I was asked an interesting question from a young fellow in my neighborhood. He asked me:

How would you describe the literary style of Torah?

I wasn't able to answer his question.

What would your answer be if you were in my shoes?

  • Part history narrative, part legal and theological exposition... for starters...
    – Gary
    Apr 17, 2014 at 1:16
  • @close-voters why is this opinion based? It isn't based on your feelings or personal preferences. It's based on your experience. +1. Apr 17, 2014 at 4:19
  • What do you mean by "Torah"?
    – msh210
    Apr 17, 2014 at 5:19
  • @msh210 I am not a native English speaker. So, I am sorry if I am not pronouncing it correctly or if I am messing definite and indefinite article etc. Thanks.
    – Derfder
    Apr 17, 2014 at 9:00
  • 2
    @Derfder I think msh210 was attempting to clarify if you mean the 5 books of Moses (Pentateuch) or the 24 canonized books including the Prophets and Writings. Apr 17, 2014 at 17:38

3 Answers 3


It can probably best be described as Philosophy via narrative. This is essentially the thesis of a 2012 book by Yoram Hazony, called The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture.


The Torah\Tanach (Pentateuch, Prophets, and Writings) contains several literary styles, which include narrative, poetry, instructions and legal particulars, and speeches and dialogue. The majority of the Pentateuch and Early Prophets are written from the perspective of a third person omniscient narrator. Most of the Later Prophets, and some of the Writings, are written in first person.

Genre varies by book, with some books being mostly historical narrative, others legal instruction, and yet others, poetry.

I'm not really sure what you mean by "literary style." Please describe your definition for a more complete answer.


the Torah's style is as its name suggest.

Torah comes from the word "Hora-ah" which means "teaching" or "instruction".

The torah is packed with hidden meaning as this letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbi explains.

When studying it in hebrew, you get the impression that the hebrew language, which lends itself to enigmatic interpretations and hidden meanings was designed specifically for the multi layered interepretational style of the torah. i.e. that the Author of the torah is also the Author of the hebrew language. Both were designed together.

It is said of the Vilna Gaon, that in his later years, when he had mastered all of the oral torah and kabalistic works, that he studied only the Torah and was able to deduce all that he had learned from the talmud, zohar, etc. from there. (end of this[1])

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .