The Five Scrolls in the RCL and BCP

Or not…

I am working on a book proposal for an anglican publisher that will offer a study of the Megillot, or “Five Scrolls.” This canonical division is, as most of you know, Jewish not Christian, but there are good reason, IMHO, for dealing with them together. So in writing my proposal it occurred to me to check and see how often these texts are read in either the Book of Common Prayer’s lectionary or the Revised Common Lectionary (about to become official for ECUSA). Kelly Puckett of The Lectionary Page points to this great “reverse lookup” of readings.

So, how often do our texts appear? Not often and not in any quantity. As a reminder, the Five Scrolls are
1. Song of Songs
2. Ruth
3. Lamentations
4. Ecclesiastes
5. Esther

Their appearance in the RCL or BCP (RCL is the first column, BCP second, separated by ->; following the Christian canonical order):

Ruth 1:1-19 Proper 26B/ Ordinary 31B -> Proper 23C/ Ordinary 28C
Ruth 3:1 – 4:17 Proper 27B/ Ordinary 32B -> [none]

Esther 7:1-10; 9:20-22 Proper 21/ Ordinary 26B -> [none]

Ecclesiastes 1:2-14; 2:18-23
Proper 13C/ Ordinary 18C -> Proper 13C/ Ordinary 18C
Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 New Year A/B/C -> New Year A/B/C

Song of Solomon 2:8-13 Proper 9A/ Ordinary 14A -> [none]
Proper 17/ Ordinary 22B -> [none]

Lamentations 1:1-6 Proper 22C/ Ordinary 27C -> [none]
Lamentations 3:1-24 Holy Saturday A/B/C -> [none]
Lamentations 3:19-26 Proper 22C/ Ordinary 27C -> [none]

So what? Well, if you are the average congregant in an Episcopal church (or any using the RCL) then the only time you hear or “read” these texts is in service and you are not going to get very much of them even when they are read. Even less so if one is following the BCP.


Leave a Reply