Mosaic - mosaic

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Mosaic is the spelling of two unrelated words (homographs). Readers can be confused by them.

  • Mosaic (written with a capital 'M-') is the adjective meaning to do with the prophet Moses.
    • The 'Mosaic books' are the five 'Books of Moses' in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, and therefore are also the Torah of the Jewish bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). The Mosaic Law is "the ancient law of the Hebrews, contained in the Pentateuch" (OED), including the Ten Commandments.
    • The Mosaic faiths are the three religions that recognise Moses as a great prophet: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. These are sometimes called the Abrahamic faiths.
  • mosaic (written with a lower case 'm-') is the name given to a technique or medium used in visual arts. It consists of pictures or abstract designs made by the cumulative effect of placing many small pieces of stone, pottery, glass or other hard substances. These were originally used to make hard-wearing but decorative floors; in time, mosaics were also made as wall or even ceiling surfaces. In some early Christian churches, these achieve enormous splendour through the use of gold. Ravenna, in Italy, and Constantinople (now Istanbul) have fine examples.