Paul and co-workers

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

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Article on early sexist textual variants

 Catholic Biblical Quarterly has now published my article "Early Sexist Textual Variants, and Claims that Prisca, Junia, and Julia Were Men." It is accessible to CBA members and will also be available at the Project Muse website. A version of the article, with some mistakes, such as typos, is given below. Please refer to the CBQ version, when possible.


Early sexist textual variants, and claims that Prisca, Junia, and Julia were men



There are numerous textual variants in early New Testament manuscripts that reverse the order of females and males, with the effect of giving precedence to the males. The expectation that males should be named first, the rarity of the name Prisca in the east, and the grammatical ambiguity of the name in Rom 16:3 likely led interpreters to assume that the person referred to there was male. Several textual variants can be explained as attempts to bolster the claim that Prisca, Junia, and Julia were in fact men.



Misogyny, textual variants, Prisca, Junia, Julia




It is well known that Priscilla is named ahead of her husband, Aquila, at Acts 18:26 in the best manuscripts, and that codex Bezae (D, 05, 5th century)[1] reverses the order of the names. Was this variant created by a scribal slip?[2] Is it an example of a widespread tendency to corrupt verses that give precedence to women over men? To answer these questions Part 1 of this article explores whether New Testament textual variants demoted women disproportionately compared to men. In Part 2 we examine whether copyists made changes that bolstered the claim that prominent women were actually men.


Part 1. Textual variants that reduced the standing of one gender relative to the other


There are about 62 occasions in the New Testament when a man (or men) are listed before a woman (or women).[3] For example, John 6:42 has τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα. There are 34 occasions where a women are listed ahead of men. In no case is there significant doubt about the order in the archetype.[4] In all cases I used the same search procedure to look for texts where the males and females are transposed.[5]


Of the 62 cases where males appear first, I was able to find only three cases with textual variants that transpose the males and females. Sinaiticus (א, 01, 4th century) at Acts 2:18 reads: ΕΠΙ ΤΑΣ ΔΟΥΛΑΣ ΜΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΕΠΙ ΤΟΥΣ ΔΟΥΛΟΥΣ ΜΟΥ. This could be a corrected leap due to the repetition of the word ΕΠΙ.[6] Brothers and sisters are oddly reversed in Bezae at Mark 10:30. Finally, minuscule 69 (15th century) reverses father and mother at Matt 19:5.


Of the 34 cases where females are listed first, there are 9 where the search procedure revealed manuscripts that transpose the females and males (Matt 14:21; 15:38; Mark 3:31; 10:29; Luke 18:29; John 2:12; Acts 17:12; 18:26; Rom 16:15). Thus, transposition demotes males in 5% of cases, but women in 26% of cases.


In 18 of the 34 cases the women are given precedence over their sons (or grandsons) and in only one of those 18 cases does she suffer transposition (Mark 3:31).[7] It would appear, therefore, that the scribes did not resent women being given higher honor than their sons. This is not surprising, for even the author of the Pastoral Epistles honors women for childbirth (1 Tim 2:15). There are 16 occasions where women are mentioned before males who are not their sons or grandsons, and in 8 of these occasions (50%) there is a manuscript, found by our search process, that demotes the women by transposition. This is 10 times higher than the rate at which males are demoted. This huge disparity shows that women were demoted by more than mere scribal mechanical slips in most cases, and that the ancients were sensitive to name order.  Space does not allow a detailed discussion, but we will now look briefly at the 9 cases.


1.1.1 Matt 14:21 women and children

At Matt 14:21 we read that those who ate were five thousand men, besides women and children. However, Bezae (along with Θ f1 it) demotes the women, placing them after the children.


1.1.2 Matt 15:38 women and children

Similary women are demoted in the feeding of the four thousand in Sinaiticus and Bezae, along with Θ f1 579 lat syc sa bo.


1.1.3 Mark 3:31 his mother and his brothers

The accepted text has  μήτηρ ατο κα ο δελφο ατο but Alexandrinus (A, 02, 5th century) and other manuscripts reverse Jesus’s mother and brothers.[8] Mary gets only two mentions in Mark’s gospel and this is the first. This may explain why she is demoted here but not elsewhere.


1.1.4 Mark 10:29 or mother or father

NA28 has  μητέρα  πατέρα, but several manuscripts, including Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus promote father ahead of mother.[9] It is possible that this change was made under the influence of the parallel passage in Matt 19:29, which has πατέρα  μητέρα.


1.1.5 Luke 18:29 wife or brothers or parents

On the strength of Vaticanus (B, 03, 4th century) and Sinaiticus, the NA28 text has γυνακα  δελφος  γονες, but wife changes places with parents in A D K N P W Γ Δ Θ Ψ f1.13 565s. 700. 1424. 2542 𝔐 lat sy (sams). The effect of this change is to prioritize males over females and also to respect the seniority of parents.


1.1.6 John 2:12 his mother, his brothers, and his disciples

We read κα  μήτηρ ατο κα ο δελφο ατο κα ο μαθητα ατο, but Washingtonianus (W, 032, this part of the codex is considered 7th century) promotes the disciples to first place, but still allows Jesus mother to precede her sons. Minuscule 1241 (12th century) promotes the disciples and also eliminates the mother.


1.1.7 Acts 17:12 Greek women and men

Bezae mentions men before women at Acts 17:12. Metzger points out that “the readjusted order has the effect of lessening any importance given to women”.[10] Furthermore, this manuscript omits the woman Damaris at Acts 17:34.


1.1.8 Acts 18:26 Priscilla and Aquila

Bezae and other “western” manuscripts reverse the names.[11] 

Figure 1. The names Priscilla and Aquila reversed in Bezae at Acts 18:26. Cambridge University Library. Accessed from C.NT.R.

Bezae also seems to sideline Priscilla by adding text about Aquila without his wife.[12]


1.1.9 Rom 16:15 JuliaNereus

𝔓46    φιλολογον και βηρεα και αουλιαν και την αδελφην αυτου και ολυμπαν

B 03    φιλολογον και ιουλιαν νηρεα         και την αδελφην αυτου και ολυμπαν

 01     φιλολογον και ιουλιαν νηρεα        και την αδελφην αυτου και ολυμπαν

C 04*  φιλολογον και ιουνιαν νηρεα         και την αδελφην αυτου και ολυμπαν

A 02    φιλολογον και ιουλιαν νηρεαν       και την αδελφην αυτου και ολυμπαν

F 10     φιλολογον και ιουνιαν νηρεαν       και την αδελφην αυτου και ολυμπειδα

G 12    φιλολογον και ιουνιαν νηρεαν       και την αδελφην αυτου και ολυμπειδα


The agreed original text of Rom 16:15 is that of B and ℵ shown above.

“Greet Philologus, and Julia, Nereus and his sister, …”

However, Papyrus 46 (𝔓46, ca. 200) has here accumulated three changes. 

Figure 2. Rom 16:14-15 in 𝔓46. University of Michigan Library Papyrology Collection. Accessed from C.NT.R.


It has reversed the names Julia and Nereus; it has added an extra κα between the two names; and it has corrupted the spelling of the names. The initial letter of ουλίαν has been replaced with an alpha and the initial letter of Νηρέα has been replaced with a beta. The copyist has actually detached this beta from Nereus and attached it to the preceding κα, indicating his confusion. This corruption of the spelling of the two names has recently been convincingly explained by Royse. A predecessor of 𝔓46 had reversed the names Nereus and Julia and an attempt was made to switch them back to their original order by marking up the exemplar of 𝔓46. Royse writes, “In the exemplar the names were marked for transposition by the use of the letters A and B, as is known from other manuscripts.”[13] The copyist then mistakenly assumed that these two letters were intended to replace the initial letters of the two names (the Sinaiticus image in section 2.1.7 shows this style of correction). Thus the copyist saw the following in his exemplar:


Β                    Α



and wrote: ΒΗΡΕΑ ΚΑΙ ΑΟΥΛΙΑΝ. A predecessor of 𝔓46 therefore had the words ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ κα τν δελφν ατο (Julia(s) and his sister) and this will be discussed in part 2. The addition of the extra κα may have been to (awkwardly) avoid the problem of “Julia and his sister”. With the extra κα it might be thought that the sister was sister to Philologus. The attempt to revert Julia to her rightful place before Nereus may also have been motivated by a desire to avoid “Julia and his sister”. In any case, we know that a predecessor of 𝔓46 reversed the names Julia and Nereus and this had the effect of at least demoting Julia relative to Nereus.


