There are a number of translation issues to notice in the Romans text:
- Phoebe, who, commentators guess, probably brought this letter to Rome, is identified as a “deacon” (v.1 NRSV). It’s probably too early to assume the definition this word later has, but it pretty clearly indicates a recognized office.
- Phoebe is also identified as a “benefactor” (v.2); Dunn thinks that “patron” would be a more natural translation.
- “Junia” (v.7) “prominent among the apostles,” was recognized as a woman’s name by patristic commentators; modern translations (e.g., RSV), tended to read “Junias” (a man’s name). Current evidence re names from that period suggests that NRSV has it right in restoring “Junia” and relegating “Junias” to a footnote.
The greetings (vv.3-16) are notable by their length, probably part of Paul’s effort to win acceptance of the letter and his ministry. Notable within the greetings: “So far as this list is concerned…Paul attributes leading roles to more women than men in the churches addressed. We cannot rule out the possibility that the more restrictive rulings on women’s participation in leadership probably reflected in 1 Clement (e.g., 1 Clem. 20.7 [sic—the reference is probably to 21.7] with the Pastorals) constituted a second or third generation reaction against the greater charismatic liberty of the earlier years” (Dunn).