Leading Idea: The Relationship between Form and Meaning

Leading Idea: Capturing the meaning of things in how we construct them:

How are form and meaning connected? In this passage we are told of two purposively built objects in which the ‘how’ of their construction seems to be connected to the ‘what’. There is the alter for peace-offereings that is to be made of unhewn stone on which no iron has been used, and ‘great stones’ that are to be erected at Mount Ebal, they are to be plastered and then have the words of law written ‘plainly’ on them.

In regard to the stones, there is one tradition that sees the plastering of these ‘great stones’ occurring in multiple layers. This reading is offered because of the seeming repetition of this instruction in the text. Here the text is not seen as a repetition, but rather, as two sets of instructions to be done one after the other. First the stones are plastered and covered with the exact words of law. Then the stones are to be plastered over the first writing, and then the law is written a second time in ‘plain’ words for everyone to see.  If we were to see the construction happening this way, what might be the meaning that is being conveyed in this multi-layered construction?

Providing an opportunity to discuss the ways in which meaning and form might be connected in objects in the student’s our own environment may lead students to a richer discussion of the connections between form and meaning in this text.