The Lost Apostle
By Rena Pederson (Jossey-Bass, 2006)
Inspired by a question in a discussion group about Junia, whom she had never heard of, journalist Rena Pederson set out on an adventure in search of the illusive female apostle of Romans 16:7. The result is this book. The name in that passage is either Junias (male) or Junia (female, with a variant, Julia). Early church commentators unanimously understood this companion of Andronicus to be a female apostle, but medieval commentators concluded that no woman could be called an apostle. From then on, opinions were divided.
In her search the author consulted an amazing number of scholars, myself included, on both sides of the Atlantic. She reports that all were helpful and interested. The search widens to include other memorable female figures of early Christianity: Phoebe (Rom. 16:1-2), Mary Magdalene, Thecla, Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:8), Tabitha (Acts 9:36), Lydia (Acts 16), Damaris (Acts 17:34), Chloe (1 Cor 1:11), Claudia (2 Tim. 4:21), Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2), and others. She then sets the neglect of these early women saints within the pattern of exclusion of women in the West through the Middle Ages and beyond. But in the Eastern Church, she learned, Mary Magdalene was always an apostle, never a prostitute. Saints Andronicus and Junia are venerated together as a missionary couple.
The author also speculates about the lives of these women based on what we know about women’s lives in their world: birth, education, marriage, childbearing, widowhood, and death, along with their evangelizing activities. These reflections lead to the opening of some wider questions about what gets emphasized and what gets neglected in biblical interpretation, and why.
This is a very readable introduction to some of the characters and stories about women from early Christianity that are known to scholars but are often forgotten rather than celebrated in the rest of the church.—Carolyn Osiek, R.S.C.J.
The Lost Apostle
Rena Pederson is a journalist with an interest in religion and a respect for scholarly consensus. Her book arose out of curiosity about this comment from Paul in Romans 16:7: "Greet Andronicus and Junia ... who are outstanding among the apostles ... " Her New International Version translation – like many others – changed the feminine "Junia" to the masculine "Junias."
The book begins with a step-by-step description of her search for information about Junia, a search that included international travel. This narrative style shapes the book for a popular audience.
Ms. Pederson – a former editorial page editor at The Dallas Morning News and now a State Department speechwriter – presents the linguistic, historical and theological rationales used to justify displacing the biblical reference to a female apostle. What she finds is fascinating, not only about Junia, but also about two other little-known female leaders of the Jesus movement, Thecla and Prisca. She finds stunning examples of overtly anti-feminine prejudices among Christian bishops, monks and theologians.
Ms. Pederson's constant surprise at her discoveries gives the book an authentic appeal.
From The Review
"What’s Next?, a help-yourself book by Dallas Morning
News editor and Pulitzer panelist Rena Pederson, is for midlife
women "who want to revitalize their lives and are looking for a road
map." Filled with bootstrap instructions, the text is tart and witty
(don’t wait for your ship to come in, ships don’t make house calls).
In addition to the usual
stars, Ms. Pederson’s book shines with successes of little-known women —
the housewife in her 50s who became an astronomer, the Realtor who moved
to Nashville in her 40s to "get big hair" and sing country music, the
grandmother who became a flight attendant at 71. What’s Next? provides
reinforcement for those of us who’ve started life over more than once, and
grand permission for those longing to try."
— Novelist Shelby Hearon
From Publishers Weekly
"What do you want to do? How do you want to be remembered? What are you waiting for?" Answering these questions is the first step to answering the larger question of What's Next?: Women Redefining Their Dreams in the Prime of Life. This spiritual and practical guide for women seeking change at midlife draws on inspiring anecdotes about famous (Anna Quindlen, Beverly Sills, Julia Child) and ordinary women. Whether readers choose to change careers or finally follow their deep-seated passion, Rena Pederson, an editor with the Dallas Morning News, and Lee Smith, a psychologist and executive coach, guide and encourage readers in taking the next step."
—Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.