The Pseudepigraphal Prophecies on the Virginal Birth: From the Slavonic, Greek, and Georgian to the Second Temple Jewish Background

  • Summary/Abstract
    The study is dedicated to the prophecies on the virginal birth of the Messiah ascribed to the Old Testament prophets other than Isaiah with his famous Isaiah 7:14 LXX. Such prophecies are collected within a florilegium put into the mouth of archdeacon Stephanus in some recensions of the Passio Stephani. The “pre-Stephanic” origin of this florilegium remains unknown. The relevant recensions are BHG 1649d and 1649h with the Slavonic version slightly different but very similar to them, as well as the (unknown in Greek) Georgian recension whose earliest manuscript is dated to 864 AD (whereas the earliest Greek manuscript is of the 10th century). The prophetic florilegium in Georgian is shorter than in Greek/Slavonic but preserves some older features. The prophecies are either explicitly mentioning the Virgin or without any mention of Virgin at all but dedicated to a “stone/rock”. Therefore, the second group is somewhat surprising. Nevertheless, it goes back to the messianic prophecy about the rock in Zion ascribed to Joshua and preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q522, fr. 9, col. ii), which would have been easily re-edited as referring to the Virgin. Indeed, in the Georgian, a prophecy explicitly mentioning the Virgin is ascribed to Joshua. The Greek/Slavonic florilegium does not mention Joshua but ascribes the same prophecy to Nathan. Under the name of Nathan, it became especially popular. It is quoted in the Slavonic The Prophecy of Solomon (its 13th-cent. Greek original is lost) and represented at a ninthcentury fresco in the Sabereebi cave monastery in Georgia (the first publication of this fresco is provided in the article). In the Greek/Slavonic recension, this prophecy of Nathan quotes, in addition to the properly prophetic part, a little studied story of Nathan preserved within the Sondergut of recension D of the Testament of Solomon).