Judith: Keep it? Or Axe it?

This is a hard one for me.  If we based this purely on the historical evidence, Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon, which ruled Southern Mesopotamia; while Assyria was over Northern Mesopotamia.  There are other historical inaccuracies that scholars have pinpointed, and as such this is more than likely akin to a story not unlike the ones we create for Christian Fiction today.

But as I mentioned in one of my commentaries, that doesn’t necessarily mean it should automatically get axed from the canon.  After-all, if we did decide to get rid of it- we would need to consider taking out books like Ruth, Esther and Job.  All three of which made the cut for the official Jewish and Christian canons, but do not seem to have enough evidence pointing to their historical accuracy.  None-the-less these stories provide us with incredible insight on how to live as Christians even when we are not able to hear God’s voice.

Job tends to get a pass, because tradition holds it was written by Moses.  Esther is considered a short-time prophet by Jewish tradition.  And Ruth is a story of Conversion to the Jewish Faith.  Judith’s story may be written off simply because the story mirrors already existent Jewish stories like Deborah, Jael and Esther.

At its core, I cannot find anything wrong with the reading of Judith.  Even with the slight criticisms I’ve given it throughout this exploration, it doesn’t really have anything wrong with it.  Instead, the criticisms only lend to further personal exploration of our own motivations, and whether those align with God.

In one of the criticisms I gave, for example, I pointed out that Judith seems a bit presumptuous.  But I can think of times in the Bible where it might seem the same way with other Biblical figures.

As for the one time it is believed that the New Testament quotes from Judith, this isn’t the only reference to it.  Here are the 3 times you see the same mirrored words:

Judith 16:17
“Woe to the nations that rise against my people! the Lord Almighty will requite them; in the day of judgment he will punish them:
He will send fire and worms into their flesh, and they will weep and suffer forever.

Mark 9:48
where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.

Isaiah 66:24
And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me:
for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

Given these three instances, it’s fairly apparent that Mark is derived directly from Isaiah, and that Judith simply alludes to Isaiah.  Isaiah being written approximately 100 years before Nebuchadnezzar was king.

VERDICT: I could go either way with this book.  If you’re looking for a historically accurate Bible, then Judith and a few others shouldn’t be included in your Bible.  If you’re looking for a Bible that helps you find ways to live the way God wants you to, then you might choose to include this book amongst your canon.  Whether you include it or not, the most important thing is to remember that the story shouldn’t be treated with the same respect as one attributed to a Prophet.

Published by alethealeland

Author of "A Wicked & Adulterous Generation"

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