In a short note published in 1983, N. Adkin called attention to a curious quotation in (esp.) Latin fathers: maledicta sterilis, quae non parit semen in Israel (with variations) (N. Adkin, ‘An Unidentified Latin Quotation of Scripture related to Isaiah 31,9’, Revue Bénédictine 93 : 123-125). He called attention to this citation in Jerome, Let. 22.21.1, Adv. Helv. 20; Adv. Iovin. 1.22 (cf. 1.37); in Isaiam 2.4.1, 15.56.4-5; in Zach. 3.14.18-19, but also in Origen, in the Latin translation by Rufinus of Hom. in Genesis 11.1 and in Jerome’s Latin translation of Origen’s Hom. in Ezech. 4.1; in the Ambrosiaster, Quaest. 1.17; Cassian, Conlat. 21.32.2; and Quodvultdeus, Liber promissionum 1.25.34. None of them offer a definitive identification for this citation (nor do their editors), though Jerome combines it several times with Isa 31:9 and Ps 127:3.
Writing before the advent of the fully searchable corpora we now have, Adkin erroneously suggested ‘Neither Augustine nor Ambrose nor any other Greek Father cites it’. In fact, it appears in Augustine on Faustus’s lips (attributed to Moses): ‘So we find him pronouncing a curse on all youths of both sexes, when he says: “Cursed is every one that raises not up a seed in Israel.” This is aimed directly at Jesus, who, according to you, was born among the Jews, and raised up no seed to continue his family. It points too at his disciples, some of whom he took from the wives they had married, and some who were unmarried he forbade to take wives. We have good reason, you see, for expressing our abhorrence of the daring style in which Moses hurls his maledictions against Christ, against light, against chastity, against everything divine’ (14.1; cf. 14.13). And we find the quotation in Greek (via the TLG) in a couple of places: a (7th century?) tractate of Adversus Judaeos literature (ἐπικατάρατος ὃς οὐκ ἔχει σπέρμα ἐν Ἰσραήλ), and in St. John of Damascus in the Expositio fidei, 97: ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς, ὃς οὐκ ἐγείρει σπέρμα ἐν τῷ Ἰσραήλ. It also occurs in some later medieval Latin authors like Aelred of Rievaulx and Bernard of Clairvaux, though probably derived from Jerome.
But where does this citation come from? None of the proposed explanations Adkin examines is convincing, and he rightly repudiates them all. And yet it seems to appear on the scene as something that has widespread currency as scripture. Any ideas?