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.
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.
And 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.
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.
Categories: Deuterocanonical ("Apocryphal") Books