1.2 The other 8 cases where women have precedence over males who are not their sons


1.2.1 John 11:5 Martha and her sister and Lazarus

John 11:5 reads γάπα δ  ησος τν Μάρθαν κα τν δελφν ατς κα τν Λάζαρον. We have some, mostly Latin, manuscripts that reverse the order of the names to put Lazarus first (Chryss, a, e, aur, c, ff2*, and ff2C).[14]


1.2.2 Rom 16:15 his sister and Olympas

Augiensis (F, 010) and Boernerianus(G, 012) (both 9th century) have replaced the clearly male ΟΛΥΜΠΑΝ with ΟΛΥΜΠΕΙΔΑ, who has ambiguous gender. Thus they avoid the embarrassment of Paul having greeted a female (the sister of Nereus/Nereas) before a male (Olympas). ΟΛΥΜΠΑΣ is given in the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names(henceforth LGPN) 13 times and only as a male name.[15] It would likely have been recognized as a short form of the very popular male names ΟΛΥΜΠΙΟΔΩΡΟΣ or ΟΛΥΜΠΙΧΟΣ. However, ΟΛΥΜΠΕΙΔΑ is the accusative form of ΟΛΥΜΠΙΣ, which is female five times out of its 46 occurrences in the LGPN, which names about eight times as many men as women. Thus the name ΟΛΥΜΠΕΙΔΑ is statistically almost as likely to be female as male. The unambiguously female ΠΕΡΣΙΔΑ of Rom 16:12 may have given a copyist the idea to write ΟΛΥΜΠΕΙΔΑ in place of ΟΛΥΜΠΑΝ. We should not be surprised to find sexist variants in F and G, since they “are generally suspected of playing down the role of women”.[16]


1.2.3 Luke 2:16 Mary and Joseph

While Joseph is not Mary’s son, the verse nevertheless concerns Mary’s role as mother, so we should not expect her to be attacked by scribes here.


1.2.4 Philmn 2 to Apphia, our sister, and to Archippus

Scribes did not demote Apphia relative to Archippus, presumably because they could cast Archippus as Apphia’s son.[17]


1.2.5 Acts 13:50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul…

Here the women are antagonists and this can explain why scribes did not transpose them and the men here.


1.2.6 Acts 18:18 

Here Priscilla is named before Aquila, and there are no manuscripts that reverse the names, even though the reversal occurs at 18:26. However, an early sexist copyist who read the words Πρίσκιλλα κα κύλας κειράμενος ν Κεγχρεας τν κεφαλήν might conclude that Luke had delayed the mention of Aquila to connect Aquila with the following clause, rather than to demote Aquila relative to Priscilla. This interpretation, in which it was Aquila who shaved his head, was adopted by it(6th century) and some moderns.[18] Haenchen writes, “Priscilla is named first also in verse 26, in Romans 16.3 and II Tim. 4.19. We need not therefore assume that she is here named first in order that the ‘cutting’ might be attached directly to ‘Aquila’.”[19] Haenchen is right, but the Aquila theory would be particularly attractive for ancients who wanted to explain away the order of the names, as well as those who did not want to believe that Paul could commit such a (Jewish?) act. With Aquila connected to the following clause, it would be unnecessary to reverse the names and it would be cumbersome to do so without greatly changing the meaning.


1.2.7 Rom 16:3 and 2 Tim 4:19 Prisca and Aquila

These texts will be discussed in Part 2.


1.3 Rom 16:14 Patroba(s) and Hermas

At Rom 16:14 Paul greets ΑΣΥΓΚΡΙΤΟΝ, ΦΛΕΓΟΝΤΑ, ΕΡΜΗΝ, ΠΑΤΡΟΒΑΝ and ΕΡΜΑΝ, in that order. However, 𝔓46 switches ΠΑΤΡΟΒΑΝ and ΕΡΜΑΝ, placing ΠΑΤΡΟΒΑΝ in last place. Sexism can explain this reversal, for there is no guarantee that the copyist recognized ΠΑΤΡΟΒΑΝ to be a male name.  The names ΑΣΥΓΚΡΙΤΟΝ, ΦΛΕΓΟΝΤΑ, ΕΡΜΗΝ, and ΕΡΜΑΝ were common enough male names, for they are well attested in the LGPN.[20] ΠΑΤΡΟΒΑΝ, on the other hand is unattested in either the female form (ΠΑΤΡΟΒΑ) or the male form (ΠΑΤΡΟΒΑΣ) in the database of the LGPN or in the Trismegistos database.[21] Lampe, likewise, searched for occurrences of the name ΠΑΤΡΟΒΑΣ in Rome and found none,[22] except the Patrobas in Martial Ep. 2.32, where it alludes to a freedman of Nero called Patrobius.[23] ΠΑΤΡΟΒΑΣ could have been a hypocoristic form of ΠΑΤΡΟΒΙΟΣ, but that name is rare.[24] The rarity of the name ΠΑΤΡΟΒΑ(Σ) means that few early copyists would have been confident that it was a male name. It is therefore plausible that the copyist of 𝔓46, or a predecessor, decided to demote ΠΑΤΡΟΒΑΝ to the last position in the verse so that the unambiguous males preceded a possible female.


1.4 Did accidental name switching occur often?

In all the New Testament there are about 230 pairs of names in name lists, but rarely are such name pairings reversed. I searched transcriptions of the manuscripts that are possibly dated to before about 400 CE.[25] Other than the reversals noted above, I found just five cases of name reversals. Washingtonianus (W) places Elijah before Moses at Matt 17:4. The original text probably read μίαν κα Μωϋσε μίαν κα λί. It may be a case of parablepsis, in which the copyist, having copied the first μίαν κα then looked back at the exemplar and his/her eye skipped to the second μίαν κα so he wrote λί before discovering his mistake and writing Μωϋσε (Minuscule 1346 omits Moses by that exact eye skip). Then, at Mark 3:18, W promotes Andrew ahead of James and John. This was likely under the influence of Matthew and/or Luke, or to place Andrew next to his brother, Peter. Herod is demoted relative to Pilate at Luke 23:12 in Alexandrinus, and Bezae, as well as in Washingtonianus. There may have been an anti-Jewish or Pro-Roman motive here. John and James are reversed at Luke 8:51 in Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus to harmonize with the usual order of the names. 𝔓45, 𝔓75vid, and D do the same at Luke 9:28.


Name reversals were therefore very rare and, where they do occur they are explicable, but by phenomena that cannot explain the reversal of Julia and Nereus in 𝔓46, Patroba(s) and Hermas in 𝔓46, or the reversal of Priscilla and Aquila at Acts 18:26 in Bezae. Sexism seems to be the only economical explanation in those cases.


1.5 Other cases where women are ranked highly relative to men

So far we have looked only at instances where women and men are mentioned consecutively. There are a few other occasions where women are given equal or greater status than men, and we will see that they suffer misogynist in those texts too.


1.5.1 John 11:1 Lazarus … Mary and her sister Martha

Martha is defined here as Mary’s sister, rather then as Lazarus’s sister, with the implication that Mary was more important than Lazarus. However, the feminine pronoun αυτης is changed to the masculine αυτου by papyrus 66 (𝔓66*, ca. 200), Alexandrinus, 841, 1009, 1071, L32, and L60, so that Martha is now Lazarus’s sister.[26] These manuscripts belong to various text types, and it is likely that this variant is very early indeed.


1.5.2 Phil 4:2-3 Euodia and Syntyche, coworkers of Paul

Phil 4:2-3 strongly implies that the two women leaders, Euodia and Syntyche, were coworkers of Paul. They contended alongside Paul with “the rest of my coworkers”. HoweverSinaiticus has ΣΥΝΕΡΓΩΝ ΜΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΤΩΝ ΛΟΙΠΩΝ instead of ΛΟΙΠΩΝ ΣΥΝΕΡΓΩΝ ΜΟΥ. Papyrus 16 (𝔓16vid, 3rd/4th century) probably had the same reading. Thus, the women contended alongside Paul with “my coworkers and the rest”.  Therefore, one or more copyists have avoided the implication that the women were Paul’s coworkers. Metzger put this variant down to “scribal inadvertence” and his judgment would be sound if there were not such a strong pattern of scribal demotion of women.[27] Paul’s use of the word συνεργός also caused offence at 1 Thess 3:2 where copyists objected to Timothy being called συνεργν το θεο.[28]


1.5.3 Eph 5:22 and 1 Cor 14:34

Many manuscripts add θποτασσεσθωσαν or υποτασσεσθε to Eph 5:22 so that it explicitly stated that wives should be subordinate to their husbands.[29] Similarly Alexandrinus adds τοις ανδρασιν to 1 Cor 14:34, so that women are instructed to be subordinate to their husbands.[30]


1.5.4 Rom 16:7 Andronicus and Junia … were in Christ before I was

At Rom 16:7 Paul greets Andronicus and Junia and implies that they were apostles. It is now almost universally accepted that ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ is the accusative of the common (in Rome) female name Junia, because the male equivalent, Junias, is unattested.[31] There is still a little dispute about whether the vocabulary implies that Andronicus and Junia were prominent apostles or were merely well known to the apostles.[32] However, the context and ancient interpretation support the former.[33]


At the end of Rom 16:7 𝔓46 reads ς κα πρ μο γέγονεν, whereas the other manuscripts read ο κα πρ μογέγοναν. Thus, Paul probably wrote that both Andronicus and Junia were in Christ before he was, but 𝔓46 suggests that only Andronicus (who is mentioned first) was the early convert. Royse writes, “Perhaps we have here a reluctance to include a woman among those who were “in Christ” before Paul.”[34] This therefore appears to be another example of the reluctance of early copyists to give precedence to women relative to men. This variant must have been early since 𝔓46, our earliest copy of Paul’s letters, is dated to about 200 CE. 

