Would Moses Forgive Student Debt? (Michael Rhodes)

The Biden Administration’s recent student debt forgiveness act in the U.S. has sparked conversations—many of them heated—about the nature of fairness, justice, poverty, and economic well-being.

In this episode, Michael Rhodes joins Dru to discuss debt forgiveness in Scripture and the modern world. Rhodes surveys the radical Torah policies of cyclical debt forgiveness and the Year of Jubilee, and how they contrast with the debt forgiveness policies in the rest of the ancient Near East. A world of subsistence farming where predatory loans can create cycles of debt slavery and intergenerational poverty may not immediately seem similar to modern America—but on a closer look, similarities appear.

Michael Rhodes is a Lecturer in Old Testament at Carey Baptist College in New Zealand. He has worked on community development programs in Kenya and South Memphis, and has also served as a pastor. His academic research focuses on the nature of justice and mercy in Torah economics and ritual meals in Scripture. He is also co-author of Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give.

Show notes:

  • 0:00 Debt entrapment and debt slavery
  • 2:53 Predatory lending in the ancient Near East
  • 4:19 Modern American versus ancient Israelite debt forgiveness
  • 7:44 One-off debt forgiveness in the Bible
  • 9:33 Subsistence farming and for-profit colleges
  • 15:15 Intergenerational poverty
  • 22:06 The issue of fairness
  • 26:24 Righteousness, justice, and equity in Deuteronomy and Proverbs
  • 31:04 The ends and means of debt forgiveness
  • 32:26 Jesus and Jubilee

Image created by Rubner Durais

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