Tobit and the Canon

Tobit is weird book. If you have ever read it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But there’s something even weirder about Tobit. That is, its manuscript history is bizarre to say the least.

Jerome translated it from Aramaic. Well, okay, Jerome didn’t know Aramaic, so he had someone who did read it aloud to him and verbally translate into Hebrew. Right, the reader guy only knew Aramaic and Hebrew. Then Jerome would translate the spoken Hebrew into Latin. And since Jerome wasn’t Tobit’s biggest fan, he only spent one night on it! (You can find all that in his introduction to Tobit.)

So Jerome’s Vulgate and the Greek editions in the Codices Vaticanus and Alexandrinus are the same length. But in 1844, yep that LATE, we found Sinaiticus which had a Greek version of Tobit that was 1700 words longer than all other Greek editions we had. Then in the 1950’s and 60’s when scholars sorted through the Dead Sea Scrolls they found five fragments of Tobit, four in Aramaic and one in Hebrew (4Q196-4Q200). And guess what, the DSS fragments overlap with Sinaiticus’ unique verses! So contemporary translations use the longer version of Tobit and consult with DSS fragments.

That means that verses of God’s Word were lost for hundreds and hundreds of years and only recently rediscovered. Wow! The Canon actually got bigger.

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