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Anna at the presentation of Jesus (right), from Giotto, Chapel of Scrovegni.

Anna (Hebrew: חַנָּה‎, Ancient GreekἌννα) or Anna the Prophetess was a biblical figure mentioned only in the Gospel of Luke. According to that Gospel, she was an aged Jewish prophetess 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.

While Luke gave some elements, Anna's life and background are obscure. From the three verses in Luke, the following is known of Anna:




Luke describes Anna as "very old." Many Bibles and older commentaries state that she was 84 years old.[1][2] Modern translations, such as the NIV, ESV, CEV, and NLT, add a footnote indicating that another interpretation is possible.

Literally, Luke 2:36-37 says that Anna "lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until 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,[3] Some scholars consider the latter to be the more likely option.[4] 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.[5] What is certain, however, is that Luke is indicating a very elderly woman.


Meeting of the Lord, Russian Orthodox icon, 15th century.

The Roman Catholic Church[6] 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"[7].

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[8]. 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.


  1. ^ "Cyclopædia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature Vol 1 p.235". John McClintock,James Strong. Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  2. ^ Easton's Dictionary
  3. ^ Green, Joel B., The Gospel of Luke, Eerdmans, 1997, ISBN 0802823157, p. 151.
  4. ^ Marshall, I. Howard, The Gospel of Luke: A commentary on the Greek text, Eerdmans, 1978, ISBN 0802835120, p. 123.
  5. ^ Elliott, J.K., "Anna's Age (Luke 2:36-37)," Novum Testamentum, Vol. 30, Fasc. 2 (Apr., 1988), pp. 100-102.
  6. ^ Saints SQPN
  7. ^ "Afterfeast of the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple". Orthodox Church of America. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  8. ^ "The Meeting of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple". Orthodox Church of America. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 

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