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Asteriktos
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« on: November 05, 2009, 02:40:49 AM »

This is sort of an extension of the Infallibility and Inerrancy thread, looking at things from a slightly different perspective. My question is, taking into consideration some of the more peculiar beliefs in the book of Tobit, do you take it as a fictional text with spiritual lessons, or do you still accept it as literal truth like you would, say, the book of Romans?
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2009, 09:29:44 AM »

I believe it is a hazy recount of an authentic account with spiritual lessons of holy tradition (ex. the wife and 7 deceased husbands parable recounted by the scribes to the Lord in Matthew 22). I have a similar view of the Protoevangelion that it is a secondary & hazy recount of something true of the preaching of St. James (I had asked my priest if such a perspective is ok & he said yes).
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2009, 09:42:34 AM »

Why not? It offers some great information about angels and the fish-part is a great a prophecy.
A Protestant-like reader (and that includes me too) is more likely to see the process of expelling the demon as "superstition", but it has some very deep messages concerning Icthys. Wink
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2009, 10:23:18 AM »

This is sort of an extension of the Infallibility and Inerrancy thread, looking at things from a slightly different perspective. My question is, taking into consideration some of the more peculiar beliefs in the book of Tobit, do you take it as a fictional text with spiritual lessons, or do you still accept it as literal truth like you would, say, the book of Romans?

What "peculiear beliefs" are you talking about?
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2009, 03:46:05 PM »

Well, peculiar might not be the correct term in all cases, but here's a list of what I had in mind:

- The book of Tobit says: "For no pagan nation possesses good counsel" (Tob. 4:19). This is different than what many early Church Fathers said, who recognized that the pagans did indeed possess "good counsel". St. Justin Martyr, for example, said that Jesus Christ was "known in part even by Socrates" (Second Apology, 10)

- The Archangel Raphael saw fit to deceive people while on his mission. I don't have a problem with the concept of moral deception per se, but was it really necessary in this case? (Tob. 5:4-13; 12:11-19)

- We find in the book of Tobit the following from the Archangel Raphael: "As regards the fish's heart and liver, if you burn them so that the smoke surrounds a man or a woman who is afflicted by a demon or evil spirit, the affliction will leave him completely, and no demons will ever return to him again. And as for the gall, if you rub it on the eyes of a man who has cataracts, blowing into his eyes right on the cataracts, his sight will be restored." (Tob. 6:8-9)  Doesn't this sound more like a story than something we should expect to actually work? I mean, who burns a fish's heart and liver to get rid of a demon?

- The Archangel Raphael also says: "Since you have the right to marry her, listen to me, brother. Tonight I will ask the girl's father to let us have her as your bride. When we return from Rages, we will hold the wedding feast for her. I know that Raguel cannot keep her from you or let her become engaged to another man; that would be a capital crime according to the decree in the Book of Moses, and he knows that it is your right, before all other men, to marry his daughter." (Tob. 6:13) I'm not really familiar with this "decree" that is supposed to be mentioned in the Torah. Is he perhaps speaking of a lost book?

- Tobiah says: "So now I too am afraid of this demon. Because he loves her, he does not harm her; but he does slay any man who wishes to come close to her." (Tob. 6:15)  Can demons really love people?

- The Archangel Raphael says: "As soon as the demon smells the odor they give off, he will flee and never again show himself near her. Then when you are about to have intercourse with her, both of you first rise up to pray. Beg the Lord of heaven to show you mercy and grant you deliverance. But do not be afraid, for she was set apart for you before the world existed. You will save her, and she will go with you. And I suppose that you will have children by her, who will take the place of brothers for you. So do not worry." (Tob. 6:18)  Are some people really meant for each other to the point where they are "set apart" from "before the world existed"?

