Deuterocanonical ("Apocryphal") Books

Tobit, Or Not Tobit? That Is The Question.

Should the Book of Tobit be in the Protestant Bible?

Tobit is one of seven books no longer in the Protestant Bible, but remaining in Catholic and Orthodox Bibles.

I had never questioned why the Protestant Bible contains seven fewer books than the Catholic Bible, but those days are over. Having been in Protestantism several years now, I have seen enough error, and prideful refusal to accept what the Bible says over what pastors say, that I am now looking at everything with a fresh eye.

A friend of mine was reading some ancient texts (Book of Jasher, Book of Enoch) and the information he found got me interested in ancient texts as well. After reading a chapter of Jasher, I started poking around in other ancient texts, and ended up digging into the seven books that were deleted from the Protestant Bible, but remain in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles.

Test All Things ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (Including Protestantism)

To wit, I got a Catholic Bible and started reading. You see, in the Protestant Reformation of the early 1500s A.D., Reformation leader Martin Luther moved seven books from the places they had held in the Old Testament since the Bible was canonized by the Catholic Church just before 400 AD, and placed them at the back of the Old Testament. He did this to marginalize these books because they contained doctrines that directly refuted his ideas. Even though Luther moved these books to the back of the Old Testament, at least he left them in the Bible. Since then, Protestantism has removed these books from the Bible altogether. This is why Protestant Bibles do not contain these books, while Catholic and Orthodox Bibles do. These books are Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch. 

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

In this post, I want to concentrate on the Book of Tobit. I don’t want to put my readers to sleep with a long summation of what Tobit is about. Suffice to say it is a beautiful narrative that I enjoyed reading. What matters is that as one of the books removed from the Protestant Bible, I expected Tobit to contain inaccurate prophecies, and I expected it to refute (not affirm) the accuracy of books remaining in the Protestant Bible. But that’s not what I found. Instead I found accurate prophecies, and I found affirmation, not refutation, of books that remain in the Protestant Bible. For example:

…He will gather you from all the Gentiles among whom you have been scattered. ~Tobit:13-5

That is a dead-on accurate prophecy about the regathering of Israel, a prophecy which complements (rather than refutes) the many other prophecies we see about Israel’s regathering in books like Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel– books that are in our Protestant Bibles today.

What’s more, Tobit references (by name) the Book of Amos (which is in our Protestant Bible), when he is reminded of a prophecy in Amos:

Then on our festival of Pentecost, the holy feast of Weeks, a fine dinner was prepared for me… So I [Tobit] said to my son Tobiah: “Son, go out and bring in whatever poor person you find among our kindred exiled here in Nineveh who may be a sincere worshiper of God to share this meal with me… Tobiah went out to look for some poor person among our kindred, but he came back and cried, “Father!… one of our people has been murdered! He has been thrown out into the market place, and there he lies strangled”… I remembered the oracle pronounced by the prophet Amos against Bethel: “I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into dirges.” Then I wept. At sunset I went out, dug a grave, and buried him. ~ Tobit 2:1-6

Again, in a book that was deleted from the Bible, I would expect refutation of the books that made the cut, not affirmation of them.

Angels And Demons

Then there is the Angel Raphael. In the Book of Tobit, God sends the Angel Raphael to help Tobit and a woman named Sarah, both of whom are depressed and praying for death. In a book that was thrown out of the Bible, I would expect the Angel Raphael to exhibit the traits of a demonic angel, rather than a Godly one. For example, also in the Book of Tobit is a demon named Asmodeus. Asmodeus is a serial-killing demon who has murdered seven husbands of Sarah, all on their wedding night before they had a chance to consummate the marriage. But look at the contrast between the behavior of the demon and the angel.

  • The Demon Asmodeus murders.
  • The Angel Raphael restores Tobit’s and Sarah’s wills to live.
  • The Demon Asmodeus strikes fear, and let’s people remain afraid.
  • The Angel Raphael struck fear when he revealed his identity, but immediately said, “No need to fear; you are safe.” ~ Tobit 12:16

You Look Familiar. Have We Met Before?

