The Wikipedia article on The Talmud says:

and Pope Pius IV commanded, in 1565, that the Talmud be deprived of its very name. The convention of referring to the work as "Shas" (shishah sidre Mishnah) instead of "Talmud" dates from this time. (Hastings, James. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics Part 23, p 186)

I also remember seeing text in the Talmud itself, where the word Talmud had been changed to Gemara (I can't remember exactly where).

What was wrong with the word Talmud, that it had to be censored?

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    The Mekor Baruch (IIRC, I haven't seen this story in a while, so it may be inaccurate.) says that in Russia they had a censor who was an ignoramus. He was just given a list of "improper words" by his superior, and he had to replace them with a list of "kosher" words. One of the words on the list was "min" - heretic or non-Jew, and he was told to replace it with "Russian". When he got to the laws of Bittul Min Bemino, he replaced it with "Bittul Russi be Russi" :) – Shmuel Brin May 20 '12 at 21:28
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    I hate to be that guy, but how is this on topic? Sounds more like a question on Church history. – Seth J May 20 '12 at 21:37
  • I found the comments on the question here: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/4886/603 which may be useful – Menachem May 20 '12 at 21:42
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    here's an article on the sefarim blog that discusses what what bothering the censor: seforim.blogspot.com/2010/01/woe-is-unto-whom.html – Menachem May 22 '12 at 0:54
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This may have been a way for the Pope to deflect pressure from the extremists in his own camp who agitated for more and more extreme measures against the talmud. He could say "look there is no 'talmud' being printed, you won't find any book with that particular title being printed"....so leave me alone, guys, and let me get on to the other things I have to do.

See this article: http://www.printingthetalmud.org/flashpaper/30.pdf


Graetz comments, “Strange, indeed, that the pope should have allowed the thing, and forbidden its name! He was afraid of public opinion, which would have considered the contradiction too great between one pope, who had sought out and burnt the Talmud, and the next, who was allowing it to go untouched.”

[This is quoted with more of the paragraph in this article as well]

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In the introduction to the Vilna Edition of the Ein Yaakov by publishers, a short history of the printing of the Talmud is given (this is perhaps the source for Marcus Jastrow's speech, below).

On this page, in the middle of the second column, it gives a reason why the word Talmud was censored from inside of the Gemara, even when the word is not actually referring to the Gemara, but rather to learning.

This started with the Basle edition of the Talmud. The Basle edition of the Talmud was printed under heavy censorship (see here). Because it was forbidden to call the Talmud by name, a zealous censor took it upon himself to change any mention of the Talmud to "Shas" or Gemara".

Other reprints copied this, not realizing it was a result of censorship.

This is discussed at length in the Sefer Dikdukei Sofrim, Megilla, where it talks about the printing of the Talmud.


" Pope Gregory IX, in 1239, decreed the cremation of the Talmud, and hundreds and thousands of copies were burnt in France and Italy. In 1264, Pope Clement IV set the penalty of death on whatsoever person should harbor a copy of the Talmud in his house."


The printing of the Talmud began as early as 1494 in Soncino. The luckless book was still under the ban of the papal and imperial interdicts, and even when, thanks to the untiring efforts of influential Jews and Christians, fortified by offers of bribes more or less open and direct, permission to print was granted (by Pope Leo X, in 1520), it was so guarded and restricted as to make a complete and accurate edition an impossibility.


That the permission granted by Leo X did not secure immunity from persecution, we learn from the fact men- tioned before, that autos-da-fe, were renewed at intervals from 1533 to 1599. In fact, when, in 1564, at the Council of Trent, the Italian Jews petitioned for permission to republish the Talmud, the license granted was, in spite of a vast amount of Jewish money in the pockets of the Bishops, still more restrictive. Even the title Talmud was to be omitted. We do not find, how- ever, that the Italian printing houses availed themselves of this dubious mercy.

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