The Extra Catholic Books (II)
Donald P. Ames
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was inadvertently omitted from Brother Ames' series. We apologize for the error. However, each article is independent. Thus this error should not greatly detract from the series.)
In our last article we examined some of the preliminary questions concerning the origin of the extra books to be found in the Catholic Bibles. We also noted this problem placed before the Catholic Church and its claims of being the "infallible guardian of divine truth" -- as well as some of the external evidences against the acceptance of these books.
Having examined the external evidence against these books, let us now turn our attention to an examination of the books themselves. Certainly the external evidence is sufficient to convince us these books do not belong in the canon of the Bible, but when the internal evidence is also added, there can no longer be any doubt in the minds of those truthfully interested in examining the facts.
The first book we will examine is the book of Tobias, believed to have been written about 726-722 B.C., during the reign of Salmanasar, king of the Assyrians and Sennacherib. The book reads a lot like the book of Job, with Tobias busy burying the slain Jews (yet escaping being put to death himself), and striving to remain faithful to the Lord in spite of the conditions about him.
There are quite a few errors to be found within this book -- doctrinal, historical and geographical. Also set forth in this book is the doctrine of salvation by works, as noted from the following:
According to thy ability be merciful. If thou have much given abundantly; if thou have little, take care even so to bestow willingly a little. For thus thou storest up to thyself a good reward for the day of necessity. For alms deliver from all sin, and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness. (4:8-11)
Here we have the teachings set forth that if one gives enough alms, he is assured not only of the remission of sins, but against going to hell as well. This is repeated again for us so that none may misunderstand the emphasis placed on the giving of alms: "Prayer is good with fasting and alms more than to lay up treasures of gold: for alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting" (12:8-9). In view of the practices of the Catholic Church, can any doubt why they would like to keep this book in their Bibles?
The nest point is made, not to poke fun at the Catholics, but for an honest examination of the contents of these books. Turning to 6:1-5, we find:
And Tobias went forward, and the dog followed him, and he lodged the first night by the river Tigris. And he went out to wash his feet, and behold a monstrous fish came up to devour him. And Tobias being afraid of him, cried out with a loud voice, saying: Sir, he cometh upon me. And the angel said to him: Take him by the sill, and draw him to thee. And when he had done so, he drew him out upon the land, and he began to pant before his feet. Then the angel said to him: Take out the entrails of this fish, and lay up his heart, and his gall, and his liver for thee: for these are necessary for useful medicines.
Of course there are several points to be made from this passage. The first one is that one is made to wonder to whom Tobias cried out, as no mention is made of anyone present, yet an angel is there with an immediate answer. Was Tobias in the constant company of visible angels, and if so, why were they not mentioned in the lodgings, etc? Next, we call attention to the "monstrous fish" which so badly scared Tobias. In view of the fact Jonah was swallowed by merely a "great fish," we would assume this "monstrous fish" would indeed be something fearful to behold. Yet note the ease with which he took hold of it and brought it forth upon the land. Hardly even seemed to be a tug-of-war! Rut have you ever wondered what this "monstrous fish" looked like? No need to! Any Catholic Bible with pictures accommodates us in this respect. Oh there may be a bit of variation, but they are all basically alike. This fearful, "monstrous fish" is shown to be about the size of a large-mouth bass and one such picture even shows the fish with a mouthful of three toes! As I said, this is not said to make fun of Catholicism, but since the Catholic Bibles are printed with the imprimatur of the Catholic Church, and these books are to be found exclusively in the Catholic Bibles, one would think this great "infallible guardian of divine truth" would at least provide a picture in harmony with the context -- unless the context favors the dragging ashore rather than the fearful appearance of this "monstrous fish."
And have you also questioned the "useful medicines" of this fish and its entrails? They have also presented us the answer here:
And the angel, answering, said to him: If thou put a little piece of its heart upon coals, the smoke thereof driveth away all kinds of devils, either from man or from woman, so that they come no more to them. And the gall is good for anointing the eyes, in which there is a white speck, and they shall be cured (6:8-9).
I used to think I had heard many superstitious remedies from the backwoods, but using a fish's heart to drive devils out of men and women, and its gall to heal the eyes would certainly have rivaled any of them. Too bad people were not aware of this marvelous remedy in the time of Christ -- they would have had no need of him then for many of their desired miracles. Feeling the impact of this passage, the Catholic Bible even rises to the defense of the passage with the following note at the end of the book:
The actual effect on the demon was due to the power of God, not to any power inherent in burning various parts of the fish. However, the physical means used were the instrument of Gods power, somewhat like the physical elements used in the sacraments of the church (e.g. holy water).