𝔓46 also has ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ instead of ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ in this verse. This is a small change to one letter and may have been an innocent mistake that arose because the copyist was familiar with the common name Julia, but not with the name Junia, which was rare in the east.


Figure 3. Rom 16:7 in 𝔓46. University of Michigan Library Papyrology Collection. Accessed from C.NT.R.


It may be no coincidence that the variant at the end of 16:7 occurs in the only early manuscript that has changed Junia into Julia, which was a well known Latin female name. Other copyists, seeing ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ in their exemplars, may not have realized that she was a woman and therefore created no textual variants. In part 2 we present more substantive arguments that the ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ, ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ and  ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ of Rom 16:3, 7, 15 were (incorrectly) considered men in the early days of the transmission of our texts.


The article is included before συναιχμαλώτους in 𝔓46 and Vaticanus. Bart Ehrman has suggested that this was added to make it possible to understand Andronicus and Junia as being different from the “fellow prisoners who are noteworthy among the apostles”.[35]



Part 2. Textual variants that made women into men


2.1 Prisca

We have seen that, for whatever reason, early interpreters assumed that those named first should be men. Since ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ in Rom 16:3 is named before Aquila (and indeed before all others greeted in this letter), it seems likely that early hearers and readers of this text would take the name to be the accusative of the (hypothetical) male name ΠΡΙΣΚΑΣ, rather than the female name ΠΡΙΣΚΑ.


2.1.1 Name frequency

The Trismegistos People database consists of over half a million occurrences of names in Egypt between the eighth century BC and the eighth century CE.[36]  These include 33120 different names, of which only 2062 are Latin names. The Latin female name “Prisca” is attested only eleven times in the database.[37] All eleven are datable and none occur before 168CE. Similarly, the eight volumes of the LGPN contain only 14 instances of the name and none of these are sure to predate the second century. It is therefore doubtful that readers of Rom 16:3 in the east would have recognized ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ as a female name, especially in the early decades of the church, when Latin names were less common there. They would likely assume that ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ referred to a ΠΡΙΣΚΑΣ, which they might take to be a Semitic or Latin name unknown to them, or they might take it to be a transliteration of the Latin name Priscus, as discussed in section 2.1.6 below. The Trismegistos database has 228 entries for Priscus, covering the range between the first century BC and the 6thcentury CE.[38] The name Priscus accounts for 0.066% of entries datable to the second century CE (1 in 1500), so it would likely have been known to interpreters of Rom 16:3 at that time.


It might be objected that copyists would be able to deduce from 1 Cor 16:19, where ΠΡΙΣΚΑ occurs (in the nominative) in B and א, that ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ of Rom 16:3 and 2 Tim 4:19 is female. However, 1 Cor 16:19 reads ΠΡΙΣΚΑΣΥΝ (Prisca with) and hearers of this text might have had difficulty distinguishing it from ΠΡΙΣΚΑΣΣΥΝ (Priscas with) since the two sigmas could run together. Thus, while the written text of 1 Cor 10:19 (in its original form) makes Prisca unambiguously female, hearers of the letter may not always have picked up on this.


2.1.2 Why does ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ at Rom 16:3 not suffer from name reversal in the Greek manuscripts?

We saw in Part 1 that when women are listed before men (who are not their sons) they are nearly always demoted in at least one early manuscript. The most surprising exception is Prisca in Rom 16:3, since she and Aquila are so highly honored by Paul there, and because Ambrosiaster, writing in Latin, did reverse the order of the names.[39] Also, we might expect copyists to object to Prisca being described as Paul’s co-worker (see section 1.5.2 above). If the copyists assumed that ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ was male, this would explain why they did not demote her relative to Aquila or relative to Paul.


2.1.3 Why did the author of 2 Timothy place ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ before Aquila?

The author of the Pastoral Epistles restricts women to a subordinate role (1 Tim 2:11-15; 4:7; 5:11-14; 2 Tim 3:6; Tit 2:3-5) and points out that Adam preceded Eve (1 Tim 2:13). In keeping with this, 2 Tim 4:21 names four greeters and gives the female name (Claudia) last. It therefore comes as a surprise that at 2 Tim 4:19 Prisca is named before her husband, Aquila. Thus Keener writes:


It is also noteworthy that 2 Timothy 4:19 preserves this recognition of status; those who think that the Pastoral Epistles were written by a post-Pauline chauvinist may have more trouble demonstrating the author’s chauvinism in texts not specifically related to the situation in Ephesus and Crete (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15; 4:19, 21).[40]


However, the data are in tension only if we suppose that the author of the Pastoral Epistles knew that ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ was a woman’s name. He could have taken the phrase “ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ ΚΑΙ ΑΚΥΛΑΝ” from Rom 16:3 without realizing that he was giving pride of place to a woman.[41]


2.1.4 Prisca i𝔓46 at 1 Cor 16:19

𝔓46 probably originated in Egypt, where the name Prisca was very rare. We have seen above that 𝔓46 has textual variants that reduce the standing of women at Rom 16:7; Rom 16:15; 1 Cor 11:9; and Eph 5:24. At 1 Cor 16:19 it has the masculine name ΠΡΕΙΣΚΑΣ.



Figure 4. ΠΡΕΙΣΚΑΣ in 𝔓46 at 1 Cor 16:19. University of Michigan Library Papyrology Collection. Accessed from C.NT.R.

Center for New Testament Restoration


By merely adding a sigma to the name, a copyist has affirmed the masculine gender of Priscas not only at 1 Cor 16:19, but also at Rom 16:3-5, and 2 Tim 4:19.[42] This may have been a deliberate, sexist, alteration of the text. More generously, it is possible that a copyist was expecting or hoping to find the name to be masculine at 1 Cor 16:19 and was influenced to do so by the sigma that starts the following word (σν). It is, in any case, evidence that there was ignorance of the name Prisca. However the variant came about, it would have contributed to the belief that Aquila had a male companion called Priscas/Priscus.[43]


2.1.5 Misidentification of Prisca and Aquila at 2 Tim 4:19

We have other evidence that copyists did not automatically equate ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ with Priscilla. Concerning 2 Tim 4:19, Metzger wrote:


After κύλαν two minuscules (181 and 460, of the eleventh and thirteenth centuries respectively) insert Λέκτραν τν γυνακα ατο κα Σιμαίαν (Σημαίαν 460) κα Ζήνωνα το υος ατο. Since, according to the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla (§  2), these are the names of the wife and the children of Onesiphorus, the gloss was evidently written first in the margin and later introduced into the text at the wrong place (giving Aquila two wives!).[44]


Unless the copyist was unusually comfortable with polygamy, it would seem that he/she did not view ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ as Paul’s wife. He may have considered ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ to be a man.[45]


2.1.6 Latin male names in –us and -ius transliterated as Greek first declension

ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ in Rom 16:3 (and in 2 Tim 4:19), and ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ and ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ could be first declension masculine or first declension feminine.[46] It is well known that they could, in theory, represent the male names ΠΡΙΣΚΑΣ, ΙΟΥΝΙΑΣ, and ΙΟΥΛΙΑΣ, if such names existed (which they did not, as far as we know). However, it has been overlooked that the names could have been interpreted as Latin names in –us and –ius (Priscus, Junius, and Julius). Tal Ilan, known for her expertise in Ancient Jewish names, points out that Latin names in –us (or –ius) were sometimes transliterated into Greek as first declension masculine names in –ας (or –ιας). Her lexicon of Jewish names in the western Diaspora gives 509 cases where a Latin name in –us or –ius is transliterated into Greek script (with the ending sufficiently intact).[47] Eleven of these 509 men (2%) are recorded in the Greek masculine first declension.[48] The phenomenon seems to have been most common in the east. All the cases are in Egypt, Cyrenaica, and Asia, even though these regions account for only about a quarter of the Latin male names in Ilan’s volume.


