Original Research - Special Collection: Septuagint SA

The Book of Tobit in early Christianity: Greek and Latin interpretations from the 2nd to the 5th century CE

Chris L. de Wet
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 4 | a6138 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i4.6138 | © 2020 Chris L. de Wet | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 May 2020 | Published: 18 November 2020

About the author(s)

Chris L. de Wet, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, Faculty of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; Australian Lutheran College, University of Divinity, Adelaide, Australia


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Abstract

This article examines the early Christian reception of the apocryphal book Tobit, focusing on Greek and Latin Christian interpretations from the 2nd to the 5th century CE. The study asks: how did early Christians read Tobit and for what purposes? The article provides an overview of how and why Tobit ended up in the Christian Bible, whether canonical or apocryphal. It then examines how the figures of Tobit and his son, Tobias, function as a moral exemplum in early Christianity, especially related to almsgiving and financial management, burials and the care of the dead, marriage and parenthood, prayer, the suffering and endurance of Tobit, and the role of Tobit in the Christian understanding of angels. The article demonstrates that Tobit had a rich and diverse reception in early Christian biblical interpretation, especially in the Latin church of the West.

Contribution: This article investigates the historical reception of the apocryphal Book of Tobit in early Christian thought. The focus is especially on the varieties of thought regarding Tobit. The article provides an overview of how and why Tobit ended up in the Christian Bible, whether canonical or apocryphal. It then examines how the figures of Tobit and his son, Tobias, function as moral exempla.


Keywords

Apocrypha; Biblical Interpretation; Early Christianity; Patristics; Septuagint; Tobit

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