Anna the Prophetess
Anna (Hebrew: חַנָּה, Ancient Greek: Ἄννα) or Anna the Prophetess was a biblical figure mentioned only in the Gospel of Luke. According to that Gospel, she was an aged Jewish woman who prophesied about Jesus at the Temple of Jerusalem. She appears in Luke 2:36–38 in the episode of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
The passage mentioning Anna is as follows:
Luke 2:36–38 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
- Footnote Or then had been a widow for eighty-four years. New International Version
From the three verses in Luke, the following is known of Anna:
- She was a prophetess.
- She was a daughter of Phanuel.
- She was a member of the tribe of Asher.
- She was widowed after seven years of marriage (her husband is not named).
- She was a devout Jew who regularly practiced prayer and fasting.
The Greek text states that "she was a widow of eighty four years". The passage is ambiguous: it could mean that she was 84 years old, or that she had been a widow for 84 years, Some scholars consider the latter to be the more likely option. On this option, she could not have married younger than about age 14, and so she would have been at least 14 + 7 + 84 = 105 years old. What is certain, however, is that Luke is indicating a very old woman.
Church traditions and veneration
The Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church commemorate Anna as a saint, Anna the Prophetess. The Eastern Orthodox Church consider Anna and Simeon the God-Receiver as the last prophets of Old Testament and observes their feast on February 3/February 16 as the synaxis (afterfeast) following the Presentation of Christ, which Orthodox tradition calls "The Meeting of Our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ". Along with Simeon the prophetess Anna is commemorated on February 3 in the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church.
Also her figure is drawn in the icons of the Presentation of Christ, together with the Holy Child and the Virgin Mary, Joseph and Simeon the God-Receiver. Orthodox tradition considers that Christ met his people, Israel, in the persons of those two, Simeon and Anna. Anna is often placed behind Mary. Anna either raises her hands to Christ, to show people him as Christ, or hands a scroll which is attributed often to prophets in Orthodox iconography.
- Cyclopædia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature Vol 1 p.235. John McClintock,James Strong. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- Easton's Dictionary
- UBS Greek NT καὶ αὐτὴ χήρα ὡς ἐτῶν ὀγδοηκοντατεσσάρων
- Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible, and ... – Page 136 John MacArthur – 2008 "The Greek text is ambiguous as to her exact age. (“This woman was a widow of about eighty-four years.”) It might mean literally that she had been a widow for eighty-four years. Assuming she married very young (remember, thirteen was a ..."
- Green, Joel B., The Gospel of Luke, Eerdmans, 1997, ISBN 0-8028-2315-7, p. 151.
- Marshall, I. Howard, The Gospel of Luke: A commentary on the Greek text, Eerdmans, 1978, ISBN 0-8028-3512-0, p. 123.
- Elliott, J.K., "Anna's Age (Luke 2:36–37)," Novum Testamentum, Vol. 30, Fasc. 2 (Apr., 1988), pp. 100–102.
- "Afterfeast of the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple". Orthodox Church of America. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-05.
- February 3 is the feast day of the elder Simeon and the prophetess Anna Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh)
- "The Meeting of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple". Orthodox Church of America. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-05.