Table 1. Male Latin names in Greek first declension


However, there are no cases in Palestine, where Paul was raised and where Junia probably resided.[49] Intriguingly, two of the cases are very close to Tarsus, where Paul was born, though these cases are probably much later than Paul.[50] It is unlikely that Paul or his scribes had the habit of converting Latin names in –us and -ius into Greek first declension, since we know that they did not do so in the cases of Mark, Gaius, Lucius, Titus, Paul, Ampliatus, Rufus, Silvanus, Fortunatus, Quartus, Urbanus, and Tertius. Nor is the phenomenon known in any of the other New Testament writings. However, we need not suppose that these facts deterred ancient interpreters if they showed the same persistence as many scholars of the twentieth century who made Junia into a man. Determined ancient interpreters could therefore have supposed that ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ and ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ and ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ were Paul’s way of referring to a Priscus, Junius, and Julius.


2.1.7 Priscus in Sinaiticus (אand Expositio Capitum Actuum Apostolorum

Sinaiticus was likely written in Egypt or Caesarea. It has an interesting variant at 1 Cor 1:14, that reads ΠΡΙΣΚΟΝ (Priscus), where all other manuscripts have ΚΡΙΣΠΟΝ (Crispus). This variant was not corrected in the original scriptorium, so was likely in the Vorlage. The corrector, known as Ca, working about two centuries after the manuscript was produced, marked it up for correction back to ΚΡΙΣΠΟΝ.[51]

Figure 5. ΠΡΙΣΚΟΝ in Sinaiticus 1 Cor 1:14, from


Figure 5, above, shows the text. The abbreviated suffix ΟΝ at the end of the line in the image below is faint but undeniable.[52]


Importantly, Sinaiticus is not the only witness to the replacement of Crispus by Priscus. An early summary of the Acts of the Apostles, known as “εκθεσις κεφαλαιων των πραξεων” confirms the phenomenon. This text, known also as “Expositio Capitum Actuum Apostolorum” and “An Exposition of the Chapters of the Acts of the Apostles” is attributed to Pamphilius, who lived in Beirut, Alexandria, and Caesarea, and died in 309. The passage of interest is shown in the image below


Figure 6 Coislin 25. Biblitheque National de France. Online from Gallica:


ν  περ πρίσκου ρχισυναγωγου πιστεύσαντος σν τέροις τισν κα βαπτισθέντος

Also of Priscus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, who believed with certain others and was baptized.


This passage clearly refers to the Crispus of Acts 18:8, since it occurs between summaries of Acts 18:2 and Acts 18:12-17. It is interesting that this text tells us that the synagogue ruler was baptized, but Acts does not say so. Only 1 Cor 1:14 tells us that Crispus was baptized. This may be an indication that the author has imported information from 1 Corinthians and that Crispus had been replaced by Priscus in the author’s text of 1 Cor 1:14, as well as Acts 18:8. In any case, we have evidence here of Crispus being replaced by Priscus in Acts, and this is the same alteration that we see in Sinaiticus at 1 Cor 1:14.


It is very unlikely that these variants occurred by accident. The metathesis (switching of Κ and Π) is unusually long-range, since there are three intervening letters (ΡΙΣ). I have yet to find any case of metathesis that is as long-range. Also, it is unimaginable that the same rare mistake should happen twice. Unless a better explanation can be found, we should conclude that we are looking at a sexist lie. Someone who wanted to claim that ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ of Rom 16:3 was a man was troubled to find that 1 Corinthians and Acts 18 contain only female versions of the name, so he manufactured a male version of the name in both texts by changing Crispus to Priscus. Having done so, he could claim that the person greeted by Paul before all others in Romans was not Aquila’s wife, Priscilla, but the male synagogue ruler whom Paul had baptized. It has been shown above that interpreters in the east could have considered ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ to be Tertius’s way of rendering the Latin name Priscus into Greek.


2.1.8 Why is ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ not changed to Priscilla in the early manuscripts?

Kurek-Chomycz points out that many manuscripts, including Ephraemi Rescriptus (C, 04, 5th century), have Priscilla instead of Prisca at 1 Cor 16:19.[53] She judges that this variant must have been “a very early one”. It demands an explanation since Priscilla in Acts is never changed to Prisca, and Prisca is never changed to Priscilla at 2 Tim 4:19 untill the ninth century. At Rom 16:3 Prisca is not changed to Priscilla until the tenth century as far as we know.


Kurek-Chomycz suggests, plausibly, that the use of the diminutive, Priscilla, by copyists at 1 Cor 16:19, may have been a put-down.[54] However, she struggles to explain why early copyists did not make the same change to Prisca at Rom 16:3 or 2 Tim 4:19. A reasonable explanation is that they took ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ at Rom 16:3 and 2 Tim 4:19 to be a man and therefore did not equate her with Priscilla or feel the need to put her down. It may be no coincidence that the name Prisca created early textual variants only in the text where it is explicitly female (1 Cor 16:19). Names in –ΙΛΛΑ(Σ) were numerous in the east and were almost always female,[55] so if copyists had replaced ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ in Rom 16:3 and 2 Tim 4:19 with “ΠΡΙΣΚΙΛΛΑΝ” they would have implied to all hearers of these letters that Paul named a woman ahead of a man. In the early manuscripts the female Priscilla replaces Prisca only where Prisca is already unambiguously female.


Not only is the “Priscilla” variant at 1 Cor 16:19 a potential put-down, it will also have had the effect of weakening the case for ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ in Rom 16:3 and 2 Tim 4:19 being female. With Priscilla in 1 Cor 16:19 an early interpreter could propose that “Priscilla, Aquila’s wife known also from Acts, was not the same person as the ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ of Rom 16:3, for Paul uses different names for the two people, and he names ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ before Aquila, but Priscilla after him. The similarity between the two names is explicable if the two people were relatives.”


The ΠΡΙΣΚΙΛΛΑΝ variant at Rom 16:3 and 2 Tim 4:19 appears in various Greek manuscripts from the tenth century,[56]


2.1.9 The omission of Prisca and Persis by Alexandrinus

Omissions in Alexandrinus are not uncommon in 1 Corinthians and Romans,[57]  but it is worth noting that they eliminate women disproportionately. Alexandrinus omits Prisca and Aquila 1 Cor 16:19. Alexandrinus, along with F, G and 796 omit Persis at Rom 16:12b.[58] Both omissions could have originated by parablepsis, but we may wonder whether the omission of men would have been corrected sooner. No omissions of males in Rom 16 occur in Greek manuscripts prior to the tenth century.[59] The effect of the omission of 1 Cor 16:19 would be to weaken the case for a female ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ at Rom 16:3.


2.1.10 Priscus in Jerome’s name list

Jerome compiled his Liber Interpretationis Hebraicorum Nominum in 388 CE, immediately after spending three years in Egypt. It gives Prisca’s name in masculine form (Priscus) in the sections on Romans and 2 Timothy, but not in the section on 1 Corinthians. This may be an indication that there was indeed a determination to see the name as masculine in these two texts where its gender is grammatically ambiguous.


Figure 7 Images showing Priscus in our earliest copy (9th century).

Liber interpretationis hebraicorum nominum -BSB Clm 6228 Pages 80, 85.,81


2.2 Junias, Priscas, and Euodios in lists of the seventy apostles


A list of apostles, attributed to Epiphanius famously makes both Junia and Prisca male.[60] It also includes the masculine name Euodus/Euodius.


Εὔοδος, [οὗ καὶ αὐτοῦ ὁ Παῦλος μέμνηται], πρῶτος ἐπίσκοπος Ἀντιοχείας μετὰ Πέτρον τὸν κορυφαῖον ἐγένετο.[61]


The list of apostles attributed to Dorotheus has a very similar statement,[62] and one of its witnesses is shown below.


Figure 8 Coislin 224 (11th century), from Bibliotheque National de France


These texts refer to the tradition, which we find in Eusebius, that Euodius was the bishop of Antioch.[63] The originator(s) of the texts believed that this Euodius was mentioned by Paul. We know this, not only because he/they said so, but also because all the other names in the lists are from the New Testament. We therefore have evidence that the author equated the Euodia of Phil 4:2 with the (male) bishop of Antioch. Thus Euodia, a woman, was recast as a man. Euodus/Euodius also appears in two other lists of the apostles, and one other has Junias.[64]


The dates of composition of these lists are uncertain.[65] However, they illustrate the sporadic tendency to make Paul’s female coworkers into men. We can also conclude that the author(s) was not deterred by the fact that Εοδος is second declension, whereas ΕΥΟΔΙΑΝ, as the name appears in the accusative in Phil 4:3, is first declension. We should therefore not suppose that those who changed the gender of Paul’s female companions were grammatical purists.


