Item description for The Lost Apostle: Searching for the Truth About Junia by Rena Pederson...
In The Lost Apostle award-winning journalist Rena Pederson investigates a little known subject in early Christian history---the life and times of the female apostle Junia. Junia was an early convert and leading missionary whose story was "lost" when her name was masculinized to Junias in later centuries.The Lost Apostle unfolds like a well-written detective story, presenting Pederson's lively search for insight and information about a woman some say was the first female apostle.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.1" Width: 6.1" Height: 1.2" Weight: 1.05 lbs.
Release Date Sep 1, 2006
Publisher John Wiley And Sons
ISBN 0787984434 ISBN13 9780787984434
Availability 0 units.
More About Rena Pederson
Rena Pederson's distinguished career in journalism includes serving for sixteen years as editorial page editor of the Dallas Morning News. She is a former finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and was a member of the Pulitzer Prize board for nine years. A winner of multiple writing awards, Pederson is the author of two books--What's Next? Women Redefining Their Dreams in the Prime of Life and What's Missing? Inspiration for Women Seeking Faith and Joy in Their Lives.
Rena Pederson currently resides in the state of Texas.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Lost Apostle: Searching for the Truth About Junia?
Well written Mar 7, 2007
Pederson claims that the impetus for her book, The Lost Apostle, was to highlight an "invisible woman" who was written out of the pages of history, yet in less than 20 pages we learn that there are books on the subject and dozens of authoritative sources with facts and figures who are more than willing to talk about the missing Junia. One has to wonder then, what is the purpose of the book if there is already a sizable literature devoted to Junia.
Actually, the title of the book and the opening paragraphs are somewhat deceiving. Only a small part of the book is about Junia. The bulk of the book is about female issues in general, and goes on to discuss Mary Magdalene, Thecla, Priscilla, etc. Then, right in the middle of the book, there is a mini novel about the Templars. All very interesting and well written, although not exactly germane to Junia (there is an ever so slight relationship because the 13th Century Bishop who translated Junia as a masculine name helped another Bishop who later, when he became Pope, conspired with the King of France to bring down the Templars).
Pederson's background as a newspaper reporter creates a problem when it comes to a scholarly text. Apparently she believes that scholarship involves counting up who is for or against a position and then making a summary judgment. For example, she tells us whom she interviewed who believed that Junia was an esteemed apostle, and who believes she was known to the apostles, but not an apostle herself (page 39). In this case, there are two for "no" and five for "yes". While this is useful to a point, science (or scholarship) should not be reduced to a sums game.
Pederson also has the annoying habit of quoting from telephone conversations she's had with various scholars, rather than referencing their scholarly works. Of course it's easier to call someone on a Saturday afternoon and get a quick sound bite, rather than spending endless hours pouring over their books.
Then there's the mistakes. By relying on phone conversations for the bulk of her research, Pederson is prone to errors. Here's a few:
- "We know she [ Mary Magdalene] came from the town of Magdala... (p. 50)." Actually we don't know any such thing. There was no town called Magdala at that time. Some scholars also make this mistake. Refer to the works of Margaret Starbird for a proper understanding.
- "She [Mary Magdalene] first appears on the biblical scene in Capernaum... She has apparently heard of Jesus' healing powers and has come for help...(p. 50)." Actually, no. We never hear of Mary Magdalene in Capernaum. She is in Bethany and she is in Jerusalem, and she is said to follow Jesus from Galilee, but that's the extent of our knowledge of Mary. She never appears in Capernaum.
- "The Gospels place her at the crucifixion, along with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and John, the beloved disciple (p. 50)." Actually, no. The Gospel of John is the only gospel that has the "beloved disciple" at the crucifixion, and it is certainly not clear that John is the beloved disciple. In any event, "the gospels" place about a dozen people there, including several Marys and a bunch of "other women."
- Pederson writes - "Chapter 11 of the gospel of Nicodemus also says that Mary Magdalene, weeping about the death of Jesus...said `I shall go alone to Rome, to the Caesar...(p. 54)." Chapter 11 of Nicodemus does not mention Mary Magdalene. [...]
