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The Lost Apostle: Searching for the Truth About Junia

Wiley, 2006

RRP: $19.95

Phil Smith is a journalist, an elder at Pine Rivers Uniting Church, and has an interest in early church history.

WHILE HUNTING for a biography of Saint Benedict at a council library I marvelled at how fiction such as The Da Vinci Code mingles with non-fiction in the religious categories.

If author Rena Pederson was not a Pulitzer nominee and a significant Washington speech writer, I would have put The Lost Apostle back. This is quality journalism applied to a snippet of Paul’s greatest work, with implications for every believer in the 21st Century.

If you’ve stumbled through Romans, got to chapter sixteen and rolled past the credits, you have missed a great story.

“Greetings … to those outstanding apostles Andronicus and Junia, my compatriots and fellow prisoners who became Christians before me.”

Ms Pederson wants to know about this female apostle, Junia, and why one of the heroes among the very first followers of Jesus became the victim of identity theft around the 4th century. It seems likely the church fathers decided on a sex change for Junia and made her a man as the centuries went by and blokes ruled as priests.

Ms Pederson’s research takes her from Durham to Rome and to the Harvard University and Union Seminary. She draws on historical material: canonical, apocryphal and secular, as she touches on the stories of women evangelists in the two or three decades after the resurrection.

Inevitably we must ask why the Western church made women support actors when God gave them leading roles.

Ms Pederson interviews and quotes those who strongly disagree with her thesis and does not shy away from the apparent contradictions in other letters attributed to Paul.

Two thousand years after the risen Christ showed himself to Mary, and sent her with the good news, this book will give you an insight into life in the Jesus Movement in those explosive first years of growth, persecution, and world change.