2.3 Attempts to make ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ and ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ into men


2.3.1  “ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ and his sister” in 𝔓46

Section 1.1.9 showed that the words ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ ΚΑΙ ΤΗΝ ΑΔΕΛΦΗΝ ΑΥΤΟΥ stood in a predessesor of 𝔓46 at Rom 16:15. This appears to claim that ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ was male. The name ΙΟΥΛΙΑΣ seems to be unattested. However, interpreters could have considered ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ to be Paul’s rendering of the very common name Julius (see section 2.1.6 above), or of Julianus. In any case, the apparently male ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ at Rom 16:15 in the predecessor of 𝔓46 would likely have cast doubt on the gender of the ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ at Rom 16:7 in the same manuscript. Thus, by switching Julia and Nereus at 16:15 a copyist not only demoted Julia; he also potentially turned the female apostle at 16:7 into a man by implying that ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ was masculine in Paul’s usage. 


2.3.2 Julius of Acts 27:1, 3

Julius, the male version of the name Julia, appears twice in the New Testament, at Acts 27:1, 3. It is the name of the centurion who saved Paul (Acts 27:43). Textual variants involving names are not common, so it is significant that Julius has been amended in both verses where he appears.


At Acts 27:3 Alexandrinus (A) reads ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝΟΣ instead of ΙΟΥΛΙΟΣ. This variant could have been an attempt to equate the ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ of Rom 16:15 with the (male) Julius of Acts, on the theory that ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ represented Paul’s short form of the name Julianus.


At Acts 27:1 Sinaiticus reads ΙΟΥΛΙΩ ΟΝΟΜΑΤΙ ΙΟΥΛΙΩ instead of just ΟΝΟΜΑΤΙ ΙΟΥΛΙΩ. As it stands the text in Sinaiticus makes no sense, but it is possible that it is an echo of an earlier variant that may have read ΙΟΥΛΙΩ ΟΝΟΜΑΤΙ ΙΟΥΛΙΑ. Such a variant would have been making the claim that the male name Julius could be rendered into Greek as ΙΟΥΛΙΑΣ (which would be ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ in the accusative and ΙΟΥΛΙΑ in the dative). It might easily have been corrected to ΙΟΥΛΙΩ ΟΝΟΜΑΤΙ ΙΟΥΛΙΩ by a later unconvinced copyist.


2.3.3 Rom 16:15 in Ephraemi Rescriptus

Ephraemi Rescriptus (C*) has ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ instead of ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ. This change requires explanation since Junia was a much rarer name than Julia. While common in Rome, the female name Junia was very rare in the east.[66] It is attested only once in Egypt (in 150 CE).[67] Therefore early interpreters in the east would probably have taken ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ to be a man, and this could explain why C*, along with F and G, substitutes ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ for ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ in Rom 16:15. The embarrassment of having a woman (Julia) named before a man (Nereus) was removed by replacing her name with one considered male (ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ). Furthermore, the repetition of the name ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ serves to persuade the audience that it does not represent a rare (in the east) female name. A rational audience might well conclude that ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ was Paul’s way of writing the name Junius, which was much more common, being attested 37 times in Egypt, starting in the first century. Thus by changing a Λ to a Ν, a copyist makes both Julia and Junia into probable males.  Junius was a Latin nomen, and Νηρευς was often used as a cognomen, so those hearing the reading of C*, F or G “Ιουνιαν Νηρεα(ν)” could interpret them as belonging to the same man, Junius Nereus, with the cognomen being added to distinguish him from the Junius mentioned at Rom 16:7.


2.3.4 Julius at Rom 16:7 

There is one Vulgate manuscript, codex Reginensis, that has Iulium (Julius) at Rom 16:7


Figure 9 Reginensis, from Vatican Library DigiVatLib


2.4 Variants that claimed that Paul’s style was to use the –ΑΝ ending for accusative male names.


To promote the view that Πρισκαν, Ιουνιαν, or Ιουλιαν were Paul’s way of rendering the names Priscus, Junius or Julius, an early interpreter would want to show an example where Paul (or Tertius) shows an odd preference for using the –αν ending for a clearly masculine name.


2.4.1 ΝΗΡΕΑΝ in Alexandrinus

Alexandrinus (A), with F and G, has ΝΗΡΕΑΝ instead of ΝΗΡΕΑ. The name Νηρευς is a common enough male name, being attested 37 times in the LGPN, with about half of these attestations occurring in the second century. In Pompei it is given in Latin script as Nereus.[68] The accusative is Νηρεα.[69] The accusative form Νηρεαν is indeed odd, since there is no nominative form Νηρεας or Νηρεα (as far as I know). The addition of the Ν to ΝΗΡΕΑ could have promoted the thought, “since Paul rendered Nereus as ΝΗΡΕΑΝ, he could have rendered Julius as ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ, Junius as ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ, and Priscus as ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ.


2.4.2 Amplias at Rom 16:8

Many twentieth century commentators suggested that ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ was a diminutive form of the Latin name Junianus. Diminutive names abound in the New Testament among the Greek names (Antipas, Apollos, Artemas, Demas, Epaphras, Hermas, Sopater, Olympas, Patrobas, Zenas) and among the female Latin names (Priscilla and Drusilla). Males with Latin names are often referred to in the New Testament by their praenomina when an informal name was appropriate (Gaius, Lucius, Marcus, Publius, Titus), and this may explain why none of the 35 male Latin nomina and cognomina are given in a diminutive or shortened form. It is therefore unlikely that Paul would use a diminutive form of Junianus instead of using his praenomen. Furthermore, an abbreviated form of Junianus would more likely be ΙΟΥΝΑΣ than ΙΟΥΝΙΑΣ, as Thorley explains:


In forming hypocoristics the ending –ς is added to a consonant, and when there is a final -ι  … this is omitted … . From a form such as Junianus (the supposed origin of ουνις) one would therefore expect ουνς not ουνις. This assumption is much strengthened by the fact that the very similar name ουλς does actually occur in the papyri, and this is presumably a hypocoristic for Julianus: there is certainly no Latin name Julanus[70]


Having searched  Palmer, Chantraine, and Petersen, Thorley finds only two exceptions.[71] It is surely no coincidence that one of these two exceptions was created by a copyist of Romans immediately after he wrote Junia’s name. The earliest manuscripts read the name ΑΜΠΛΙΑΤΟΝ at Rom 16:8, but many others, starting in the sixth century, read ΑΜΠΛΙΑΝ.[72] These include Claromontanus (D), as well as Alexandrian witnesses, so the ΑΜΠΛΙΑΝ variant was probably very early. The name Ampliatus is a common Latin name. It is attested about 80 times in CIL 6:7.[73] However, the same source has not a single Amplias, and I have been unable to find one elsewhere. Thorley remarks that the evidence for Amplias being a hypocoristic form of Ampliatus “looks very slender”. Why, then, did an early copyist replace ΑΜΠΛΙΑΤΟΝ with ΑΜΠΛΙΑΝ? He did it, I suggest, to make it plausible that ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ and perhaps ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ were male names in Paul’s usage. Hearers of Rom 16:7 in the early centuries of the church might feel that ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ was not a short form of a male name, because Paul (and others) did not tend to abbreviate Latin male names and because of its –ΙΑΝ ending, but their concern would be relieved when they heard ΑΜΠΛΙΑΝ ΤΟΝ ΑΓΑΠΗΤΟΝ in the next verse, because ΑΜΠΛΙΑΝ is clearly masculine because of the definite article that follows. This variant would allow interpreters to argue, “since Paul abbreviated the Latin name Ampliatus to Amplias, he might also have abbreviated Junianus to Junias, and Julianus to Julias.” The ΑΜΠΛΙΑΝ variant seems engineered to cast doubt on the gender of Junia and Julia. Amplias in Rom 16:8 provides the hearer with an example of how Paul abbreviated male Latin names, and thereby persuades the hearer that Junia (16:7) and Julia (16:15) could have been men.


2.5 Other sex changes


We have the following examples of gender reassignment, in addition to the cases of Euodia, Prisca, Junia, and Julia discussed above.


2.5.1 Nympha

In the text of Vaticanus, among others, Col 4:15 sends greetings to “Nympha and the church in her house” (Νύμφαν κατμ κατ οκον ατς κκλησίαν). Most other manuscripts, however, have αυτων (his) or αυτου (their) instead of αυτης (her). It is not certain which text is original. It is a strong possiblity that transmitters of the text 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.


