I am not Jewish, just interested in the culture and history.

I was looking for a diagram which shows the relationship between various Jewish texts -- Torah, Midrash, etc. -- everything that is written down and historically studied.

I found some (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) but, taken together, they do not offer a clear picture.

What is a good diagram which shows how the texts relate to each other?

  • 4
    spraff, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing your question here! Good job showing your prior research. Each of the diagrams you've linked looks valuable in its own way, and a possible viable answer to this question. Could you please edit in more detail about what's missing from them and/or what an ideal response would look like?
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 29, 2018 at 14:33
  • 1
    I think the first one is your best shot, however you're not going to find a diagram with all the texts that are studied. There are thousands of important texts in Judaism; your diagrams only deal with the most essential and important ones.
    – ezra
    Jan 29, 2018 at 15:39
  • chart74.gif is misleading. The others are good and need some explanation to link them. Let us see who gets to do that first. Jan 29, 2018 at 16:02
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/45506/…
    – Menachem
    Jan 29, 2018 at 16:35
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    A chart of the kind pictured can show various kinds of relationship between works: that one is a commentary on or explanation of another, or that one is derivative of another (e.g. a condensation), or that one is written by the student of the other's author, or that one is a later volume in the same series as the other, or, doubtless, lots of other things. If you specify what you're looking for, it'll help potential answerers find (or create) it.
    – msh210
    Jan 29, 2018 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


I can see indeed how this is confusing - even more so as some diagrams cover the same things but use English or Hebrew terminology

If you take diagram 1 as a basis

  • diagram 2 doesn't add much - the name of the six orders of the Mishna in the bottom are the Hebrew names which appear in English in diagram
  • diagram 3 traces the sources of the commandments to the Written (called Pentateuch, Prophets, Holy Writings on diagram 1) or Oral Torah (Mishna, Brayta, Tosefta, Talmuds on diagram 1)
  • diagram 4 gives the content of the books already written in small in yellow on diagram 1
  • diagram 5 gives a chronology of the various texts with some additional explanations
  • diagram 6 has mistakes and doesn't help

So you can start with diagrams 1 & 5 and to understand fully each of the texts mentioned on 1, Wikipedia will give good definitions (e.g., Pentateuch/Torah, Mishna, Talmud/Gemara, Shulkhan Aruch).

To make sense of it all, see this excellent (17-page) document on The History and Process of Halacha from Eretz Hemda.


This is the way i would set it up--there are two main categories in Jewish study texts and four subcategories. The two main categories are:

  • Written Torah (includes all 24 books of Tanakh)

  • Oral Torah

    • Oral law (includes the Mishna, Talmud [palestinian and babylonian], Sifra, Sifri, Mechilta and many other scattered Toseftas. They were composed by the Rabbis living in babylonia and the land of Israel roughly between the beginning of the common era til 500 CE)
    • Halacha (includes Alfasi, Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch and much more. They were all composed much later in Medieval Europe)
    • Midrashic literature (includes Midrash Rabba, Midrash Tanhuma and many more. They were also composed by the Rabbis in Babylonia and Israel. They are not concerned with law but with homiletics and biblical analysis, philosophy and ethics and ancient Jewish lore)
    • Kabbalah (includes Zohar, sefer yetzirah, Hekhalot literature and many more mystical texts. Some of these texts were composed by the Rabbis in the Talmudic period and some of them much later in the Middle ages or even later)

The Talmud is classified as a book of Jewish law, but it actually contains different elements of Midrash, Jewish lore and maybe even Kabbalah. But it is mainly concerned with Jewish law and classified as such. There are two kinds of Midrash found in the Talmud. One is concerned with biblical texts analysis which deeply affects the law, and one with homiletics and ethics.

The difference between Oral law and Halacha may seem artificial since they are both concerned with Jewish law, but they are very different from each other. The Halachic literature was composed in a different land, culture and by different people, period and belief system, so they are rightly considered to be a different category in Jewish texts.

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