The ESV and Romans 16:7

Does anyone know why the ESV translates Romans 16:7 differently than the other major translations? I’m referring to where the ESV says that Andronicus and Junia (a female) were well known to the apostles. All the other major translations make it sound as if they WERE apostles (rather than merely known to them). Is this a legitimate interpretation?

Bold added by me.

ESV: Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.

NASB: Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

KJV: Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

NRSV: 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.

NIV: Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

TNIV: Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

NLT: Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews, who were in prison with me. They are highly respected among the apostles and became followers of Christ before I did.

ASV: Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also have been in Christ before me.

(Click to enlarge and see the Greek interlinear text)

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “The ESV and Romans 16:7

  1. Could it be the case of the translators projecting their own theology into their translation of the text?Of course not! Would anyone put their own theology ahead of a clear application of scripture?

  2. Gee, I wonder why ;) What Onesimus said! The NET Bible gives its reasons why they chose "well known to the apostles."What do you make of the ESV at Malachi 2:16? That's been a complaint of mine since it came out in 2001. (The HCSB does something similar.)

  3. Onesimus, You read my mind. :)Billy, Wow! They did jack Malachi 2:16. Thanks for the NET link, it was helpful. Funny how the ESV always end up with the "complementarian" translation. ;) Out of curiosity, I looked up Burer and Wallace, the guys cited in defense of "well known to the apostles". This blogger takes them to task pretty well.Also, it appears that Wallace ALWAYS comes down on the complementarian side. Funny how that is huh?Did Pricilla teach Apollos? Wallace says no.Can women be deacons? Wallace says no.

  4. Onesimus is spot on I believe.Check out this:http://podacre.blogspot.com/2009/09/nt-pod-12-junia-first-woman-apostle.htmlIt's a podcast done by Mark Goodacre. They're all work a listen but this one is on this very subject.Enjoy!

  5. Yeah, if Romans 16:7 said what it says, complementarianism would be in trouble. Amd the ESV was translated by complementarian scholars. Just read the text note on this verse in the ESV Study Bible…

  6. Peter, thanks! I'll check it out.Adam, agreed.

  7. Kevin, I noticed this as well at my blog titled "Men and Women in the Church." I did a few posts on Junia and even posted an article at the site against a complementarian from CBMW. If you wanna read it, just click on my blog "Men and Women" on my profile. It is listed under the section "Junia or Junias?" The complementarian view is in trouble. And that's why they have to forge this translation. In addition, check all the other names of women in house churches throughout Paul's letters (like Colossians). You'll notice that even translations like the New American Standard Bible have changed all the feminine names and made them masculine. Great site you have here! Keep up the work, my fellow Arminian brother! it's all for the glory of God!! – Deidre

  8. Deidre, thanks, I will check out the series on your blog. Also if you didn't already, see pchurcher's link above, it is a nice little presentation by an English dude. He explains the problems of the ESV as it relates to this verse. Also, do you read Ben Witherington's blog? He had a nice piece a day or two ago on why Paul was egalitarian.I'm a strong advocate of the egalitarian view. The Wesleyan/Holiness movement has always been egalitarian. I've been working on a several part series on this, but it's not ready to go yet. :)God bless, Kevin

  9. carl sweatman

    I know I’m a bit late to this discussion, but then again I just found your blog today. :) Great stuff. To preface my remarks, I should state that I favor the egalitarian view and that many of the complementarian arguments are not entirely convincing (and sometimes not appropriate to the context).

    My two-cents on the Rom 16.7 passage is that the language is ultimately ambiguous, especially the key prepositional phrase: εν τοις αποστολοις. Two options not considered in the NET note are: 1) εν could be read as, “with reference [or respect] to the apostles”, which would seem to tilt the balance in favor of Junia and Andronicus as apostles; or 2) εν could be read as, “among [or by] the apostles”, which might tilt the scale in the other direction. Although, there is further ambiguity in the second option, and it could be seen as portraying Junia and Andronicus as apostles.

    At the very least, and given the ambiguity, I don’t think one could make an iron-clad case against Junia and Andronicus as apostles (even if only in the Pauline sense of the term).

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