Paul and co-workers

This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Mariam became Maria and, with that name, was Luke’s source for the infancy narrative

The name Mary in New Testament manuscripts appears sometimes in its Semitic form, Μαριαμ, and sometimes in its Greek forms: Μαρια (nominative and dative), Μαριαν (accusative), and Μαριας (genitive). Whenever it is in the genitive case it is written as Μαριας.(1) Peter Williams explains this as a form to be used suppletively alongside the Semitic Μαριαμ in the other cases. The mentions of the name of Mary, mother of Jesus, in the earliest manuscripts are shown in the table below. The use of the Greek forms of the name in codex Bezae (D05), are also explicable, since this manuscript has an anti-Semitic bias, including in its text of Luke.(2) D switches to the Greek form of the name at Luke 1:30, presumably because a scribe did not want a Semitic Mary to have “found favor with God”.


 At Luke 2:19 and Acts 1:14 the manuscripts are evenly divided between the Greek and Semitic forms.(3) It is unlikely that scribes would change Μαριαμ to Μαρια at these verses. Having transcribed her name successfully as Μαριαμ many times, why would a scribe switch to Μαρια at these points? If, on the other hand, Luke wrote Μαρια at these two spots, then scribes might change it to Μαριαμ to make it consistent with the form of the name already used several times for Mary. Let us now consider why Luke may have chosen to write Μαρια at Acts 1:14 and Luke 2:19, and only there.


Acts 1:14 mentions Mary’s presence in Jerusalem, and John 19:27 implies that she became a resident of Jerusalem. The gospel spread to many Greek speakers in Jerusalem and beyond, and they may have known Mary as Μαρια. We should therefore not be surprised that Luke’s last mention of Mary refers to her by this later form of her name.


Luke 2:19, like Acts 1:14, refers to her as Μαρια, suggesting that Luke has the later time in view here too.


Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them.(4)


Therefore, it seems to me that Luke has in mind not only the earlier time of Jesus’s birth, but also the much later time when Mary recalled what she had remembered, and when she was known as Μαρια, at least to Greek-speakers such as Luke. He seems to be citing Mary as his source for his birth narrative.

Luke, like other ancient writers, often refers to the same person by different names according to context. Consider Saul-Paul, John-Mark, BarJesus-Elymas, Jason-Aristarchus, and Crispus-Sosthenes.(5) A good parallel to Μαριαμ-Μαρια in Luke-Acts, is the case of Simon-Simeon. Luke gives him his Greek name form, Simon, at Luke 4:38, 38; 5:3, 4, 5, 810, 10; 6:14; 21:31, 31; 24:34; Acts 10:5, 18, 32; 11:13, but he gives him his Semitic name form, Simeon, appropriately, at Acts 15:14.



(1)  Not only for the mother of Jesus, but also for Martha’s sister (John 11:1) and Mark’s mother (Acts 12:12).

(2)  See Jason Robert Combs, “The Polemical Origin of Luke 6:5D: Dating Codex Bezae’s Sabbath-Worker Agraphon” JSNT (2019) 162-184.

(3)  At Luke 2:19 NA28 cites Μαρια א* B D Θ 1241. 1424 sa bopt. Μαριαμ א2 A K L P W Γ Δ Ξ Ψ f1.13 33. 565.579. 700. 892. 2542 𝔐 syh bopt. While NA28 prefers Μαριαμ here, the SBL and Tyndale House versions have Μαρια. At Acts 1:14 NA28 cites Μαρια א A C D Ψ 33. 614. 1175. 1241. 1505. 1739s 𝔐. Μαριαμ 81. 323. 945. 1891.

(4)  Good News Translation. The NRSV, for example, says “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart”, but this is misleading, as the heart was considered the center of thought and feeling, rather than just the seat of emotion (BDAG).

(5)  For the identities or Aristarchus and Sosthenes, see my Tyndale Bulletin article here

See pages 263-4 of the same article for a discussion of name switching by ancient writers.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Chuza and Joanna as Andronicus and Junia, prominent apostles

Richard Bauckham argued that Junia (Rom 16:7) was Joanna (Luke 8:3; 24:10), (1) and here I confirm his theory by tightening his arguments and adding new ones.

