This religious novel with bits of historical elements was probably written about the 2nd century B.C., placed within the Catholic and Orthodox biblical canon by the Council of Carthage in 397, and confimed as canonical by the Council of Trent in 1546.  The Book of Tobias (Vulgate title), resembles Jewish wisdom literature, but, is not considered canonical by ancient Judaism.  The story speaks of an Israelite named Tobit from the Tribe of Naphtali who lived in Nineveh under the rule of Sargon II, after the moving of the northern tribes of Israel to Assyria in 721.

Intercession of angels, filial piety, and the reverential treatment of the dead lead to doctrinal foundations by the Catholic and Orthodox Church; some think the Sadducees' confrontation of the woman that had seven husbands (Mark 12:20-22) is an allusion to this book. Because of its nature to uphold the purity of marriage, it is often read during Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican weddings.

The short version is found in the Codex Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Venetus, and most cursive manuscripts, while the longer (1700 words) is found in Codex Sinaiticus and compares closely to the Dead Sea manuscript scroll fragments found in Qumran, Cave IV, in 1952.