There you have it! Actually they were not "useful medicines" at all -- merely blessed sacraments used by the power of God. Shame on the angel for deceiving Tobias with this erroneous information. But then, the Catholic Church today knows more than the writer of the book did anyway. And Holy Water? Any doubts still as to why they desire to keep this book in their canon?
Next I would like for us to consider some of the life of Tobias, and the valuable message it carries for us today.
Now it happened one day, that being wearied with burying, he came to his house, and cast himself down by the wall and slept, and as he was sleeping, hot dung out of a swallow's nest fell upon his eyes, and he was made blind. Now this trial the Lord therefore permitted to happen to him, that an example might be given to posterity of his patience, as also of holy Job. For whereas he had always feared God from his infancy, and kept his commandments, he repined not against God because the evil of blindness had befallen him, but continued immovable in the fear of God, giving thanks to God all the days of his life (2:10-14).
The notes at the end of the book provide this additional bit of information: "After this verse the Greek has: I remained deprived of sight for four years.'" So there we have it! A marvelous Story of patience like that of holy Job, only he Was made blind by hot dung from a Swallow rather than by Satan, and as a result of being faithful to God rather than an effort by Satan to get him to turn from God. Furthermore God himself was the only one involved (except the swallow). This is a marvelous example of the justice and mercy and goodness of God almighty, as manifested by the affliction he bestowed upon Tobias for being faithful him -- purely for future generations, of course.
Do you want to know the value of this great lesson? Note the following from the notes within the Catholic Bible at the end of this book:
The question has been raised whether the book is historical or fictional. As far as Inspiration is concerned either opinion is acceptable, since inspiration is perfectly compatible with the various literary forms, including fiction, many Catholic authors believe that the book is substantially historical, but that the historical core has undergone a process of elaboration.
Isn't that a great way of handling this book? They do not know if it is historical or fictional, but it is inspired either way! That makes a rather convenient out. If pressed too hard on the errors, it becomes fictional; if on the above lesson, it becomes historical. Did it ever occur to them the errors therein make it irrelevant -- it simply is not inspired! But let them take the fictional approach -- what is the value of the above story of Tobias and his suffering "as also of holy Job." Anyone can suffer in fiction. 0r historical and fact -- then they are confronted with the fish, as well as the various errors therein. So they try to escape the easy way: "Many Catholic authors believe " How many? Who? Are they right? We like the forthright (?) answer presented by the Catholic Church.
And, in conclusion, did you note what these "many" Catholic authors believe? That "the book is substantially historical." In other words, "many" Catholic authors believe "most" of it is true -- but that it has "undergone a process of elaboration," or in other words, even that part that they believe is "mostly historical" is unreliable because the story has been stretched to suit the fancies and imagination of other writers. So, here we have a book admittedly containing errors and falsehoods, which they do not even know if it is fact or fiction, and yet they are passing it off as inspired of God! This is not only out of harmony with the rest of the Word of God, but completely contrary to all the Bible teaches about Inspiration.
Wisdom of Solomon
One short passage from this book contains all that is needed for our study and its consecuences:
For thy almighty hand, which made the world of matter without form, was not unable to send upon them a multitude of bears, or fierce lions, or unknown beasts of new kind, full of rage: either breathing out a fiery vapour, or sending forth a stinking smoke, or shooting horrible sparks out of their eyes: whereof not only the hurt might be able to destroy them, but also the very sight might kill them through fear (11:18-20).
This sounds very much like the reading of some science fiction writers efforts to produce a monster of some sort. It completely ignores God's Usual dealings with mankind, and desires to create some kind of fire-breathing, burning-eyed dragon of children fables this in 100 B. C.!
But note something else about this statement the world was made of "Matter without form." Sound familiar? Almost as if this is where Joseph Smith got his teaching that Adam created the world out of preexisting matter. Contrast this with Heb. 11:3 the statement found in Gen. 1:1, where Delitzsch comments on the word "created" thusly: "there is nothing belonging to the composition of the universe, either in material or form which had an existence out of God prior to this divine act in the beginning" (Keil and Delitzsch, Vol. I, p. 47). Since truth is not in direct conflict with truth, I believe this is sufficient for this book by itself.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIII: 6, pp. 10-12