Andronicus and Junia
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. (Rom 16:7)
Andronicus and Junia were almost certainly from Palestine because they were Jews who were in Christ before Paul. Junia was a Latin female name. It is very probable that Junia went by another name in Palestine because
a) Only 4.1% of occurrences of Jewish female names in Palestine are Latin.(2)
b) The name Junia, while common in Rome, was particularly rare in the east.

The table below shows all the early Christians with recorded names belonging to more than one language. Barnabas and Luke have been added to complete the list of apostles to gentile territories. It can be seen that the name pairs fall into two categories.
1) There are those who were given a new name because of its meaning, and such names are shown in bold. The name Junia does not appear to belong to this category since it has no special meaning and there is little evidence that the early Christians employed Latin names for this purpose.
2) All the others in the table had names that had a phonetic resemblance to each other. We need not suppose that John Mark was an exception since Mark is a praenomen and he probably also had a cognomen, which may have been phonetically similar to his Semitic name, John.

So Junia probably had a name that sounded similar to Junia. It is unlikely to have been a Greek name, since such a name would have worked well in Rome and she would therefore not have needed to switch to "Junia". Therefore we are looking for a Semitic name that sounds like Junia, and the only good candidate is Joanna.(3) Furthermore, a Joanna looking for a similar sounding Latin name would likely choose Junia.(4)

The table shows that Latin names (rather than Greek) dominate those who evangelised gentile lands (I include Jesus Justus, though he was fictional). This is likely because missionaries needed the legal protection of Roman citizenship to do their dangerous work. See here. Now, Junia was a Latin name, so fits the pattern, but what about Andronicus, which was a Greek name? The other travelling missionaries who were known in the diaspora by non-Latin names are Barnabas, Timothy and Peter, and it is striking that all three were probably new names given in recognition of their roles in the church. This phenomenon of new name giving was more widespread than is often supposed and in most (all?) cases the new name was given to a church host or benefactor. See here. The name Andronicus is formed from ἀνδρὸς (of man) and νίκη (victory), and can be translated "victory of a man". The name may therefore have been given to him for his role as benefactor, in much the same way that the Greek names Stephanas (crowned), Sosthenes (saving strength), and Peter (rock) were given to those hosts/benefactors.

So, in our search for Andronicus and Junia we are looking for people who meet the following criteria:
1) They were a male/female partnership.
2) Both were Jews.
3) Both were in Christ before Paul.
4) The man could well have been a benefactor.
5) They were prominent in the church.
6) The woman was probably called Joanna.
7) They had, or could attain, Roman citizenship.

Joanna and Chuza
Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God, and the twelve with him and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Sussana, and may others, who provided for them out of their resources. (Luke 8:1-3) 
Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles (Luke 24:10)
Joanna and Chuza meet the above criteria for Junia and Andronicus:
1) They were a female/male partnership.
2) They were almost certainly both Jews (because of their location and Joanna's name)
3) Joanna's financial support of the Jesus movement is easier to explain if Chuza was also a disciple, since husbands generally controlled the resources. Given his position as Herod's steward, he may have needed to keep his support of Jesus secret (compare Joseph of Arimathea, who was a member of the Council (Mark 15:43) and a secret disciple (John 19:38)). If Chuza was indeed a disciple at that time, he and Joanna, like Andronicus and Junia, were in Christ before Paul.
4) Chuza, if indeed a disciple, would have been a benefactor of the church, and could then have been given an appropriate Greek name, such as Andronicus.
5) Luke mentions Joanna and Chuza by name, perhaps because they became prominent apostles who were known to some of his audience.
6) Joanna would likely have taken the name Junia if she needed a Latin name.
7) Bauckham has shown that Chuza was very wealthy. He and Joanna, if they were not already Roman citizens, would be able to purchase Roman citizenship (which afforded them the necessary legal protection for the dangerous work of evangelism).

The name Joanna was held by just 3% of Jewish women in Palestine. Junia was probably a prominent early disciple called Joanna. In my judgement there was probably only one such individual, the Joanna of Luke's gospel.

