Testament period.”[i]