Original Research - Special Collection: Historical Thought and Source Interpretation

A semantic comparison of the conclusion of LXX Tobit and Semitic 4QTobit

Annette H.M. Evans
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 1 | a6672 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i1.6672 | © 2021 Annette H.M. Evans | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 March 2021 | Published: 18 June 2021

About the author(s)

Annette H.M. Evans, Department of Hebrew, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

At the beginning of the 20th century, the shorter Greek version of the book of Tobit, GI, which is included in the Catholic Bible, was thought to be the oldest version. It was defined as ‘a lesson on almsgiving and its redeeming powers’. As the discoveries of the Semitic copies of Tobit at Qumran, GI is recognised to be a reworking of the longer version GII, most probably originally written in Aramaic, between 225 and 175 BCE. In all versions of Tobit, the theme of almsgiving is introduced as specifically directed to Jewish kinsmen, but towards the end, is to be directed to all poor, suggesting that it may have been written by a Hellenistic Jew. Although the surface context of the narrative of Tobit is the Jewish tradition of proper observation of mitzvot and sacrifice and eventual reward, the various versions contain varying degrees of ancient Near Eastern wisdom, and an ironic, subversive reflection of hypocritical righteousness. This article questioned why the endings differ markedly in different versions. To try to find answers, a semantic comparison was made between GI and the most complete Aramaic version 4Q196.

Contribution: This article considered the implications of source criticism in the reception of the various versions of Tobit. The possibility was examined that the pre-Christian, Aramaic version 4Q196Tobit does not confirm the excessive focus on almsgiving as righteousness apparent in the GI version of LXX Tobit.


Keywords

LXXTobit; Semitic4QTobit; 4Q196Tobit; 4Q200Tobit; almsgiving; righteousness; mercy; wisdom literature; Deuteronomy

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