Joanna, wife of Chuza
|Venerated in||Eastern Christianity
|Feast||3rd Sunday of Pascha (Orthodox and Eastern Catholic)
May 24 (Roman Catholic)
August 3 (Lutheran)
Joanna (Greek: Ἰωάννα γυνὴ Χουζᾶ) is a woman mentioned in the gospels who was healed by Jesus and later supported him and his disciples in their travels. She was the wife of Chuza, who managed the household of Herod Antipas, the king of Galilee. Her name means "Yahweh has been gracious." In the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions, she is a saint. She is considered a disciple who later became an apostle. In the Bible, she is one of the women recorded in the Gospel of Luke as accompanying Jesus and the twelve: "Mary, called Magdalene... and Joanna the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources". She was also one of the women who discovered the empty tomb of Jesus on the first Easter morning.
Joanna is one of Luke's witnesses
There are 13 separate references to Herod in the Gospel of Luke, only four of which can also be found in the other gospels. This means that there are nine references to Herod in the Gospel of Luke for which Luke had to have a source independent of another gospel. Hastings (1958) suggests that Joanna could easily have informed Jesus and Luke of the splendid style in which Antipas and his court officials lived. Joanna may have been one of the eyewitnesses available to Luke as a source for his Herodian material.
Joanna is among a group of women who are the first resurrection witnesses, along with Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and other women (Luke 24:10). These women went to the apostles who thought their testimony about the risen Lord was nonsense, though Peter and some others decided to look at the tomb for themselves. Joanna is therefore to be included in the "ones with them" that Jesus calls "witnesses" (martyrs) (Luke 24:48). She is also one of the apostles mentioned in Acts 1:2-3 that Jesus chose. These apostles complied with Jesus' charge to remain in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 repeats Luke 24:48 by calling this group "my witnesses (martyrs)".
Acts 24:10 and 8:3 of Luke's section of the bible gives the list of these apostles as the eleven, the women, and Mary, mother of Jesus, with his brothers. When the time came to choose a replacement for Judas the same criterion of witness from the beginning is used (Acts 1:21-22).
Identification with Junia
Both Richard J. Bauckham and Ben Witherington III conclude that the disciple Joanna is the same woman as the Christian Junia mentioned by Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:7). Paul says that Junia was famous among the apostles and that she was in the Lord before him which must be prior to 34 CE. She is likely therefore, given the evidence presented above, to have been a witness of everything from the time of the baptism of John.
Joanna granddaughter of Theophilus
An ossuary has been discovered bearing the inscription, "Johanna, granddaughter of Theophilus, the High Priest." She may have been the Joanna mentioned in the Bible.
Saint Joanna the Myrrhbearer (Greek Αγία Ιωάννα η Μυροφόρος) is commemorated among the eight women who carried myrrh in the New Testament in the Eastern Orthodox Church on the "Sunday of the Myrrhbearers", which is two Sundays after Pascha (Orthodox Easter). From this commemoration, in the revised Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod she is commemorated as one of Myrrhbearers on August 3 together with Mary, the Mother of James the less and Jude and Salome.
Joanna in fiction
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Joanna was a secondary character in Margaret George’s 2002 novel Mary, Called Magdalene. In the novel, Joanna, cast from Herod’s household by Chuza for being possessed, is healed by Jesus in Capernaum. She then joins the other disciples. She is the second woman, after Mary, and becomes her friend.
Joanna is the main character in Mary Rourke's 2006 novel Two Women of Galilee. In Rourke's telling, Joanna is the daughter of a family that had become Hellenized and ceased to practice Judaism as they obtained a privileged position in the court of Herod. Mary is Joanna's long-lost cousin from a branch of the family that was still observant. When they meet they become close friends. Joanna meets Jesus through her friendship with Mary and he heals her of tuberculosis. The story centers on the friendship of Joanna and Mary, retelling events from the Gospel from the women's point of view.
- J. D. Douglas, Merrill C. Tenney, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary (2011), p. 742. ISBN 0310229839.
- Romans 16:7
- Luke 8:2-3
- Hastings, Adrian, Prophet and witness in Jerusalem: a study of the teaching of St. Luke, (London; New York: Longmans, Green, 1958), 38.
- Luke 24:12, 24
- cf. Acts 2:32; 3;15
- Acts 5:32
- Acts 1:22
- D. Barag and D. Flusser, The Ossuary of Yehohanah Granddaughter of the High Priest Theophilus, Israel Exploration Journal, 36 (1986), 39-44.
- Philip H. Pfatteicher New Book of Festivals and Commemorations. Page 376. 2008.
- Bauckham, Richard J., Gospel Women (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2002), pp. 109-202.
- Witherington, Ben, III, "Joanna: Apostle of the Lord—or Jailbait?", Bible Review, Spring 2005, pp. 12–14+