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

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.