Tobit's context and contacts in the Qumran Aramaic anthology

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    The debate over Tobit's compositional language was invigorated by the discovery of Aramaic and Hebrew copies of the work in Qumran cave four. The growing position among scholars, however, is that Tobit's literary-linguistic makeup is best accounted for by its origination in the Aramaic language. The now widened collection of some thirty Aramaic texts available from among the Qumran collection provides a fresh opportunity to re-read Tobit with an eye for aspects of the book's message and outlook that come into sharper relief when contrasted and compared with its closest counterparts in the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls. This exploratory study details the central theological emphases and literary motifs that Tobit shares with a core group of Aramaic writings including, but not limited to, 1 Enoch, Genesis Apocryphon, Aramaic Levi Document, Testament of Qahat, Visions of Amram, and New Jerusalem. Five points of correspondence with the aforementioned writings will be described: (1) the preference for first-person voices, (2) ancestral instruction on Israelite religious duties and observance, (3) insistence on endogamous marriages, (4) eschatological outlooks of a new Jerusalem, and (5) the awareness of idioms and motifs drawn from dream-vision traditions. Tobit may be viewed as an important representative of the Aramaic heritage of ancient Judaism, since in it we find the confluence of several key components of the thought world of the broader Aramaic collection, of which Tobit was an essential part.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)23-51
    Number of pages29
    JournalJournal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep. 2015


    • Aramaic
    • Dead Sea Scrolls
    • Tobit


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