It may be objected that Junia's partner was Andronicus, whereas Joanna's parter was Chuza. However, I have reversed this argument by showing that Andronicus's Greek name implies that he was a wealthy individual with an earlier name, and this would fit Chuza nicely.

Luke's source for his information on Joanna, and indeed much of his gospel, may have been Joanna-Junia herself, since they would have met in Rome.

(1) Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women (2002) 165-186.
(2) Tal Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity Part I Palestine 330 BCE-200 CE (2002) 55.
(3) See Ilan's volumes.
(4) At least from searches of Latin female names in Trismegistos. I will search other sources when it is safe to visit libraries. The next best candidate is perhaps Iuliana.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Vaticanus and 1 Cor 14:34-5

NTS has published my short article:

"Are There Distigme-Obelos Symbols in Vaticanus?" NTS 65.2 (2019) 246-251.

It can be accessed for free here. In it I argue against Philip Payne's 2017 NTS article, in which he tried to use symbols in the margin of codex Vaticanus to argue that 1 Cor 14:34-5 is an interpolation. Actually, I think that Paul probably did not write these verses, but not for the reasons Payne gave in the article.

The current edition of NTS also contains a further rebuttal of Payne's 2017 paper:

Jan Krans, "Paragraphos, Not Obelos, in Codex Vaticanus" NTS 65.2 (2019) 252-257.

Krans's article is broader in scope than mine. He and I worked independently of each other and there is little overlap in our material, but we come to the same conclusion.

The background to Galatians

My article on Galatians is now published, and can be downloaded for 14 Euros here. Sorry about the price.

"Paul, Timothy, Jerusalem and the Confusion in Galatia" Biblica 99.4 (2018) 544-566.

It is a provocative and potentially ground-breaking piece that challenges modern scholars' cherished beliefs that:-
a) there was a theological rift between Paul and the Jerusalem church leaders.
b) Paul wrote Galatians in anger.
c) Paul was uncompromising in his opposition to circumcision.
d) Galatians shows Acts to be unhistorical.
e) Titus and Timothy were different people.

In the process, I support the south Galatia hypothesis and a date of composition after the circumcision of Timothy. Here is the abstract.
Gal 5,11 is an embarrassment to conventional understandings of Galatians, yet the structure of the letter shows that it is of central importance: it is the clearest text that reveals the rumour refuted by Paul throughout the letter. Paul circumcised Timothy in Galatia and delivered Jerusalem’s decision that circumcision was not necessary. The agitators then encouraged circumcision by appealing to Paul’s authority, claiming that he now approved of circumcision, and that it was only to please the Jerusalem church leaders that he continued to preach a Law-free gospel in Galatia. Acts no longer contradicts Galatians but explains it well.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Junia, Prisca, and sexism in Jerome's manuscript

Jerome wrote a list of New Testament proper names, with his (loose) interpretations of their meanings. It is found in Liber Interpretations Hebraicorum Nominum, also known as Liber de Nominibus Hebraicis. The oldest manuscript of this work is from the 9th century and its images are given below and can be found here (and a later manuscript is here). The text is conveniently given here and de Lagarde's edition is here. This blog post examines how this work of Jerome treats Junia (Rom 16:7), Euodia (Phil 4:3) and Prisca.

A sexist hand may have intervened in the compilation of Jerome's book in 388 A.D., for Junia and Euodia seem to have been removed from their rightful locations, and Prisca was made male.

Jerome organised the names by the books in which they appear. Thus, all the names in Romans are together. The next criterion for ordering the names is alphabetical order of the first letter, and the final criterion is text order. For example, all the names beginning with "A" are grouped together, but Aquila comes before Andronicus because Aquila is mentioned in Romans before Andronicus. But when we look at the names beginning with "I" we see some oddities. At the end of the "I" names we should expect to find Iunia (Julia), Iulia (Julia), and Iason (Jason), in that order, but they (and only they) are missing.

Even more curious is the fact that Iunia and Iason have been moved to the section for the epistle of James, though I counted 13 other names that have been moved (mostly from 1 Peter and among the shorter Pauline letters).

