I normally do not use the Orthodox Study Bible for my scripture reading but I had it open the other day, and I was reading the story of Deborah in Judges. The footnote helpfully points out that Deborah is one of three prophetesses mentioned in the Old Testament (along with Miriam and, more obscurely, Huldah from 2 Kings 22:14). This got me to thinking about the Virgin Mary. Was Mary a prophetess? In the New Testament context we usually talk of John the Baptist being the last of the Old Testament (in the sense of before the advent of Christ’s ministry) prophets, but I think a case can be made for Mary as prophetess.
The prophets acted as the mouthpiece of God and spoke his words. Mary went a step further and gave birth to the Word of God. In this sense she is the seal, or last, of the prophets (similar to the Islamic idea of Muhammad, who is considered the seal of the prophets in that system). I think this is one of the things that the Church is getting at when she talks about the ever-virginity – before, during and after Christ’s birth – of the Virgin. To take this idea literally can be complex – how can someone remain a Virgin after having birthed a child – and we can easily get into dicey territory here – was Christ somehow not human due to such a birth? 1 John 4:2-3 tells us “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God”. To assert the ever-virginity of the Virgin can have us dancing on the edge of denying the humanity of Jesus, but if we look at the ever-virginity in the sense of the sealing of Mary’s womb marking her as the last prophet then it is, to me, easier to understand.
Food for thought.