2.5.2 Syntyche

Theodore of Mopsuestia (ca. 350-428) wrote that some people said that Syntyche was Euodia’s husband.[74]


3 Statistics and Conclusions


3.1 Textual variants concerning Latin names in the New Testament


There are 45 Latin names in the New Testament, and five of these belong to women (Prisca/Priscilla, Junia, Julia, Drusilla, and Claudia).  Of these, only the first three may have been unsettling for early copyists who believed that women should not have positions of leadership in the church. Drusilla (Acts 24:24) was not a believer and is named after her husband. Claudia appears only in 2 Tim 4:21, where she is one of four greeters, and is given the least prominent position, behind three men. Prisca, Junia, and Julia, however, may have posed problems for misogynists, and for those who wanted to reconcile Paul’s words with passages such as 1 Tim 2:11-15.


The names Prisca/Priscilla, Junia, or Julia/Julius occur 11 times in the New Testament and the names themselves are involved in 10 textual variants in our earliest manuscipts.[75] The other 42 Latin names occur 345 times but yield only a further 7 textual variants in these manuscripts.[76] There is only a little subjectivity in decisions about what to classify as a relevant variant, so the conclusion is clear and astonishing: the number of textual variants involving the names Prisca/Priscilla, Junia, and Julia, is comparable to the number involving the other 42 Latin names combined! This demands an explanation. Clearly there was a tendency at play. Even if each variant, taken in isolation, could have been a mere scribal slip, the statistics prove that the vast majority of them were not.[77]


3.2 Textual variants concerning all names in Rom 16


A search of the earliest manuscripts and of NA28 reveals eight scribal alterations to the names. Remarkably, six of these serve the misogynist cause and have been discussed above. The two exceptions are explicable and are the substitution of ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ by ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ at 16:7 and the usual ΜΑΡΙΑΝ/ΜΑΡΙΑΜ uncertainty at 16:6. It cannot be said that accidental scribal slips affecting the names in Romans 16 are numerous.


3.3 Conclusions


It should not be doubted that most copyists reproduced their exemplars faithfully most of the time, and we have found no evidence that they resented females having major roles as such. However, they often corrected texts that gave women precedence over men who were not their sons. The relative lack of assaults on Junia and the Prisca of Rom 16:3 suggest that they may have been considered male in the early decades when the misogynist textual variants arose. This is supported by the presence of masculine versions of the name Prisca at 1 Cor 16:19 in 𝔓46, at 1 Cor 1:14 in Sinaiticus, and in Expositio Capitum Actuum Apostolorum. The list of disciples attributed to Epiphanius confirms that Prisca(s) and Junia(s) were thought by some to be male. The replacement of Julia with Junia(s) by C is explicable if a scribe considered Junia to be male. The reversal of the names Julia and Nereus in a predecessor of 𝔓46 at Rom 16:15 created a text that seemed to claim that Julia(s) was male, and textual variants in Sinaiticus (Acts 27:1) and Alexandrinus (Acts 27:3) could well have arisen from this same theory. The changes to the names Nereus and Ampliatus seem designed to show that Paul had the habit of ending male accusative names with –ΑΝ. The variants affecting our three names in our five oldest manuscripts of Paul’s letters are summarized below. There are two likely misogynist variants in each of these manuscripts, except Vaticanus, which was largely innocent also in Part 1.


Table 2. Masculinizing variants


Finally, it has been shown using three statistical analyses that the variants did not arise by scribal slips. Firstly, we have seen that our three women account for more than half of the variants affecting the 45 Latin names in the New Testament. Secondly, we saw that transpositions tend to demote women, not men, and that purely accidental name reversals are very rare. Thirdly, we saw that misogyny can explain nearly all the variants affecting names in Romans 16.


It may have been simple lack of familiarity with Latin names that first led interpreters in the east to assume that ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ and ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ were men. Once their maleness becomes established in someone’s mind, the idea is not easily overturned by new evidence. This kind of inertia is illustrated by the history of Junia’s maleness in the scholarship of recent decades. Many persisted in the view that ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ was a man, even after it was pointed out that there was no such male name. They ignored the statistics and resorted to unlikely onomastic theories such as the idea that the name was a short form of Junianus.[78] The cherished belief in a male ΠΡΙΣΚΑΝ and ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ would have been challenged by a careful reading of 1 Cor 16:19, and by Acts, and by increasing contact with Latin communities. We have seen how copyists made determined, but ultimately unsuccessful, defenses of the male theories. Reason seems to have largely prevailed by the third century, at least among most of the educated, for most commentators from Origen onwards, accepted that Prisca and Junia were women.[79] We have seen that our earliest copy of Rom 16, 𝔓46, dated to about 200 CE, had at least one misogynist variant already in its exemplar. Some of the variants could, I suppose, have arisen when a (biased) copyist assumed his exemplar was in error. Many, however, seem too contrived and we have to conclude that there was intent to deceive, at least in those cases. 


The widespread sexism of early copyists raises important issues. Firstly it increases the probability that there were other early misogynist corruptions of Paul’s letters that have left little text critical evidence. We can think of the forging of whole letters such as 1 Timothy, and the likely interpolation of 1 Cor 14:34-35. Perhaps someone forged a note in the margin of the autograph of 1 Corinthians, imitating the handwriting of the existing text. This would better explain why we have no manuscripts that lack these two verses.[80]


Secondly, it seems reasonable to suppose that this same sexism influenced which texts were selected to be read in the churches and to be copied. When assessing the role of women in the early church, we cannot assume that the texts that have survived the second century are representative of what was written before.


[1] All dates of New Testament manuscripts in this article are those given by NA28 and the NT.V.M.R. website of the Institute Für Neutestamentliche Textforschung. <> accessed March, 2020.

[2] Jeffry W. Childers and L. Curt Niccum suggest an accidental transposition (““Anti-Feminist” Tendency in the “Western” Text of Acts?” in Essays on Women in Earliest Christianity, Vol. 1, Ed. Carroll D. Osburn (Eugene: College Press, 1993) 469-92, esp. 486).

[3] Matt 2:13, 14, 20, 21; 10:37; 12:50; 15:4, 4, 5; 18:25; 19:4, 5, 10, 19, 29, 29; Mark 3:35; 5:40; 7:10, 10, 11, 12; 10:6, 7, 19, 29, 30; Luke 2:33, 48; 8:51; 14:26, 26; 18:20; John 6:42; Acts 1:14; 2:17, 18; 5:14; 8:3, 12; 9:2; 17:4, 34; 18:2; 21:5; 22:4; 24:24, 25:13, 23; 26:30; Rom 16:7, 13, 15; 1 Cor 7:15; 16:19; Gal 3:28; Eph 5:31; 6:2; 2 Tim 4:21; Phlmn 1:2; James 2:15; Rev 18:23.

[4] Throughout I follow NA28, which favors the majority of the best and earliest manuscripts.

[5] I searched NA28, and the C.NT.R website, and the collation function of the NT.V.M.R. website. My purpose here was not to search as many manuscripts as possible, but to follow a defined search procedure, without selection bias, to be impartial towards each gender. The eleventh century minuscule 945, reads Πρίσκιλλα καὶ Ἀκύλας at 1 Cor 16:19, should not be included in the statistics, though it is given in Reuben Swanson, New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines Against Codex Vaticanus: 1 Corinthians (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003) 285, 456.

[6] Corrected leaps are suspected in Sinaiticus. See Gregory Scott Paulson, “Scribal habits in Codex Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi, Bezae, and Washingtonianus in the Gospel of Matthew” (PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh, 2013) 125.

[7] Matt 12:46, 47, 48, 49; 13:55; 18:25; 19:29 Mark 3:33, 34; 10:30; Luke 8:19, 20, 21; 14:26; Acts 1:14; 21:5.

[8] NA28 cites A K sys Γ f13 28 700 𝔐 syh.

[9] The NT.V.M.R. website also cites 1, 3, 18, 35, 44, 69, 124, 209, 1770, 2886.

[10] Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994) 403. See also Ben Witherington III, “Anti-Feminist Tendencies of the ‘Western’ Text in Acts,” JBL 103 (1984), 82-84. Ann Graham Brock, “Appeasement, Authority, and the Role of Women in the D-Text of Acts” in The Book of Acts as Church History, eds Tobias Nicklas, Michael Tilly (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2003) 205-224. Also useful is Ebojo, “Sex, Scribes, and Scriptures, Journal of Biblical Text Research 36 (2015) 367-94 esp. 375. He also finds sexist variants in passages not discussed in this article (Mark 15:41 C Δ 579 n; Acts 17:4 D; 1 Cor 11:9 𝔓46; Gal 3:28 𝔓46 אA; Eph 5:24 𝔓46).