- "Mortality charts show that less than 10 percent of the population lived beyond the age of fifty...(p. 82)." Although technically true, that figure is misleading, because of the enormous number of infant and child deaths.
Now despite all these problems, this is a pretty good book with lots of useful information, and only a few mistakes. None of it is particularly new nor startling, but it is nicely put together and well written. There really isn't all that much to learn about Junia whose total description is found in less than a paragraph in Paul's letter to the Romans, but there's lots of stuff about early Christianity, women's roles, apostleship, etc. There's even the added bonus about the Templars.
It's difficult to rate a book like this. As a scholarly book about Junia, it comes up short (very short). As an interesting piece about women in Christianity it gets high marks.
A Reporter's Revelations into the Early Church Mother Feb 2, 2007
By her own admission, Pederson is a reporter, and not a theologian. This books reads as an extended newspaper article. It is easy for the layman to comprehend, without complicated theological ideas or terms, as the author goes through her experiences and emotions in pursuit of the information. This is a journey of discovery, discovery both of Junia and who the author sees herself to be as a woman. I found it very easy to relate to her and was immersed in her travels and thoughts. I could clear picture places she's been to; those that I also have visited in Rome were accurately and imaginatively described.
Readers looking for novel theological insights should look elsewhere. This is a very personal look at Junia. There is a tendency in this book to be too accepting of hagiophora- where stories of powerful women are considered credible despite their lack of historical verifiability. Sometimes Pederson's lack of theological training shows in misunderstandings of subtle nuances, but most of the time she has done her homework. Thus her work becomes a compendium of others thoughts, and this becomes the go-to book for information on Junia.
While at times it felt that Pederson was trying to fill in the pages with extraneous information (like the chapter on Thecla), the book is so full of the stories of Junia that it becomes a necessary and central document for any research on this apostle. There really isn't much verifiable information out there on her, beyond the one verse in Romans. Of particular interest therefore is Pederson's extended look into the culture of ancient Rome and what it would have been like to be a married Christian Jewish woman in Junia's time.
Pederson has done an admirable job of looking into all the ramifications of this one verse. Using the primary research of others, Pederson proves without doubt that this was a woman, and that she was likely an apostle (and not just liked by the apostles). For the question of apostleship Pederson relies more on the consensus of modern theologians and ancient church fathers, rather than a clear indication in the Greek (for the Greek could provide either reading). Indeed, through Pederson's research into the gender-reversals of Junia through the centuries, a clear picture comes out of where the revisionist history comes from. The revision is clearly not in making her female, but in making her male- by the unanimous agreement of Christian theologians through the first 1000 years. Pederson traces how different translations will use different genders for Junia, based on how closely they adhere to the original Greek or not. She shows a copious provenance for the various translations to clearly illustrate why we have both male and female Junia's today. Through the research the reader will finally realize that feminism is an original Christian idea- an idea of Christ and Paul- that is lost as the centuries go on and the msyogyny of the early Church Fathers sets in. The modern world then battles that sexism of later Church elders, rather than the vision of the original Church.
After reading this book there really can't be any doubt as to Junia's gender. There have been perhaps some doubts because of the desire to remain traditional, and not to try to rewrite the Bible. Pederson has here shown that the rewrite is actually making a female apostle into a male.
Fascinating and Highly Readable Sep 17, 2006
The Lost Apostle is fascinating and highly readable. It is a historical detective story -a search for the apostle Junia, whose story was lost because her name was changed in church literature to make her appear to be a man. Junia in fact was an apostle of high regard mentioned by Paul in his letters
Pederson finds in the person of Junia, the role model provided by the early church for today's women. The tragedy is, of course, that Junia's identity became obscured as responsibility for transcribing and editing the Bible moved through the generations, and generations of women were deprived of her positive image of women in the church.
Pederson also brings to life a dynamic early church, where both men and women both held leadership roles. I think everyone should read this book, but women in particular would benefit from its relevance today to their current issues in the church. It also puts into context the discrimination against women in the church over the centuries.
I was especially impressed with the breadth and depth and credibility of the sources used in researching this book. This is not only a wonderful read for the casual reader, it is also an excellent addition to the growing literature on early church history.