Furthermore Iunia there is given the interpretation "incipiens" (starting), which is precisely the interpretation that we should expect to be given to Iulia, since Jerome elsewhere gives that interpretation to Iulius (which is the male form of the same name). Indeed, we read the following:

Iael cerua uel coniugium ceruale siue incipiens
Iohel incipiens (twice)
Iohel incipiente deo siue est deus
Iulium incipientem

All these names begin with "I" and have an "L", not an "N". It seems that Iunia has been given Iulia's interpretation, "incipiens", and  the interpretation of Iunia's name has been lost. What is going on?

When Jerome collected and interpreted the names in Romans, we should expect him to have written the following on his piece of papyrus that he used for the names beginning with "I".

The words in normal font appear in the manuscripts, the words in grey are absent, and the words in blue appear in the section on James. Now for some speculation. All is explained if the bottom section of the papyrus broke off and found its way to the pile of sheets for the epistle of James. The scribe who copied all the sheets into a single continuous document would then have included Iunia and Iason in the section on James. The tear may have made illegible the name Iulia and the gloss on Iunia's name, so that the word "incipiens" was then ascribed to Iunia instead.

That is to say, everything is explained if the papyrus was torn, for example as shown above, with the bottom fragment finding its way to the James pile, which could well have been still on the desk, since James comes shortly before Romans.

In any case, Junia has been moved from her rightful place, and the interpretation of her name seems to have been lost. These things may have been done deliberately by a misogynist hand. He may have tried to make it look like an accident in case he was challenged on the alteration. We have no way to know that it was deliberate, but we should be suspicious because this was not the only time that Junia was a victim of misogyny. See my earlier post, which discusses the treatment of Junia in P46.

Phil 4:2-3 can be understood to mean that Paul commended Euodia highly, and Jerome seems to endorse such an interpretation, for he gives a positive interpretation of her name (Euhodiam adprehendentem dominum).  Now, she appears in the section on Philippians, as we might expect, but, curiously, she also appears in the section on 2 Timothy. Other duplications include Pontus, Cappadocia, Silvanus, and Marcus, all of which appear in the section on 2 Peter, as well as 1 Peter. All the duplications might be explained as dislocations that were later partly corrected. Thus an assistant of Jerome may have moved Euodia from the Philippians, perhaps objecting to Jerome's commendation of her. Note that Euhodiam is no longer explicitly female when she is dissociated from Phil 4:2-3. Later readers of Jerome's book may have copied Euodia back into the section on Philippians, where she belongs.

In that earlier blog post I presented three pieces of evidence that some tried to claim that Prisca was a man:
1) The masculine form of the name in P46
2) The masculine name, Priscus, in codex Sinaiticus
3) The claim in Index Apostolorum Discipulorumque, ascribed to Epiphanius, that Prisca and Junia were men.

While Jerome's work on names did not have the power to make Prisca a man, it does seem to have de-emphasised her female gender, by giving her name in its masculine form in the sections on Romans and 2 Timothy.

The name is Prisca in the section on 1 Corinthians, but in this manuscript she is curiously given a lower case "p". What to make of that?

Clearly a lot more work needs to be done on sexist alterations of texts in the early Christian centuries.

[This blog post is updated from a version posted 9 days ago]

Liber Interpretations Hebraicorum Nominum ascribes essentially the same meaning to Luke as to Lucius, providing further evidence, perhaps, that Luke is a short form of Lucius.
Dorcas is absent from the book, indicating, perhaps, that Jerome did not consider it to be another name used by Tabitha.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Barnabas is female in P46 Gal 2:1

At Gal 2:1 Paul says he went to Jerusalem with Barnabas, having taken (μετὰ Βαρναβᾶ συμπαραλαβὼν) Titus with him. While Paul wrote "ΒΑΡΝΑΒΑ", which is the normal genitive form of the name, P46, the oldest manuscript of Paul's letters, adds a sigma to the end of the name to make: "ΒΑΡΝΑΒΑΣ".

Royse writes that this is “presumably an unusual genitive in –ας, for which there seems to be no parallel” (1). However, he must mean that there is no male parallel, for it is an ordinary genitive of a first declension feminine name (2).

