University of Notre Dame

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Religion in Migration: Second Temple Worship According to Tobit

posted on 2018-07-09, 00:00 authored by Richard F. Klee

This dissertation provides an analysis via narrative criticism of the Greek Long Recension of the Book of Tobit, primarily witnessed by the text of the Codex Sinaiticus. The first chapter is an introduction to the text of Tobit regarding origin, transmission history, and scholarly approaches to the text. The second chapter offers an examination of allusions to the prophecy of Amos in the plot and narrative of Tobit. It is contended that Tobit is globally formed as a narrative by reference to Amos, and the Book of Tobit as a whole affirms prophesy as an interpretive guide for diaspora life. The third chapter studies economic language in Tobit; it argues that the major characters are individually distinctive regarding economic conceptualizations of God's providence and recompense. The fourth chapter re-evaluates characterization in Tobit, with specific focus on the figures of Tobit and Hannah. A ‘Hieronymian Paradigm’ is traced from Jerome’s Vulgate additions to the Book of Tobit; this paradigm likening Tobit to Job remains to date the majority view on Tobit as character. It is argued that such a position under-represents the contributions of other characters, particularly women, as well as literary allusions and plot incidents that present Tobit in an unflattering light. The fifth chapter considers the narrative structure of interruption and its use to promote particular acts of worship: alms, burial of the dead, prayer, and endogamous marriage. By this repeated narrative technique such acts are performed in relation to other civil and religious obligations and their priority is demonstrated. Tobit offers a creative synthesis of Jewish worship, endorsing these acts with a liturgical theology formed of Temple, monarchical, and patriarchal traditions. The exile of Tobit’s community and the journey of Tobias and Sarah is thus an account of religion in migration, narrating how religious traditions develop with respect to foreign lands and experiences, written so as to guide Jewish life abroad.


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Defense Date


Research Director(s)

Maxwell E. Johnson

Committee Members

John C. Cavadini Kimberly Belcher Tzvi Novick


  • Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Level

  • Doctoral Dissertation


  • Aramaic
  • Hebrew
  • Ancient Greek

Program Name

  • Theology

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