- Raguel says the words: "Eat and drink and be merry tonight, for no man is more entitled to marry my daughter Sarah than you, brother."  This seems to be a positive usage of the phrase. Yet elsewhere this idea is condemned, such as when Jesus Christ mentioned the phrase (Luke 12:16-21)

- Raguel says: "I have given her in marriage to seven men, all of whom were kinsmen of ours, and all died on the very night they approached her." (Tob. 7:11) Would God really kill 7 seemingly innocent men just because she was meant for someone else?
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2009, 10:56:01 PM »

IMO, an overall fictional account which  may contain some spiritual truth. That's all I'm willing to concede.
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2009, 12:57:09 AM »

I haven't read the book of Tobit, unfortunately.  Because I didn't even own a Bible that contained it until a few months ago.  So, for the little worth that my opinion would have based upon my admitted lack of knowledge, here goes my two cents...

Well, peculiar might not be the correct term in all cases, but here's a list of what I had in mind:

- The book of Tobit says: "For no pagan nation possesses good counsel" (Tob. 4:19). This is different than what many early Church Fathers said, who recognized that the pagans did indeed possess "good counsel". St. Justin Martyr, for example, said that Jesus Christ was "known in part even by Socrates" (Second Apology, 10)

This doesn't seem contradictory to me anymore than many other mysteries of the faith and could easily be resolved by just saying that their using words differently or that Tobit is using hyperbole.  After all doesn't the Bible refer to people as holy even though Jesus said something about no one being good but the Father?

Quote
- The Archangel Raphael saw fit to deceive people while on his mission. I don't have a problem with the concept of moral deception per se, but was it really necessary in this case? (Tob. 5:4-13; 12:11-19)

If he did in fact deceive someone then I guess it was necessary.  Even the wording of your question indicates that the problem is more your opinion of what qualifies something as a necessary deception (no offense).

Quote
- We find in the book of Tobit the following from the Archangel Raphael: "As regards the fish's heart and liver, if you burn them so that the smoke surrounds a man or a woman who is afflicted by a demon or evil spirit, the affliction will leave him completely, and no demons will ever return to him again. And as for the gall, if you rub it on the eyes of a man who has cataracts, blowing into his eyes right on the cataracts, his sight will be restored." (Tob. 6:8-9)  Doesn't this sound more like a story than something we should expect to actually work? I mean, who burns a fish's heart and liver to get rid of a demon?

Who rubs mud on their eyes to heal blindness?

Quote
- The Archangel Raphael also says: "Since you have the right to marry her, listen to me, brother. Tonight I will ask the girl's father to let us have her as your bride. When we return from Rages, we will hold the wedding feast for her. I know that Raguel cannot keep her from you or let her become engaged to another man; that would be a capital crime according to the decree in the Book of Moses, and he knows that it is your right, before all other men, to marry his daughter." (Tob. 6:13) I'm not really familiar with this "decree" that is supposed to be mentioned in the Torah. Is he perhaps speaking of a lost book?

Not sure about this one.

Quote
- Tobiah says: "So now I too am afraid of this demon. Because he loves her, he does not harm her; but he does slay any man who wishes to come close to her." (Tob. 6:15)  Can demons really love people?

There're obviously different kinds of love, but I can't at the moment think of any reason to believe that demons can't experience even some of the more nobler ones, let alone some of the more "baser" ones.

Quote
- The Archangel Raphael says: "As soon as the demon smells the odor they give off, he will flee and never again show himself near her. Then when you are about to have intercourse with her, both of you first rise up to pray. Beg the Lord of heaven to show you mercy and grant you deliverance. But do not be afraid, for she was set apart for you before the world existed. You will save her, and she will go with you. And I suppose that you will have children by her, who will take the place of brothers for you. So do not worry." (Tob. 6:18)  Are some people really meant for each other to the point where they are "set apart" from "before the world existed"?

If God knew all things before the world existed, I don't see why this would be a problem.

Quote
- Raguel says the words: "Eat and drink and be merry tonight, for no man is more entitled to marry my daughter Sarah than you, brother."  This seems to be a positive usage of the phrase. Yet elsewhere this idea is condemned, such as when Jesus Christ mentioned the phrase (Luke 12:16-21)

Yet Jesus is the one who turned the water into wine at a wedding feast.