[11] NA28 lists D L Ψ 323. 614. 945. 1175. 1241. 1505. 1739 𝔐 gig sy samssWitherington III, “Anti-Feminist Tendencies,” (1984) 82-84. Edgar Battad Ebojo, “Sex, Scribes, and Scriptures, (2015) 377-8.

[12] For an overly cautious assessment see Dominika A. Kurek-Chomycz, “Is There an “Anti-Priscan” Tendency in the Manuscripts? Some textual Problems with Prisca and Aquila,” JBL 125 (2006) 107-128.

[13] Royse, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri (New Testament Tools Studies and Documents 36; Leiden: Brill, 2008) 333-4.

[14] This collection of manuscripts is cited by Elizabeth Schrader, “Was Martha of Bethany added to the fourth gospel in the second century,” HTR 110 (2017) 360-92.

[15] Peter M. Fraser, Elaine Matthews, A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names Vols I, IIA, IIIA, IIIB, IV, VA, VB, VC (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987-). All except Vol. VC are online at <> accessed March, 2020. This database contains over 388,162 people in the Aegean regions and also in central Asia Minor, Cyprus, Cyrenaica, Sicily, and Magna Graecia.

[16] Kurek-Chomycz, “Prisca and Aquila,” 113.

[17] Theodore of Mopsuestia wrote that Paul “observes the social hierarchy in the order of address, Archippus being the son of Philemon and Apphia”. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament IX: Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Ed Peter Gorday (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 2000) 310.

[18] F. Overbeck, Kurze Erklärung der Apostelgeschichte (Kurzgefasstes exegetisches Handbuch zum Neuen Testament; Leipzig: W.M.L. de Wette, 1870) 297. E. Preuschen, Apostelgeschichte (HNT IV/1; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1912) 113. Ehrhardt, The Acts of the Apostles (Manchester: MUP, 1969) 100.

[19] Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary, Tr. Bernard Noble and Gerald Shinn (Oxford: Blackwell, 1971) 542 n2.

[20]  The number of attestations of the names in LGPN is as follows. ΑΣΥΓΚΡΙΤΟΣ 11, ΦΛΕΓΩΝ 11,  ΕΡΜΗΣ 621, ΕΡΜΑΣ 160. They are given exclusively as male.

[21] Trismegistos People has 505,142 attestations of names, from Egypt and the Nile valley from about 800 BC to about 800 CE. Online at <> accessed March, 2020.

[22] But he found Asyncritus (2), Phlegon (9), Hermas (6), Hermes (841) in his sources, which were H. Solin, Die griechishe Personennamen in Rom (Berlin, W. de Gruyter, 1982) and CIL 6:7. Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the first two centuries, Trans. M. Steinhauser (London: T&T Clarke, 2003) 169.

[23] R.M. Soldevila, A.M. Castillo, J.F. Valverde, A Prosopography to Martial’s Epigrams (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2019) 454.

[24] There are just 6 cases in LGPN.

[25] These are conveniently collated by the Center for New Testament Restoration <> accessed Jan-March 2020.

[26] Elizabeth Schrader thinks that αυτου was original!  “Was Martha of Bethany added to the fourth gospel in the second century?” Harvard Theological Review 110 (2017) 360-392.

[27] Metzger, A Textual Commentary (1994) 549.

[28] Metzger, A Textual Commentary (1994) 563.

[29] NA28 gives θποτασσεσθωσαν  A I P (Ψ) 0278. 6. 33. 81. 104. 365. 1175. 1241s. 1505. 21739. 1881. 2464 lat syhmg co ¦  υποτασσεσθε (Δ Φ Γ) Κ Λ 630 𝔐 sy ¦ txt 𝔓46 B; Cl HiermssClement of Alexandria lacks the verb at Strom. 4.64.1. At Paed. 94.5 Clement quoted Eph 5:22 without 5:21, so was forced to add a verb. He added the third person imperative, υποτασσεσθωσαν, presumably because he imagined Paul instructing women via a male audience, rather than addressing the women directly. These points seem to have been missed by Gurry, who believes that υποτασσεσθωσαν would be an unlikely verb for scribes to add and that it was therefore original. Peter J. Gurry, “The Text of Eph 5:22 and the Start of the Ephesian Household Code” NTS 67 (2021) 560-581.


[30] See discussion in Kim Haines-Eitzen, The Gendered Palimpsest: Women, Writing, and Representation in Early Christianity (Oxford: OUP, 2012), and Edgar Battad Ebojo, “Should Women be Silent in the Churches? Women’s Audible Voices in the Textual Variants of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35,” Trinity Theological Journal 14 (2006) 1-33, here 22.

[31] Following the influential work of Brooten, Lampe, Cervin, Plisch, Thorley, Epp, and Stephenson, among others. Bernadette J. Brooten, “‘Junia … Outstanding among the Apostles’ (Romans 16:7)” In Women Priests: A Catholic Commentary on the Vatican Declaration, ed. L.S. and A. Swidler (New York: Paulist, 1977) 148-51. Peter Lampe, “Iunia/Iunias: Sklavenherkunft im Kreise der vorpaulinischen apostel (Röm 16 7),” ZNW 76 (1985) 132-34. Richard S. Cervin, “A note regarding the name ‘Junia(s)’ in Romans 16.7,” NTS 40 (1994) 464-70. U.-K. Plisch, “Die Apostelin Junia: Das exegetische Problem in Röm 16.7 im Licht von Nestle-Aland27 und der sahidischen Überlieferung,” NTS 42 (1996) 477-8. John Thorley, “Junia, a woman apostle,” Nov Test 38 (1996) 18-29. Eldon J. Epp, Junia: The first woman apostle (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005). Hope Stephenson, “Junia, Woman and Apostle” in Women in the Biblical World: A Survey of Old and New Testament Perspectives, Ed. Elizabeth A. McCabe (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2009) 119-133.

[32] Michael H. Burer and Daniel B. Wallace (“Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Re-examination of Rom 16.7” NTS 47 (2001) 76-91) argued that ancient uses of the phrase πίσημοι ν suggest that it means “well known to”, but they have been rebutted by Eldon Jay Epp (“Text-Critical, Exegetical, and Socio-Cultural Factors Affecting the Junia/Junias Variation in Romans 16,7,” in NT Textual Criticism and Exegesis: Festschrift J. Delobel (ed. A. Denaux; BETL 161; Leuven: Leuven University/Peeters, 2002) 227-91), Richard Bauckham (Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002) 172-9), and Linda Belleville, “ουνιαν … πίσημοι ν τος ποστόλοις: A Re-examination of Romans 16.7 in Light of Primary Source Materials,” NTS 51 (2005) 231-49. Michael Burer has reaffirmed his position (“ΠΙΣΗΜΟΙ Ν ΤΟΙΣ ΠΟΣΤΟΛΟΙΣ in Rom 16:7 as “well known to the apostles”: Further defense and new evidence,” JETS 58 (2015) 731-55). Yii-Jan Lin (“Junia: An Apostle before Paul,” JBL 139 (2020) 191-209) shows that the context demands that it means that Junia was an apostle. 

[33] Paul is emphasizing his own connections with members of the church of Rome, so it would be odd for him to mention that Andronicus and Junia were endorsed by others, rather than by himself. Keener writes, “It is also unnatural to read the text as merely claiming that they had a high reputation with “the apostles.” Since they were imprisoned with him, Paul knows them well enough to recommend them without appealing to the other apostles, whose judgment he never cites on such matters, and the Greek is most naturally read as claiming that they were apostles.” Craig S. Keener, Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1992) 242.

[34] Royse, Scribal Habits (2008) 322 n690.

[35] Bart D. Ehrman, Studies in the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (Leiden: Brill, 2006) 265.




[39] See note 56 below.

[40] Keener, Paul, Women & Wives (1992) 241.

[41] The author of the PE seems to have taken names of Paul’s associates from Paul’s letters and we have little reason to believe that he had independent knowledge of them. See Richard G. Fellows, “Paul, Timothy, Jerusalem and the Confusion in Galatia,” Biblica 99 (2018) 544-566, esp. 557.

[42] Royse rightly suggests that “the scribe took this person to be a man”. Royse, Scribal Habits (2008) 332.

[43] See also Ebojo, “Sex, Scribes, and Scriptures,” (2015) 379.

[44] Metzger, A Textual Commentary (1994) 581.

[45] As suggested by Ebojo, “Sex, Scribes, and Scriptures,” (2015) 378-9.

[46] Dominika A. Kurek-Chomycz, “Is There an “Anti-Priscan” Tendency in the Manuscripts? Some textual Problems with Prisca and Aquila,” JBL 125 (2006) 107-128.

