Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Scripture Reading Plan: the Book of Tobit

I'm a little tardy in posting an introduction to the Book of Tobit, since according to the Reading Plan, one should have started it on Monday....but if you are following the plan and haven't started yet, it is an easy one to read, and so you can still catch up!

And if you haven't yet been persuaded to open your Bible, this is a good book to start on.... after all, what more could you ask for then a nice, easy to read story with a happy ending, a bit of angelology, and some helpful guidelines on good works!


Tobit is one of those borderline books, classed as historical, but reading more like a parable, and certainly containing lots of 'wisdom' like material, including a version of the Golden Rule.

It is one of the 'deutero-canonical books' tossed out by the Protestants - to their great loss!

A great story

Tobit has a great storyline. Like Job, Tobit is an upright, virtuous man who does his best to serve God in difficult times.

And like Job, lots of terrible things happen to him - he is taken into exile to Assyria, has to flee in fear of death (in retribution for his good works in burying the dead), is blinded, and thus becomes poverty-stricken. He also has a female relative Sarah, who is afflicted by a demon that murders her would-be husbands (the toll is up to seven goners at the start of the story).

But unlike Job, there is no angst about why bad things happen to good people. Rather, the storyline is all about how God makes things work out in the end, in this case through the agency of the Archangel Raphael, who accompanies Tobit's son Tobias on a journey to collect some money owed to Tobit. Tobias, of course, doesn't know that his companion is an angel. Nonetheless, he takes his advice, collecting a wife (Sarah) along the way (and dealing with her little demon problem), and acquiring the means to heal his father's blindness.

In the course of the story, Tobit gives his son some sound advice on the corporal works of mercy and other topics, we get treated to some memorable and realistic scenes (like his mother's angst and tears at his departure). And in the end, everyone lives happily ever after.

It is quite short, with only fourteen chapters, and the reading plan suggests finishing it by Friday, before moving on to another of my favourites, the Book of Judith.

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