The Book of Tobit has always enjoyed great popularity among the deuterocanonical books. Perhaps this is due to the figure of the angel Rafael, one of the most venerated of angels in the Catholic Church, and to the novelistic style of storytelling that is filled with fine and subtle touches of irony. The story of Sarah and her seven husbands, all killed on their wedding night and her subsequent marriage to Tobias comes to mind. In terms of content, the book seems to address a wide variety of teachings and themes (patience in tribulation, the importance of interior worship, family-related virtues, the value of almsgiving, the cult) but the main purpose seems to highlight the loving providence of God in favor of the just.

The Book of Tobit – Popularity
Book of Tobit

Over the past thirty years, the interest of scholars in this book has grown as publication of numerous commentaries, monographs, and articles attests. To cite as examples, Geza G. Xeravits – Jozsef Zsengeller (eds.) The Book of Tobit: Text, Tradition Theology (JSJSup 98), Leiden – Boston, Brill, 2005; Jeremy Corley – Vincent Skemp (eds.), Intertextual Studies in Ben Sira and Tobit. Essays in Honor of Alexander A. Di Lella, O.F.M. (CBQ.MS 38), Washington D.C., Catholic Biblical Association of AOver the past thirty years, the interest of scholars in this book has grown as publication of numerous commentaries, monographs, and articles attests. To cite as examples, Géza G. Xeravits – József Zsengellér (eds.) The Book of Tobit: Text, Tradition Theology (JSJSup 98), Leiden – Boston, Brill, 2005; Jeremy Corley – Vincent Skemp (eds.), Intertextual Studies in Ben Sira and Tobit. Essays in Honor of Alexander A. Di Lella, O.F.M. (CBQ.MS 38), Washington D.C., Catholic Biblical Association ofAmerica, 2005 (half of the volume is dedicated to Tobit); Mark Bredin (ed.), Studies in the Book of Tobit: A Multidisciplinary Approach (LSTS 55), London – New York, T&T Clark, 2006 and the most recent commentary in Italian by Marco Zappella, Tobit. Introduzione, traduzione e commento (Nuova versione della Bibbia dai testi antichi 30), Cinisello Balsamo (MI): San Paolo, 2010. It is worth noting that the first of the cited works are the acts of the first international conference on the Book of Tobit held at Shime‘on Centre for the Study of Hellenistic and Roman Age Judaism and Christianity in the Hungarain city of Pápa in May of 2004.

The present work of Francis M. Macatangay, a young priest of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas, USA, and who currently teaches Scriptures at the University of St. Thomas School of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary, belongs to this group of researches on the Book of Tobit. It is a very interesting study that will certainly become a point of reference for all those interested in this deuterocanonical text. This is a monograph on a subject so far touched upon only in some com-mentaries and essays, that is, the sapiential tradition in the Book of

Tobit, which is concentrated on the wisdom instructions of chapter 4 (also known as the Testament of Tobit) and to which Tob 12:6-10 and 14:8-11 can be added.

By using a synchronic method, the author succeeds in establishing the significance and function of these sapiential texts in the narrative thread of the book. The purpose, however, goes beyond the analysis of the importance of the instructions for the narrative. The author also proposes to establish the importance of the sapiential instructions for the Jews who lived in the Diaspora. To quote the author’s own words, “The wisdom perspective became the most accessible avenue for teaching Jews in the Diaspora how to survive by remaining faithful to their religious tradition. Using the medium of an entertaining narra-tive, the author desired to educate those living in the dispersion on how to preserve their identity as members of God’s chosen and on how to maintain a personal relationship with God” (p. 298).

I am very honoured to present this volume on the Book of Tobit. I cannot emphasize enough its unquestionable originality, academic rigor, and profound theological reflection. I warmly thank Francis M. Macatangay for his contribution and I hope that his work as teacher and scholar of the Scriptures continue to bear much fruit.

Originally posted 2020-01-07 16:35:17.