[47] Tal Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity: Part III The Western Diaspora 330 BCE-650 CE (Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 126; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008).

[48] These ten, with their names, provenance, and dates are as follows. Caecilius, Egypt, 75-80 CE. Decius, Egypt, 106 CE. Deipius, Egypt, 106 CE. Magius, Egypt, 4th C CE. Aemilius, Cyrenaica, 24/5 CE. Annius, Cyrenaica, 175-81 CE. Billienus, Cyrenaica, Pre-117 CE. Copius, Asia, Post-320 CE. Lucidus, Asia, 2nd-3rd C CE. Mannius, Asia, Late antique date presumed. Mapius, Asia, 4th C CE. We also have Barrus (Rome 387 CE), who is recorded in Latin script. 

[49] Tal Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity: Part 1 Palestine 330 BCE-200 CE (Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 91; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2002).

[50] These are Copius, who is dated to the “Byzantine period”, and Mannius, who cannot be dated.

[51] The corrector is identified by the “Sinaiticus Project”. <> accessed April 4, 2020.

For a recent discussion of correctors of Sinaiticus see Peter Malik, “The Earliest Corrections in Codex Sinaiticus: A Test Case from the Gospel of Mark,” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 50 (2013) 207-254.

[52] See, for example, D.C.Parker, “Variants and Variance” in Texts and Traditions: Essays in Honour of J. Keith Elliott, Peter Doble and Jeffrey Kloha (Eds) (Leiden: Brill, 2014) 32.


[53] Dominika A. Kurek-Chomycz, “Is There an “Anti-Priscan” Tendency in the Manuscripts? Some Textual Problems with Prisca and Aquila,” 125 (2006) 107-127.

[54] She is incorrect, however, in supposing that the put-down goes back to the author of Acts himself. Familiar name forms, such as diminutives and praenomina, were indeed sometimes used to denigrate, but not by Luke. He uses the praenomen of the leading man of Malta, not to put him down, but to emphasize that Publius had welcomed his guests as intimate friends (Acts 28:7). Luke will have known Prisca and Aquila and may have stayed with them in Corinth, Ephesus, or Rome, so it is not surprising that he calls Prisca by her informal name, just as he did with Publius, his host in Malta.

[55] As shown by searching for *ιλλα and *ιλλασ in the advanced search option on the LGPN website.

[56] NA28 lists 81. 365. 614. 629. 630. 945. 1505. 1881c ar m vgmss sy (bopt); Ambst. Ambrosiaster, writing between 366 and 384 is an early Latin witness to this variant. Being an educated Latin-speaking Christian, he is fully aware that the Prisca of Rom 16:3 was a woman, and he reduces her status by using the diminutive, Priscilla, and also by placing her name after that of her husband in his text of Rom 16:3 and in his commentary on it. Indeed, in his commentary on Romans he places Aquila first in all four mentions of the couple. He calls her Priscilla at 1 Cor 16:19 also. ( His text of 2 Tim 4:19 has Priscilla before Aquila, but in discussing this text he names Aquila first.

 Chrysostom calls her Priscilla at 2 Tim 4:19, but names her before Aquila there.

[57] Rom 5:10b-lla (22 words); 7:23 (6 words); 9:4b (18 words); 13:10 (7 words); 16:12b (9 words); 1 Cor 1:27 (10 words); 6:3-6 (49 words); 7:27b-28 (30 words); 8:8b (4 words); 9:2 (19 words); 16:19 (20 words).

[58] Reuben Swanson, New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines Against Codex Vaticanus: Romans (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001) 260.

[59] Swanson, Romans (2001) 251-268.

[60] Theodorus Schermann, Prophetarum Vitae Fabulosae Indices Apostolorum Discipulorumque Domini, Dorotheo, Epiphanio, Hippolyto Aliisque Vindicata (Leipzig, Teubner, 1907) 125.

[61] Schermann, Prophetarum Vitae Fabulosae 125.

[62] Schermann, Prophetarum Vitae Fabulosae 142.

[63] Eusebius Eccl. Hist. 3.22.

[64] For Euodos, see Index Apostolorum Discipulorumque Domini, Pseudo-Dorothei; Index Apostolorum Discipulorumque Domini Pseudo-Hyppolyti; Index Apostolorum Discipulorumque Domini in Pseudo-Symeonis Logothetae Chronico Asservatus, and for Junias see Index Anonymus Graeco-Syrus. For these four souces see Schermann, Prophetarum Vitae Fabulosae 142, 170, 183, 174 respectively. Euodos is also in the list of names attached to minuscule 177, and perhaps others that I have not been able to check.

[65] Bauckham (Gospel Women 166-7 n242) dates the list attributed to Epiphanius to before 900 CE, but doubts Epiphanius’s authorship.

[66] Thus Piper and Grudem were able to find only one occurrence of the name in Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, (other than those in Christian literature related to Rom 16:7).  John Piper and Wayne Grudem, “An Overview of Central Concerns” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, ed. J. Piper and W. Grudem (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1991) 79-80.

[67] Trismegistos People. <> accessed April 4, 2020.

[68] CIL IV 4514, 14.

[69] IHadrian 173, 1.

[70] Thorley, “Junia, a woman apostle,” Nov Test (1996) 25.

[71] L.R. Palmer, A Grammar of the Post-Ptolemaic Papyri, vol. 1 (Oxford 1945), pp. 49-50. P. Chantraine, La formation des noms en grec ancien (Paris 1933), 31-32. W. Peterson, “The Greek masculines in circumflexed -ς”, Classical Philology (1937) 121-3. 

[72] NA28 gives the following. Αμπλιαν B2 D L P Ψ 33. 81. 104. 630. 1175. 1241. 1881. (Απλιαν 365. 1505, Αμπλια 1739c𝔐 vgms sy sa ¦ txt 𝔓46  A B* C F G 6. 1739* lat bo.

[73] See Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the first two centuries (Minneapolis: Augsberg Fortress, 1999) 169.

[74] Theodoreti, Cyrensis Episcopi, Commentarius in omnes sancti Pauli Epistolas in J.-P. Migne, ed., Patrologia Graeca Cursus Completus (Paris: Garner, 1864) 82.585.

[75] By “early manuscripts” I mean those normally ascribed a date range beginning 400 AD or earlier. I searched for variants using the Center for New Testament Restoration website (<> accessed 2019), and I checked the readings using the Institute Für Neutestamentliche Textforschung website (<> accessed 2019), as well as NA28.

[76] 1) The name Claudius is missing from A in Acts 18:2. 2) The name Paul is missing from  in Acts 17:16. 3) The reversal of the names Herod and Pilate at Luke 23:12 in A, D, and 32. 4)  omits John 19:20-21a through parablepsis, thus omitting Pilate’s name. 5) The name Pilate, along with the last few words of John 19:38, is omitted by A. 6) Titius in Acts 18:7 is replaced by Titus in 7) Titius is omitted by both A and D. I have not included the omissions of names brought about by the rewriting of Acts in D.

[77] Against the method employed by Holmes, who underestimates the misogyny of the Western text of Acts, largely because he insists that each proposed case of sexist bias be proved before it is taken into consideration. Michael W. Holmes, “Women and the ‘Western’ Text of Acts” in The Book of Acts as Church History, eds Tobias Nicklas, Michael Tilly (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2003).

[78] Metzger reports of the UBS committee that “some members, considering it unlikely that a woman would be among those styled “apostles,” understood the name to be masculine ουνιν (“Junias”), thought to be a shortened form of Junianus”. Metzger, A Textual Commentary, 2nd ed. (1994) 475. Al Wolters (“ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ (Romans 16:7) and the Hebrew Name Yehunni,” JBL 127 (2008): 397-408), while still thinking that ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ was probably a woman, proposes that it may be a male Semitic name in Greek script.  The Semitic name that Wolters proposes was held by two known individuals, which is only 0.08% of men recorded in Tal Ilan’s Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity: Part 1 Palestine 330 BCE-200 CE (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2002). By contrast, Bauckham proposes that a Joanna took the name Junia (Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies in the Named Women in the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002) 172-80). The name Joanna was held by 3% of recoded women in Palestine. Bauckham’s 3% is 37 times higher than Wolters’ 0.08%, so is to be greatly preferred.

[79] CER 5:244, 246, 258.

[80] A parallel might be Rom 16:22. It is likely that Tertius added his greeting to the margin of the autograph of Romans and that it was copied into the text in all subsequent manuscripts of Rom 16. See Alan H. Cadwallader, “Tertius in the margins: a critical appraisal of the secretary hypothesis,” NTS 64 (2018) 378-396.