Sunday, June 1, 2014
The Bible Project: Week 22 (Nehemiah; Tobit)
Woo, we're done with the Chronicler! He's a really thorough guy, but definitely not my style.
Thankfully, Nehemiah was more like Ezra then like 1 and 2 Chronicles. Nehemiah basically told the same story as Ezra except from Nehemiah's point of view. If Ezra was in charge of the spiritual rebuilding, Nehemiah was in charge of the physical rebuilding of the temple.
Tobit * is described in my Bible as a "religious novel," and that's exactly what it is. And that's exactly why I enjoyed it! :-)
It's partly narrated in first person by Tobit himself, an honorable and God-fearing fellow. The other part is in third person, mostly about Tobit's son, Tobiah, and his adventures with the angel Raphael in disguise.
This story reads like a Greek or Roman myth. The 14 chapters flew by faster than one chapter in Chronicles. And I think it is sort of a myth - the "historic facts" are all way off. I'd say it's more of a story to teach people that if you're a good person, good will happen to you. Maybe Tobit didn't even exist. It's a religious novel.
More myth comparisons: Raphael in Tobit reminds me of Hermes in the Odyssey, when Odysseus visits Circe. In this myth, Hermes gives Odysseus a magic flower that helps the hero be immune to Circe's magic. I see this as similar to Raphael telling Tobiah to capture the fish that attacked him and remove it's heart, liver, and gall. The heart and liver became useful in scaring away the demon that plagued Tobiah's future wife, and the gall healed Tobit's blindness. (Side note: Tobit became blind because a bird pooped on his eyes. Seriously.)
So, overall, I really liked Tobit. It's told very frankly, as though we are sitting listening to an ancient storyteller - maybe Tobit himself!
If you don't have a Catholic Bible, here is a link to the complete book of Tobit, if you care to read it. You can also find KJV translations online, but if you look in an actual KJV Bible, Tobit isn't there.
*Tobit is not present in most (if not all) Protestant Bibles. It is one of the discrepancies between Protestant and Catholic Bibles. Which is a pity, because it's such a darn good story! :-)