Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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TOBIAS - Introduction

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The third and fourth Books of Esdras, and the prayer of Manasses, (Worthington) are found in many Latin Bibles, (Haydock) and translated in that of Douay, (Worthington) as works of dubious authority. Calmet also inserts the third and fourth books of Machabees. (Haydock) --- Protestants class under the same head the books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, and Machabees, (Worthington) with Baruch, and parts of Esther and Daniel, &c. (Haydock) --- They acknowledge that they are, "holy and worthy to be read in the Church, but not sufficient to prove points of faith." The truth is, they find them too opposite to their creed; as St. Augustine (prędest. SS. C. xiv.) observes was the case with some heretics, who rejected the Book of Wisdom. (Worthington) --- The pretence that these Books were not admitted by many ancient Fathers, would equally strike out of the canon the Epistle to the Hebrews, those of St. James and St. Jude, the second and third of St. Peter, and of St. John, and the Apocalypse, the authority of all which was formerly warmly controverted, (Haydock) and only admitted by degrees: (Worthington) paulatim tempore procedente meruit auctoritatem. (St. Jerome, in Jacobo.) --- This holy doctor doubted (Prideaux) whether the book of Judith was canonical, till he found the decision of the Council of Nice. The declaration of the Church is the only sure rule by which matters of this nature can be decided. (Haydock) --- "I would not believe the gospel, unless I were influenced to do it by the authority of the Catholic Church." (St. Augustine, contra ep. Fund. c. 5.) --- This Church has spoken in favour of the controverted Books of the Old Testament, as much as for those of the New; so that the inconsistency of Protestants cannot pass unnoticed. If they had asserted that they appealed only to the private spirit, they might have been acceptable at least to fanatics; but now they attempt to follow the Catholic rule, and yet reject it the next moment! If we would relinquish all the parts of Scripture which have been called in question, what book would be safe? Some have been indeed more universally admitted, and may therefore be styled protocanonical, while the deuterocanonical books were recognized rather later; and after all difficulties had been maturely discussed, as has been the case with other articles of faith. But the declaration being promulgated sooner or later, does not alter the truth. The will of God, notified to us by his Church, is our infallible guide. This is the canon, or "rule," (Haydock) to regulate our imperfect knowledge. (St. Augustine, contra Faust. xi. 5., and contra Crescon. ii. 32.) --- In this sense the Council of Carthage, (A.D. 419) styles these contested books, "canonical and divine:" and the ancient Popes, Innocent I and Gelasius, as well as St. Augustine, (Doct. ii. 8.) St. Isidore, (Etym. vi. 1.) and others, place them on a level with the other parts of Scripture, as has been done by the general Councils of Florence and of Trent. If the Jews did not admit them into their canon, it was because they were not extant in the Hebrew language, (Haydock) or known when the canon was closed by Esdras, (Huet; Du Hamel) or afterwards. (Haydock) --- Besides, who sees not that the canon of the Church is preferable to that of the synagogue? (Worthington) --- Otherwise how shall we receive the New Testament. (Haydock) --- Many of the Fathers referred only to the Jewish canon, when they gave catalogues of the sacred books. (Calmet) --- We shall find that they generally admitted the authority of what the Protestants style Apocrypha, and that they were far from considering them (Haydock) as "romances," (Fagius) or inducements "to vice and superstitious practices, under the semblance of virtue," (Button) as some have now the boldness to assert. They might well shew so much deference to the judgment of the majority of Christians, as to abstain from such censures. (Haydock)




This Book takes its name from the holy man Tobias, whose wonderful virtues are herein recorded. It contains most excellent documents of great piety, extraordinary patience, and of perfect resignation to the will of God. His humble prayer was heard, and the angel Raphael was sent to relieve him: he is thankful, and praises the Lord, calling on the children of Israel to do the same. Having lived to the age of one hundred and two years, he exhorts his son and grandsons to piety, foretells the destruction of Ninive, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem: he dies happily. (Challoner) --- The Jews themselves have a great regard for the book of Tobias; (Grotius; Sixtus Senens. viii.) which Origen (ad Afric.) says they "read in Hebrew," meaning probably the Chaldee, (Calmet) out of which language St. Jerome translated it, preferring to displease the Pharisaical Jews, rather than not to satisfy the desires of the holy bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus. (Ep. t. iii.) (Worthington) --- The Greek version seems to have been taken from another copy, or it has been executed with greater liberty by the Hellenist Jews, between the times of the Septuagint and of Theodotion. (Calmet) --- Huet and Prideaux esteem it more original; and Houbigant has translated it in his Bible, as the Council of Trent only spoke of the Latin editions then extant; and St. Jerome followed in his version the Hebrew one of a Jew, as he did not understand the Chaldee. (Haydock) --- The Syriac and the modern Hebrew edition of Fagius, agree mostly with the Greek, as that of Munster and another Hebrew copy of Huet, and the Arabic version, both unpublished, are more conformable to the Vulgate. The most ancient Latin version used before St. Jerome, was taken from the Greek; and the Fathers who lived in those ages, speak of it when they call the book of Tobias canonical. St. Augustine leaves it, however, to adopt St. Jerome's version, in his Mirrour. The copies of all these versions vary greatly, (Calmet) though the substance of the history is still the same; and in all we discover the virtues of a good parent, of a dutiful son, and virtuous husband, beautifully described. (Haydock) --- "The servant of God, holy Tobias, is given to us after the law for an example, that we might know how to practise what we read; and that if temptations assail us, we may not depart from the fear of God, nor expect help from any other." (St. Augustine, q. 119. ex utroque Test.) --- The four first chapters exhibit the holy life of old Tobias, and the eight following, the journey and affairs of his son, directed by Raphael. In the two last chapters they praise God, and the elder Tobias foretells the better state of the commonwealth. (Worthington) --- It is probable that both left records, from which this work has been compiled, with a few additional observations. It was written during (Calmet) or after the captivity of Babylon. (Estius) --- The Jews had then little communication with each other, in different kingdoms. Tobias was not allowed to go into Media, under Sennacherib; and it is probable that the captives at Babylon would be under similar restrictions; so that we do not need to wonder that they were unacquainted with this history of a private family, the records of which seem to have been kept at Ecbatana. The original Chaldee is entirely lost, so that it is impossible to ascertain whether the Greek or the Vulgate be more conformable to it. The chronology of the latter seems however more accurate, as the elder Tobias foretold the destruction of Ninive, twenty-three years before the event, which his son just beheld verified, dying in the 18th year of king Josias. The accounts which appear to sectaries to be fabulous, may easily be explained. (Houbigant) --- Josephus and Philo omit this history. (Calmet)