Catching Up on Things I’ve Missed

I just read a wonderful Bible story that I had never read before. It is an Old Testament story that is referenced twenty-eight times in the New Testament, from Matthew all the way through to the Revelation. It is a picture of the Father’s only Son who find a Bride – a Bride who becomes part of the Father’s household. It is about prayer, worship, healing and spiritual warfare. It is about so much more.

The story is found in the book of Tobit. It has been read by Christians throughout the ages. Most Christians considered it a part of Holy Scripture for 1500 years. At the time of the Reformation, certain influential Protestant leaders decided that the Old Testament books that had originally been written in Greek rather than Hebrew should be set to one side. Not thrown out of the Bible, but clumped together at the end of the Old Testament. Calvin and Luther did not consider then canonical, but Luther’s Great Bible of 1539 and the Geneva Bible of 1560 included them, as did the King James Version.  In fact, every Protestant Bible included them into the 19th century.

Why, then, have they fallen into disuse by Protestants? Even those whose did not consider them canonical considered them “profitable to read,” as Luther put it – profitable enough that they printed and bound them together with the rest of Scripture. (Luther also considered Hebrews, James, Jude and the Revelation to be New Testament deuterocanonicals – of less value than the rest – but did not exclude them from his translation in the end.)

They originally fell into disuse in the late 18th century, so that when there was a paper shortage in the United States in the early 19th century, they were not printed in many Bibles. It is much later that the idea that they were Roman Catholic books and therefore unworthy of Protestant consideration crept in. That being said, the Anglicans have continued to use them as worthy reading and some are included the Lectionary to be read in services. But for many Protestants, there has been an assumption that the 66 books now contained in most Bibles is the way it has always been.

Despite my best intentions, I have not read all of these deuterocanonical Old Testament books. (“Deuterocanonical” means second canon, a term which could equally be applied to New Testament books that had a harder time of getting into the canon in the first place and were considered doubtful even by some Reformers, as noted above.) Despite their use in the New Testament by Jesus and the Apostles, I’ve not given them due attention.

As a result, for 47 years I missed out on the wonderful story of Tobit and Anna, Tobias and Sarah, Raguel and Edna, and Raphael. I think I may go read it again.

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Wisdom of the Two Jesuses (or, Adapting to the LXX)

I’m still getting used to using a Septuagint-based Old Testament.

It is one thing to deal with a different book order. It is another thing when the verses have been re-arranged. Of courser even saying “re-arranged” implies that it was one way and then changed to another. I have to remember to avoid an Masoretic-centric view.

Proverbs seems to be one book where there are quite a lot of arrangement differences. I was trying to see how Proverbs 16:18 in the Masoretic Text was translated from the Septuagint. However, clearly “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall,” is not the same as, “A man wise in his deeds is a discoverer of good things, but he who trusts in the Lord is most blessed.” Since I don’t have an concordance or electronic version of the OSB, I can’t find the verse for which I’m looking without reading the whole book.

It’s not that I’m opposed to reading Proverbs, but right now I’ve really enjoying Sirach. Speaking of which, this is an oddly named book. It contains the wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach as translated by his grandson. So really it should be called the Wisdom of Jesus, not the Wisdom of Sirach. Of course I could see where that might lead to some confusion.

Since it could be said that the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach is the wisdom of Jesus ben God, it could be called he Wisdom of the Two Jesuses. Admittedly, that would be even more confusing.

Anyhow. . . Before using the OSB to quote any Old Testament text, I will need to have my NKJV at hand (or Bible Gateway in a browser tab) so I don’t make a reference where all my faithful readers grab at Masoretic-based translation and collectively go, “Huh?”