Joanna, wife of Chuza

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Saint Joanna and the Head of Saint John the Baptist.jpg
Joanna and the Head of Saint John the Baptist
Venerated inEastern Christianity
Roman Catholicism
Feast3rd Sunday of Pascha (Orthodox and Eastern Catholic)
May 24 (Roman Catholic)
August 3 (Lutheran)

Joanna (Greek: Ἰωάννα γυνὴ Χουζᾶ also Ἰωάνα[1]) is a woman mentioned in the gospels who was healed by Jesus and later supported him and his disciples in their travels, one of the women recorded in the Gospel of Luke as accompanying Jesus and the twelve and a witness to Jesus' resurrection. She was the wife of Chuza, who managed the household of Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee. Her name means "Yahweh has been gracious",[2] a variation of the name "Anna" which means "grace" or "favour”.

She is recognised as a saint in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic traditions.

Joanna in the Gospels[edit]

Joanna is shown as the wife of Chuza, steward to Herod Antipas while being listed as one of the women who "had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities" who accompanied Jesus and the Apostles, and "provided for Him from their substance" in Luke 8:2–3.

Joanna is named among the women mentioned in Luke 24:10, who, along with Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, took spices to Jesus' tomb and found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. The accounts in the other synoptic gospels do not mention Joanna as one of the group of women who observe Jesus' burial and testify to his Resurrection.

Identification with Junia[edit]

Richard Bauckham argues for identifying Joanna, the wife of Chuza with the Junia mentioned in Paul's letter to the Romans 16:7, "Joanna" being her Jewish name, and "Junia" her Roman. Joanna the wife of Chuza is mentioned as one of the members of the ministry of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, travelling with him among the other twelve and some other women, city to city.

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. (Luke 8:1-3)

Joanna the wife of Chuza is also mentioned alongside Mary Magdalene and other women as those who first visited the tomb and found it to be empty, and it is to this group of women, including Joanna, that Jesus first appears to and instructs them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee in Matthew 28:8-10. Bauckham notes that Paul describes Junia as having been a member of the Christian community prior to him, and given that Paul himself converted within three years of the death of Jesus, that would require Junia to have been a member of the community from a very early period. Furthermore, whereas Joanna is a Hebrew name, Junia is a Latin name. Jewish individuals often adopted a second, Latin name that were nearly sound equivalents to their original name. Joanna and Junia act as near sound equivalents in the native languages, which Bauckham says is indicative of the identification between the two. Finally, Paul describes Junia as being "prominent among the apostles". Given that Junia is described as an earliest member of the community, and as one of the most prominent members, that she is not named elsewhere is indicative, as Bauckham argues, that she and Joanna are the same individual, given Joanna's high prominence during the ministry of Jesus.[3]

In Orthodox tradition[edit]

In Orthodox tradition, she is honored as Saint Joanna the Myrrhbearer (Greek Αγία Ιωάννα η Μυροφόρος) and is commemorated among the eight women who carried myrrh on the "Sunday of the Myrrhbearers", 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.[4]

Although not mentioned by name, Joanna is seen as one of the women who joined the disciples and Mary, the mother of the Lord, in the upper room in prayer. She was believed to be among the group of 120 who chose Matthias to fill the vacancy that was left by Judas, as well as being present on the Day of Pentecost.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Luke 24:10: Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek/Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th edition variants, accessed 9 February 2017
  2. ^ Douglas, J. D. and Tenney, Merrill C., Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary (2011), p. 742. ISBN 0310229839
  3. ^ Bauckham, Richard. Gospel Women : Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels. Eerdsmans, 2002, pp. 172-80
  4. ^ Philip H. Pfatteicher New Book of Festivals and Commemorations. Page 376. 2008.
  5. ^ "Joanna", Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
  6. ^ a b Peter Chattaway. "Joanna gets a speaking role in Killing Jesus and A.D.", Patheos, March 19, 2015

Further reading[edit]


  • 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+

External links[edit]