Literary Forms Found In The Christian Holy Bible

literary forms in bible

While the Bible has been often studied in religion and philosophy classes at the university level, not to mention seminary, many people don’t appreciate the sheer number of different literary styles that are on display throughout the Bible. If you wanted to do a study on various types of writing styles, you could do a lot worse than studying the literary styles of the Bible.


Prophecy is a unique type of literary form, full of vivid symbols and pictures interlaced with messages of encouragement or warnings of doom. Rarely clear and straightforward, this is a unique type of literary style that isn’t likely to be found out of religious texts or fantasy adventure novels.


Sometimes the scripture ends up going the direction of sermons and preaching. One of the most famous parts of scripture is even titled “The Sermon on the Mount” referring to a series of famous proclamations Jesus made during one moment of preaching, but there are several times in the Old Testament when a prophet preached or gave a sermon before prophesying.


There are plenty of allegories throughout both Testaments of the Bible, and they are an important literary style that can actually be found in many other forms outside of scriptures as well. A great teaching form of literature, this is one worth the study.


The psalms jump to mind immediately and all those chapters are some amazing poetry. The lyrics are meant to be sung and even if the music is long lost, these chapters have some of the most beautiful poetry of all scriptures and were meant as a specific nod to that literary style. The language used here can teach poets today a thing or two about the classic backdrop of their craft.


These are most common in the New Testament, but there are a few of the smallest books in the Old Testament also qualified. Most famous are the epistles of Paul, where he writes to the various churches, complete with opening greetings, a long message, and the final blessings or mentioning of travels to come. Some people might say written letters are dying, but they are alive and well even 2000 years ago.

Historical Narratives

Many of the early books of the Old Testament were meant as a blend of religious belief but also the history of a people. This means historical narratives are found throughout the Old Testament and details of kings, empires, and genealogy are very common. Some of the favorite stories of scripture are wrapped up in historical stories as well.

Code of Laws

There’s no question that code of laws is a major part of the Bible, especially in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. These two books are some of the earliest known forms of codified law.

Proverbs/Advice or Wisdom

There’s no false advertising about The Book of Proverbs. The entire book is full of bits of practical wisdom and advice, and this is a perfect example of how these pearls of wisdom work as a literary style.

These are just a few of the many literary styles that are tied together all in one book: the Bible.