Story in Book of Tobit

I read the Book of Tobit for the first time in July. It was so funny to read about the wedding. I laughed after going to bed and my wife demanded to know what was so funny. I am convinced that that must have been how the story initially spread and became popular. Because the Jews were in exile and hungry to hear anything to laugh about. Anything to cheer themselves up a little.

To me, it also has a lot more in it than just the story. It adds depth to my understanding on how evil King Jeroboam was.

Tobit 4:19 is such a full and precious verse. Such prayer must be “in faith, not doubting” James 1:5-8. And it is so humbling to read “If the Lord chooses, he raises a man up; but if he should decide otherwise, he casts him down to the deepest recesses of the nether world.”

Just as the NAB introduction says, if you are familiar with the Hebrew scriptures (but not yet familiar with Tobit), Tobit is a very hard book to put down (a fascinating story). Raguel is so Jewish (like Jacob) in chapters 7-8 that it makes me laugh. Contrast 7:11 - the not quite genuine blessing “Your marriage to her has been decided in heaven!” - with 8:9-10 (my paraphrase) “-- Let’s dig another grave [before daylight] just in case – We don’t want to look bad to the neighbors yet again.” I even laughed a little as my wife was trying to get to sleep last night. So much comical deceit in Tobit was needed to balance against the intense pain from so much death resulting from King Jeroboam’s corruption.

Beautiful book. Definately my favorite (tied w/ Sirach) in all of Sacred Scripture. I have no doubt that it is history. But I really do not understand what you find so funny.

James

There is NO way I could chase a demon to Egypt.

I didn’t vote because there wasn’t a choice to accurately reflect my opinion. Do I believe Tobit to be inspired Scripture? Yes. As such, I believe the truths revealed in it are inerrant. But that could be true even if the whole story were allegorical. That said, I think it’s wisest to assume the veracity of biblical accounts in historical books (as opposed to other genres like apocalypse, poetry, etc.).

I love the wedding story in Tobit. It shows the teachings of Jesus on marriage. The two become one and it’s everlasting as opposed to Deuteronomy. Anyone ever seen this teaching in the OT other than Tobit?

[quote=James0235]But I really do not understand what you find so funny.
James
[/quote]

James0235: Really? Nothing funny?

Sarah having had seven husbands die in the bridal chamber?

Raguel saying "Your marriage to her has been decided in heaven!"
Then leaving with his wife Edna to pretend to sleep – and shortly afterwards asking his servants to dig a grave while it is still night because they worry what the neighbors will think.

That is one of the funniest things I ever read in the Bible.

It reminded me of the play “Arsenic and Old Lace” where the old spinsters would call Teddy to dig another lock for the canal.
:dancing:

Andreas Hofer: I think those who wrote the introduction in the NAB think a lot is allegorical in Tobit. But agree with you.

[quote=TheQuestioner]There is NO way I could chase a demon to Egypt.
[/quote]

TheQuestioner: Remember, Raphael was actually an angel. So the chase to Egypt was very brief in time. And Raphael’s return was equally fast. And the story might be only allegorical.

As to whether the Book of Tobit is history or fiction, the Church maintains that it is a religious novel with a historical nucleus, i.e., the basis of it is historical, however the incidents are constructed. The purpose it to convey moral truths and to edify, much in the same way Jesus used parables to teach. Think of the parable of the prodigal son. Do you think Jesus was talking about a real true-to-life man with 2 sons, one of which demands his inheritance early so he can lead a life of hedonism, or is it a story crafted to convey a spiritual principle, that of God’s mercy and forgiveness to all who repent and turn to Him? If it is just a story meant to convey a principle, does that make Jesus a liar because he did use a “real-life” example? No! It makes Jesus a great teacher, who uses simple stories to explain complicated principles. So if Jesus is allowed to use a manufactured example to teach a truth, why can’t the divinely inspired authors of the books of Scripture?

[quote=Apologia100]As to whether the Book of Tobit is history or fiction
[/quote]

The NAB introduction indicates what you say. Is it wrong for me to think it may have been actually true? You cannot deny that it is the sort of story that could have happened.

I know when I read the book of Judith, that the historical facts as we know them make it nearly impossible to have been true. Yet critics said the Bible was wrong because it talked about the city of Thebes – until archeologists discovered the city of Thebes.

I understand parables are only illustrations. But even the parable of the prodigal son could have happened some time. Something like the story of the prodigal son has happened many times over the years. Since Jesus is God, He knows all of our stories. And I suppose He could have sometimes retold actual situations as parables. The poor Lazarus outside the gate of the rich man was an actual story.

[quote=jmm08]The NAB introduction indicates what you say. Is it wrong for me to think it may have been actually true? You cannot deny that it is the sort of story that could have happened.

