Chapters 6-11 of Ascension of Isaiah are a Christian addition to the Martyrdom of Isaiah, usually called the “Visions of Isaiah.” Isaiah has a vision when he was in Jerusalem to see King Hezekiah. While he is surrounded by forty prophets (including Joel and Micah), he slips into some kind of trance. Some thought he was about to ascend, others that he was dead. He recovers and relates his vision to Hezekiah. In his vision, Isaiah was taken by the hand and escorted up into heaven by an angel. He passes through the firmament and then through the seven heavens. In chapter 9, Isaiah enters the seventh heaven, where he sees a wonderful light and innumerable angels. (See Emily J. Gathergood’s Ascension of Isaiah at North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature)
Isaiah sees Abel and Enoch, which is not unexpected since this whole heavenly journey is remarkably similar to 1 Enoch. The saints are not wearing crowns, nor are they seated on thrones. They will not receive these things until after Christ descends in human form and is crucified. The resurrection is described as “plundering the angel (or prince) of death.” After the Lord ascends to heaven, the Old Testament saints will receive their crowns and thrones. The balance of the chapter is a series of worship scenes: the Lord (vv..27-32); the “angel of the Holy Spirit” (vv. 33-36) of God (vv. 37-42).
The lower heavens join in this worship (verses 1-6), and then Lord Christ (who is called Jesus) is called upon by the Father to descend to Sheol (but not Perdition) and be made into the likeness of those in the lower heavens. This he does, becoming “incarnate” for each of the five levels of heaven he enters.
The final chapter of the Christian Visions section recounts the virgin birth (11:1-16) and the infancy of the Lord (verses 17-18). The virgin birth is without pain (Mary does not cry out) and occurs after only two months of pregnancy.
Ascension of Isaiah 11: 9-13 Mary then looked with her eyes and saw a small infant, and she was astounded. 9 And after her astonishment had worn off, her womb was found as (it was) at first, before she had conceived. 10 And when her husband, Joseph, said to her, “What has made you astounded?” his eyes were opened, and he saw the infant and praised the Lord, because the Lord had come in his lot. 11 And a voice came to them, “Do not tell this vision to anyone.” 12 But the story about the infant was spread abroad in Bethlehem. 13 Some said, “The virgin Mary has given birth before she has been married two months.”
The vision skips quickly ahead to the crucifixion. The death of Jesus is blamed on the ruler of Sheol, who incited the children of Israel to crucify Jesus (11:19-21). There is a hint of “harrowing of hell” theology, Jesus “descended to the angel who (is) in Sheol.”
After the resurrection, Jesus ascends back to the seventh heaven, where he sits at the Father’s right hand and receives glory, with the angel of the Holy Spirit on the left hand. The book concludes with the angel returning Isaiah in the vision and his report to Hezekiah. The words of the vision were recorded, and Hezekiah was sworn to secrecy.