Quote
- Raguel says: "I have given her in marriage to seven men, all of whom were kinsmen of ours, and all died on the very night they approached her." (Tob. 7:11) Would God really kill 7 seemingly innocent men just because she was meant for someone else?

Does it say that God killed them?  Cause your quote up there said a demon was killing men who came close to her.  I honestly don't know the answer to the question because I admittedly have yet to read Tobit.  But now I think I will soon!
« Last Edit: November 06, 2009, 12:57:57 AM by GregoryLA » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2009, 12:38:52 PM »

What version are you using? Can I get it on-line?

The book of Tobit says: "For no pagan nation possesses good counsel" (Tob. 4:19). This is different than what many early Church Fathers said, who recognized that the pagans did indeed possess "good counsel". St. Justin Martyr, for example, said that Jesus Christ was "known in part even by Socrates" (Second Apology, 10)
Wikipedia's article says that most claim that the story is set long before Socrates, but this sounds like a petty excuse to me. Anyway, I checked four different versions (Septuagint's, King James', Douay's, Good News') and none of them mentions the word pagan.

Quote
The Archangel Raphael saw fit to deceive people while on his mission. I don't have a problem with the concept of moral deception per se, but was it really necessary in this case? (Tob. 5:4-13; 12:11-19)
Honestly, I don't know. But if Raphael had not hid himself, would Tobit act in the same way?

Quote
- We find in the book of Tobit the following from the Archangel Raphael: "As regards the fish's heart and liver, if you burn them so that the smoke surrounds a man or a woman who is afflicted by a demon or evil spirit, the affliction will leave him completely, and no demons will ever return to him again. And as for the gall, if you rub it on the eyes of a man who has cataracts, blowing into his eyes right on the cataracts, his sight will be restored." (Tob. 6:8-9)  Doesn't this sound more like a story than something we should expect to actually work? I mean, who burns a fish's heart and liver to get rid of a demon?
While Jesus' ways seem more effective? Like this is the only book where God gives a sign, but through a way, seemingly, superstitious. Of course, the way does not affect the miracle, it's symbolic and has an interpretation.
Compare the eating of the fish with John 6:55 and keep in mind the greatest fish of all; Icthys. Doesn't this also imply that Christ, the fish, is the cure for demons?
It, also, was wise of the angel to choose the liver and the heart, for those two play a major role in our bodies, they purify our blood (you know how Christ's blood is related with His Sacrifice, that was just a verse among the many others).

Quote
- The Archangel Raphael also says: "Since you have the right to marry her, listen to me, brother. Tonight I will ask the girl's father to let us have her as your bride. When we return from Rages, we will hold the wedding feast for her. I know that Raguel cannot keep her from you or let her become engaged to another man; that would be a capital crime according to the decree in the Book of Moses, and he knows that it is your right, before all other men, to marry his daughter." (Tob. 6:13) I'm not really familiar with this "decree" that is supposed to be mentioned in the Torah. Is he perhaps speaking of a lost book?
Me neither! The Mosaic Law was always confusing to read, so I didn't pay attention to this part when I read the book of Tobit. I'd like some more info on that too.

Quote
- Tobiah says: "So now I too am afraid of this demon. Because he loves her, he does not harm her; but he does slay any man who wishes to come close to her." (Tob. 6:15)  Can demons really love people?
The Greek texts does not say agapaei (loves), but philei (befriends). Besides the fact that this is what a human is saying and no Divine Word, I still see that this can be translated as "...he likes her...", meaning that he enjoys haunting her.

Quote
- Are some people really meant for each other to the point where they are "set apart" from "before the world existed"?
In my humble opinion, I believe that God does know which soul is more suitable for the other. Even people can guess it sometimes. But, Heavens, I don't know a thing about how souls are being "produced" or in what state they were before.