On a more trivial (but still interesting) note, while reading the Book of Tobit I realized that I had heard of the Angel Raphael before. In fact, I even mentioned him on this website without even realizing that he was an integral part of a book (the Book of Tobit) that spent many centuries in the Bible. In my post Da Vinci Code, I explained how it was the technique of Florentine artists to portray young males as effeminate and pretty. My point was that this was why Florentine Artist Leonardo Da Vinci portrayed the Apostle John this way in The Last Supper. It was an effeminate and pretty Apostle John sitting next to Jesus in that famous painting, not Mary Magdalene as a popular movie suggested. In the post, I showed some other examples of young males that were painted by Florentine artists as effeminate and pretty. One of these young males was Tobit’s son, Tobiah (“Tobias” in the painting), who is portrayed next to none other than the Angel Raphael.

archangel-raphael-with-tobias1

Archangel Raphael with Tobias by Pietro Perugino, shows a young male portrayed effeminately by a Florentine artist. Da Vinci was also a Florentine artist.

So, up to this point in the Book of Tobit, I had observed: a dead-on accurate prophecy about the regathering of Israel; Tobit referencing Amos (Amos being a book in our Protestant Bibles to this day, and one that Luther did not try to have thrown out); and the Godly behavior of the Angel Raphael.

Shouldn’t I have been seeing heresy, abomination, and false prophecy? The Book of Tobit was thrown out of the Bible after all! However, as I kept reading, I saw even more Biblical corroboration. In fact, I saw a passage in Tobit so drenched with Biblical exposition of a specific verse in Genesis, that it was the catalyst for me sitting down to write this post.

Blessings And Curses

When I got to Chapter 13, it was as if I had been handed a box labeled “Genesis 12:3.” When I figuratively opened the box by reading the chapter, it proved to contain a breathtaking affirmation of, and elaboration upon, one of God’s lynch pin verses about how we are to treat his people (the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob– the Jewish people) and his land (Israel). Genesis 12:3 goes like this:

I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you… ~ Genesis 12:3

Now look at these verses from Tobit 13:

Accursed are all who speak a harsh word against you… ~ Tobit 13:12

Accursed are all who destroy you and pull down your walls, And all who overthrow your towers and set fire to your homes… ~ Tobit 13:12

Forever blessed are all those who build you up. ~ Tobit 13:12

Happy are those who love you, and happy those who rejoice in your prosperity. ~ Tobit 13:14

Happy are all the men who shall grieve over you, over all your chastisements… ~ Tobit 13:14

I do not know that there are two or three continuous verses in the entire Protestant Bible that so powerfully affirm, and elaborate upon, Genesis 12:3. To me, these verses from Tobit 13 are an unpacking of Genesis 12:3. They are precious lost details– the specifics that elaborate upon Genesis 12:3’s generality. They are the “fine” adjustment to the “coarse” focus of Genesis 12:3.

Coarse and FineAnd look at that final verse. “Happy are all the men who shall grieve over you…” I can’t help but think of Revelation 21:4, which says that God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” I submit to you that Tobit 13:14 is as reasonable an explanation of Revelation of 21:4 as any theory I’ve heard in the several years I’ve been in the Evangelical Protestant movement.

Reasonable Doubt

To conclude this post, I will say that enough doubt and suspicion has been aroused in me to warrant my further study of all the books thrown out of the Protestant Bible. As I continue to read and study, I will post my findings.

8 replies »

