Lesson Plan: Moses and the Smitten Rock

3b: The 19th century
Lesson 5 of 5: Moses and the Smitten Rock
Aim of the lesson
For students to have:
Knowledge and understanding of the Religion and Science debate in the 19 th
century with a particular focus on Victorian Bible interpretation (a typologicalsymbolic interpretation).
Opportunity to evaluate the ideas outlined
Differentiation / Extension
Extension: Students could carry out further research on the Victorian Web about
the interpretations of Biblical narratives. They could evaluate these in terms of how
much they distort/enhance the meaning of the text. These ideas could be written up
under the title ‘Victorian Typological Symbolism; a hindrance or a help in
understanding the Bible in a scientific age?’
Teacher/peer – spider diagrams of images from Exodus 17 given in the Victorian
Duration 1 Hour
10 minutes – own case study of ‘Typological Symbolism’ as an
introduction to how this technique was used by the Victorians.
Main Activity 40 minutes – exploration of Victorian interpretation of Exodus 17 (If
internet access not possible, the appropriate page could be printed
out). Chart to show different images.
10 minutes – discussion of problems/advantages of this approach.
Brief summary of unit.
Intended Age 16-19
Previous Knowledge needed by teacher
The teacher must have researched the Victorian Web page
http://www.victorianweb.org/religion/type/moses.htmland thought about the issue
of reconciling this type of interpretation with possible scientific interpretations of
Exodus 17.
Previous Knowledge needed by students
Creative and Critical thinking skills. Work on the previous lessons would be a help,
especially Lesson 1.
Science and Religion in Schools Project – Unit 3b: The 19th century
Background Reading
Student Resource 1: Exodus 17; Moses and the Smitten Rock
The smitten rock: http://www.victorianweb.org/religion/type/moses.html
A Beginner’s Guide to Ideas, Raeper and Smith, Lion Publisher.
Student Resource 1: Exodus 17; Moses and the Smitten Rock
The smitten rock:http://www.victorianweb.org/religion/type/moses.html
A Beginner’s Guide to Ideas, Raeper and Smith, Lion Publisher.
Further Resources
Ilumina Gold (an electronic Bible with encyclopaedia which could be useful
to extend the work with eg. powerpoint presentations and various images)
The Philosophy Files, Stephen Law, Dolphin.
The Simpsons and Philosophy; Irwin , Conard, Skoble; Open Court.
Pooh and the Philosophers; J Tyerman Williams; Methuen Publisher.
Philosophy of Religion for A level, A Jordan et al., Stanley Thornes
Philosophy goes to the Movies; Ch. Falzon; Routledge in chapter 1 (pages
33 – 44) discusses the following relevant films:
a) Rear Window (A Hitchcock, 1954)
b) You Only Live Once (F Lang, 1937)
c) Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972)
d) Citizen Kane (O Welles, 1941)
e) He Said, She Said (K Kwapis)
f) Hilary and Jackie (A Tucker, 1998)
g) Rashomon (A Kurosawa, 1951)
h) Twelve Angry Men (S Lumet, 1957)
ICT Opportunites
Science and Religion in Schools Project – Unit 3b: The 19th century
Introduction / Starter activity
Take a well known, short fable/story e.g the Hare and the Tortoise, the 3 Little Pigs.
Ask the students to do a quick mind map of how the different characters/features in
the fable/story could stand for something to bring out meaning for today.
Tell them that they are looking at a Bible story which was a key story for the
Victorians and see how they interpreted it in light of the scientific discoveries of the
time. The kind of Bible interpretation used by Victorians is called ‘Typological
Symbolism’. That means that we find in various Bible stories certain types of
narratives or images which are not to be taken literally for a ‘proper’ understanding
(Friedrich Schleiermacher, Rudolph Bultmann and Teilhard de Chardin are some key
names to link with this kind of interpretation and had a major influence on 20 th
century Theology – further lessons could be filled with this; see A Beginner’s Guide
to Ideas).
Main Activities
Read Student Resource 1: Exodus 17; Moses and the Smitten Rock and discuss
what sort of questions arise from the story.
Go through Victorian interpretation ‘The Smitten Rock’ (see
http://www.victorianweb.org/religion/type/moses.html) and discuss it. What do you
think of such an approach? Make a spider diagram of all the different images found
in the story from the Victorian Typological Symbolism found on this web page (omit
the last paragraph on secular interpretations if you wish as this is more remote)
Alternatively you could read to the students Alfred, Lord Tennyson's epic elegy, In
Memoriam (see
http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/tennyson/im/vanbrunt12.html) by firstly
reading the poem (or parts of it) to them and to explore how Science and Religion
could be reconciled.
There are plenty of other possibilities when searching through the Victorian
Have fun!
Sharing of spider diagrams and brief discussion with problems/advantages of this
kind of approach. Summarise main points raised in this unit.
Science and Religion in Schools Project – Unit 3b: The 19th century