The name is otherwise unattested as a female name, and the male form was extremely rare, with only two cases listed in the Lexicon of Greek Personal Νames, for example. It is therefore plausible that the scribe of P46 (or a predecessor) did not know whether to expect a male name or a female name, but they would know to expect a genitive. They would therefore know that if the name was female there would be a sigma following the final alpha, and there would be no such sigma if the name was male. It seems that, on finding the sigma they then naturally assumed that the name was female and took the word to end after the sigma, not realising that the sigma was the initial letter of the following word. The doubling of the sigma is therefore explicable if the scribe had no prior knowledge of Barnabas's gender.

Edgar Battad Ebojo did not consider the possibility that the scribe thought he was writing a female name, and wrote that the error resulted from "a visual difficulty with initial sigma immediately following an open vowel"(3). He cites 1 Cor 2:4 as another case where P46 doubles the sigma to create a text that makes no sense. However, this textual variant does not demonstrate a tendency of P46 since it is in the other early manuscripts as well. The only other example of P46 doubling an initial sigma is at 1 Cor 16:19, where the female name, Prisca, is changed to the (unattested?) male name, Priscas. As I mentioned in my last blog post, the name Prisca has an ambiguous gender in Rom 16:3 since it is in the accusative. Prisca there is mentioned before Aquila and is highly praised so a scribe might have made the sexist assumption that Prisca was male (even though it is a well attested female name) and, when reaching 1 Cor 16:19, the scribe would have been primed to read the sigma of σὺν as the last letter of Prisca's name, which precedes it.

There is therefore no tendency in P46 to double sigmas to make text that the scribe would have considered nonsense. We can therefore assume that at Gal 2:1 a scribe thought he/she was writing a woman's name, and at 1 Cor 16:19 a scribe thought he/she was writing a man's name. An interesting implication of this is that in neither case could the scribe have been familiar with the Acts of the Apostles, where the genders of the two people are unambiguous. The influence of Acts presumably explains why these errors are not seen in other manuscripts (all of which are later).

Barnabas's gender is unambiguous at Gal 2:13, but P46 has a textual variant there and things get complicated.

(1) James R. Royse, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri, NTTSD 36 (Leiden: Brill, 2008) 332.
(2) Compare, for example, ΜΑΡΙΑΣ (Matt 1:16; John 11:1; Acts 12:12).
(3) A scribe and his manuscript: an Investigation into the Scribal Habits of Papyrus 46 (P. Chester Beatty II – P. Mich. Inv. 6238). PhD thesis. 275-7.

Monday, October 1, 2018

P46 presented Prisca and Junia as men

There seems to be a consensus that early scribes subtly altered the text of the New Testament to diminish the authority of women in the church. Back in 1984 Ben Witherington explored this phenomenon in the western text of Acts.[1] P46 is our earliest text of Paul’s letters and dates from around 200 CE and Edgar Battad Ebojo has recently shown that P46 has some textual variants at 1 Cor 11:9; 1 Cor 16:19, Gal 3:28; and Eph 5:24 that subtly reduce the standing of women in the church.[2] Dominika A. Kurek-Chomycz did a helpful study of the anti-Priscan tendency in the manuscripts.[3] Surprisingly, a comprehensive study of the phenomenon is lacking. In this blog post I will not attempt such a huge task, but will focus on Prisca and Junia in P46.

Name order reversals that demoted women

There are just 11 occasions in the NT when a woman is listed along with one or more men. On 4 of these occasions the woman is named last; “Aquila and Prisca” (1 Cor 16:19); “Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris” Acts (17:34); “Andronicus and Junia” (Rom 16:7); Eubulus and Pudens and Linus and Claudia (2 Tim 4:21). There are 7 cases where the woman is named ahead of at least one man:

1.     “Mary and Joseph” (Luke 2:16)
2.     “Prisca and Aquila” (Rom 16:3)
3.     “Prisca and Aquila” (2 Tim 4:19)
4.     “Priscilla and Aquila” (Acts 18:18)
5.    “Priscilla and Aquila” (Acts 18:26)
6.    “Philolous, Julia, Nereus and his sister …” (Rom 16:15)
7.     “Philemon … Aphia … Archippus” (Philem 2)

