WHAT DOES TRANSMISSION OF THE BOOK OF TOBIT
TELL US ABOUT THE HEBREW ORIGIN OF MATTHEW AND HEBREWS?
The Book of Tobit is one of the books of the "apocrypha". The books
of the apocrypha are part of the canon of Roman Catholics but not
part of the canon of Protestants and Jews.
The Book of Tobit is a book which originated in Jewish circles and
was adopted into Christian usage. Eventually the book ceased to be
used in Jewish circles and was only preserved by Christians in
Greek, Latin and Syriac.
Of course this reminds us of the books of the New Testament such as
Matthew and Hebrews which originated in Jewish circles and were
adopted into Christian usage. Like Tobit they ceased to be used in
Jewish circles and were only preserved by Christians in Greek, Latin
Five fragmentary copies of Tobit were found at Qumran. Four of
these were in Aramaic (4Q196; 4Q197; 4Q198; 4Q199) and one was in
The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible states:
Before the discovery of copies of the book
of Tobit among the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars
debated whether the tale was originally written
in Greek or perhaps a Semitic language (Hebrew or
(DSS Bible p. 636)
In other words while the Book of Tobit was originally written in
Hebrew and was used in Hebrew and Aramaic in Jewish circles, when
the Jews ceased to use the book, the Hebrew was "lost" because the
Christians only preserved the Greek, Latin and Syriac versions.
However the Hebrew of the Book of Tobit was not totally lost. In
1542 Sebastian Munster published the complete Hebrew text of the
Book of Tobit. However until the discovery of the Hebrew of Tobit
among the Dead Sea Scrolls there was question as to whether the
Hebrew text of Tobit was the original or just a translation from the
Greek or Latin.
The parallel between the textual transmision of Hebrew Tobit and
that of Hebrew Matthew and Hebrew Hebrews does not end here.
In 1537 Sebastian Munster also published the Hebrew text of Matthew
and in 1557 a second edition of Munster's Hebrew Matthew was
published which also included the Hebrew text of Hebrews.
Now we have yet to find a "Dead Sea Scroll" type of find of Nazarene
manuscripts but the "church fathers" do tell us that both Matthew
and Hebrews were originally written in Hebrew. We may never make
a "Dead Sea Scroll" type of find of ancient Nazarene manuscripts.
However the Hebrew text of Matthew and Hebrews have been preserved
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