image of the burning bush

Week 2: Vulgata: Moses.

Background | Background Quiz | Starting Assumptions | Resources | Extras
Vocabulary | Etymology | Grammar | Perseus Dictionary | Perseus Tool

Reading Overview | Reading Quiz: English
| Reading Quiz: Latin
Discussion Questions | Latin Composition | Weekly Checklist

Discussion Questions

Please choose 3 of the following questions to answer and send your response in an email to the instructor ( Each answer should be a solid paragraph (150-250 words for each English discussion question, 500-750 words for the overall assignment).

You should then post your answers to the class Discussion Board. You need to have sent the email and posted your answers by Friday midnight. At some point you will also be posting at least two replies to comments posted by the other students; you may do that at any time during the week, until Monday midnight.

1. God and Moses. What is God's role in this story? What kind of relationship does he have to the Israelites? (be specific: what are the specific words that God uses to describe his relationship to the Israelites?) What is God's relationship to Moses? How does Moses react and respond to the commands that God gives to him? If you had to choose one adjective to describe God in this story, what would that adjective be? What would be the one adjective that best describes Moses?

2. Supernatural. What are the supernatural powers that God manifests in this story? How does God signal his presence to Moses? What signs does he give to Moses so that Moses can prove that he is God's emissary? What do you think about the specific content of these signs: why burning? why blood? why a snake? why skin white as leprosy? What kind of impression are these signs supposed to make on the people who see them?

3. Sacred space. Take a look at this definition of sanctus from the Lewis & Short Latin dictionary available at Perseus (you can view the full definition online):

sancio, sancire, sanxi, sanctus. to render sacred or inviolable by a religious act; to appoint as sacred or inviolable.
I. Lit., mostly of legal ordinances or other public proceedings, to fix unalterably; to establish, appoint, decree, ordain; also, to make irrevocable or unalterable; to enact, confirm, ratify, sanction.
II. Transf., to forbid under pain of punishment, to enact a penalty against
A. Orig., rendered sacred, established as inviolable, i. e. sacred, inviolable (whereas sacer signifies consecrated to a deity. Thus, e. g., a temple, grove, or the like, is sacer locus; but sanctus locus is any public place which it is forbidden to injure or disturb. A sacer locus is also sanctus, but the converse is not always true)
B. Venerable, august, divine, sacred, pure, holy (very freq. and class.); of a divinity, and of things in any way belonging to one... 2. Of character, morally pure, good, innocent, pious, holy, just, etc.

What meaning of sanctus is at work when God says that "terra sancta est"? God also tells Moses that he must take off his sandals: what is the symbolic significance of this act? Is there some sacred place that you visit which involves special rituals of this sort?

4. Punctuation. Traditionally, the Vulgate is printed with no puncutation whatsoever; here you can see this week's readings without puncutation. How difficult is it for you to read the text that has no punctuation? What are the words that serve as a kind of "verbal puncutation" - even if there are not punctuation marks in the text, what are the Latin words that help you get your bearing, so that you can see when phrases start and stop? Do we have words like this in English? Do you tend to use a lot of punctuation when you write? Do you use punctuation differently when you write email as opposed to writing a paper for class? Since there are obviously some handy advantages to using punctuation, why do you think the Romans basically had no standard system for puncutating their texts?

5. Favorite image for the week. Was there one of the images for this week which made a big impression on you? Provide a link to the webpage where that image is found, and give a detailed description of the image. What attracted your attention to this image? What are the details that stick in your mind? Do you think that image fits in well with the words of the text? What makes this image stand out from the other images that we looked at this week?

6. Reflecting on the week. Take a look back at what you wrote as your "starting assumptions" for this week, and look at the starting assumptions of the other students in the class. Did anything you read or studied this week make a big change in your starting assumptions? Did the assignment turn out to be pretty much what you expected? More interesting? Less interesting? What surprised you the most? If you were going to continue with this topic, what kind of research and reading would you want to do? What questions are still left unanswered?

7. Grammar revelations. Did you have a Latin grammar crisis this week? Did you get through it? What did you learn? Is there something you grasped this week that was never really clear to you before? A grammar epiphany? Is there something you are still really struggling with? What do you do when you are having trouble understanding a passage in Latin? Where do you look for help? In general, was the reading this week easier or harder than expected? What are you going to concentrate on in your Latin work in the coming week?

8. Website critique. Pick one of the websites that you visited this week as part of your work for this class (it could be a website about this week's topic, or a website for learning Latin). Provide a link to the site, and a brief desription of its contents. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this website? Who would find this website useful? What did you use this website for? What did you find there? Do you think you will visit this website again?

Modern Languages 4970 / MRS 4903: Medieval Latin. Spring 2003 Online Course at the University of Oklahoma. Visit for more info.
Laura Gibbs, University of Oklahoma - Information Technology © 2003. Last updated: December 29, 2002 7:12 PM