  1. I could not agree more. I was raised catholic until age 10. I am 30 now and have been a member of an Assembly of God’s church since. It was very different going from Catholic to Pentecostal and it was very easy to never look back. Praise and worship at my church is God filled and the sermons are not filled with “religious check the box” readings or activities.*BUT THAT BEING SAID* I have recently read the removed books myself with an unbiased mind and I am astonished that Tobit is not used in Protestant (or at least Pentecostal & spirit filled church) teachings. It has so many lessons that are preached in churches that teach the power of healing through prayer, that tithing is about trusting God will take care of us even when mathematics or the world says differently and listening when the Holly Spirit speaks to you even if it sounds crazy! Let us put the arguments of historical or non-historical aside and focus on why the story of Tobit is just as valuable as the story of the protecal son.
    Lesson 1. God will ask us to do things that don’t make sense to us or others at the time. If God is for me, then no can come against me.
    (Tobit 2) Tobit listens when God spoke to his heart even when all of his neighbors, who loved him, disagreed and considered him crazy. (T6) Tobias listens to the holly spirit speaking through the angel about who he should marry, the fish and praying for 3 nights before going tobed with his wife. All things seemed crazy but usually when we obey the crazy things God instrucys us to do our reward is out of this world crazy good.
    2. Obey your parents, love your spouse and raise your children to obey God!
    No need to explain this one. It is as plain as day just read any part of the story.
    3. TITHE WITH A CHEERFUL HEART! God does not need our money! Tithing our 1st is us being obedient to God and knowing that he will keep his promise to us.
    (T2) Tobit, your wife checked yourself before you wrecked yourself! (Lesson 3.5 is being a Godly leader/ssupporter to your spouse. Which God also calls us to do) She called you out for giving but not giving with a cheerful heart. (T3-T12) It shows that during rich and poor times Tobit and his family tithed and God kept his promise of blessing them back one hundred fold.
    4. The power of prayer when two or more agree.
    (T3 & T8) Tobit and Sarah cried out in prayer at the same time (lesson 4.5 God works in mysterious ways) and then Tobias and his new wife spent 3 days praying together over their new marriage.
    HELLLLLLOOOO! THIS IS BACKED UP BY MATHEW 18!

    In conclusion, I feel that even if you do not consider the book of Tobit inspired, you can teach and learn from the lessons it holds.

    • So I just re-read my post and there are some typos. Please do not disregard my knowledge or opinions because of it. (I’m guilty of doing that to post made by other people sometimes 😅) My bad. I wish I could edit them but I can not. SORRY!

  2. No worries about typos! The fact that you even care about typos shows that you have skill at writing. Everybody makes typos, but only people with writing skills care that they made them.

    Thanks so much for your well-thought-out comments on Tobit. I’m glad you looked into the Deuterocanonical books. I wish more Christians would.

    Jesus had these seven books in the Bible he carried, and he never said to remove them. That alone should be enough inertia for those books to stay put. But in addition there is the fact that these seven books were in the Bible for many years before Christ, and in the Christian Bible for 1,500 years after Christ. Who the heck is Martin Luther to remove these books? His violent antisemitic writings are cause enough to reject his theological views.

    I’ll stick with the Bible Christ carried, and reject the one Martin Luther wants me to carry.

    Blessings, and thank you!

  3. I think you’re right that Luther erred. But then again, I’m Catholic. The books Luther removed (or tried to remove) were done so for two reasons 1) some of them didn’t agree with his views 2) the Jews didn’t consider them canonical. Tobit hits both of these – there’s a lot of focus on “works”, in the form of almsgiving, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and burying the dead which can “purge away sin”, in the words of the angel Raphael. This isn’t very “Lutheran”, but it fits well into the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, for instance. Regarding 2), it’s important to understand that the Jews didn’t actually set a canon until some time after Christ, after the destruction of the temple. The books were, however, included in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament used by Hellenistic Jews which predated the birth of Christ. When the New Testament quotes the old, it’s generally in the words of the Septuagint. It was also believed for a long time that several of the books weren’t written in Hebrew, though there were several Hebrew fragments of several of them found with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Whether one believes that they’re the inerrant word of God, on par with the Gospels, given the importance they had in the early Church, it certainly seems that they should carry more weight than, say, Billy Graham. Or Luther.

    • Tom,

      Thank you for your well-informed comments!

      As you point out, the seven books that Luther removed from the Protestant Bible were indeed in the Septuagint. The fact that these books were in the Bible that Jesus and the Apostles used is proof enough that Luther should never have deleted them.

      And the Jewish canon that was established after the destruction of the Temple contains NONE of the New Testament books, including the Gospels. If Lutherians want to exclude the seven Deuterocanonical books because these books are excluded from the post-Temple Jewish canon, then this logic dictates that Lutherians must also exclude the entire New Testament from their Bible. The “they’re-not-in-the-modern-Jewish-Bible” argument for deleting the Deuterocanonical books is unintelligent at best, and downright deceptive at worst.

      And I could not agree with you more that these books should carry more weight than Billy Graham or Martin Luther.

      These books belong in the Protestant Bible, and shame on Protestants for surrendering them without the slightest fight or slightest intellectual scrutiny– all upon the word of one raging antisemite (Martin Luther) who is not in the Bible, and who lived 1500 years after Christ.

      Blessings, and thank you!
      Tom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s