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Luke 8:1-3

Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ καθεξῆς καὶ αὐτὸς διώδευεν κατὰ πόλιν καὶ κώμην κηρύσσων καὶ εὐαγγελιζόμενος τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ οἱ δώδεκα σὺν αὐτῷ, 2 καὶ γυναῖκές τινες αἳ ἦσαν τεθεραπευμέναι ἀπὸ πνευμάτων πονηρῶν καὶ ἀσθενειῶν, Μαρία ἡ καλουμένη Μαγδαληνή, ἀφ’ ἧς δαιμόνια ἑπτὰ ἐξεληλύθει, καὶ Ἰωάννα γυνὴ Χουζᾶ ἐπιτρόπου Ἡρῴδου καὶ Σουσάννα καὶ ἕτεραι πολλαί, αἵτινες διηκόνουν αὐτοῖς ἐκ τῶν ὑπαρχόντων αὐταῖς. (SBL GNT)

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. (ESV)

Assuming, as most modern translations indicate, that this refers to financial support (although that's an odd use of διακονέω), where did she get the money? Clearly her husband, Herod's ἐπιτρόπος (whatever that means) was a man of means. However, it seems strange to me that she was allowed by him to wander around with Jesus and to leverage financial resources (presumably his?) for Jesus' benefit. Allowing this seems to indicate Chuza's (public) support for Jesus, but he managed this without being fired or getting his head chopped off? Or is it possible that Joanna did this without her husband's support? (But I still imagine the rumors about the wife of Herod's ἐπιτρόπος running around with Jesus.....)

I'm looking for cultural/historical background to help me understand how this may have worked. Did first century Jewish women have financial assets that they could leverage independent of their husbands/fathers? I don't think there's anything further in the NT about this particular arrangement, but maybe someone knows of other early Christian writing or tradition about it.

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I am aware that there's a supposition floating around that it is Joanna who shows up in Latin as Junia in Romans 16:7, with the implication that she had divorced Chuza, married Andronicus, and moved to Rome. However, to my knowledge "being Herod's estate manager" was not one of the acceptable reasons for divorce within the early church, so this argument never quite fit together for me. (I suppose he could have died, but this gets pretty speculative...) Maybe there's more to it that I'm missing. –  Susan Feb 28 '14 at 6:59
@Susan-It seems if you follow the 'Junia' trail, you find more breadcrumbs, otherwise, "Joanna" seems to produce a dead-end, although she is canonized a saint in Eastern Orthodox & Catholic traditions. Perhaps the best story is what we read in the text-she was a direct witness at the tomb to Christ's Resurrection, and she contributed of her substance to His needs-need more be said? It seems the women of Jesus's ministry expressed more bravery than the men during significant times of Jesus's ministry. –  Tau Feb 28 '14 at 22:34
Herod doesn't seem to be really opposed to Jesus during his ministry, see for example Luke 23:8 and Joanna had been healed of some illness according to Luke 8:3 so possibly Chuza was willing to allow her to support Jesus out of gratitude - there seems no reason to suppose that her grateful support would have made life harder for Chuza at least in the early days –  Jonathan Chell yesterday

1 Answer 1

This is a fascinating question Susan and one which I have puzzled over. There are other links between Jesus' group and well known Judeans. John (assuming him to be the disciple Jesus loved) was known to the gatekeeper of Caiaphas' court. For what it's worth I think it highly likely that Joanna's connection began in the Galilee where Herod Antipas spent much of his time. This may have been through contacts with John, who being well educated, may have acted as representative of his father's fishing firm in which he and his brother James, and the other brothers Simon (Peter) and Andrew were partners. Alternatively she may have come across Jesus through his general ministry.

Chuza may have been sympathetic, or he may have found it useful to have an ear on the ground so to speak. Epitropou which is the Greek you queried. Means a general manager, from epi (over) tropos (mover) - someone who oversees the general movements and running of an establishment. There is no reason why he should have been unsympathetic, and even Herod might have been glad of someone on the inside. That is not to say that Joanna herself may have been anything other than a true disciple.

As Herod Antipas paid Chuza, an interesting question arises as to the funding!

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what source(s) do you have to indicate John was the "gatekeeper of Caiaphas' court"? –  warren Apr 4 '14 at 17:27
Warren, sorry for the slow reply, I am afraid I am often not at my computer. I said John was known to the gatekeeper of Caiaphas' court, not that he was. The reference is in John 18:15,16. The gatekeeper was a girl. John's account does not say specifically that he was the 'other disciple' but this seems likely, and is widely held to be the case. –  Tony Apr 21 '14 at 15:58
sorry for the misread =D –  warren Apr 21 '14 at 16:03

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