The Center for New Testament Restoration ( collates all manuscripts dating to before about 400 CE. They show only four cases of names being reversed in order:

1.     W – Codex Washingtonianus places Elijah before Moses at Matt 17:4. There is a simple explanation: after writing the phrase μιαν και, the scribe’s eye skipped to the second instance of the phrase and therefore he wrote the second name first.
2.     The same text promotes Andrew ahead of James and John at Mark 3:18, presumably to conform the text to that of Luke and/or Matthew, or to place Andrew with his brother.
3.    D – Bezae places Priscilla behind Aquila at Acts 18:26, where Priscilla (according to the original text) takes the lead in teaching Apollos, an educated man.

4.    P46 reverses Julia and Nereus at Rom 16:15, as well as Patrobas and Hermas at Rom 16:14 (see below).

It is surely no coincidence that 2 of these 4 reversals are among the 7 cases in the NT where women precede men, and that these two cases occur in manuscripts that are known for their misogyny. There are about one hundred opportunities for name switches in the NT so it is clear that woman have been demoted by the process disproportionately compared to men. I will discuss Julia in more detail below.

Women becoming men

In the text of Vaticanus, among, others, Col 4:15 sends greetings to “Nympha and the church in her house”. Νυμφαν και την κατ οικον αυτης εκκλησιαν. Most other manuscripts, however, change αυτης (her) to αυτων (their) or αυτου (his). It is very likely that the transmitters of the texts were uncomfortable with the idea that a woman led a house church, so they took Νυμφαν to be the accusative of the male name Νυμφς and altered the pronoun accordingly. Here is the text in Sinaiticus:
The Index apostolorum discipulorumque, ascribed to Epiphanius, identifies both Junia and Prisca as men (Ἰουνίας and Πρίσκας). Attempts to change the gender of Prisca were doomed to failure since Acts 18:2 is very explicit that Priscilla was a woman. However, P46, being a collection of Paul’s letters, contained no text of Acts and we do not know whether Acts was known to those who transmitted this text. At 1 Cor 16:19 P46 adds a sigma to the name Πρισκα making Πρισκας, which is masculine in form.
Prisca appears in Paul’s letters elsewhere only at Rom 16:3 and 2 Tim 4:19, but in both places the name is in the accusative (Πρισκαν) so its gender is ambiguous. The effect of the Πρισκας variant at 1 Cor 16:19 in P46 is therefore to make Prisca a man not only there but also at Rom 16:3.

In Romans Paul acclaims Prisca very highly and greets her ahead of her husband and indeed before anyone else. This would have been uncomfortable for misogynist transmitters of the text and they solved their problem in P46 by the simple addition of a sigma to Prisca’s name at 1 Cor 16:19. They may have assumed that Πρισκαν in Rom 16:3 must have been a man and, primed to read Πρισκας at 1 Cor 16:19, they may have been encouraged to do so by the sigma at the start of the following word (συν).

Kurek-Chomycz points out that the manuscripts are fairly evenly split over whether the name should be Prisca or Priscilla at 1 Cor 16:19. This demands an explanation since nowhere in Acts did the scribes change Priscilla to Prisca, and none of them change Prisca to Priscilla at 2 Tim 4:19. Even at Rom 16:3, where we are given a lot of information about Prisca, she is not changed to Priscilla until the seventh century, as far as we know. Why then is the form of the name at 1 Cor 16:19 so disputed among the early manuscripts? Kurek-Chomycz struggles with this question, but a possible answer can be offered. The Πρισκας textual variant at 1 Cor 16:19 would not have lasted long when the communities started to use Acts extensively, for it directly contradicts the clear statement of Acts 18:2. Scribes would replace Πρισκας with Πρισκιλλα or Πρισκα to remove that contradiction. I do not know whether the original text read Πρισκιλλα or Πρισκα, and it matters little. My point is that if the Πρισκας textual variant was widespread in the early decades of the church, it could have given rise to the even split that we see between the Πρισκιλλα and Πρισκα forms of the name. Is there a better explanation?

Another male version of the name Prisca is found in Sinaiticus, which has Πρισκον instead of Κρισπον at 1 Cor 1:14. Πρισκον is the accusative of the common male name Πρισκος (Latin Priscus).[4] It is hard to know how to interpret this variant. A second hand has corrected it by placing two letters above the line.