I know when I read the book of Judith, that the historical facts as we know them make it nearly impossible to have been true. Yet critics said the Bible was wrong because it talked about the city of Thebes – until archeologists discovered the city of Thebes.

Even the parable of the prodigal son could have happened some time. Something like the story of the prodigal son has happened many times over the years.
[/quote]

The point I am trying to make is that many of the events of the bible are not word for word true (fundamentalist version of literalism), but the moral and ethical teaching contained within each story contains elements of Fundamental Truth. For example, was the earth really created in six days? Probably not, however the Church doesn’t rule that belief out. More likely, the story of Genesis is a fabrication meant to convey a moral principle, that God is the creator and organizer of everything, and not a thing happens without His knowledge and approval. Did creation happen verbatum? I don’t know, I wasn’t there, when I experience the beatific vision, I’ll ask. Until then, I have to let the Truth be unfolded before me as my level of faith can handle it. BTW, the prodegal son was a weak example, how about the unforgiving servant?

**Apologia100: **I’m a pretty good Baptist when it comes to believing.
That is why I’m coming over. How is it that we can take everything literally except what Jesus said about the Eucharist? In my mind, I take Jesus at his word (in the upper room).

I once found an antique book (over 100 years old) that told of an actual whaling incident – where a man was lost overboard and later found alive when they killed and cut open the whale. The man was so crazy that they had to bind him and keep him in Captains Quarters until his mind was restored. And his skin was splotchy and had lost pigment in many places. So Jonah could have happened just as the Bible says. When the people of Ninevah saw how Jonah looked it might have influenced them as well.

When it comes to the Garden of Eden, I’m not going to believe it any less than a Conservative or Orthodox Jew. If I need to, I guess I’ll have to go to one of their Jewish web sites to see. Or should I accept the Church’s instruction if they say it is fable?

[quote=jmm08]**Apologia100: **I’m a pretty good Baptist when it comes to believing.
That is why I’m coming over. How is it that we can take everything literally except what Jesus said about the Eucharist? In my mind, I take Jesus at his word (in the upper room).

I once found an antique book (over 100 years old) that told of an actual whaling incident – where a man was lost overboard and later found alive when they killed and cut open the whale. The man was so crazy that they had to bind him and keep him in Captains Quarters until his mind was restored. And his skin was splotchy and had lost pigment in many places. So Jonah could have happened just as the Bible says. When the people of Ninevah saw how Jonah looked it might have influenced them as well.

When it comes to the Garden of Eden, I’m not going to believe it any less than a Conservative or Orthodox Jew. If I need to, I guess I’ll have to go to one of their Jewish web sites to see. Or should I accept the Church’s instruction if they say it is fable?
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I am not saying EVERYTHING in the bible is a fable or story, indeed much of what transpires is indeed 100% taken on face value. But the ability to discern which is which requires more than private interpretation, that is why God gave us the Church, to be the Pillar or Truth to lead us through the desert to the promised land.

[quote=Apologia100]I am not saying EVERYTHING in the bible is a fable or story, indeed much of what transpires is indeed 100% taken on face value. But the ability to discern which is which requires more than private interpretation, that is why God gave us the Church, to be the Pillar or Truth to lead us through the desert to the promised land.
[/quote]

I forget so easily. You know that is another reason why I am getting signed up for RCIA classes. Tired of arguing so much. Go with what the Church says. That is the safest thing to do.

I also read the book of Tobit in July!!!

I loved it. I told the story to my kids, and they liked it too, especially the part about the angel of God.

Jorge. :smiley:

I don’t know if the events in Tobit actually happened - there’s no way to prove or disprove that they did. It is also one of my favorite books of the Bible with a very engaging story. My husband and I were going to have the wedding night prayer from Tobit as our first reading at our wedding, but he nixed the idea. He’s a medievalist and in the Middle Ages that passage was actually used to justify celibate marriage - not exactly what we had in mind! I also love Tobit because St Raphael is in it. He’s the angel of happy meetings. I had prayed to him for help in finding a spouse just days before I met the woman who introduced me to my husband.

I noticed something curious.

Matthew 22:25-26 (Sadducees asking Jesus a question)
Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died and, having no descendants, left his wife to his brother. The same happened with the second and the third, through all seven.

Tobit 3:8.a (about Raguel’s daughter Sarah)
For she had been married to seven husbands, but the wicked demon Asmodeus killed them off before they could have intercourse with her, as it is prescribed for wives. …

Perhaps the Sadducees’ question came from some Sadducee who was reading the book of Tobit. Jesus did not argue that the situation never happened.

Matthew 22:29-32 Jesus said to them in reply, “You are misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven. And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

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