Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Scripture: Was Tobit recognized by 1st century Jews?

The canon of Old Testament Scripture is a sore point between Catholics and Protestants. Catholic tradition holds that the Council of Rome in AD 382, under Pope Damasus I, and re-iterated by Pope Gelasius I at the end of the 5th century) put forth the canon of Scripture that was already supported by local synods held a few years prior. The Old Testament and New Testament books listed match the Catholic canon of Scripture which was not changed when it was dogmatically defined by the Council of Trent in 1546. Thus, the Bible as a whole was canonically accepted by the Church by the late 4th century, or possibly the late 5th century.

One reason why Protestants reject the deuterocanonical books is because they say the books were not in the Jewish canon; they also deny that there are any references to their content in the New Testament. I would like to offer the possibility that 1st century Jews -- at least some of them -- knew of the book of Tobit and held it to be inspired Scripture. In the book of Tobit, Sarah (daughter of Raguel) had been married to seven husbands (cf. Tobit 3:7-8); a demon which possessed her had slain each husband on their wedding night. While the book does not say these men were brothers, the claim could still be brought up: to whom will she be married at the resurrection?

The Sadducees ask Jesus about a woman married to seven brothers in succession, each of which died before the woman conceived a child. In the resurrection, whose will she be, since she was given in marriage to each of the seven? I think that in doing so, the Sadducees were attempting to disprove the canonical status of Tobit and bolster their theory in the Torah alone as Scripture. Does this sound logical to anyone else?

Also take a look at "Christ and the Canon of the Old Testament" at Viva Catholic.

1 comment:

Weekend Fisher said...

See, on that one, the content of the book of Tobit alone is enough to make me glad that the Protestants stuck with the OT canon that we have, one which did not include disputed books such as Tobit.

I think it would stretch even the most tunnel-visioned inerrantist to be glad *that* was in the canon. ;)

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF