There’s been some talk recently about teaching biblical literacy in the schools.

Never mind that it shouldn’t happen because of laws about the separation of church, state, public schools and other religions with their own scripture. There would need to be equal time for other religion’s holy scriptures and a weeding out of those wanting to teach theology instead of history.

If we had these studies, I would like to promote a book from the Old Testament. This would be the Book of Isaiah and his proclamation of “The Year of Our Lord.”

We recalled this scripture in yesterday’s Lectionary of St. Luke’s account of Jesus reading from the scroll of Isaiah. In this lesson – Luke 4:14-21 – the last verse Jesus reads says he is “... to proclaim the year of our Lord’s favor.” While He is explicitly saying that He is the one Isaiah was prophesying about, it also tells us this was a Year of Jubilee.

Why is this so important to that time in history? Because of the legal actions that were to be fulfilled during the Jubilee.

It was the custom that every seventh year certain laws came into play. For instance, fields were to be left fallow every seventh year so the soil could have a Sabbath, a needed rest to allow it to restore its health. The Sabbath was not just about having a day to attend church. The Hebrews honored the number seven for its holiness so much that multiplying it by seven – and arriving at 49—was even more divine! The year following a 49th year was designated as “The Year of our Lord” or “Jubilee Year.”

Jubilee’s laws said that you got back all land that belonged to your family, even if it had been sold or taken. All the slaves and people who had sold themselves to try to take care of their families were set free. And, any debt that you had that was outstanding was marked off as paid in full, and every debt and sin was completely forgiven.

It was a celebration of rejoicing and festivity, a very exciting time! Imagine life today if every 50 years our mortgages were paid off and all of our credit cards were wiped clean! Except for the lenders and creditors, who wouldn’t be celebrating?

This is just one example of why having biblical literacy classes could have so many different supporters and critics alike. Only a student of biblical history could safely teach the course, and even then there would be more critics waiting to get rid of these crazy ideas.

Don’t educate the masses on things that might have been popular in years past, lest they get some crazy ideas on their own. Save the scriptures for the churches to teach. Let the schools teach the math, grammar, sciences, health and oh ... yes ... the arts! God Bless you all!

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The Rev. Peter Mark Gdula is a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.