Deuterocanonical and Cognate Yearbook 2009 Interaction – Tobit’s Narration

Just working through the Deuterocanonical and Cognate Yearbook 2009 by interacting with a few of the articles.

Death and Burial in the Tobit Narration in the Context of the Old Testament Tradition – Beate Ego

I don’t fully agree with Ego’s understanding of Tobit 3.10, in which Sara is said to keep from committing suicide in order to keep from father from coming to sorrow in Hades (καὶ κατάξω τὸ γῆρας τοῦ πατρός μου μετὰ λύπης εἰς ᾅδου  (Tob 3:10 BGT)). Much like the use of Hades in 13.2, it is a poetic device representing the separation from God. Or, we might have a universalist bent in Tobit. I prefer the first option, and in doing so, find that Ego’s understand of Tobit’s use of Hades in Sara’s speech is mistaken. Hades, at least for Tobit, is a poetic device used to symbolize death, destruction, and separation from God. She doesn’t see Tobit’s statement in 4.10, that alms delivers from death, as a statement on the afterlife.

She does highlight the phrase ἔκχεον τοὺς ἄρτους σου ἐπὶ τὸν τάφον τῶν δικαίων (Tobit 4:17) connecting it to several other Deuterocanonical passages. If Ego is correct, it is interesting then what this might represent as regards to Palestinian beliefs during this time. Further, the use of a ritual which must be called magic is theologically entertaining.

This article presents an interesting development in my understanding of Tobit and his community in several ways. First, they are extremely family oriented, alms focused, and bound in tradition. Further, the author of Tobit either knows other authors of the time, such as Sirach and Baruch, or is in the middle of the same sect. Burying the dead takes on a socio-religious motivation and should refocus study on the purification rituals in the Torah and how they might be applied to the understanding of the after-life among the ancient Hebrews.

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