Quote
- Raguel says the words: "Eat and drink and be merry tonight, for no man is more entitled to marry my daughter Sarah than you, brother."  This seems to be a positive usage of the phrase. Yet elsewhere this idea is condemned, such as when Jesus Christ mentioned the phrase (Luke 12:16-21)
Probably Jesus' words had a broader meaning? If Jesus' words were to be taken totally literally, then He should have ruined the wedding at Cana... Tongue

Quote
- Raguel says: "I have given her in marriage to seven men, all of whom were kinsmen of ours, and all died on the very night they approached her." (Tob. 7:11) Would God really kill 7 seemingly innocent men just because she was meant for someone else?
This is one viewing angle. We can't know if the time for the rest men had come or if this was an action that had to do with theodicy, for example. The book revolves around Sarah and Tobit, but the real world doesn't.


P.S.: I found some very nice prophetic parts in the book (thanks to an awesome website), but it will take time to translate it, but if you're really interested...
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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2009, 06:17:32 PM »

Sorry that I've neglected this thread, I still need to come back and read the responses and see if I have anything further to contribute. But to answer the question about the version I was using, I'm pretty sure it was mainly the Roman Catholic New American Bible. Leastwise, that's definitely what I used for Tob. 4:19, and I don't recall looking at any other translations. Regarding the prophetic stuff, well I'd be interested, but on the other hand it'd be mere curiosity. I mean, it's not worth the trouble if it'd take a while to translate. But fwiw, years ago I dug up a bunch of quotes from the Church Fathers which mention or allude to Tobit. I used to have them on my Orthodox website when I had one, and I still have them on my hard drive... actually I think I still have quotes for most deuterocanonical books on my hard drive, maybe I should post them in a seperate thread for anyone interested.
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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2009, 06:53:16 PM »

Ok, I posted the quotes/references that I mentioned in another thread.
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2009, 09:57:11 AM »

Just checked the Greek version (it's from an Orthodox site, so I guess it's theSeptuagint) and 4:19 doesn't say pagan, but nation. Obviously, later/newer translations replace many words with the term pagan, although the term did not exist in the times the Bible was writen.

I'll see what I can do about the translations. Wink
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« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2011, 01:07:26 AM »

Reading back over your post now, GammaRay, I think I have a much better grasp on the book (for which I am thankful) Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2011, 09:48:04 AM »

i like what St. John of Kronstadt has to say:

When you doubt the truth of any person or event described in Holy Scripture, then remember that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” as the Apostle says and is therefore true, and does not contain any imaginary persons, fables, and tales, although it includes parables, which everyone can see are not true narratives, but are written in figurative language. The whole of the word of God is single, entire, indivisible truth; and if you admit that any narrative, sentence, or word is untrue, then you sin against the truth of the whole of Holy Scripture and its primordial truth, which is God Himself. “I am the truth,” said the Lord; “Thy word is truth,” said Jesus Christ to God the Father. Thus, consider the whole of the Holy Scripture as truth; everything that is said in it has either taken place or takes place. – My Life in Christ, pg. 70
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2013, 06:06:40 PM »

Regarding the Tob. 6:13 question, I came across the idea that it might be based on an exaggeration of Num. 36:6-8. I find this a bit too much of an exaggeration, just thought I'd mention it though.
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« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2013, 03:10:50 AM »

I remember reading alot of odd things in those books which are universally accepted by all Christians a while back and no one seems to have a problem with them. I've heard protestants make fun of Tobit for having the gall of a fish cure the blindness of a man but I've never seen one make fun of drinking water from the jawbone of an ass. Things which might seem odd seem to be no reason to dismiss the text as apart of the bible or as if it were not inspired.
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« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2013, 03:23:47 AM »

I remember reading alot of odd things in those books which are universally accepted by all Christians a while back and no one seems to have a problem with them. I've heard protestants make fun of Tobit for having the gall of a fish cure the blindness of a man but I've never seen one make fun of drinking water from the jawbone of an ass. Things which might seem odd seem to be no reason to dismiss the text as apart of the bible or as if it were not inspired.

I agree!  Would you also be willing to provide your thoughts on the questions in the OP? Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2013, 03:29:21 AM »

In terms of it being fictional or symbolic? I honestly don't know.
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