Junia and Julia
If the misogynists behind P46 were embarrassed by Prisca, were they also embarrassed by Junia, who was prominent among the apostles and was in Christ before Paul?
Whereas most manuscripts read οι και προ εμου γεγοναν, P46 reads ος και προ εμου γεγονεν. Thus, while the original text stated that Andronicus and Junia were in Christ before Paul, P46 says that only Andronicus was in Christ before Paul. James Royse writes, “Perhaps we have here a reluctance to include a woman among those who were “in Christ” before Paul.”[5] But there is more. P46 also changes Ιουνιαν to Ιουλιαν (Julia), and this is significant, as we will see, because this manuscript also messes with Ιουλιαν at Rom 16:15.

P46 has the names Ιουλιαν and Νηρεα reversed. It has also replaced the first letter of Ιουλιαν with an alpha and the first letter of Νηρεα with a beta. This corruption of the two names has recently been convincingly explained by Royse.[6] “In the exemplar the names were marked for transposition by the use of the letters A and B, as is known from other manuscripts.” The scribe then saw the letters A and B written above the start of the two names and misunderstood the intent of the corrector. He then replaced the initial letters of the two names with the A and B (just as someone copying Sinaiticus would convert Πρισκον to Κρισπον – see above). P46 also reverses the names Patrobas and Hermas two lines above, and it seems to me that we now have a likely explanation. The corrector who wrote the A and B, or someone else, wrote “switch the names” in the margin. A scribe did not know that this referred (only) to the names Julia and Nereus so he swapped Patrobas and Hermas as well as (or instead of) Julia and Nereus. The exchange of the names Patrobas and Hermas is likely collateral damage from an attempt (successful or otherwise) to switch Julia and Nereus. I am undecided whether the corrector who wrote the A and B was trying to move Julia behind Nereus or return her to her original position. Nor do I know whether he placed the A over the name that he wanted to come first or incorrectly over the other name (which could have caused the scribe’s confusion). In any case, at some time someone made (or intended to make) a manuscript that read Ιουλιαν και την αδελφην αυτου (Julias and his sister). The pronoun αυτου is gender specific and makes the claim that Ιουλιαν is the accusative of a man’s name (presumably Julias). By simply transposing the names Julia and Nereus someone has turned Julia into a man. This is important because it would have cast doubt on the gender of Junia of 16:7 (who has been transformed into Ιουλιαν by P46). Misogynists would have been able to say, “Andronicus’s partner was probably a man because his name appears later in the text as a man’s name. Even if it refers to a different person of the same name, it shows that it was a man’s name in Paul’s day and in Paul’s accent/spelling.” In their determination to cast Prisca and Junia as men, they were, it seems, undeterred by the fact that the masculine names Priscas and Julias were rare or unattested. In much the same way, some, to this day, see Junia(s) as a man, undeterred by the fact that it is unattested as a male name.


P46 made subtle changes to the text to cast doubt on the gender of both Prisca and Junia, who were the two women who most offended patriarchal assumptions. P46 could, theoretically, have added the sigma to Prisca at 1 Cor 16:19 by accidental dittography, but we should no longer give it the benefit of the doubt since the exchange of the names Julia and Nereus can only have been an attempt at deliberate deceit, because name switches did not happen without good reason.

[1] Ben Witherington III, “Anti-Feminist Tendencies of the ‘Western’ Text in Acts”, JBL 103 (1984), 82-84.
[2] Edgar Battad Ebojo, “Sex, Scribes, and Scriptures: Engendering the Texts of the New Testament” Journal of Biblical Text Research vol 36, 367-94. Here 386-7.,%20Scribes,%20and%20Scriptures%20(Edgar).pdf
[3] “Is There an “Anti-Priscan” Tendency in the Manuscripts? Some Textual Problems with Prisca and Aquila”, JBL 125.1 (2006) 107-127.
[4] The name is attested 228 times in the Trismegistos People database.
[5] James R. Royse, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri (2008) 322 n690.
[6] Scribal Habits 333-4.