I had a conversation with a woman who has been studying theology and the woman's role. She said two things that made me wonder. First, she pointed out 1 Corinthians 11:3, about that the head of the woman being the man. She said that the Greek word for this was not "head," but something like "coming from." That changes the meaning of the passage quite a bit. Would you help me out and explain this passage to me? I also showed her the statement about women not having the right to preach and teach to men. She said that there was a person in the Bible named Junia who was actually an apostle (Romans 16:7). Later it was claimed that the name originally was Junias, and that this person actually was a woman. Is that correct? I would be very glad if you would help me understand these issues. -- Beate Daae Rognli (Oslo)

The Greek kephale can mean head in the sense of "source" (the head of a river), but this is not the natural sense. It is of course possible that Paul is writing with deliberate ambivalence. Even then, head in the sense of "authority" seems pretty clear. He does allow them to pray and speak in church (1 Corinthians 11), so an interpretation that keeps women silent conflicts with the apostle's instruction.

The implicit question, it seems to me, is whether apostolic rules for the 1st century are still applicable today. If Paul lived in our time, would he really expect women to behave as though they were living in the 1st-century Mediterranean world? There are probably several interpretive issues at play here.

As for Junias, she may have been a man or a woman. It doesn't matter. Apostoloi were missionaries. The special "twelve" were Apostles—with a capital 'A'. In the NT, others were not. They were missionaries, "apostles" with a little 'a'.  I don't believe anyone, male or female, was an apostle in the sense that the Twelve and Paul were. The requirements for apostleship (see Acts 1:22 and 1 Cor 9:1) limited that number.

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